An ode to our home-grown Disney store

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So for all those who enjoyed reading or watching Indian mythology like me as a child or as a grown up and wished that they were transported to the ancient magical world where they would come across holy saints and mystics who would offer you from nowhere a mysterious potion containing fresh herbs from the jungles to cure you of your just about any ailment then you would realize that this has finally turned into a reality! Transportation is of course still faraway from turning in a reality but the rest mentioned above all exists…with a little alterations. The ancient setting has been modified to suit the modern environment.  The magical saint that you would have met then can now be only seen on the posters and boards of his stores as you step in. Welcome to Baba Ramdev’s world of magical products – both edible and non.

Patanjali: a grown-up’s Disney store.  My eyes glitter as soon as I step into any Patanjali store across the country.  It is akin to a child entering a Disney store. Both take you to the happy world of magic from where you can take back home one or several pieces of magic, of course at a price. The two differences being that a Disney store has expensive merchandise and its merchandise only brings you imaginative pleasure. Patanjali products whereas, assure you of magical results. Name any body part from head to toe– internal or external- which is  a source of concern for you! And there you go, you will find a remedy! A one-stop shop for all your health and beauty problems. And instead of the label at the back of the product spelling out the chemicals used in its ingredients, this one has the names of herbs! And boy, don’t you feel organic!

So when a friend asked me recently where she could get fresh wheat grass from, I thought it was a very absurd question! She should have known! Oh yes, they have a clinic too.

This is hoping that it continues to remain like this forever – an affordable magic store for one and all. Why just a child, even grown-ups should believe in magic.

(My 10-year old daughter just read this above and asked me if I have been paid to write this! It now sounds as if it is a paid writing but No, this is just an overgrown child who still believes in magic! And my daughter, she has finally grown up! 🙂 )

(image courtesy: http://annroth.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/magic-hat.jpg)

 

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Hail Sisterhood!

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When I look at my little niece and nephew sometimes on video-chats I know they are in for a fabulous childhood together. Something that they will realize later. I have the fondest of childhood memories with my brother who is a year younger than me. However, as years go by and life makes us take different paths, I see around me that siblings of same sex bond better as time goes by and they are able to transform this doting filial relationship to something much better – a lifelong friendship.

It could be a mere hypothesis and I don’t have the stats to support me but when I see such sets of siblings – same sex versus different I am more than certain. My cousins, two of my best friends and the best example at home – my mum support my hypothesis strongly! Mum’s younger sister, my darling aunt lives many miles away from us yet I see the two of them talking, confessing, gossiping, sharing just about everything with each other over the phone every day. Sometimes I see mum brooding over my aunt’s antics but she nevertheless jumps to take her call when it happens. And it is just not a sister thing! I have seen brothers too gelling stronger with each other.

A few months before, my cousin was over at our place with my same darling aunt. His uber-cool elder brother, who studies down South, had been cribbing to his mom to get him a posh laptop to which she had strictly put her foot down. Only a few months ago he had lost his expensive mobile phone. His quieter younger brother, while talking to me as we took a stroll to the shops nearby, said that he would ensure that his mum bought his brother that laptop. And he sure did! A few weeks later I saw the elder cousin flashing his laptop on Snapchat! And to come to think of it, these brothers were daily at loggerheads with each other as little boys and the elder one was an absolute bully!

As time flows and childhood gives way to adulthood you can relate better – physiologically and even psychologically with your own sex and if you have a same-sex sibling that’s a cherry on the cake!

As the world is shrinking everyday owing to the technological advancements happening at a rapid pace, communication with my brother is on a decline. We both have FaceTime on our Iphone but we barely talk and even when we do, it is mostly cursory. And if the talk does get long, it is simply because I end up talking (and enjoying) more with his cherubim-like kids and my sister-in-law than him!  No regrets here and I know we are there for each other. Just a thought really! 🙂

 

(collage on top: From Facebook archives  (L to R and Top to bottom): –  J, Ritz n I (2015), Bitty n I (2012 ) and Div, I and Shrab (2010??)

Likeminded, with one and many

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Is it possible to be likeminded with one in some respects and likeminded with the other in other respects? I am reminded of Queen Draupadi from the ancient Indian mythology, who in a boon had asked for fourteen qualities to be in her prospective husband and in return she was married off to five brothers who happened to have those qualities collectively!  This is not about spouses (as I am pretty pleased with my single status quo) but about likemindedness in one individual or one group. Finding that someone with similar tastes, likings and opinions is very unlikely or rare.

Some variegated type of people who I met in different times and who are from different walks of life ended up being my very close friends. They all fulfil one (or maybe more) of my many likeminded-ness.

If A is outright gregarious, B is downright a happy-at-home mommy. And I just happen to find myself at ease with all of them. Conversations flow smoothly. There is no need of role-playing with either. I am myself. Yet they are all so different from each other. It is no wonder then that they disapprove my other set of friends and tell me their mind about the other without any hesitation. Thanks to Facebook for that– the only networking place where all my darlings are under one roof (I shudder at the thought of having them together in the real world for I can visualize many unhappy, bored faces) where photos and check-ins keeps everyone about the others updated. My school friends do know about my college friends and office friends and vice versa. Some of them have even happened to work in the same place.

If the type of friends determines your personality then mine must be indeed chaotic! If at one moment I am happily being a pillion-rider on a friend’s newly-purchased Harley Davidson with blaring dead metal on, then the next moment I am gladly hearing marital woes of another! If one is a Shylock when dealing with money the other has his wallet ever ready for any cause! They are chalk and cheese yet they are my buddies…friends not likeminded for one other but hand-in-glove for me!

Perhaps, they also fulfil another role: of keeping me in check and balance. I am not getting a dose of just one personality that can inflict upon me inadvertently! When I get down the Harley Davidson I know that on another day there is another darling friend to ride me safely back home in his second-hand scooter after a nice movie!

5 husbands, I do not know! Likeminded friends, galore!

(image courtesy:  http://www.gertrudehawkchocolates.com/resource/image/product/xlarge/5D44460D-E6FF-144A-0F3FF4CEF52ABC01.jpg)

Anti anti-ageing

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While scientists relentlessly look for anti-ageing formulae, the alchemy of modern times, I feel at peace without it. Of course, like any normal person, I wish to remain fit and healthy but when it comes to cosmetology I would like age to takes it normal course. I am happy with the wrinkles being added daily to my pushing-40 skin; I am happy with my necklines becoming deeper and I am in no hurry to apply a hair colour to mask my grey hair. No, I am not lazy or being miser, I have just realized something and it took me many years to come to this conclusion.

I would be for once and all taken seriously.

I would be (hopefully) not leched upon or at least the degree of leching would come down.

I would not be told by people especially of my own age on how to go about things just because I happen to ‘look’ younger.

Youth is beautiful undoubtedly but it comes with too many burdens, many of them expressed above. I have come past my youth biologically and really, I don’t miss anything about it. They were the most unproductive years of my life. Useless crushes (men who have now a pot-belly and are bald), stupid fights with sibling, parents and friends and being unfocused was what my youth was all about.

As I am pushing into my 40s, mentally I feel I have grown a lot stronger. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve and Mr. Darcy, I know is just there in the books. Although, a very dear friend of mine refused to let me cross a busy road on my own when I was visiting her place! And she is good nine years younger than I am! Or is it to do with my physical self? Besides being a shorty, the ageing process is taking its sweet time (blame my genes from my mum’s). So I may not be looking say in my 20’s but neither do I appear to be in the reaching-40s zone..yet!

I feel empowered when I am called, ‘aunty’ by my daughter’s friends. It is not awkward any longer. It puts my brain then in an autopilot ‘older’ mode. I do remember how one of my aunts hates being called ‘mataji’ despite being in her 50s! But then, to each his/her own!

So goodbye to all the creams and lotions with ‘anti-ageing’ properties!  I want to walk on the streets comfortably not having to look at my clothes and wonder what I wore wrong that is making these nothing-else-to-do men on the street stare at me. I want to do the telling and not be told( unless of course I am being told by my folks!). I want to relax.  Something that youth denies you.

(image courtesy:  http://www.toonpool.com/user/83616/files/beauty_salon_cartoon_1984055.jpg)

Life’s Little Miseries

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Like my mum says, I am jinxed when it comes to maintaining a mobile phone. She reminds me how even before the era of the smartphones begun, my dainty red flip phone plopped into the cooker filled with water! So two years ago after my third smartphone conked off making me fret, it didn’t deter me from switching my brand loyalty and buying a sleeker and a prettier phone. And two days back, it went crashing on the floor bang on its face. The screen smashed with its epicentre being the top left corner.

After forcing myself to feel bad (I would have genuinely felt so if it had stopped functioning) I looked at the newly smashed screen. It looked beautiful. It was like a piece of an intricate art. The branches and off-shoots of a tree spreading from the top left all the way to the centre of the screen. I loved looking at it. And those little mists between the cracks looked like leaves. I touched it and felt proud somehow of owning it.

And then it made me think – of small daily tragedies that we encounter every single day of our lives. No, not the big ones. I will never belittle those big tragedies. Just the small ones, like my phone. It is a part of us. Little miseries. Be it your family or friend you talk to and it is usually about the cold war with the boss, the skirmishes with that pestilential colleague at work, the non-committed boyfriend, the indifferent husband, the snooty daughter-in-law, the absentee maid and the list goes on. The everyday sob stories. Yes, you do have happy stories too but they are only squeezed in-between the unhappy ones.

And then you have the thinkers, self-motivating authors and their ilk telling us how it is essential to keep negativity at bay! Well, if we do, then we will all be aloof! We are complaining every single day of our lives and we are enjoying it somehow. We have adapted ourselves to it: unhappy things that don’t make us unhappy any longer. It is just there.

I bet you will be taken to a shrink if you are found to be too happy happy. It is too good to be true. I recall how a usually happy friend of mine was recounting a few months ago about another friend of hers who was having a distressful married life. The only way to make her friend open up to her was by talking somewhat forcefully about her own married life…those little troubled bits. And that way the friend of hers poured her heart out. It is a give and take. You tell a sob story to get one (and plenty) in return and vice versa. And this way you remain in the social circle as well. I had once nothing to share about my in-laws like my other two friends since I had no in-laws! And it seemed as if I was as good as invisible for them till the end of the get-together. Perhaps, I should have started off talking about my issues as a single woman instead of just bobbing my head like a duck listening to their marital woos!

Life’s little miseries. Like my broken phone. They just start to look beautiful.

(image:  a dead butterfly clicked some months ago in Gurgaon)

2015 – my year that was

2015 was a crazy year.

I returned from the UK once again! This was the third time (and the last – I think, no, I am sure). I do love the country and will continue to remain in its debt for all the things – little and big – that it taught me. And mostly for the support it lent me when I needed it the most – as a struggling single mum. I don’t remember struggling at all for anything in life prior to that and precisely that’s why I yearned to go back to where I always lived on my own terms – India. I don’t know if a life without struggle is a blessing or a curse for I continue to be in inertia all these years. I live a happily vicarious life and I don’t seem to be complaining.

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In retrospect, I now wonder if, like everything else in our universe, was my return also to serve a cosmic purpose? My father had an awful double whammy – a leg accident which made him temporarily immobile followed by the mother of all diseases – carcinoma! Carcinoma, you ask what is it? It is that miserable disease starting with C. No, I am not supposed to say THE word as mum considers it a taboo. I used the word many times initially as a matter of fact, however I was reprimanded by both her and my darling maternal aunt. As much as I would like to call a spade a spade I respect their wishes and will take it that you have worked it out what it means. The last quarter of the year was the toughest for all of us at home – especially for my father who went through the terrible 6 weeks of radiation therapy. My mum who usually is seen as mentally fragile shocked us all by being the strongest. She, who cries at the drop of a hat, was on her toes throughout this phase. Relatives and friends also stood by us. And I believe somewhere I was a good nurse. I was a good buffer for both of them and kept hold of sanity. Hence, my return was perhaps all destined.

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Well, that was the personal front. Professionally, I went back to square one. Travels, relocation and mostly, increase in my voice-over rates saw a drop in my clients. I however randomly did end up taking English tuitions of an office goer on a special request of a friend and realized that it was fun. It kept me disciplined and gave me that power kick. I felt good. It boosted my confidence. I hope to take up tutoring seriously this year and see how I can revive my voice-over work.

Vocationally, in my free time I wrote a children’s story early last year which my daughter loved reading. My long time mission of writing something for her got fulfilled. Hopefully, it will get published someday after my friend-cum-(very fussy) editor is satisfied (three drafts already!). And then I started this blog too last year where I pour my heart out and also hone my writing skills.

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So, what did I learn from last year?

  1. Healthy matters.
  2. If something has to happen, it will.
  3. You need to be strong throughout and as Rhonda Byrne says, count your blessings. I do …every single day.

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(image 1: on our flight from the UK to India in Apr last yr)

(image 2: my daughter with my father in Bhubaneshwar in June last yr)

(image 3: courtesy: http://www.contentcreatorz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/story-book.jpg)

(image 4: courtesy: http://www.multipleblessings.com/bw/wp-content/media/blogger/MB_Count%2BYour%2BBlessings%2B14x6.jpg)

When life gives you limes…

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None of us at home have a ‘green thumb’. We have a small garden attached to our house and a lot of planting and landscaping can be done – be it trees, flowers, plants, vegetables for daily needs, just whatever. The land is very fertile. However, we haven’t shown much interest. We tried to engage a gardener but it was a complete fiasco. He turned out to be very relaxed and the grass that he tried to carpet the ground became patchy in no time. It is not a barren land. There are a few trees and plants in our garden but the credit goes to people who planted them before we started to live here and our house caretaker. Of course, we also contributed a bit towards it – my father got hedges planted around the border keeping security in mind; my mother got a green piece of cloth fixed outside the hedges to make it more secure and stop the pigs and the litter of piglets from brushing past the hedges and looking for their dinner inside; and I, in those once-in-a-blue moon fit got a few flower pots and 3 Ashoka plants from a nursery and on one occasion I picked up a newly uprooted and discarded Aloe Vera plant from outside the local park and resurrected it in my garden.

This blog is not about my ‘green’ challenges but a special tree that made me retrospective. A very different kind of lime tree plant it is (see picture). Mother says it’s called Kaffir lime. For those who don’t know about it, it is not your regular lime which you can comfortably place between your thumb and fingers and squeeze it with little effort to make a tangy lemonade. It is dark green and as big as an orange. It is very sad to see the fruits grow, ripen and rot as the season goes by and the majestic tree must find it disrespectful to see this happen to it year after year. Going waste. We do pluck a few every year and use it for making lemonades. Once mother even made pickles out of some a few years ago. But that is it. Things remain the same over the years but for one thing.

What has changed over the years is our approach to those passers-by who are mostly poor children, who cross by the garden and pluck the limes from the other side of the wall. We cannot see those children because of the height of the wall but their antics are quite noisy. Usually they come in a group and can be heard giggling and challenging others as they try to pelt stones to get the limes. The bitter-sour Kaffir limes that they mistake them for some variety of sweet oranges.  I remember mother howling at them many times from the kitchen window which overlooks the garden and we could then hear them retreating as fast as they could. I also remember telling them in my commanding voice that I would call the security guard that very minute, which again immediately chased them away. All of us at home have fretted over this issue.

This year it has been different. As I answered the doorbell to attend a guest yesterday, I saw two little boys trying to get my attention from the other end of the wall. They complained about some other children who were busy plucking the limes. I looked at the tree. It stood tall. It was laden with hundreds of ignored Kaffir limes which were now turning from firm dark green to wrinkly yellow.  I asked those two boys if they wanted the fruits too. They wondered if it was some kind of a trick and didn’t know what to answer until one of them mustered some courage and said ‘yes’. I then asked my housekeeper to help these and other children with the fruits.

I don’t know if the above episode has taught me to share my other possessions too, especially possessions that I have in abundance. But another episode yesterday morning made me connect the two later in the day and I mumbled thanks to the Supreme. I happened to see a poor man during my morning jog who had just dropped his daughter to the charity school bowing his head with folded hands in obeisance in the direction of the school building. He was thankful. Thankful for the little that he had. Then why shouldn’t I be thankful for a lot that I have…and share.