I am Malala

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Let me start this one with few quotes from the book to take you closer to to this biography.

“I come from a country which was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”

“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish.”

“Then they told me about the call from home and that they were taking the threats seriously. I don’t know why, but hearing I was being targeted did not worry me. It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day. My feeling was nobody can stop death; it doesn’t matter if it comes from a Talib or cancer. So I should do whatever I want to do”

“She explained that the bullet had entered through the side of my left eye where there was a scar, traveled eighteen inches down to my left shoulder and stopped there. It could have taken out my eye or gone into my brain. It was a miracle I was alive.”

Such is Malala Yousafzai, the brave teenager from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She made it a point to raise her voice through whatever. Raised in the peace loving village, it transformed into brutal mound when the Talibans came and took control of their lives. Malala being popular for being vocal about her aspirations to educate and empower girls and women, received threats from the militant group in no time. One such time when she was returning home from school in a van, she was shot on her head by the Talibans. Malala survived. She was taken to England. And that proved to be the turning point of her life when she received the just platform to continue working on her beliefs.

The book is written in a crisp format and the turn of events are intelligently structured to keep the readers glued to the book.

It is an inspirational read and good break from the fiction to the reality.

After Dark- Haruki Murakami

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This is the first book that introduced me to the works of the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. For starters, After Dark will linger in your memories. In your mind. It has been 4 years that I read the book and the moods that were presented in the different chapters make me wonder about the way Murakami portrayed the night even today.

The book starts right before midnight where we find a young Mari smoking and sipping coffee while reading a book in a 24/7 restaurant. A little before dawn, she meets Takahashi, the trombonist. They exchange a minimal yet interesting conversation. Next, Kaoru, the manager of a “love hotel” where a Chinese prostituted gets mercilessly beaten by a customer. In the parallel time, Mari’s sister who has not woken up for the last two months is seen in her room. She’s sound asleep while the TV gets mysteriously switched on and she gets pulled inside where she is trapped with a masked man.

The few other such encounters along with Mari being the central character breaks into the morning.

“Each of those under transport is a human being with a different face and mind, and at the same time each is a nameless part of the collective entity … Handling this dualism of theirs skillfully and advantageously, they perform their morning rituals with deftness and precision: brushing teeth, shaving, tying neckties, applying lipstick.”

And this is how the city in the pages wake up to yet another day.

Murakami preserved a constant feel of eeriness and suggestive dualism throughout the entire journey of the book. The 1st person plural narrative was rather new to me. At times the narrator identified as “we” simultaneously giving the reader an idea of the different realms of the dark night.

Further when I looked up more about Murakami, I saw the first book cover and that literally spoke for the hallucinatory theme.

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I do not usually obsess over book covers (do not consider the do not!)

But after reading the book, I was really impressed by this above design. I am sure whoever read the book would agree!

Overall, Murakami found a new fan who bought this book on a train journey and literally kept the journey far away from being a boring one.

 

Emma by Jane Austen

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Now this book do not really need an introduction, does it? But still, for few who do, this is a revolutionary piece written by Jane Austen. A little backstory here, I was never fond of classics. There was an instant irritation every time somebody told me how fondly he or she read them. This all happened because of Shakespeare. This is not a hate blog for this man, he is a genius, no doubt. But he always made me wonder like why has he made sadness the forte of all his published works. Most importantly, I thought for school kids it was quite a trigger to explore sadness for no reason! You don’t believe me? Do a flashback meditation (not sure if its a thing but I guess you get my point!).

Moving on, it was the time I watched Clueless that I learned it was based on a century old novel. That’s it! So then I got my hands on this book. With less pretzel like complicated English and a fresh look on the then society, this was an eye-opener. Emma really made it clear that beyond all the feminism and equality propaganda that make rounds worldwide, financial independence is something that will surpass every crux of revolutions of the womanhood. And also broke my inhibitions to like classics.

Emma by Jane Austen is surely an experimental and a brave take given the structure and the lifestyle of 1800s. Emma, one of the two daughters of a worrisome father, she finds herself in the middle of a country life that did not count in freedom for women. She is opinionated and considered a life without romantic attachments would be the portal to sanity. Well, that takes a comic turn in a different chapter with the introduction of Mr. John Knightley, her only critic! Her self proclaimed power to match making, she decided to get her former Governess Miss Taylor get married to the widower businessman, Mr. Weston. Even after she became Mrs. Weston, she still remained as her confidante.

However, much of her innocence and arrogance was at times debated to be the result of her personal secured finance and that she did not quite understand the struggles that people in the world faced every day. At times she is full of herself and driven by pride. Mr. Knightley surely knew how to get things going when she gets married to him in the end.

I loved Jane Austen’s dry satire and her strong voice through Emma. She addressed all the aspects of country life from that era with details. Be it masculinity, female empowerment, parenting styles, nature of families and friendships, class; Austen made her powerful thoughts come alive with Emma Woodhouse and other significant characters.

P.S. She talked a lot about food! For foodie reader, its an awesome tea table read (sorry for the poor pun but I just had to finish it like this!)

 

 

My Elaine

My mom and I have been inseparable since the time we were born. People say my father could hardly hold me in his arms. At times he would even buy my mom her new favorite piece of accessory. In return she would let him hold me and play with me after supper before going to bed!

And I grew up…..

Started going to school, made friends, did home works, enjoyed art and I was always the good student the teachers liked to use as an example.

Now I am a teenager…..

I go out with my friends and yes, I have the school’s cutest guy as my boyfriend. We spend a lot of time together. Amid all this, one thing never changed; my relationship with my mother.

It was my eighteenth birthday and I had to do something special for her. She deserved it. So I got a tattoo. It was perfect!

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Elaine- that’s my name…..my father will tell you the rest of the story.

My Elaine!

I held her blood stained and injured body and wailed like a wolf. All she wanted was to surprise her mother with a tattoo. She was not supposed to leave us on her birthday. The accident was an unfair turn of event in our lives.

Heidi, my wife became paranoid. At the funeral she did not let anyone else stay for her burial but me. Finally she shared my daughter with me. We buried her at the backyard as she wanted Elaine close to her even then. After that day everything changed…….

Very single night she would wait for me to fall asleep, only to go and sleep on our daughter’s bed. By the time the sun would almost rise she used to come and lie down beside me. Like a broken helpless, husband and father, I acted as if I did not know anything about it.

One year passed……it was Elaine’s birthday; the day we lost her.

Heidi did not come back to our bedroom. I walked inside Elaine’s room only to find myself in a juncture of impossibilities.

Elaine in her decomposed body lying beside her mom. She held her tight as Heidi slept on her arm with a faint smile.

It wasn’t a dream.

Soon after I called for an emergency, the para medics arrived only to declare that Heidi was dead. They too witnessed the unanswerable reality.

The house was immediately sealed and I left the town.

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The Palace of Illusions

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I am not really a fan of keeping up with the trend of reading only the famous works. Most of the readers would relate to that. This one when it was released there was a whole new wave of retelling myths through the voices of the unvoiced characters. Well sort of!

A mythology enthusiast, I have been reading about Indian mythology among others for a few years now. This retelling of Mahabharat definitely gave the epic a different angle.

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The amazing heroine, Panchali aka Draupadi, the daughter of King Draupad tells us the story of her legendary life. Born out of fire she was cheated off real young and married to the Pandavas– the five brothers. Soon she becomes an indispensable part of their journey where she accompanies them to the exile and support them through the turmoils to get back what belongs to them. All the while she is seen bending the epic reality by letting the reader re-imagine Mahabharat. Her intelligible ways to interact with her mother-in-law, her secret passionate infatuation towards her husband’s enemy and her special friendship with Krishna- they are all put together into a gripping fiction work by the author.

Now for us Indians, a big portion of our lives are molded by this tale; I swear on Gita! That’s the exact reason why it never gets old.
While reading this book, I also realized how the author has beautifully worked out two things very well. First, of course the re-imagination of the manipulating nature of goodness (what an irony!). Second, one can easily take reference of the different present day situations the humans has to offer to each other.

Divakaruni wrote the book with fantastic use of words that will really keep her readers engaged till the end. It will definitely intrigue a lot of question about the unfair and war torn state of society, then and how you can relate it all to the present. She is an awesome writer and I can’t wait to read more of her works.

Hi bullies!

So now that the world is under lock down, we are all trapped inside our homes. With no means to maintain the beautification as per the standards of society I guess I have finally come to terms to the one liner marketing scam “be yourself”. It has been hard but not really brutal if I think about it. I wonder how the wannabe mean girls are holding up!

Properly dyed and styled hair,

Chemicals on the face,

Waxed body hair ,

And then comes them gorgeous fake nails.

Bullies are just like these things that we do to get accepted in the society. They look good on the outside to pull you down. Some make it pretty obvious while some like to think they are smart. They are friends with you till they think they want to like you. Next up, when there is an easy opportunity, well they will be the sellouts! It is not hard to recognize such people. Well, it is not a sad blog but coming to think of it, I wonder what would have made these people so insecure that they wanna make fun of others to feel better.

It has been sometime that I have crossed paths with a few of these sorts. Surprisingly, all of them have a common trait- they are all opportunists. Well, of course it is a good thing as long as you do not mentally affect other people’s lives. I mean people, c’mon get a hold on yourself, you do not need to try so hard.

Look at this girl in the picture!

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Perfectly flawed as per the feminine standards of beauty. But she is a definite source of happiness for herself. She is secure enough to click a selfie while the so called imperfections are absolutely visible.

Save yourself that miserable behavior that you have towards a few. You take help of the commercial bullies to look and feel secure. What about that? So just follow your credentials and be a sensible person! Otherwise you are just an abusive one….your actions don’t come on news but you surely get tamed by your silly demon inside!

Wish you all the healing…..

 

Airhead

I have always been a huge fan of young adult fiction. Growing up as a lover of anything super girly, I admired this one author who has been a real influence in my life. Believe it or not, I literally own all her books (and also J K Rowling’s, of course)! She’s Meg Cabot. She is an American author who is popularly known for her breakthrough work, Princess Diaries Series. It was later greenlit by Disney to make two successful movies back to back based on the series.

Meg Cabot books have been used as a reinforcer by my mom to make me clean up my room while I was in school! Each and every book has a memory of my life to withhold. Today I am going to talk about a very interesting and gripping series, Airhead.

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These books were released within a gap of three to four months in between each. It is about an over achieving high school geeky girl, Em Watts who lived a life inside grades and assignments until fate struck her wild. Now she lives inside the body of a 6 ft tall supermodel, Nikki while she uses her brainiac capabilities to find a way out of the nightmare life. Little did she know that it will be one impossible escape as now her moves are decided by her ambitious PR who goes out of the way to cook scandals and put her face on the pages of all leading tabloids and endorsements.

Now I am not sure why the name is Airhead. I mean Em isn’t a fool nor it is an army story. Nerdy Em has practically three set priorities in her life- straight A’s, chocolate in all forms and her favorite computer game, Journey Quest. The whole twist happens when her world collides with paparazzi’s child and runway hit, Nikki. The part where the brain transplant happens is way too impractical as well as brings out the best event the series has to promise you. It has elements of being funny and thrilling at the same time. The language of the book will drag you till the end of the third installment.

Buying the books is worth the money as Meg Cabot will not fail to entertain your girly tastes. Remember, only girly!

Corona feat. your ex

Of late, I have learned something fascinating about being in my millennial prime. Coronavirus is much like that toxic relationship we once had. The ones who are living the toxic life, its evaluation time!

  • While in the relationship, that kid will keep you miserable to feel superior. Well the only difference is you are not in a relationship with Corona. But the treatment is at par! At first things are under control, until you realize you got played. Just like the virus!
  • That species of ex oozes charm like a wildfire. Its either in the relationship or soon after it gets the best of your happiness, that you realize its not only you, but an entire village of mortals got played. Just like the virus!
  • That creep will creep into your iMessages, slide into your DM’s, text you on Whatsapp, even email you when you break up. Once you fall for it just out of politeness, you are dead. The only solution- distancing and isolation. Just like the virus!

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  • That ex and corona has another similar attribute- they love to threaten the life outta you. That scum will threaten you to go public with your private pictures that you had shared or your embarrassing secrets that it knows. Corona is life-threatening. Period.

There have been enough posts and news about how people have been reconnecting with their exes during the quarantine. Let me tell you, its just the increasing libido because of boredom. Reconnecting with your ex is like talking to a drug dealer after you get released from the rehab.

Ciao!

The Prophet

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” – Kahlil Gibran

This is a much relevant line for us today!

Last night after a stack of indecisiveness later, I had finally got my hands on to the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

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It is a prose poetry book on 26 different mysteries of the humankind. Usually, I am a reader who likes to visualize every line, every chapter and plot that I read and try to feel how the author might have felt while putting the words together. May be almost, or may be completely in my way. This time it was hella different!

The poet is philosophical but definitely is more than that. He gave a perspective to different aspects of human existence like no other. Sprawling topics like friendship, love, eating and drinking, sorrow, travel, teaching, talking, laws, religion, passion, death among others were unfolded from different corners which a regular mind like you and I cannot think of………the pages turned for itself! The artifices, social conditioning, twisted truths of reality were layered into these beautiful essays.

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.” 

“Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.”

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”

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The Prophet is the first book from the series. The other ones are The Garden of the Prophet and The Death of the Prophet. 

It is a rational paradise for people who look at life as more than just a paycheck earning portal!

It is a masterpiece…..

 

I miss abstract nouns

#StayHome has become the new life. As the saying goes, it takes 21 days to make a habit out of something. Well,that has definitely not gone well with me. Whatever, you say, after all, old habits die hard!

Being an outdoors person (outgoing according to the company!), it has been a hard time for me and of course for the rest of us. I mean there is always a way or two to keep ourselves busy at home. Hobbies have really made a hot market in between our household chores of late. I have been too, utilising this time to be closer to my herbal studies, gardening, reading and, of course blogging.

But to be honest I miss the abstract nouns that keep us going. Positive or negative, whatever it is, I long for things that can only be felt.

The times when I am late and trying to step down fast from that escalator. Right that time, there will be someone bigger to block my petite restlessness. I miss that anger.

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The time when I’d appreciate the restaurant for serving me a plate full of happiness, just the way I like it. I miss the generosity.

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The times when I was able to exchange smiles without the mask. I miss the liberty.

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Black and white looks therapeutic and beautiful only in photographs; definitely not in reality. Much that the pandemic has proved to be a huge paradigm shift world wise, I pray that the forced lifestyle of being locked into uncertainty does not become a part of our survival status. I pray that the world gets back all its abstract nouns that rules the existence of every living magic that breathes on this planet.

Bedtime tales and more

Living a comfortably privileged life has never been a realization while I was growing up. It felt normal. Being bratty in school and disciplined at home was the only big challenge that kept me on my toes. Thanks to a dysfunctional state of my family, I learnt a thing quite early in my life- filter out the bad parts, life will be bearable and you’d be happy. Miraculously, whenever I am thrust into a professional or personal moment full of facade and fiasco, even today after 5000 years of existence (just kidding; but you never know!), it has helped me look beyond the nonsense, and do what is needful.

Well the only addition is that now I have my judgment window open (just being an adult). So I sometimes laugh at those nonsense parades (mostly other humans) and feel grateful for the fact that I have not yet been influenced to a clown-ish extent by people.

My biggest influence in my life has been books. I have treasured all the books that I have read since I got all my five senses working to link it to my memories. They have kept me strong, made me realize the world in a better way and never failed to leave some magic and imagination in my life every day. Also they kept me busy from getting drowned into the dysfunction! One of the earliest books that made me a reader is a bedtime story book. I hope we all know what I am talking about.

Now this one’s a fat but very light book- designed only for kids so you know!

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I have saved it for years but I forgot all the stories that I had read. It is an Italian book translated in English and it has twenty five stories in total. I was going through it today and I observed a couple of things.

First, a five page story used to feel like reading a novel at that time I got it as a birthday present. I literally finished it in couple of hours now; right before I wrote this blog.

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Second, the more I read it from my present perspective, it was interesting to understand how big pictures of life were portrayed with innocence and imagination. I literally re-read the book by a generation gap and it blew my mind how these stories are just about everyone you see around.

Now it might sound silly to you all that I actually read the book but if you are a reader, you should definitely go back to those old fairy tales you have at home. Read them again. I am sure you will get your brain re-wired and you’d filter out the bad parts, life will be bearable and you’d be happy.

 

Judged the books by their covers….bleh!

You know the times when you get influenced by certain things in life only to regret later?

Of late, I realized how I have got influenced by books and then regretted buying them. They just sit on the shelves and does nothing but make me realize how I really judged books by their covers!

Here are eww few of them who served me with boredom and guilt:

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  1. Heartsong by Leigh Riker: Much that the back of the book gave me an instant fondness towards the story, as I went on reading, I left it halfway. First, there is way too much distress in the damsel’s life and second, the print is so microscopic that even virus would feel bigger around it!
  2. The Past by Tessa Hadley: Well, the snail will be faster than the plot!
  3. Best Man’s Duties by Vernon Heafon: Ok, this one I didn’t buy. That even makes me more mad- why would anyone gift me this? And it was a brand new book from the look of it (judged by the cover and the crispness of the pages)!
  4. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger: Lauren, I worship you, but like Leigh from Heartsong, you made it too dramatic with microscopic prints as well. I had really high hopes!
  5. High School Musical 1 and 2: This is a disaster. I mean I always have a habit to compare the books to the movies. I always preferred the books. Obviously! I was so in love with Troy and Gabriella (Sharpay and I share soul) that the bibliophile in me thought to compare the books based on the movie. I literally embarrassed myself in front of my book club members.
  6. Fifty Shades by El James: I bought the entire series, enjoyed reading the first book till the time the guy bought an expensive car only to press himself against the girl on its bonnet. And the girl is actually excited by the idea! There was no turning pages for me after that. The series sits in one of the corners of the library like a group of dunce.
  7. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: DO NOT BUY IT. I REPEAT. DO. NOT. BUY. IT.

 

Education and Jazz….thanks UNESCO!

So I just learnt that UNESCO (if you don’t know what’s that, please Google it ASAP) declared April 30 as the International Jazz Day.

Jazz has been a part of my constant music preference from childhood. Growing up around archaic and vintage things around the house, my inclination into the the Jazz Age has been eternal. One of my very precious family heirloom includes a Josephine Baker vinyl record. I don’t know if that still works but once upon a time, yeah, it used to be the Thursday anthem (Thursday used to be the family day when we would play music, arrange picnics and all that fancy schmancy thing in the long length backyard of our old house…..this is another story in itself!)

My love for jazz is as deep as Davy Jones’ chest…..no, not that deep!

Yeah, may be deeper.

The UNESCO declaration made me feel happy enough to survive yet another day of world domination by the virus. Also, as I read further about it, I realized, it is actually an important decision.

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water color jazz art

My fellow teachers and aspirants, read on what UNESCO has to say:

This Day is intended to raise awareness of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for empathy, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people. Many governments, civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private citizens currently engaged in the promotion of jazz music will embrace the opportunity to foster greater appreciation not only for the music but also for the contribution it can make to building more inclusive societies.

  • Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance;
  • Jazz is a vector of freedom of expression;
  • Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities;
  • Jazz encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones;
  • Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies.

Well, not for the advanced, brainy I-know-it-all teachers; but for others, it is a path breaking information, isn’t it?

But in general if you are still yet to explore this wonderful genre, go ahead tune into some beautiful  pieces by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone for starters. Well, for modern days, Norah Jones has my heart!

Happy International Jazz Day (better late than never)!

The Declaration

“Surplus meant unnecessary. Not required.
You couldn’t be a Surplus if you were needed by someone else. You couldn’t be a Surplus if you were loved.”

And that is what happened to the central character Anna Covey. The series of events in the book starts in the year 2140! The planet seems worse than what we are facing right now. Yes, there is no humanity left on Earth and the newborns were treated as unwanted on this planet. It is a beautifully written dark story that revolves around this theory. Gemma Malley is the author of this terrific work.

Anna is caged in the Grange Hall where all the kids are kept to die and get sucked into cruelty. They are made to believe that they are sins of their parents who chose to bring them into this world. It shows a world where only old people ruled and survived. There is a concept of Longevity drug which will stop aging so that they can live forever. These were the people who would agree to not have kids. Otherwise, they could always Opt Out, can bear a child but they had to give them away to the Authorities who would then decide the kid’s future. This was done to restore power and discourage new ideologies in the society. That was the Declaration.

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Well, that just surpassed every infamous ideology that we had known of till date!

But as the book unfolds, it is seen that Anna unlike other Surpluses, she was wanted and loved. The journey, thereafter, is one exhilarating read!

Gemma Malley made sure that there is a happy ending no matter what. The gloomy picturesque writing made me feel Anna’s emotions throughout. Her escape story from Grange Hall to London is a mission as hell. 2140 Earth where there’s lack of food, natural resource, energy, air, fundamental rights, to list a few; Anna does not give up on herself. The end of the story is surprisingly unpredictable. It just brings in a lot of emotions altogether.

Not an exaggeration, but I do hope a film maker picks up the book soon and plans on a movie. The book has some serious motion to it!

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Flight mode

I remember in my fifth grade we used to get writing assignments every Monday on any random topic that our teacher chose for us. The instructions: It should be at least two pages long. No big sentences. No repeating the same words more than three times. For an imaginative child like me and few of my friends, it was no big deal. Usually that used to be a homework that should be submitted by Friday.

My friends and I used to meet at my place every Monday evening to discuss the stories. We were three of us who used to literally come up with three times the stories. We could actually write for the entire class. So we made a pact. We bought a diary for each one of us where we used to write all the stories that would come to our minds throughout the week. The one we liked the best, would go for the assignment. Later after a month or two,  we realized that we have actually become authors to our own collection of short stories.

This remained a forgotten secret until one day we graduated high school and went our separate ways. Of course, we made promises to stay connected and we are still in touch (its been many summers).

I have always had jobs that made me travel so airports and airplanes are quite vital in my memory lanes. One such flight, reminded me of the diary. I had once written a story about clouds and to my surprise, the clouds outside exactly looked like the one I described in the opening line.

The dream whisperer, outshone by the Sun

I am a free spirit in the sky.

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This was 3 years ago. Since that flight, I made it a point to carry that diary and flip through the pages of this time capsule every time I travel.

I enjoyed the perks of travelling since the time I can go back to my memories, thanks to my parents who chose vacations as a mandatory lifestyle preference. Flights somewhere never bothered me. Sure I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach once it takes off, but after that, its an escape to the fairyland that never exists.

 

My plants, my plans

Being a pagan part of the Mother Earth, it is very necessary for each one of us to stay close to nature. If not close, at least spend a little time everyday. Being an instructor where part of my job includes knowing more and more about the multiple intelligence of humans, what I understand that a lot of us give extreme existential crisis to our naturalist

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intelligence. Thanks to our digital temptations, we stay in our plastic bubble that makes us believe that we are urban and advanced.

Are we?

I guess being raised by a mother who chose the herbal-ism way of life has its own perks. I grew up watching her coming up with alternative solutions for everyday health care to serious ailments. Sure you need hospitals and technical medicine to cure critical conditions. But love for nature and its gifts will not let you to even reach that sudden life-death situations. Given the global situation right now, I might sound archaic, but hey, it is tried and tested. If you stay clean and safe, drink lemon and honey stews (free recipe!), drink warm water with ginger (kindly refrain from “but it’s lemonade with ice season” attitude) and do it everyday, that will work wonders!

Coming back to nature,

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of late I took up this habit of appreciating the plants around my house more than ever. I guess the signs of age and genes finally showing up! This quarantine has been an eye-opener for me about so many things, plants and flowers are capable of doing!

Now, I usually keep all my plants on pots. I take them out to the roof in the morning so that they can soak up some sun. Later by sunset I put them back in their places around the house. Just this particular thing that I do everyday has unknowingly, made me so much aware about the mysteries around us.

Looking at those greens for a while is some serious stress buster. Be it any plant, look at them and breathe. It will definitely make you happier and reduce your stress than some not-so-useful Tik Tok video of some girl switching clothes with her boyfriend!

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One of my balconies have literally become an aloe vera farm and it just feels so satisfying to be around this glorious succulents. Literally helps with every personal care solutions! Buy plants- they help you to stay grounded and positive against the negative ions of Laptop, phone, microwave and TV and just basic bullshit of people! Also it helps you to control your impulses as you will have no option to sleep late in the morning. You have to feed them with sunshine and water. That my friend, is the gateway to good life.

I believe this is my first step to Herbalism and follow my mother’s relationship with the nature.

She was all alone

It was the first time ever that Riya was home alone. Even being a University student, she has always been under the supervision of her parents. Her grandfather fell critically ill and her parents had to rush to another city where he resides. They went off for few days. However, it was just a matter of one night that she had to spend alone. Her aunt was supposed to be there the next day and stay with her till they came back.

Riya studied, Facetimed her friends and parents on and off, watched some Netflix, ate her meals and did her assignments all on time. She spent her day with quite ease and excitement as she had the big house all to herself. But as the night fell, her happiness seemed to disappear. At night she thought of keeping the lights on and sleep but that didn’t help. Clearly, she had to console herself on and off whenever the rustling leaves tapped from the outside on the windows of her bedroom. “It’s just the breeze, summer breeze,” she would say to herself.

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“Great, now I forgot to keep the bottle of water in the room!”

She mustered up enough courage to go to the kitchen and get herself a glass of water.

BANG!!

There was a loud noise behind her. She saw a man all masked!

To her disbelief, she did not pay any attention to her and went straight to her parents’ room and locked the door. She screamed and kicked and punched the door but to no avail.

She woke up in the morning to find herself in the hallway. The parent’s room was unlocked. It was just like how her parents had left it. She got back to her complete sense when she realized that someone broke into the house. The police and the neighbors had arrived.

And there she lied, still in a pool of blood.

It was the intruder who shot her and dragged her into the room. He stole a few things but most of all;

She was not one of us anymore…..

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Anne Frank, the shining star!

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On the occasion of #WorldBookDay, I would like to share my thoughts on a very special book that has been a vital part of my growing up years. If there is any book which leaves you depressed and full of life at the same time, it has to be The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It was her personal diary where she wrote everyday details of her two years in hiding from the Nazis. She started writing with a beautiful note. The diary literally became her confidante whom she would call Kitty in future.

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When I first read the book I was in high school. It was during one of my history assignments on the Holocaust and the World War II that I came across her name. When I bought the book and started reading it, I realized it was not just a typical teen girl’s diary. The reason why her journals became world famous, was the exact reason why I felt a connection with her right then. Surprisingly, I’m not over it! She wrote about how she lived with another family and a bachelor as old as his father. The hideout was given the name Secret Annexe. The details are so personal yet profound that it will really baffle the reader and wonder how she could be so innocent and mature at the same time. She talked about her daily observations about the other members, her love for languages, Greek mythology and history. Her take on politics was not a positive one as she was not particularly a fan of it given their then current situation. Her entries were very particular with the exact date.

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Besides the everyday struggles, Anne also talks about herself in major amounts. In an entry dated January 6, 1944, she confesses about her changing body, her sexuality and about her mother. She says,

“I imagine a mother as a woman who, first and foremost, possesses a great deal of tact, especially toward her adolescent children, and not one who, like Momsy (her nickname for her mom), pokes fun at me when I cry. Not because I’m in pain, but because of other things.” – Anne Frank

Upon reading this, I feel the same way. Mother-daughter relationships are complicated, and it’s never easy when one party expects certain things of another. I’m sure that Anne’s mother had expectations of her as well, ones that were not met. Because of their different personalities, they clashed, much in the same way that I do with mine. On the contrary she adored her father and they shared a precious bond where she received all the attention she thought she deserved.

Her last entry breaks my heart.

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Anne Frank was a gem who lived an unfortunate short life of 15 years. But her diary is now a pivotal source of information about the Holocaust and how the ostracized group of people survived during the War.

Anne, keep shining!

Butterfly through Moni Mohsin

“Between you, me and the four walls.”

And that’s exactly how our Butterfly spilled all the tea! Butterfly is Pakistan’s pompous image of the posh and bougie party lover who kept a track on the political affairs of her country at the same time. Juggling her fabulous life between Pakistan and London (and sometimes landing on Dubai), she writes monthly journals of how the world works around her. Janoo and Kulchoo, her husband and son respectively forms a big part of that world. An avid traveler and a connoisseur of everything fine, she gives a detailed account of the who’s who of her family and (important/VIP) friends.

The first installment starts from January 2001 and ends with a small note on a major twist in the world politics on January 2008 (the assassination of Benazir Bhutto). Her second journal starts from right where she left till she wished her friends “Marry Christmas” on December 2013. Moni Mohsin portrayed our Butterfly as glamorous and hilarious at the same time. The books really kept me hooked. The frequent mix of Hindi and English, thanks to my bilingual desi state of mind made me literally enjoy it more than a chick flick of a similar kind.IMG-20200413-WA0017

Sharp satires and crisp comedy brought Butterfly to life. However, there is some serious misuse of the English language. You need to know the nuances of Hinglish like a pro! Also at times, Butterfly is seen really ignorant and baffled her so-called educated class of rich friends with her petty and lame remarks. Her world revolves around the virtue of extravagance and superficial elegance. But if the sentiments are kept aside, her dimwit personality will not seem that malicious.

I guess through Butterfly, Moni Mohsin took digs at the hypocrisy of Pakistani politics to her heart’s content. Not only that through Butterfly’s eyes a very different world can be seen- that of a rich Pakistani woman for whom  everything should be aristocratic and good looking.

I tau loved reading the books sach batau toh!

Well, well…..humans!

In the splendor of the different tones and shades of the Earth we became a little ist– racist, sexist, ageist yada yada yada.

It was never God’s plan. Amidst all the chaos that we are experiencing right now, Earth has not been in her usual persona. The dirty and jaded planet (thanks to us!) seems to vibrate less with political energy. With the pollution not doing its daily rounds of atmospheric punctures, it seems like the sky is shining with surprise. There has not been a single day when animals left their captive state of natural habitat to wander down the streets to find humans!

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My part of the world has been experiencing different color palettes of sunset every day. The rains now flow barefoot while surveying the cleanliness around…….

The truth has been spoken. We wrote the fate for us. Nature will regenerate. It has fed and finished its creatures even before time was known to us.

Howard Gardner once said:

“I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place”

Oh well, much that I literally worship his ideas, but just humanly curious, who is in a better place now?

All I can wish that once this is all over, we return to the fundamentals and endorse marginal pursuit of power. We are definitely amateurs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m just a dog!

I’m just a dog…..

I don’t understand what’s day or what’s night. I don’t understand darkness and light. I see humans racing against something they call time. I wonder why? We were all the same, I thought. We both can walk and eat, we breathe and sleep. Oh well, perhaps we are different.

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I’m just a dog…..

Of late, the humans have not been hustling outdoors. I hear there’s a scary thing haunting them, Karma I believe. I miss the good ones who will hangout with me, feed me and play with me. My wags and hops matter to them. I know their voices. I could smell them as they got closer to me. I miss their touch! But I feel relieved, especially one of my enthusiastic friends, that the bad guys are not to be seen anywhere. You know the ones who will beat us up and kill my friends! I heard there is a place where they eat my friends too- I don’t wanna be rude but I guess the Karma that I talked about, finally got them! After all who am I to judge the human world?

I’m just a dog!

 

I heart Paris

You know how there is a little part in every girl who screams “let me just be dramatic first”?

If that little part was the only part that mattered, then this book is just the ideal read for you. I heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk. It is the 2nd part of the I heart series. The grounded yet ambitious Angela Clark took the protagonist role yet again, this time strolling around the City Of Love.

Aah….it was a joy ride reading the book. It is about Angela, the writer who gets a fantastic offer to go to Paris and write an article for a leading magazine. She accompanies her boyfriend who has to be there at the same time to perform for a music festival. Life seems perfect until Cici, the publisher’s jealous nephew makes her trip to Paris a week to remember. Definitely not in a way one would like to cherish! Angela was assisted by Virginie who was under the spell of Cici. And that’s not all, she spots Alex with his ex, a French singer, doing “professional meeting” at a cafe. Well, that’s a handful…..PHEW!

Now you might think that it is just another damsel-in-distress-finally-gets-her-shit-together kinda stuff. Absolutely not! What I loved about it is how the author has beautifully arranged the plain plot with unpredictable twists.

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It shows a sharp picture of NYC lifestyle, the joie de vivre of Paris and the propah prudent mindset of London. The frequent use of words from the world of fashion and everything fashionable holds the essence of the setting. Kelk was successful in transporting her readers to Paris through her honest and relatable words. The book is of twenty-two chapters. The plot is interestingly divided in those chapters where it keeps the reader hooked to know what comes next.

There were less moments of bore, times when I would actually skip a couple of pages to go to the next chapter. Angela is subtle in establishing British and American English are two different types. Often she shows off how she is a bilingual in English! There is a conversation between Angela and her best friend where she said couch instead of settee or a sofa.

I believe the success of the authors lie in the fact where they can make the readers feel that they are one of the characters. Kelk could do exactly that and I definitely believe I could relate to Angela and her thoughts in a titanic-huge way!

I found the book at a sale and I thought “oh well what the heck it’s for just a pound, let me buy it”. It turned out to be one of my precious reads.

Of Ruskin and the bonds!

This lock down has been and still a tough one for majority of us. With no option to spend our money on our impulses, no pointless “teas” to share about the favorite co-worker that we hate for no harmful reason at all or may be just the idea of getting bored in a million years from scrolling the phone; it is a task to survive. Good news is we are too lazy to even find stuffs to do around our homes to keep ourselves busy. But we don’t leave a moment to appreciate how our favorite celebs are pro-ing at household chores. Incredible!

Needless, to say I walked the lane too!

On the 3rd day of my work from home episode, my mom gave me a temptation. Weird for a lot of you. She said, “Clean up the library, I will let you switch on the AC after you shower tomorrow”.

Seriously, Mom! I AM NOT A BABY!

So I cleaned the library. Of curse!

Yeah, and I enjoyed the perk and all that silly jazz. But also, I found out a lethal alibi to not get bored. The library is massive! With way too old prints from the time of my ancestors to my section of utter girly and sometimes eccentric collections.

Man, did I just buy too many books to read and shelved them because I have a job, then a boyfriend and a few occasionally frequent unhealthy choices that kept me way too pretentious to be actually busy?

Hell yes!

Well I challenged myself to read two books each week and there I was: me, my challenge against quarantine.

But seriously fellas, it has been refreshing. I started the challenge with 2 beautiful books written by Ruskin Bond.

  1. Falling in love again
  2. Lone fox dancing

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Bond is a beautiful writer. Now I am not here writing a review. But his works are simply amazing that I couldn’t help but blog about it.

The first one, if you are a Ruskin Bond fan, you cannot miss this amalgamation of his vivid works. The excerpts added in the book completely resonates with the look of the book cover too.

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It is a timeless piece and it will take you away from the paranoia around for sure. The down memory lane will be walked and you will float back with a calm smile in your head.

P.S.: Not at all an exaggeration.

The second one is his autobiography, where he has just penned down every minute details of his life. At times you would really wonder if you are reading a book or you are literally having a conversation with him. The words are beautifully placed and there is a weird innocence that holds the chapters together.

A special mention for a friend who got these books autographed by the author. Thank you so much, Nitasha!

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The invisible tourist

There she was…..

With her contagious smile, one that can light up a thousand hearts…..

There she was…..with her long silky locks resting on her shoulders, as if they are ready to drown me in that ephemeral darkness…..

There she was….Chatting indistinctly on the phone, with remnants of her sweet voice bringing a melancholy tune to my ears, which was unheard of till that very moment…..

There she was…..walking down the aisle…..and the next moment, she was right here…… in my heart!

Modern Kolkata is a lot like this girl. Atleast that’s how I see it.

Being an outsider Bengali and equally curious to stay rooted to my culture, I keep dropping to this city quite often. IMG-20200226-WA0019It was not long before that I realized that this city is more than just the way it is stereotyped. Of course, I feel immense pride to be part of the community where we rolled out the maximum Nobel prizes. Growing up whenever I visited the city I was left curious about the amount of cha-er dokaan (tea shops) around or for that matter the adda of a mixed group of men near those shops. I called my aunties “cheek pullers”for the obvious reasons. It might have hurt as hell, but it still felt home.

The yellow taxi has a special place in my heart. It does not have an Uber cool air conditioning or app-solute convenience, but it will still take you places! It definitely has bigger seats and the drivers use their experience to navigate. So cool!

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The endearing thing about walking around the streets like a tourist; the frequent tiny temples under the trees or near a water-tap (time kol as we would like to call it). Also sometimes, near a dumpster. So that people do not over fill the dumpsters and start trashing the streets! That’s some machher jhol intelligence I adore!

It might be just 2 stones and somebody will plant it with some red mark on them to look Godly. People know the truth and they will still join their hands or do the shortcut way (touch your forehead and down to the chest while you randomly murmur!) to show their gratitude. IMG-20200226-WA0016

Kolkata unfolds herself to me everyday. Sometimes unsettled, unstable. Sometimes, invincible.

 

 

Kah-Rah-Nah-Vaa-Rus

Somebody ate a bat and now the whole world is batshit doomed!

Well, at least that’s how the theory goes!

2020 from the very beginning has been an emotional free fall for all of us and it has just been 3 months. With the lock down in India, March has been the longest month in the history of calendars.

My thoughts are absolutely random here. I could not bring this blog into a structure. Thoughts have gushing in and out of my mind since the outbreak got serious. With so many deaths and sufferings, it made a thing or two clear.

Partition and power have always been two favorite practices of the world politics. But the pandemic, just took over everything all at once. Now that the entire world (may be almost) is under quarantine, it is interesting to see how it has brought the world closer than ever. I guess power is after all, not invincible!

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As the civilizations are on the sleep mode waiting for a reboot, it is worthwhile to notice how we are forced to control our impulses to go out and graze the environment more than necessary. Videos and pictures have been doing the rounds of how the animals and trees have been coming out of their so called habitat where we had pushed them with all the might and intelligence.

It is also notable to see how much of a joke we have become. We literally do not have any hobby except scrolling our phones!

Well, looks like we do not need an April Fools Day this year.

But on a serious note, I think this is our absolute opportunity to let our hobbies make a re-entry into our lives.

  • Read that book that you bought 6 years ago before you got a job to blame on it.
  • You always wanted to learn a language. You will never get another long break like this.
  • There is an artist in everyone of us. Its time you summon it!
  • Cook for your family? For yourself? You’d finally learn to save some money and pack your lunch for work when its all over.
  • Workout, dance, do whatever stirs up the energy inside you. It is hiding behind those unhealthy spring rolls that you regret but never move an inch to get rid of it. Now is the time.

Calm your “I am bored” persona. You are not bored!

 

 

H for Harappa

Ruins are the sign of advancement. And it was best explained by my trip to the extended remnants of Harappa- the port city.

You know that feeling when your wish comes true? A childhood wish, in particular? It was surreal! After a whole lot of indecisive decisions, the journey was made a worthy one to always remember.

It was a forever thing on my wishlist to visit the place. On my previous blog I had shared the few places that I have visited on my trip to Ahmedabad, First Saturday

Well, this one is special.

After a lot of info collection about how to go there, I had resort to booking a cab. Luckily, I found a company, another history buff to share the experience with…..

Harappa is located on the outskirts of the city in Lothal. A roughly 80 kilometers drive, you can also avail public transport (a bus, then a tuk-tuk and voila!) But that takes up to 3-4 hours to reach. Based on the reviews, it would take me roughly 2 hours to explore the entire site (and the reviews were super correct). Much that my wish was about to get fulfilled, I couldn’t really afford a 8- hours travel back and forth in total. However, it is cheaper, if that’s what you’re looking for.

After a long drive, and a lot of catching up with my girl, while occasionally getting stunned by the rural greenery, we reached Lothal. Okay, reminder: Carry bottles of water and snacks along with you. The road will literally dry up and starve you till your last cell. There are no “dhaba” once you take the exit after the toll. It is almost an hour and a half journey after that.

Snap!

We are here. I am here!

It was surreal to even step out of the car. I guess you get the feel of what i am trying to express here……

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There are parking facilities right around the site. After we bought the tickets (20 rupees each) , we were led to the museum. It had all the artifacts, potteries, utensils, toys, jewelries, etc. as part of the collection. It also displayed a mock up of the entire civilization which sadly became the mounds of the dead. If you love going through all the deets of the collection, it will take you a little less than an hour. It is an U-shaped space and right in the middle there is a theater with a mini-projector setting for the kids to enjoy the history, virtually.

After the museum, we went straight towards the excavated site. Well, let’s just say, it was like walking into the pages of the history book!

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After a lot of dust consumption and passionate admiration of the dead civilization, we bid goodbye. The journey while returning back to the city was a quite one. We kept thinking about the possibilities of what would have happened. It made us curious in our heads and heavy in our hearts.

The reality of extinction kicked us hard. Not to be dramatic but it was an eye-opener and a signal to stay humble.

First Saturday

Work trips are usually all about how well you document the minutes and make most of the “work” from the “trip”. Well, thanks to mine, that part is not a dreadful one. On my first visit to Ahmadabad, I had multiple thoughts. After a long time I had a trainee strength of just three (originally four)! My training delivery had to be more like a coach. Thanks to my 5-star anti-procrastinated self, that was well sorted. Well in advance. The weekdays were dedicated to my trainer version. Weekends brought out my TLC side.

Perhaps, the small group made the training sessions quite personal and made me like the city too. The traveler in me had already made a list of places to visit. Out of all the places that I explored, the worthwhile ones were Jhulta Minara, Sabarmati Ashram and Law Garden. Dada Harir Vav was disappointing due to lack of maintenance. It is sad how such a huge piece of fantastic architecture is nothing but a playhouse for dust and dirt. Surprisingly, the mosque on its backyard was a beaut!

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By the Sabarmati river, is the Ashram. With carefully restored household and personal items of Mahatma Gandhi and his family, it is a real quaint treat for the tourists. Part of the structure is utilized as a gallery and a museum. The famous Charkha, the spinning wheel and Gandhi’s round glasses are in display which really etched a depth in my mind. It takes you through his contributions, doctrines, lifestyle, movements all in one place. You can finish off your tour around the place by resting on one of the benches by the river. A little heads up to love; there are chipmunks everywhere!
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Sidi Bashir Mosque or Jhulta Minara. It is said that the architecture is such that during times when one minaret vibrates, it travels to the other! Bizarre info, right? Well, when I went the Earth didn’t quake! The thing that bothered me: there is a slum that borders the local area. So, for solo female tourists or girls in general, just be a bit careful! Overall, the stone architecture was all about Islamic scriptures and importance which were intricately made in motif patterns. The prayer hall is accessible to all. Minus, the safety part, the experience was breathtaking!
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The mosque behind Dada Harir Vav. Vav is the old Gujarati word for step well. The step wells were beautiful architectural forms typical of this particular geographical area. I read so much about this specific one that I had to visit it. It was on my way back from the Jhulta Minara. What came to me as a shocker was the way it was not maintained at all. It was dark, dusty, damp and dingy! That’s a lot but so true that I had to mention all at once. As I went to its backyard, there stood this beautiful mosque. The keeper was rather sweet to show me around. The two figures stood right there on the same ground with strikingly opposite maintenance level. 

Ahmadabad is quite a big city and to travel from on point to another takes a metropolitan time. On the way back from the Sabarmati Ashram, I missed a visit to the Calico Museum of Textiles. If you put it on your list, make sure to call the museum to book a slot for yourself, at least a week in advance. Yes, it works like that. In between these two points, there’s the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Museum. It felt too tourist-ey for a traveler like me. So I skipped it. Besides these, the other stops that I mentioned earlier fall on the same route. After you are done exploring, you can take a final stop around the Law Garden area to do some street shopping. If you are rational in your head, let me tell you they have everything cute but costly stuffs. Good news: the sellers are up for bargain!

I had hired a local autorickshaw that took me all the places. Google Maps helped along the process. Given the vehicle and the traffic, if you are that kind of a person who has got to tick off everything on the list in a short time, this entire sightseeing will take not more than 2 and a half hours. There are Government tour buses available too. You have to book may be a couple of days in advance. However, they take you around all the places to visit. I didn’t wanna explore a few points so I opted out. But its worth the money. You can book it online.

Overall, my first Saturday on my 3 weeks work trip went quite amazing. The Sunday however, reminded me of Monday and I planned to stay tucked in the hotel room with Netflix and Masala Khichdi.

The next Saturday was a day that I would cherish forever. Write soon!

The demon

It happened on one of my travels.

I was exploring around the suburbs of the city. I went there to witness a historic phenomenon, a pond that made unusual patterns with its frequent ripples. Naive locals described it as the demon that is sleeping under the water and the ripples are results of him snoring under water. Well, it sounded captivating so I did not mind believing it. A little bubble won’t harm!

As I walked towards the pond I came across a typical suburban house with a huge courtyard and stacks of hay that marked its territory. A faint wave of giggles caught my attention. As I got closer, I saw there were four women, laughing like time was nearing its end. What I understood from their gestures and the frequent belly scratches, they were mimicking their husbands. They spoke a different language. As I stood there, impolitely interrupting their privacy, one of them saw me and asked the rest to hold up. She smiled. It was welcoming yet restricted.IMG-20190505-WA0021

It was not even a long moment that I became part of the entourage and exchanged comfortable interactions. Further replying to their inquisitive spirits about my lifestyle, the type of work that I do and most importantly, I am 32 and single, what I understood was they were not from my part of the Universe. They were shocked and oddly satisfied at how my work involved, educating the men too!

“Do you get to raise your voice at them, like a teacher? It must be fun to do so”, the youngest of the middle aged women asked. She further added how she envied my life and that I am blessed. Meanwhile, I noticed that this idea of power was something that was not appreciated by the slightly older one. While I was still talking, she interrupted in between:

“Women. We are women. You see, we should not laugh loudly, we should not raise our voices, we are not men.”

Another lady saw the hesitation on my face, to which she said:

“It is better to understand the borderlines. It helps you to get what you want by making the other gender feel like winner. That is the art of being a woman. And not travel and work and educate them.”

More than feeling offended, it hit me deep. Women against women. There. I witnessed it.

I left from there without creating another fuss. I couldn’t help but wondered about the twisted perspective that I just learned. Thousands of deafening thoughts crossed my mind.

As I arrived at the pond, I saw few girls and a boy playing on its bank and laughing together. No inhibitions. No art. It seemed like I traveled through two different Universe to reach to the pond. It was a regular pond. The demon was elsewhere.

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In search of the noise

When I reflect on my earlier days, solitude had a different meaning. Asian parenting ideologies did not see it as a healthy sign of civilization. My immigrant parents in the 1st world country feared that I won’t be socially acceptable. Or rather, I showed signs of being anti-social.

What I understood was their insecurities were at their prime and I gave in……I became what I would call, an extrovert with manners.

I grew up……

Friday nights were nothing without my glow and show among my friends,

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A leader in my field,

A confidante to both the best friends, who were dating each other,

I would bake for family reunions and would be the secret keeper of my cousins’ fickle, impulsive life choices.

I was at the top of my game.

It was not long ago I realized that my parents have suddenly become quite liberal and I was allowed to have choices. After a conversation what I understood that they wanted to pass the control onto somebody who reflected similar family values and was eligible to keep me satisfied. In every way.

As this much honored custom goes, I did not quite understand the involvement of marriage as an important rite of passage. Looking at my parents I nauseated. If this is how two people unite to control the life of their next generation, I would rather never settle for this.

So, I ran away………..

Well not technically!

With an eloquent disapproval and turning down their offer, I left my home.

Now, don’t get too cinematic here, reader!

What I mean is that I worked my ass off to get a job on a different time zone. Not a 1st world scene of course, but it meant freedom to me. A step towards my long lost solitude. I was definitely not prepared to move away from the Sun that showed me the days; or the Moon that taught me time in different ways.

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I moved away from everything that I was all these years.

Now, as I still wonder, it is still the same time, the same days. The same Sundays.

The noise differs. Solitude gave me the calmest noise of silence.

And indeed, the peace of being myself. To myself. We don’t do that a lot. Think!

Images courtesy

Year of The Beatles

 

The moment you read this, it has already been etched as an Earthly memory. What you are reading in the present has been existing from the past. Confusing yet, true!

 

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At the first look, its The Beatles. Now look even carefully.

Check today’s date. Check the date on the calendar here.

It has been 56 years…….of  The Beatles calendar. 56 years down, we are nowhere man! We made a full circle.  We are right here where we had started.

The time traveled across the Universe.

I have so much to share but I have been in total awe since the time a friend of mine shared this picture with me. May be I am overreacting, but hey, this year deserves it!

While growing up I came across the saying that goes like “history repeats itself”. This just brings an explosion in my mind…..

Are we moving towards the past? Are we finally going to become better humans? Will there be less depression? May be we are moving towards counterculture which is still better than xenophobia……may be the victims won’t be victimized and the criminals would be penalized.

May be happiness will not be secondary in the modern competition and may be, love will earn back its reputation.

I know I am being cheesy but coming to think of it, we all love a piece of that!

With this may be people might start loving less touch and tap and more real chat.

Stay amazed!

 

My life story

Some says, it is orthodox. Some say……….

Patriarchy.

Way of life.

Destiny.

Well let us just add some positivist touch to the stigma, shall we?

I will rather choose to call myself getting redefined while I accept society. Well, I don’t know who exactly started the whole concept of letting either of the genders to take control of the different societies around the world. But I do know, you make yourself look weak the moment you use the low key propaganda to spread empowerment of any sorts. I also think “it takes two to tango” and “there is no smoke without fire” !!

As for me, my roles kept changing with time. So did my plans. Priorities? That is a good question……you see all our lives we look for scopes and places to feel secure and happy. It just different people and places that we find both at different phases of life. That pursuit keeps getting layered with selflessness and attachments with every new responsibility……may be that is when we feel trapped and think LIFE SUCKS!

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When I was a kid, I was happy and attached to my people who got me colors, dolls and candies.

The ones who would sing me songs and tie my hair…..

When I was a little older my plans changed. I had more friends to laugh with……I learnt to feel the breeze on my face on a moving car…..learnt to love the rain and it’s smell……

Time comes when I feel secure with the person who is happy with my curls, lips, curves and hips…….sometimes, not always.`

But hey! I still have some aspirations which are unsettled. Some unfinished business that cannot be done…….with an occasional heavy heart, I move on…..

Now I grow as my little ones do…..As I grow, this personal journey of finding happiness made me think; what if there are no priorities but only harmony? What if these different phases and different layers of responsibilities are the ways to my happiness?

So now what do I do with the rest of my life?

It was Diwali 2017 that I questioned my existence. After the long flashback, it was quite impressive to take pride of the list of accomplishments. Well, it is not exactly how I planned or rather prioritized things, but hey y’all, I found happiness.

I found pride.

Fulfillment.

I found my life story worth sharing…..

I am a regular Indian housewife. The one you see in Bollywood films with a sweaty face, frizzy hairdos, wearing Sari or preferably a “maxi” if it is a hardcore household scene. I am mostly found in the kitchen with a spatula trying to strain the perfectly deep fried Poori out of the boiling bubbling oil. I am often the last person to go to bed and the first one to wake up in the morning. Yes, it is not frustrating but it is rather very satisfying to help my family get ready to head out for the day.

And that is not a maid who does the chores. Sometimes, she is the one who gets my aura better than my relationships living under the same roof with me.

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I am a working woman. I am just not salaried. But I get to lead the household, enjoy perks of motherhood and freelance with my gardening skills too…..Now doesn’t that sound independent? Beyond all the stigma, propaganda and society, it is me who found that little loophole and found ways to embrace self-reliance and I am exactly how I look in my photographs, content and happy.

Too fresh to fade

It’s not loneliness. May be it’s just my unaided pile of desolate emotions. I don’t know…….sometimes it’s just the thoughts in my head that are so loud that I can barely hear the noise of  the world around me. IMG-20190913-WA0044

Silence has a voice too- very few can hear it. I listen to it. There is laughter. There is tantrum. Anxiety. Pain. Separation. Every time I walk into my thoughts, glimpses of those memories play hide ‘n’ seek with my reality.

The morning alarm goes off. It is yet another day. I get ready for work, eat breakfast, avail the affordable commute, sign in to work. As I sit in my cubicle, the world around me is a big blur. Sure I do participate on and off, but it’s all just a big pit of mindfulness and political dynamics that is just way too disturbing for an already disturbed mind of mine. The time seems to function way too fast. I’m never able to catch it. A little less respectful, a little less polite. Indifference, may be that’s the word. May be it’s just a phase.

It’s every night when I close my eyes away from reality, I see even more clear…….IMG-20190911-WA0009

Days of being abused; not thrown but used.

The days I can’t undo……

May be it is not delusional to create illusions around myself. You see, people are always better in imagination. They make me believe in harmless possibilities. After all these years of growing up with violent memories and deep rooted mental scars, shifting in and out of reality in my head has become quite fluid. It not madness, its just another escape tool. Very much like listening to your current favorite single on loop.IMG-20190911-WA0015

To the world, I’m a regular adult. To me, I’m still hiding under the bed trying to get away from what is now, a dreadful memory too fresh to ever fade…….

Denial!

I saw this man at my cafe today. I keep seeing so many people come and go and grab their orders. He was different. He had this unusually perfect man lips! I could see a spark in his eyes when he looked at me. It was weird at first, but then I realized, it was the smell of the fresh brewed coffee that made him look around the place with that expression. He moved towards the counter.

“Good morning! How are you today?”, the barista always had this obnoxiously excited way to greet the customers. I mean relax Kevin! He will buy our coffee. Don’t be this extra!

“Depends on how soon I get my coffee.” The man replied with a straight face.

I literally had my best laugh of the day.

Kevin went aside to brew the order after MY MAN paid for it. I was busy doing my own thing, when Kevin suddenly pulled me out from my service station! I was literally excited and nervous at the same time. Given his daily behavior, it was not something I will consider spontaneous. He tickled me with a pen. Well it seemed smooth given how close we were to each other that no one could notice anything wrong. It was our little secret! It felt right. Well, atleast for sometime…..

“One large Americano for Daniel?”, Kevin almost screamed.

The man with perfect lips took me off the counter and read his name. Oh boy, the tickle was wrong…..like every other time!

He scoffed as he read his name. “DENIAL? Huh?” He did not bother to wait for Kevin to answer anything and made his way out.

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Well, as for me, I brought him happiness as he took the first sip pressing his perfect lips against mine. He opened the exit door to head out. The chill of December was shielded by my warmth while he had that manly grip on me. I found my short lived life’s pursuit!

Mystic and old

One alley. One story. All I could do was not to spare a chance to walk through the ones that caught my eyes.Walking along with Gau Mata like passer by. Pausing to catch the glimpse of the local Brahmins pass while chanting age old mantras. Witnessed Hinduism by the ghats and Islam in the hood. Meanwhile sightseeing took me to Sarnath among other places. The whole experience vibrated peace. That is how Varanasi treated me for a 3-day trip. Ideally, it is week long trip if you want to really have the much talked about mystic experience of the city. But my ESL life could only squeeze this much break for leisure travel off the work travel schedule!

The aura of the Ganga aarti kept the entire stretch of the ghats lit with a hypnotizing belief that time is always under construction and life is building upon it. Hundreds of people gathered everyday to witness the one-hour long ceremony of showing gratitude to the Ganga. The exciting part is when you realize how all the priests are in sync with each other while performing the rituals. It was so beautiful to watch how so much of effort is invested in empowering human beliefs.

Just when I started to sink in that feeling, it was the moment when I came face to face to the only reality that makes us live the entire life in denial- Death. Manikarnika ghat; it is believed that people who are cremated here receive Moksha or salvation. This riverfront is always seen with fire burning the Hindu dead bodies at all hours of the day. It was one of those mind numbing moments when you are so close to an absolution that you don’t know what to feel. It all seemed too real to be true. Like I landed in a period drama movie set!

Tasting the local food is always a delight of any place. However, as I explored more, I discovered it is a city which is a home away from home for people across the globe. Besides gorging on the heavenly Kachori subzi, cruncy jalebi or scooping rabdi from the cute little pots, I could also spot cafes that served international cuisines with authentic arrangements. Be it a German bakery, an Italian bistro or Oriental food, it took me by surprise! The best however, was the lassi. After a heavy rush of strange numbness from the Manikarnika encounter, I went to this much recommended lassi shop, The Blue Lassi. I have no idea how it got the name, but they sure churn the best ones. Their selection of flavors and styles of preparation left me in awe and definitely pulled me out from the strange feeling to vacation vibes once again!

Spotting Aghoris on and off were confusing moments. I was not sure whether to feel scared and look away or stay fascinated and stare at them. With their creepy sense of fashion, Aghoris drew attention no matter what. Being almost naked in public or covering the body with human ashes felt plain normal for them. Using a human femur bone as a walking stick or wearing human skulls around their necks seemed perfectly fine. Their calm attitude made them seem even more mysterious. It is a different world!

I was always fascinated to hear different travel stories from the people who ever visited this old city. What I feel now is it’s even more fulfilling to see what you hear about a place is so mysteriously true. It was one vacation that I would love to repeat yet again. Such was Varanasi through my eyes!

To all my favourite people!

One of the best things that happened to me this year was my job as a TESOL trainer with the Asian College of Teachers. Now this is quite a big deal for a baby-faced woman like me! IMG-20180720-WA0013 I mean being a teacher trainer where you really need to balance the easy-going attitude with a equal assertiveness is quite a job in itself. Teacher training is anything but way different from being just a teacher. Training a class full of teachers or aspiring ones from different age groups, social and cultural backgrounds is amazingly interesting. And I get to travel places. Like literally, meet teachers from different locations, conduct activities, assess their skill developments, etc., while I get to hop around different cities and try to discover the local ways. The whole program is a 3-weeks long process where we try to understand the requisites of a successful facilitator who would like to teach English as a Second Language. That includes a whole lot of new age teaching methods, brainstorming theories while learning tricks to develop the four skills to comprehend the language- listening, speaking, reading and writing. In between the teaching practices, I make it a point to call for little celebrations. This not only makes the class shake off their anxieties but also lets the all of us to bond well. IMG-20180709-WA0022

Every batch has its own story to share. Each lot of trainees come with their amazing set of ideas and experiences that makes each program a special one. Usually, the batches consist of ESL enthusiasts counting to a minimum of five to a maximum of twenty. It sometimes do get tricky for the fact that there are people from different age groups. Some are freshers trying to travel and teach. Some are looking for a job switch. Some are retired ones with decades of work experience trying to settle with something different from what they have been doing for years. IMG-20180922-WA0011The experienced ones are often the expat teachers or teachers from that specific locations who sign up for the program for a professional upgrade. Some sign up for an extra certificate to add to their curriculum vitae! The list goes on. So as you can see there are quite a lot of different energies that come together for 3 weeks.

Going to different places and training teachers has its own perks. Firstly, it’s a different culture. I go to train the teachers on how to teach English as a Second Language. In the process, I get to learn the local lingo of that place from the teachers. That’s quite an exchange now! The lunch breaks usually become the perfect excuse for me to try the local food. IMG-20180620-WA0009Sometimes even home made, if any trainee decides to bring their own food. Fridays are usually wrapped up with assignments to be completed over the weekend. But much to the tensed faces, there is always a hidden happiness as we often plan to meet either on a Saturday or Sunday. May be for a movie or may be, just out and about the town. Or may be some local attraction. That’s how I kind of end up with way too many guides taking me on a tour around the cities!

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The farewell…..

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Lunching and touring before we resumed class….

 

Breakfast meet before class!

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I believe life gives us way too many chances. We are too busy complaining to understand the signs. The signs to grow, think and become a better person. To nurture the ability to see the world from different perspectives while I keep adding chapters to my life. And that is not the end. Meanwhile I train, I learn so much.

The social and cultural knowledge is just a teeny tiny bit of it. It only gives me the strength to think that there is a whole wide world beyond my world in my head. It gives me a chance to grow and feel the existence of different ideas. Someone rightfully said that there is no end to learning. If only we learn to see the world according to the changing air around us, it will be the best gift that one can present himself or herself.

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Happy holidays!

Oh well it’s December! Few days left for Christmas and to celebrate yet another New Year. As the world gets busy with the festivities, I am here travelling, training and reminiscing my festival. My city during Durga Puja. Now, the dates are not the same every year but majorly, they fall sometime during September and October. It’s quite a week-long festival with each day having its own significance. Skipping the mythological backdrop, if we come to the new-age views on the festival, its is more than just worshiping the Goddess. Mostly, you might think I’m trying to talk about the whole idea of wearing new clothes, eating all the possible delicacies and not missing a chance to hop around to visit the marquees where the Goddesses are celebrated. Or may be, the fact that festivals let you come together with family and friends to celebrate. It is more than that.

Every year on January 1st, Bengalis look up the dates of Durga Puja. It adds meaning and a chance to look forward to the year ahead. It marks the occasion of many things. For some it means to happy for leaves from work and go see their families. For some it is to plan and buy clothes while there is a sale way prior to the festival so that there are more clothes on their set budget! For some it is an experience for the first time. A first after getting a job. A first after getting married. Or started dating. Or an addition in the family. Or after they parted ways. For some it is about planning a getaway around those days with their loved ones. For some it is a first without family. And for some it is the last festival.IMG-20181202-WA0073

There is always something old and eventful (if not life changing!) about those days. This is the thing about festivals. Keeping aside the togetherness and the celebrations, it keeps us rooted to ourselves. Our inner self. The bustling streets speaks to a lot of our silent thoughts. At one point through all these, we try to find reasons to believe that the world is a good place to live in. It takes us to those lanes where we used to be way different from what we are now. How things changed. Good and bad. How your decisions and choices made you surround yourself with your present reality. How you have fallen in and out of love. How we thought we will not be able to move forward in our lives without the presence of something and someone.How the definition of festivals and holidays kept changing with time and plans. But here we are now, counting days to let go and gather new hope.

We human beings as we age and things make to start sense, we grow three faces. the first one is what we try to project ourselves to the world around to continue being the social animal. The second one is what we try to make ourselves believe about what we might be or at least wish to be. The  third is the one that is  the most honest face and the one that we avoid and hide from ourselves. Our inner self. Every moment of our lives the second and the third faces are fighting numerous wars to find that winning spot in our minds. Like you know the times we look at ourselves in the mirror and we think we are ugly. But if you look deep down it is not the face. It is the lack of feeling content of what you have and being jealous of others makes us look ugly.

It is just like the festivals. The first one is like all the celebrations that we see around us. The ideas of  indulgences change with the time to fit in. What stays with us are those little moments of reminisce where we found happiness for something which did not have a facade. That is just like the third face which now struggles to keep up and stay as a stronger memory than the new ones which are more fresh.

Everyday we keep disguising our needs with what the world wants to see in us. For that we keep counseling ourselves into thinking that we are valid. We fight the social stigmas and shaming by tricking ourselves into a standard idea of perfection.  At the end of the day, it is just you on your bed. The deep breaths before you fall asleep. That little moment of silence in your mind before you doze off. That is when you find your inner self with an answer that if you are happy or not!

We are just few weeks away from yet another year. Yet another time to indulge into celebrations. In the midst of all these let us try to do more things for that third face. Let us just promise ourselves that we will work on ourselves for a happier heart.

Happy holidays!

As Shakespeare said…..

“Seeing is believing.”

Believe what you see.

Your mind sees too.

Your mind sees dreams.

Believe in them.

We talk so much about dreaming big. While kids and their ideas of what they want to be when they grow up are always given attention, little do we understand that these are mere reflections of the lessons learnt in school. Lessons supported with pictures help them to inspire. That little thin book with a picture of an astronaut or a pilot or a doctor gives a new path to those kids to take the first step to dream. To think that he or she can be the person in the picture too. He or she can save the world too. He or she can set a goal. Yes, people it is all about how we picture ourselves that helps us to set goals.

Goals are nothing but your intuition that makes you feel that you can take a stand for your decisions or ambitions. It can be anything. From what you plan to do for a living to daily routines. Everything that you feel strongly that you will want to achieve is a goal.

I used to be quite a social person in my college days. Then I started working. I was still that same butterfly. One who loved being loud and going to parties. The melting make up. The sweaty shiny party dresses (shorter and tighter the better, of course!). The booming music vibrated till all the water from my brain was sucked out and gave me the infamous hangover headache the next morning.  Well it did not matter much then. I was proud of myself, instead. I mean I was the queen bee, hello! 313261_163230623764134_722157495_nBut much that I loved the life I had back then, there were few things which I loved more than all of that. At the back of my mind I always had different plans for myself and this part of my life never tallied with any of my plans. I tried to look for reasons of this dissatisfaction but to no avail.  

I still remember I was in the United States. It was the summer of 2011. I was in Maine. Oh! How much I love that place. The rocky coastline, the Atlantic chill and not to forget the food! I traveled to Maine to visit the village of Ogunquit. I am in love with that part of America. The county feel is too deep to get over it. The suppers by Perkins Cove, the Capriccio festival, the summer beach, the cutest little gift shops, the tempting lobsters and I can just go on. I went there and again played my social butterfly card quite generously. Since I planned to stay there for the entire summer, I had to find ways to live my nightlife with the same zeal. Soon I made friends over there with a high school couple who were locals over there. They introduced me to few of  “my kinda” people and in few days of moving in the new place I was on a roll. Weekends were definitely like what we call now LIT AF!! I started meeting even more people and made my own little kingdom there. Life was good. Awesome!

On July 4th, I went out for dinner in some eatery in the downtown area with my new friends. As we left, we thought of taking a walk a little ahead the downtown area. The weather was promising as hell. It added to the celebration state of mind. As everyone was busy chattering and ranting about their bosses at work, we came across this really old building. It said Free Memorial Library. I have always been a huge Harry Potter fan. As you can clearly see the architecture, it took me straight from the muggle world to the Hogwarts dorms. I just had to get in there. Few of my friends also joined. The rest walked towards the beach. The library goers decided to meet them in a while after we checked the new found spot of real fantasy. And my my, was it a dream? Yes, it was.217748_104242936329570_4830967_n The inside of the building breathed Gothic architecture from all corners. The tall  shelves, the lofty ladders to reach the topmost shelf, the thick Renaissance furniture, the smell of the books. The place had so much of history. It had its own timeline that had so many stories to tell. Suddenly a sign of peace hit me hard. It was a different feeling which I could not unfold for sometime. But it was definitely something that made me visit the library almost every alternate days for the rest of the summer I was in Ogunquit. 

 

The books made me feel pleasant about my life. There was not any hullabaloo or exchange of unnecessary ideas. No hangovers, no headaches. No loud music, no loud talks. Neither did I judge nor was I judged by people. I realized may be this is what bothered me so much. If I am not part of the crowd, the crowd will judge me and I will be left alone. May be the feeling of isolation scared me from doing things that I actually loved. To read. To write. To stay motivated. It was a revelation!229020_104243079662889_3131602_n

I was floating like a fluid body with insecurities and no affirmations. Even after I realized that I need to get rid of my bad habits to focus on my life, it was not a matter of a moment. Let me tell you, the whole shift from that person to this person who is writing the blog took seven years to overcome something which I did not even like to do. Too much of letting yourself loose becomes an addiction and it really does not help to stay motivated. You become lazy to stay motivated and actually look for one goal. From the time I realized that party season is over, I made it point to revamp my thoughts completely and work towards a better life. It was my goal. And I can now proudly say that I achieved it after seven years. There were times when I had no idea what am I trying to do with my life. I cut off friendships and later feel horrible about it. I started to avoid association which did not lead me towards my goal. Sometimes I gave up and went back to the way I did not want to walk again. With the guilt in my mind, I shook off my urges to let that airhead version of me go away. Years went by but I did not let myself forget those seven months that made me realize the type of person I am or I should be if I want be fair to my life. 

This might seem like just another motivational story that we come so many times nowadays. I am not trying to motivate or convey any strong message. My point is I kept believing what I saw in front of me from the time I had the library encounter on the 4th of July. I kept seeing myself in a position where I will have time to do things that actually makes me happy. Read books. Write articles, stories, etc. I had to get back to my old self which I was in my school days. I made my conviction even stronger by going back to the journals that I wrote as a teenager. I read through the pages to remind myself how I  always wanted to have a strong voice and engage into public speaking. It reminded me of how I see myself as an author when I grew up. Going back to this good past triggered my conscience. It made me believe in who I am and how I saw myself standing in my life eventually. debo1.jpg

You see this is the exact marketing skill that companies use to sell their products. Industries are flourishing and flocking based on this simple thought. What you see you believe. So it better be a sale-able sight enough to push those exact buttons that makes you need and want that product. And from a life’s perspective, you should always place yourself in that exact position in your mind where you want see yourself. That is like an affirmation to yourself that you can get what you want. 

It’s very basic and not a very rare thing to do. Keep surprising yourself everyday! 

 

 

Life is a ticking timer…

Humans as we say are social animals. We are sucked into this whole galactic feel to please people with a intention of security. Family, friendships, marriages and so on, each relationship has its own vibe and aura. We are all running after these bonds we share because it makes us happy. The shoulders are right there for us when we need them. That peace is not material and it can never be measured. Our world revolves around these beautiful set of amazing people who makes the existence worthwhile. We start taking this existence for granted thinking they are here to stay. And then  a time comes when we grow apart. School’s over. College’s over. Jobs rule our weekdays. Priorities change. Happens all the time, right?

Now if you look into it carefully, out of so many people we meet, only few we remember for the rest of our lives. Good or bad, we cross paths and the memories are unforgettable. We crave for the memories and the thoughts take us away from reality at times. It is so interesting to see that our human minds at times start dreaming so hard that it makes us extend those memories into our unfulfilled or unfinished wishes or promises. It makes us regret the reality. The different lives that join with our stories are sometimes not stagnant. But the depth of bond comes in disguise of attachments. Once the ties are non-existent we start  looking out for options to fill that emptiness. This insecurity makes us look for alternatives and that is when we make superficial choices. This applies for all. Be it a best friend, a parent or a lover. And then comes some other kind of relationships which are special to us but beyond any explanation. These are the evil sweet ones which makes your day for reasons known only to those whoever shares the bond. The inner jokes, the amazing match of thoughts, it is just so damn positive! Finding alternatives to these ones are sometimes never possible.

So as I write this, I cannot help but wonder, why do we even look for an emptiness filler when the void can never be helped? The attachments we share with each person are all different. With love it all grows. We stay because the other one sharing the bond listens to us or does not mind to stay with our imperfections. With time what we do not realize is that when the bond becomes a habit we become control freaks. Now that we are comfortable with the relationship we try to change the dynamics according to our perspectives. Sometimes we call it sacrifice and sometimes this become a tool to sabotage the attachment. Eventually, we start finding the bad in the relationship and we create drama episodes for ourselves! I mean, like why? Are we not paying for Netflix already?

If that person is really a special one and in the long run you will be happy no matter what, why will you even think of ways to get rid of the bond? They made a mistake and repeated the same thing and you got trust issues? Or they stopped listening to you so you just wanna make your life like a social media handle and block that attachment forever? We say “there is no smoke without fire.” All we do is see the smoke and ignore the fire. Rather than finding ways to stay away or finding flaws why not we look into the times we were actually happy and laughing and found ways to keep it alive? I mean yes, there are times we wanna run away from abusive or attachments that question our dignity. This is justified. But this is not the case all the time. Is it?

Hold on to the attachments because time is life!

Amphan

It has been 10 days of the 3-hour long nature’s threat and we are still facing its consequences. Super cyclone Amphan had hit West Bengal among her neighboring few leaving us disconnected from the world completely for almost a week. Luckily my house is around the area where the diplomats stay so we did not quite suffer extensively. But major parts of my city, Kolkata was ruptured into a pool of electric wires, electrocuted flood water, and trees. The restoration is going on with full force. However, lack of manpower due to the corona virus has slowed down the process. There are still a lot of neighborhoods where there is no electricity. There was a lack of water but its taken care well now. However, the internet connectivity has been way too unstable. With hardly any reception on phones, no internet calling options, for sometime everything literally traveled back in time. 

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When we are supposed to work from home, the stable internet seems to be the support system. Without the WiFi, it was totally a doom for days. Devastating pictures of the country side made rounds and it was all heart breaking to see how the people lost their mud built homes. The farmers lost the crops. People were electrocuted and seen floating up dead. The Sunderbans were affected mercilessly. The picture of a dead Royal Bengal Tiger was symbolic.

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Another terrific picture: the airport was under water.

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The government and the local municipality corporations have been doing their best to restore the city into what it was. Although the lock down has been a major obstacle.

Interestingly, Amphan made me realize something- after so many trees were uprooted, I was amazed to see how green was my cosmopolitan!