Tag Archives: inspiration

Open Up The Spaces.

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There I was, sitting on the topmost stair of the spectators’ gallery of a playground, writing, when a soccer ball landed with a thud right on my foot. I was taken by surprise and flooded with a flurry of apologies. I wasn’t hurt, no. But I roused concern among the boys. But why only the boys? Because there were no other girls around.

Why do men have a monopoly over open spaces? Why, if you look at the massive green stretches of open spaces in our cities and possibly even towns, do you find scores and scores of men playing all sorts of sports but no women? Why are we women still found standing by the entrance watching them play from afar, waiting for the men to return to us? Why can’t we swing the bat hard? Why can’t we kick a soccer ball away? Why can’t we dribble in sweat and exhilarate with ten others at a game played well? Why can’t we grab and hold in kabaddi? Why are we at the edges? Why are we scared of injuring ourselves?

Why do I see girls play badminton? Or cycle? Or skip? Or just choose to go for a walk? Why not put them together in teams too? Why not teach them to be a leader, a team player, bond with each other over match strategies and get that competitive spirit going? Why not teach our women to pull up other women and not push them down? Why not familiarize them with the touch of men so that they know the difference between the touch of love and lust? Why don’t our brothers teach us to toughen up? Why are our cuts and bruises scolded for and theirs disregarded? Well, that actually shows women are more careful about first aid, but you get the point, right?

What are we so scared of?

That our women will get hurt? Or they might disagree to sit inside homes any longer?

That our women will bring the team down? Or that they’ll become strong enough to form their own teams?

That they might overexert? Or that they will learn to embrace their bodies as they are?

What in the world are we afraid of?
Are we more fearful of our insecure men?
Or are we fearful of making our women secure?

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The author is well aware of the countless women who have made a superlative mark in the world of professional sports and is in no way trying to belittle the spectacular magnitude of their efforts. The author is well aware of women who are pushing all limits exceedingly well and breaking glass barriers every day. This post is not intended for those women. Instead, it is intended to bring out the other ladies, young and old, strong and weak, into the open so that they find out for themselves what wonders their graceful, lithe bodies can do, if only they allowed it to!

Graciously Yours!

My happy place.

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The Internet, as we all know it, can be a vicious place to be. If you still don’t know it, well, you haven’t explored enough. Right from seeking gratification to fake news, keeping up with TikTok videos and the latest record-breaking egg, medical remedies to tips on how to build your own rocket, you will find it all. It’s brought the world closer together but it’s also taken us apart.

I am sure each of you has had days where you just want to keep the phone aside and not look at what the internet had to offer. The deluge of information can be overwhelming and a detox work sometimes but then you get hit by FOMO! In all of this confusion, what do you really do with those twiddling thumbs?

I try to detox every once in a while but I am left with my own thoughts which do not really help because they’re, if I may say so, contaminated by social media. Everything seems so peachy and perfect on social media that I start questioning the daily rigours I face in life. For once I’d like to know the challenges people face, the scars that are healing, the pain hidden behind those smiles. I’d like to know the people for who they are and not for what they want to project.

So how do you find a happy place on the World Wide Web? One that assures that it will take care of you, it will not let you down, bring a smile on your face. I found mine! Pinterest. And I cannot swear by it enough. It’s helped me through two heartbreaks, endless writer’s blocks, restless hours of melancholy, dried spells of humour, DIY craft spurts and hell, even when I wanted to drool over the hotness we can never seem to find in our daily lives. No one’s competing for attention there, no one’s trying to up the ante further, no one’s liking or commenting and if they are, I am blissfully unaware. All you find are pictures people have pinned on to their boards, private or public, and the algorithms do the rest based on your search keywords.

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Pinterest to me represents the true collaboration of how far one’s choices and ideas can go if one only has the intent of not seeking validation but instead sharing it because they wanted to. I love the quotes, life stories and confessions that you find up there! They restore my faith in humanity. Pinterest makes me come to terms with the fact that whatever be my life story, someone else is also living the same story somewhere out there, if not worse.

In a world of seven billion people, I may be unique but I am not alone!

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: This is not a sponsored post, though I wish they did sponsor me! If only. *Sigh*

Setting Sun.

I looked up from my Kindle and out the window. The air turbulence was distracting. I wanted to stretch my legs that were getting cramped in the narrow leg space provided these days by airlines. Just a few minutes ago, the view from the window had been drab – blues of the lightest kind with fluffs of white cloud in the foreground. Or was it more than a few minutes ago? I wouldn’t know. My phone was on flight mode and my mind grappling with an Agatha Christie whodunit. Keener observation of the clouds would allow the brain to identify patterns. Sometimes it would be a horse’s head, other times a trophy and then a flock of sheep. But right now? Right now provided a view that would make it to Instagram stories, photography contests and lure amateurs towards professional photography. But I sat there watching unperturbed, unhurried. I was flight bound to home. The Sun was going home for the day too – home being the horizon. My eyes went in and out of focus, the portrait mode some call it, others name it bokeh. In an expanse of white, to the far right, soft hues of orange meshed with lighter yellows which faded into whites of the clouds. The mixed streaks seemed painted, with the flourish of pulled brush strokes. The center was a deeper, brighter, concentrated shade of orange, like the Sun itself was shining out – but you knew this was an illusion – more science than mere fabrication. The Sun was closer it to its home than it let on – this was simply a delayed telecast you were viewing. Closer to my window, making way for the scene were the clouds – bigger clouds, fog-like, misty, as if dewy-eyed at the beauty out my window. And then came the window – double paned, corners curved, waiting to be flapped down; a hole at the bottom edge of the outer window, scratches on the outer pane, whether flying bird wings or key marks, no one knows. And then I return to my Kindle, back to Christie, because I know, no matter how good the camera, it wouldn’t capture the scene my bare eyes saw. But I hope my words did.

Graciously Yours!

Hope.

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What keeps you going on the less happy days? What keeps you from letting one night turn into yet another morning? What pushes you to breathe one more time even though it pains every time? The belief in God – whatever your religion may be, wherever your faith lies? Or is it destiny? Or karma – that you will get what you give around. Or are you one of those who believe in the power of humans and the ability to conquer the world – the rising supporters of humanism?

Me? For me, hope keeps me going – the hope that one of these days, I’ll figure myself out again. Someday the sun will be brighter, the world more colorful and the day happier. The hope that this too shall pass and l will survive it like I have all these years. Hope. It’s important not to lose hope.

Graciously yours!

Valparai Tales! Part 2.

Contd from…

As I sweat in the Bangalore heat, while doing absolutely nothing apart from just breathing, which you would all acknowledge is a very crucial, and from what I know the most important factor for our existence, I think back of the vacation I recently took. And promised a second post on.

In my mind, as I say the word, Valparai, I close my eyes to be welcomed to memories of our four wheeler rushing through the short winding roads through hills, while green stems and young branches fell out of line by the side of the road, swaying to greet us. We are rushing past them, honking at each hairpin bend, serpent turns, waking us out of the slumber of hill travel every now and then, fascinated by the depths which greeted us to our right and the heights which beckoned us to our left.

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Oh the twists and turns! More than a Jodi Picoult book.

I see a kaleidoscope of butterflies pass us, yellow this one. My reflexes are too slow to brandish the phone camera for a shot of them. I simply close my eyes to capture the moment. Sometimes, I wish I had a pensieve to keep these memories untouched. But in its absence, National Geographic will have to do. The Sun, which at the base of the hills was unforgiving, seemed to be playing hide and seek with us as we travelled upwards closer. The clouds ran helter skelter, giving us a peak a boo of the scorch every now and then. It was almost lunch hour when we reached the outskirts of Valparai and unbelievable as it may sound, or read, there was rain, just like Google weather had predicted! Bless technology and the genius minds that worked behind it.

Valparai is so untouched by commercialization, that it was difficult to find a place to stay. We ended up finding a place that seemed like it had been vacated after its occupants had packed bags and moved to the city for better earnings. They offered us a single room for ten people when actually advertising as a home stay! I wondered how the others would react for I was already prepared for a little adventure. Standing at the crossroads of the little town, I sighed audibly with relief when I looked up at the three storeyed building, catching the occupants of the top floor room, my friends, look out at the tea estates as far as the horizon permit, with enthusiasm and unwavering excitement.

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If there was audio, you could have heard us singing too!

The evening that we spent there has to be my most memorable in quite a while. Walking through tea estates, and (this time) long winding roads, with no vehicles to honk at us, no bikes to rush past us, no traffic at all, paradise was not even on my wishlist then. We sang as the sun set, clicked photographs of trees that formed patterns different to each of our eyes, posed by the side of the road wanting  to post pictures online but never doing so, because we knew words would fail to describe the serenity we felt then. And we also didn’t want to lose those minutes buried in the phone. That says a lot about the place, doesn’t it? We saw people though. Some smiled at us knowingly, others gave us a pass, ignoring us as a brief little intrusion in their small town. A shopkeeper asked us our religion, offering a temple, mosque or a church to visit around accordingly. He chatted with us for over five minutes, but did not once try to sell his wares to us. So much for calling it a small town.

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Bouquet of flowers, a friend calls it. Anyone knows what these are called?

Graciously Yours!

Nostalgia.

evszefhAs I stood by the the window of the balcony, my nose was pressed to it, my breath frosting the glass around my lips, I saw the winds outside swirling, droplets of water being bullied into submission, lights from the night lamps streaming through the air, making the paths of water borne air above the road, visible.

I yearned to step outside of my house and go play basketball in the rains, with the people below, kids I presumed. Their shrieks of delight floated uptil a dozen or so floors above. Instead I did something better.

I slid open the windows of the balcony, that kept the water borne winds out and was welcomed to winds so cold, no air conditioner could compete, the freshness of ice and spring combined! The hair at the nape of my neck stood in attention, out of excitement.

Back home, whenever it rained, torrentially as it was looking to today, my sister and I would sit at the window sill, legs hanging out into the dark, lightning flashing us time and again, shrieking in delight at every wave of wind that whipped through us.

As the water hit me, wave after wave, I shivered in excitement, and cold, but nonetheless not agreeing to go back inside! After all, the heat of so many days needed more time with the rains to sod off!

Staring up at the skies, blinking at every lightning flash, I felt the water seeping to the roots of my hair, the sides of my neck. I stood with my arms by my side, shaking but not willing to go into the house again. I looked down at my feet after a while. I was soaking wet from the top to bottom! Giggling, rubbing my arms, I slid the balcony windows shut, greeted with warmth in the hall. I’d missed the rains. I missed my sister more now.

Graciously Yours!

Life Notes #12.

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As I took the microphone in my hand this time, I knew this wasn’t a rehearsal any longer. The day had arrived, the clock had struck. I expected butterflies but there weren’t any. Not even caterpillars! I spoke into the mike. My voice faltered. I looked at my co-host for the event. He assured me to go on. Closing my eyes for a second, I went on talking into the mike, addressing a couple hundred people, and without giving myself anymore time to think, I went out on the stage. The emcees had been introduced. I was on the stage. The crowd roared! The lights blinded. But I was ready! I was alert, ready and excited! There was a calmness in the adrenaline rush too!

My mind was rushing by at the same speed as earlier but time had slowed down! I had more time time to think and speak now. “Speak slowly,” my father’s command rang in my ears. I could see a couple of faces in the crowd. I knew these people. I wanted to wave at them! I am sure they would have waved back!

Improvising where required, remembering not to make a face if I forgot a line, smiling every now and then, I focused on keeping the audience engaged!

Oh yes, us anchors, we did goof up. We made mistakes. We cut across each other’s lines. We even forgot lines! Our puns brought in roars of laughter. Sometimes they fell flat. But I could feel the pulse of the crowd! I could see them getting pumped up! I got the kids screaming! I even had to shut them up once! But not once did I not love the stage!

By the end of it all, when I came back to the green room and laid my tired back on the sofa, I knew I had pulled off what has been unthought of by me. I thought my part was done and dusted and I could just go back home and sleep after a week’s deprivation! But as I type this out, I am still sleep deprived not because of work and stress but because of the excitement the responses from people has infused in me!

A friend asked if I am writing this week’s post. I told him I couldn’t come up with one yet with all the left over energy from hosting yesterday night’s event still bubbling in me! Now I’ve poured it all out here! 🙂

Note to self : There are days when you surprise yourself. Once in a while they do come along, like the sunny days in London! Don’t undermine yourself on those days, as they come by rarely. Look around yourself, see all the appreciation that falls upon you, close your eyes and soak it all in, store it in the deep and safe corners of your memory to be unlocked on other days when you feel down and out, days when you need a pep talk, days when nothing seems to be going right! 

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Sometimes, even the smallest of your criticisms can go a long way! Thanks, Dad! ❤

THE ADOPTED CHILD.

I sat alone in my new room. I’d tried calling up my parents but they were unreachable. Keeping the phone aside, I lay my head on the wall backing the bed. Outside in the living room, I could hear the other girls, both my age, my new flatmates, talking and laughing. I wanted to go out too, but I didn’t know them. In fact, I didn’t know anyone in the office, or in the city. I had only one friend in the crowd of tens of thousands of people camping their lives in the city. The friend lived with her newly wedded husband and I couldn’t even think of intruding into their space at this point in time.

Someone knocked on the door. I hurried to get up and open the unlocked door. The girl at the door, Maera she was called, stood there with a smile. “Come for dinner,” Maera said. “You guys carry on,” I replied, my stomach rumbling with hunger but hesitation creeping up and taking over. I had lived in a joint family and barely ever ate alone. But I didn’t know them either. Wouldn’t it be as good as eating alone? But Maera still stood there, arms crossed, and declared, “You must be hungry with all the shifting today. Come on. I’m not letting you eat alone.”

I smiled a small smile, thanking her in my thoughts for forcing me to eat. I needed energy to carry on without my family here. That night I slept soundly on the sofa while talking to my parents, until Maera came along in the middle of the night, tip toeing so as to not wake me up and then woke me up. “Come we’ll take you to your room,” she said softly, pulling me up. On my bed, I slept better.

***

A few months had passed. I still spoke to my parents’ everyday. And I still passed out on the sofa at nights. But now Maera and I fought to sleep on the sofa! I cuddled up in her lap as Maera sat and read a book. I was busy on my phone while she ran her fingers through my hair every now and then. “You know you should adopt me,” I said. “What?” she asked, stunned, keeping her book aside. “You should adopt me!” I repeated. “Why should I adopt you?” she asked, laughing and reading again, not even paying attention to me any longer!

***

I was cranky and hungry. I had had a bad day at work. I fought with a friend. I was not even PMSing yet. Even my hormones couldn’t take the blame yet. Maera sat me down and asked me,”What happened?” “Nothing,” I replied, waiting for someone to stop me in my tirade of lashing out at the world! “Sit here,” Maera said, her face grave, sitting me down on the floor between her knees while she gave me a head massage.

Half an hour later, I had offloaded all my worldly troubles into her ears and she’d filled mine with what little of worldly trouble advice she  owned.

***

I found in her a friend, a reminder of the love of my family, a corner to my worldly troubles, a shoulder to rest on, an adopted parent! Maera found in me an adopted child. Yes, she may not admit to it, but she did.

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Dedicating this to my (almost admitted, but not yet owned) adopted child! To hours of introspective discussions, shared love for music, long unwinding walks, cuddles and head massages, getaways at 2 am and gazing starry nights! Stay happy! ❤

Graciously Yours!

Unravel the Travel!

As promised (to no one in general), here’s a continued set of anecdotes from my trip to Gujarat!

Let’s begin right from the beginning of the trip, like is the norm unless I choose to write in reverse chronology. That’s a good idea but for another day!

Anyone who’s spent even a day on Bangalore roads would know how terrible a nightmare they can be, especially if you have a flight to catch. So  for my own mental peace and for all practical purposes, I left from home, four hours before my flight was to take off! And lo behold, I reached in just about an hour and a half, much to my annoyance and my cabbie’s surprise at my annoyance. The good people at the flight customer support counter however sent me off on an early flight as reward for my unacceptable promptness.

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That’s a long way to go! At Ahmedabad Airport.
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That’s a lot of lights! And white. At Mumbai Airport.

We came across not one or two but three locations where there were rubber band sellers – and when I say rubber band sellers, they were only selling rubber bands! A handcart full of crimson, kale, azure, gold, grey, fuchsia, violet, saffron, striped, polka dotted rubber bands! Out of curiosity, I asked one of those vendors what the price of the bands were and he said 1 rupee! Yes, you read it right – freaking 100 paise! 1 rupee! My first thought was how are they even surviving! My second thought was to buy a dozen or so of the bands. My third thought was exactly how much is the production cost of these bands if people are managing to sell these at such a nominal price!

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You get transported to the era of mutinies and sepoys with your first step in. At Diu Fort.

At one of the beaches, my sister was polite enough to do the human thing of clicking a picture for a couple of guys who requested her to. One of them started making small talk with her asking her if she was a resident of the town, did she know any good places to eat, et al. Having answered in monosyllables, we started walking away when one of them called out to her asking her, “I’m from the States. Would you want a picture with me?” Surprised, she refused. He insisted again asking, “Are you sure you don’t want  a picture with me?” While I was wondering if I could place his face to any of the Indian Americans I’d seen on the USA shows, my sister was muttering, “He’s freaking flirting with a 20 year old! He is almost double my age!”

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That’s vandalism, in modern times! At least something is changing with times. At Diu Fort.

We had visited a set of caves, to which there’s dispute about whether it was a geological formation or dug by the Portuguese for formation of the Diu Fort. Either ways, it was a beautiful maze of earth cut out in a variety of eerie and curiously un-human ways. There were stairs ending into nowhere, rocks hanging out precariously, cuts in the ceiling which didn’t seem to explain the purpose or history of its creation! And because it was so huge and devoid of many tourists, there were spaces where you couldn’t see another person as far as your sight and the maze allowed. The silence was harsh enough for you to hear your own breathing and each step you took creaked the twigs and dry grass below. I was thankful to have gone there during the day! In the midst of this little nowhere, was a bunch of DSLR equipped photographers capturing a to-be married couple’s shots. The pictures will turn out to be pretty, I tell you!

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Photoshoot, in progress. At Naida Caves.

When I recounted the saga of being stuck on the highway in a three hour traffic jam in the early hours of a new day, I did not mention a first I encountered! I managed to locate and confirm my first constellation sighting in the skies! It was the Big Dipper constellation, as confirmed by the StarTracker app I use, when I was very sure that it was Big Dipper! I wish I could have captured the night sky as pristine as I saw it, but technology has its limits and sometimes, what you see is too beautiful to be captured as is on camera. The camera just cannot do justice.

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Grainy, but memorable. At a resort in Gir.

Graciously Yours!

Some Salsa Spice!

One of my fascinations has always been ballroom dancing! Though not strictly ballroom, salsa is what my feet dabble in these days.

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Salsa, believe me, teaches you life lessons! And so much about interpersonal relationships. No, no! Don’t laugh. I’m serious. Read on.

 1. Twirl the girl!

So salsa, like most other ballroom dances, requires the men to take lead. So, my dance partner, gets to take me forward, backward, left, right, all at his own will. Boot up, men! You get the girl and also get to make her dance and spin at your own will. Does your girlfriend or girl friend allow you that otherwise? 😉

Also, you find it’s not so easy taking command of the ship, don’t you? So value those who do. 🙂 Irrespective of their genes.

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2. Actions speak louder than words!

Now that you get to twirl and spin the girl at your own free will, how do you tell her what your will is? You can’t tell her, ‘shush, left now’, ‘no, no, anti-clockwise twirl’, ‘go, right, right, not left’ in the middle of the song. Who’ll count the beats, feel the tune and dance freely then?

So what do you do? You gently direct her, lead her with that hand of yours on her shoulder, and not say aloud! It requires practice, patience and response. Also gives you a life lesson!

3. You make mistakes and you accept them!

You will miss counts, step on your partner’s feet (sometimes on your own feet too!), become clumsy after doing very graceful turns – all of that’ll happen, whether you’re in the first beginner’s class or almost completing your advanced classes. But with the music still playing, what do you do after committing a mistake? Accept it, apologise and move on! Improvise.

4. Helps avoid the mirroring psychology.

Wikipedia says,  Mirroring is the behaviour in which one person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. Mirroring often occurs in social situations, particularly in the company of close friends or family.”

Note, mirroring happens subconsciously. You don’t realize when it’s taken over and you are slowly blending into the crowd and losing your uniqueness.

But when you’re dancing with your partner and you start mirroring them, i.e. you start looking too graceful as a man, or too macho as a woman, you consciously start tearing yourself from mirroring. You start holding out your own self, accepting yourself as you are and hopefully even loving it.

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5. Feminism, much?!

Yes, salsa requires the men to lead and women to follow. Isn’t that what the whole world is screaming about? Or at least half of it. But. Everything in life isn’t about feminism. Sometimes it’s okay to let the men lead not because they’re men, but because the dance requires it and women are inherently more graceful at spinning and twirling than men are. It’s okay to let go and trust your partner. And even if he does fail you, help him get up and succeed together!

Also, I am not a feminist. More, a humanist.

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Keep dancing!