Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 in Half

Why the new look you may ask? Well, quite humbly because half of 2015 is over and this is my first blog post here since the New Year countdown at Le Meridien. A new year heralds new beginnings, and so I found myself clicking on the bright orange template. Cheery, don't you think?

So, before I offer my customary apologies for not having even looked at my blog even once, here's the point I cant get over! 6 months of this year are officially over.. and there are just another 6 more before we're celebrating ANOTHER New Year.

I promised myself that this year would be an important one for me in some way. I didnt want 2015 to go down as just one of those years that came by and went. 2015 had to be different and remembered for being so. I came across a really nice question, that made me think. ' What would you do if you weren't afraid?' For me, getting my driving license was the first thing I would do if I wasn't afraid of killing at least 5 Kochiites before officially getting one! So, here's a summary of the two best things I did in the past 6 months:

Got my driving license- For those of you who wonder why I waited so long to get a second license, it's simply because driving around in Cochin requires an equal dose of madness and patience. And for those who know me, I'm not one of those patient sorts. But not having the license to kill, I mean drive  was needlessly making me develop a complex. Here's what I discovered- I have become an over cautious driver who just wants to get back home in one piece and hug her son. I am the sort of nice person who will allow 20 other cars to pass before putting the car in first gear. And yes, I am my own son's nightmare on the road (but that's only because mom's fat swift makes funny noises whenever I'm in the driver's seat). I am told I need more practice, but hell, BOTH parents refuse to lend me their cars for even that! So, I am probably forever destined to be a driver on paper only. But hey, to be fair to myself, it took lot of time to even talk myself into signing up for driving classes in the first place.

Went off for a day-cation minus son- Mothers are born with a huge guilt-o-meter. Have an ice-cream and the damn thing starts ticking. Enjoy an extended spa session and the brain quietly nudges and forces you to think about other duties awaiting you at home. And that's why I thought going off for a day on my own to Mumbai was the last thing I should put into effect. Mumbai..... that dreamy city with a story on every street beckoned..... And so I went on an all expenses paid trip by flight, stayed at the awesome Sun n Sand in Juhu and shopped till I dropped. I also remember having this weird smile on my face as I went around the city....It's the first time I re-visited after saying goodbye in 2007. Nice cuppa at Starbucks, kurta shopping at Westside, a Gujurati thali dinner and Piku at Cinemax last show. With no kid telling me he's bored, money in my wallet and all the time in the world. I had to leave the next day in the evening but my love affair with that city continues. And here's the biggest surprise- kiddo was fine without me and didnt as much as whimper either. Either he's more independent than I give him credit for or I'm doing a great job raising him!

Talking about books. I now have 'War and Peace' sitting next to me and yes, I am yet to read this classic. It is apparently one of the most difficult books to finish thanks to the number of even more confusing characters in the book. But those who have read the book say that it's a masterpiece. Gimme 2 months and I'll let you know how it went...

Here's another big thing I will do- Visit my beloved blog every two weeks and write a post. It's a promise I intend to keep. Next one, I'll talk about my 7 year old who's turning out to be much wiser than me.....sigh!!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Who else but Modi

Something weird and abnormal happened to my family this year- they actually tuned in to watch all the election updates and although one parent kept rooting shamelessly for Modi often talking about his great track record as CM while serving us sambar for lunch, the other parent staunchly supported Rahul Gandhi.

Not surprisingly, the parent who supported Rahul eventually had to put up with hoots and boos when CM Modi became PM Modi! So what is it about this gentleman that's suddenly making every Indian on this planet proud of being one?

Let's leave aside all the highly encouraging little steps that he's taking to make this country better. What I find so welcoming is that probably for the first time India actually has a prime minister who came with a plan for the nation and is highly intent on seeing it through. So, India finally has a prime minister who isn't too bothered about the nasty little jibes that come his way, but is able to stay focused on the job every day? Looks like our prayers may just have been answered.

I've lived in countries other than India and I've never been more aware of my brown skin than when I was abroad. Somehow, everything about being Indian just sticks out- the way we eat, the way we dress, the curly hair, etc etc. But there's now this new sense of pride that's slowly creeping in and it's so encouraging to see other nations give our large country the respect we've deserved all these years. Suddenly, the papers are flooded with articles about Indians everywhere and how we're making a difference.

I was watching Modi's address at Madison Square yesterday and boy I loudly clapped and cheered and stood rod straight for the national anthem too. Going by the size of the crowd that turned up to watch and hear him in person, I would say that Modi has undoubtedly arrived. And India too. For me personally, Modi has re-ignited a flame of patriotism and communityhood which I thought had long died. So, whoever said that one gets less taken by surprise as the years go by was wrong. I discovered that surprises get better as one gets older!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

What Pain do you Want THE MOST?

I read a great article of late by a guy called Mark Manson. Truth be told, I hadn't even heard about Mark, till a dear childhood pal put up a link to an article that Mark wrote, on Facebook (see? FB can be mighty useful for things other than for postings selfies!). Writers especially THINKING writers love to spew out their gyaan on this and that and I wasn't expecting anything different from Mr. Mark here. But this guy got me thinking with his article here.

And not that I'm some extraordinarily intelligent human (although I like to wake up and tell myself that every morning solely for egoistic purposes!) but I'm the person who expressed bitter disappointment when I searched high and low for fiction or biographical works in the ICFAI, Hyderabad library only to be accosted with multiple copies of Edward Bono, Stephen Covey, Kotler and the like. I remember telling Thomas, a good friends, back then that 'there was nothing to read in the library', to which he said ' It's a management school Sanjana, what were you expecting?'. Would it have been out of place to say that a few works by Jane Austen wouldn't have hurt? Yes, I think it would have been.

So, now that you get my drift about how allergic I am to management books from anywhere in the world and in general to books that tell me how I should live, what I should do with my time, how to feel better, how not to screw up so that I feel better, blah blah, it was nothing short of a personal miracle that I actually read through Manson's article not once but twice and started to ponder over what he had just written.

'There's no shortcut to happiness' and a dozen other proverbs and wise sayings have been penned about how nothing is every easy in life and how you have to slog by default to make your dreams a reality. Nothing wrong with that harsh yet realistic statement because it's simply the truth. But it's the question that Manson asks- ' What is the pain that you want to sustain'? which has taken me two weeks to answer.

The few things that I am willing to suffer pain for are :

1. Gabriel: My first-born. My son. My monkey. My mini-me. My little wunderkid. And my forever baby boy. Simply because I took an oath which simply said that I would do my best in all ways to bring him up the right way and to be there with him and for him always. Because, someday, more than watching him become a doctor or an engineer with oodles of money to spend, I want to watch him become a gentleman who knows how to respect everybody from the beggar on the street to the president of the country and women in particular. And, I have no right to call myself his mother if I didn't rank being a good person and a great friend much higher than a career calling. So, through all the temper tantrums, the hurtful moments when tears well up in my eyes and a 100 other possible agonies that await me as he becomes a teenager and then an adult, he is the only one so far for whom I am willing to suffer for.

2. Writing: My calling. My livelihood. My raison d'etre. And probably the only voice in my head that's stayed strong through the years. I would be lying if I said that I wake up everyday with a fresh idea in my head that's bursting to get out, because I don't. And there are those other miserable days when I have a dozen things to say and the words don't come out right or the willpower is simply too weak. But on the days that mind, body and soul come together to create a piece out of a few alphabets, that's when I feel the most satisfied. Like I had just nourished a very deep yet important part of me and I had done it in the best nourishing way possible. How good or bad a writer I am is left to your judgement, but all the same, writing manifests itself in my life in many ways- from writing my diary to writing articles for clients to occasional rants on my blog. Each is different from the other and yet each is important in its own way.

3. Learning: Because there is something new to learn everyday and I would be a very poor person for it if I ever thought I had learnt enough and didn't need anymore knowledge. And also because, you are only as interesting as what you know. I love learning something new about people, trivia, something else that can help me in some way etc. I have a long list of certain other 'things' I would like to learn or be a part of, such as- attend classes on the works of Shakespeare, learn how to paint, learn more languages, or in my case even learn how to drive without giving pedestrians the feeling that I have been sent from the Angel of Death himself :-). Feeble humour apart, I'm willing to invest in myself. In my learning. For my knowledge.

And the last would be- a place to call my own. A library where my books touch the ceiling, with comfy leather sofas laid out just for me with the radio playing all day long. And where my laptop is placed just in front of the window so that fresh sunshine and the world outside give me all the inspiration I need. A kitchen stocked with all the latest gadgets and which smells of baking cakes and other treats anytime you step in. A cosy bedroom with a bed that makes me want to dive in and which is the safest place on earth.

So, here's my list. What's on yours?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Generation X may not be as vella as you think!

Talking about Shuddh Desi Romance- I honestly expected more from this movie. This playing hide and seek when it comes to love funda just doesn't appeal to me at all. Either you say yes or you say no. But the movie did get the general indecisiveness that is common with quite a few youth spot-on. Inability to make decision apart, it was a tad disheartening to see that a good number of the youth don't really think about how they want to make their money; all they know for sure is that they want pot loads of it (according to a recent nation wide poll conducted last month). So, just when I was ready to get all judgmental and state that this country is never going to get anywhere if this is how Generation X thinks, that the youth threw up quite a few surprises.

The Times Youth Brigade for starters. Even if just a handful of the original number of applicants actually made it to the final few, the fact that so many youngsters were eager to come forward and do something useful with their time tells me that they may not be as 'I-give-a-damn' as I think. Or maybe as a lot of people think. On RTI Day, it was heartening to see the way so many youngsters actually sat down cross-legged and sprawled on the floors of the many RTI offices spread across the country. Why, you may ask? Because they were there to file RTI's and to get answers to a hell lot of questions. Questions that maybe have popped up in yours and my head, but about which we didn't care enough to do anything about.

And I was wrong if I was living with the assumption that the youth in Kochi only care about drugs, booze and rock n roll. On Monday, when there was a state wide hartal put into effect, a group of youngsters and professionals got together to play good samaritans to tourists and travellers who were otherwise stranded on the roads. With stickers that proudly declared ' Say NO to hartal', theirs were the only vehicles on  otherwise empty streets. And no, they weren't scared about what the cops or other party workers would do. That's because they were mentally ready to take them on.

I've read articles written by tourists who visited India for the first time and said that this country never ceases to surprise them. Just when you think that nothing is well in India and probably will never be, she smiles and pulls out yet another ace from her pack of ready cards. All I can say is that as long as the youth never lose the sight and feel of their conscience, this country is in much safer hands than we imagined earlier. Jai Hind!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

On once turning 18...... and many other things

'Outlook' celebrated its 18th anniversary last week and what a read the magazine turned out to be. For starters, the mag  went to real 18 year olds and captured their views on being 18 and on what the future held for them. Well, it's very nice to see youngsters who want to make a difference in a world that largely doesn't really care anymore and that is also becoming darker by the day. But what really surprised me were the many tales that established Indian writers like Chetan Bhagat, Jerry Pinto, Anita Nair and many more had to say about turning 18. It wasn't that they had a whole repertoire of mind boggling stories to tell, but it was the fact that they actually remembered how it felt to turn 18. Thing is (blush, blush) I cannot remember how it felt to turn 18 for me at all!

Why is it that I don't remember feeling extra special on the day I became a major? Probably because I wasn't even aware of my rights then? Maybe because there really isn't much mischief you can get away with when you are in your first year BA and still living with your parents? I don't know. But, I'm glad to say that although amnesia has robbed me of my 18 year old memories, I remember plenty from the years that came after.

And after talking to other mums on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that society is generally after couples to have kids as early as possible only because they want us to experience what they went through raising us! My mother actually giggles shamelessly when my son gives me one of his looks and demands to know 'Exactly what have you done for me in life?' The first time he asked me that, I assumed that one week build-up of ear-wax had led me to hear the question all wrong. But my little terror was kind enough to repeat the question all over again, word for word. Till I looked at my mom, giggling away behind the newspaper saying  'And life comes a full circle'! If this isn't a universe-al act of revenge, I swear it I don't know what is!!

It's my that favourite time of the year- when Christmas is near and my phone is already showing off lovely Xmas wallpapers. Now it's time for me to whip out pen and paper and make a long list of presents to buy for the family. When my kid asked me what I would be giving him, I replied 'All my love', to which he said he preferred toys instead :-( My 16 year old bratty catty sister who once used to be an ultra cute walking bundle of fat (and she can no longer lay claim to that title either!) tells me she doesn't really need anything, but she still wouldn't mind a present or two! This time however, I will make the added effort of wrapping up the presents really nicely in gift wrapping paper because there's still something nice about seeing unrestrained excitement no matter how old or young the brat is. :-)