Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Why Are Indians Obsessed With English?

Is fluency in English the epitome of a cultured and educated Indian? Why is someone with colloquial accent looked down upon here? I know it is rather ironic talking about the ghastly preference given to English in India considering I am writing in English but I hope it somehow helps in reinstating the point I am trying to make.

Language is just a medium through which we communicate, express our thoughts and emotions. It's not a scale to measure your intelligence or define who you are. With over 20 languages and hundreds of dialect, the only reason we use English as a language for government, business and education is because we need some common ground. Of course it helps us broaden our horizon,  helps us gather more information and for many practical purposes it is essential especially if you are an internet savvy person. But that's all there is to that, at the end of the day it's just a language like Hindi, Tamil, French or Spanish.

I have never seen such an obsessive attachment towards a foreign language in any other parts of the world. Why should one be ashamed if they can't speak in English? More and more parents insist on talking to kids only in English. Half the people are sending their kids to expensive public schools so that they get "proper accent". I have nothing against it, it's commendable that one excels in a language. But I find it extremely annoying when the same kids come back home and look down upon their grandparents or other members of the family who can't talk like them. And you can't really blame the kids, it's the society which has poisoned everyone into believing the same. And we are the society, each one of us.

I think it's ignorance and lack of exposure which makes it seems that speaking in English is an absolute necessity in life if you are to be respected. Across the globe, people talk in their native language and are quite proud about it too. It's your problem if you are in France and can't talk French or that you are working in Germany and can't converse in German with the clients, they are not going to be apologetic that they don't know English. In fact, many a times they will insist to talk in their language even if they know English. Then why only Indians feel a need to please everyone else?

I am glad that I am fluent in English and that I can communicate with a larger audience but I feel ashamed that I can't talk in Kannada even though I have been living in Bangalore for more than a decade. Learning any new language can come handy and some people are better at picking a language than others but it's unfair to judge a person on just that basis.

Often when non-English speaking foreigners come to India and talk slowly in broken English with heavy accent, it's just considered sexy but if the same thing an Indian does he's been laughed at. Which makes them more insecure and they end up getting buried more and more inside their cocoon. At workplace often I have seen capable, hard working people get walked over just because they are not good at "communication". Even at family gatherings many a times, women who are not so fluent in English find themselves isolated because they find it hard to cope up with younger generation rambling away in a language alien to them.

Why is a language creating a barrier instead of breaking them? Why can't we help each other in learning and understanding? We should encourage others to learn English but simultaneously put an effort to learn local languages. Never look down upon people based on language and more importantly never look down upon our native languages. Afterall when you understand another culture or language, it doesn't mean that you have to lose your own.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Decoding Indian Parent-Child Relationship

In a recent movie "Simran", when Kangana's character decides to finally surrender herself to police (after robbing multiple banks), cop asks, " Why run if you were going to surrender?" to which Simran replied earnestly, "Because that neighborhood is full of Indians! All my relatives live there. If my father sees me get arrested, he will kill me!". The US cop found this explanation hilarious but I am sure every Indian kid could understand her point.

Parent-child relationship is one of the strongest bonds we come across in life, but an Indian parent-child bond is a much more complex one. Of course like anything else, there may be exceptions but I am talking about the general philosophy observed by majority. In India, kids are not treated as a separate individual who gets to enjoy all the rights and treatments enjoyed by an adult. Parents get a total monopoly, of course a kid can voice his/her opinion but that hardly counts honestly, because at the end parents wish overrules. Every kid here would have grown up hearing something like "We know what's best for you". And although it may sound unfair (definitely felt that way growing up), I have come to realize that it's an extremely valuable trait which does helps us in more than one way. To begin with, it induces humility and pretty soon you realize that world doesn't revolve around you.

Another major difference I have observed is the concept of "privacy". The involvement of parents in their kids life can seem a bit intrusive to an outsider. For example, Indian parents wouldn't allow their kids to keep the door of their room closed (forget about locking). Similarly there is no topic which is "private" matter, after all in a place where every distant relative to neighbor is so involved in your personal life it should come as no surprise that parents get an upper hand.

No where else would you find that so little changes with time, Indian kids don't "go away" once they reach 18 or somewhere thereabouts. Even if they are living alone a thousand miles away, they are very much connected to their roots. It's extremely common for parents to call once or twice a day and discuss trivial things. It doesn't matter if you are married and have your own kid, you still take time and call them or in most cases find a way to meet as often as possible.

In India no one invites their parents for important occasion, let's say for their wedding or baby shower etc. Here , you are the one making guest appearance in your own function because parents get to organize every major event in your life. And I think by now we are more than comfortable with the idea. Here you would never hear a bride or groom complaining of exhaustion from trying to decide on menu or picking the matching flowers, because in most cases you wouldn't even have a say in picking your dress!

Relationship between a child and parent is not limited to supporting the child till he find his feet in this world and letting go. Here we constantly need each other, at every phase of our life. It's expected that as a parent you have to take every step possible, make every sacrifice needed to give your child a better future and this in turn builds an expectation from child to do everything to keep their parents happy even at the cost of few personal sacrifices. And for generations we have been doing that without a sigh. For example, it's expected of parents to take care of their grandchildren when their own kids pursue their career, it's ridiculous to even imagine a parent refusing it. Or for that matter no where else would you find so many couples breaking up just because parents didn't agree for their marriage.

In India, we don't see parents as our friends, we don't share our secrets with them and we definitely avoid revealing any of our weaknesses in front of them. But that's because we respect them more than anyone else. No one can share the platform reserved for our parents. And even if this lifelong bond experiences it's own share of stress and strain, it never diminishes or loses its strength even more a moment. Even if a guy turns 50, he will dare not raise his voice in front of his dad or a 45-year old  woman tell her mom that she is wrong!

With each passing generation, there are subtle changes but the basic foundation on which this relationship stands is stronger than ever. Maybe we can never truly understand all the aspects of this complex bond, but we know enough to know that we value it with our life, and flaws or no-flaws we wouldn't want it any other way.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Sometimes All You Need is a Change

Few days back, a cousin of mine suggested that I write about change. Although surprised initially it got me thinking, quite a lot. Usually when someone asks me to write about something, I ask them what exactly they have in mind to get some perspective. But somehow this time I didn't need an explanation. You see he had recently moved to Chennai to pursue his higher education and this is the first time he is away from everything he has ever known. A feeling most of us are quite familiar with and I couldn't help but feel a bit nostalgic.

Moving into a new city alone is such a life changing experience that mere words could never summarize the effect it has on us. You are simultaneously excited and panicked. No matter how tiresome and boring our life is, it's never easy to let go of that comfort zone we create around us. But then again a new environment gives us something unique..a chance to start over again. You can be whoever you want to be.

Often unknowingly we create a brand for ourselves, the kind of person we are and that creates certain expectations from "that" person. Like if I am an introvert, then people I grew up with, people who have always known me will emphasis on that character and I would find it extremely difficult to break from that stereotype. I mean I can't just walk into a room and talk to strangers! But that slate is wiped clean when you go to a new place. That's why it's very common to find people experiment more with themselves during the first few years of relocating.

You often hear the phrase "You have changed" being used when someone goes away from home. I don't think that's entirely true. People don't just change, they evolve and explore their true potential. Sometimes it's vital that they escape from that routine and all-so-familiar surrounding. If you think about it, that's the whole point of taking a vacation! You go somewhere far away, do things you wouldn't otherwise and have a good time. You break that wall of restrictions imposed by yourself and choose to stretch a leg. I think in that way relocating is same, of course unlike vacation here the feeling is coupled with fear and lonliness.

Because there will be times when you would be dejected, nights when you would crave for company and every strand of your strength would be tested. Days when absolutely nothing seems to be going your way and everything you touch fails miserably. And even though you may cry yourself to sleep, you will find the courage to drag yourself out of the bed next morning. Experiences like these always leave it's mark, you realize how strong you are and that no matter what you will survive.

Whether its a change of place, person or that of situation, it's an opportunity to explore yourself. But then again sometimes you don't need an excuse to change who we are, you can choose to redo your life right where you are, it's harder but not impossible. Everyone says Change is Inevitable in a negative tone. But I think change is vital, in fact it has a beauty like that of passing seasons. Take comfort in change, treasure it and cherish the changes you have undergone. Go ahead and try changes you always wanted. Life is not writings on the wall, it's more like writings on the sand. It's definitely going to wash away so don't hesitate to make mistakes and enjoy the sunset whilst it lasts.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Friends With No Benefits!

I think something is catastrophically wrong with me. For I believe that we are old enough to live an unpretentious life at least when it comes to friends and colleagues. That finally, we have reached a stage where we know who is important to us and who doesn't belong to our "circle of friends". Of course that doesn't mean we have to ignore the existence of other kind hearted beings or not make an effort to make new friends. No, what I mean is we have earned the right to cut off people we don't like. But looks like I am wrong. Let me tell you why.

Every now and then I hear from people who want to know what I am doing. Basically they just need some gossip. How do I know that? They ask you to meet up, pick one of the most happening places, loud and overcrowded. Take selfies even before you catch up time to look at their face. Ask you a question, and when you are talking, seem so damn distracted that you decide to shut up. In fact the only time they give you their undivided attention is when you have some "juicy news". You see when I want to meet some real friends I prefer a quiet place where I can actually hear the other person, and almost always we are so engrossed in talking that we forget to take pictures (which I do like once in a while). But then again, that's not how things work most of the times.

Then there are some people who don't want to give an impression that they don't care about you.  They think it will offend you. So they keep trying to "stay-in touch". The conversation doesn't go beyond, "how are you"," we should meet up sometime". This can go on for years. Then they come up with excuses. I have as such no problem with excuses, I mean lets be honest we all do lie once in a while. But what absolutely annoys me is lame excuses! Always remember one thing, if someone cares for you they will take an effort to come up with at least a decent semi-convincing lie! Would you treat your family, spouse or business partners in the same way? Is it impossible to take sometime and have a proper conversation with someone you want as your "friend"? I don't think so. I think we are mature enough to deal with "drifting away phenomena". It's a term I use to describe the gradual process of people drifting away from each other intentionally or unintentionally due to circumstances. So if I don't have a place in your life, I am sure I can live with that fact.

Maybe I am just getting too old too soon, or maybe I just don't want to waste my time and energy on things that doesn't matter. Maybe I don't have a lot of friends, but I have enough to last a lifetime. Maybe I don't know a lot of people, but people who I do know, I know every small detail. I know what makes them sad or happy, I know what their favourite movie is or what they like to eat. I don't spend time with someone because I have to, I do it because I want to. I actually enjoy the company of every single every person I meet or stay in touch with.

I am not afraid to show that I can be rude sometimes, that I have my own flaws. But God knows hows I have found people who have loved me with all my weaknesses for who I am, and I am happy to share my life with them. So I maybe wrong but I genuinely hope more and more people will drop this facade of wanting to be "friends" but doing half-assed job about it. Friendship is a kind of relationship and like any other relationship it needs commitment and effort to sustain.

At the end of the day, life is all about choices you make. So get your priorities straight, decide your "circle" and make sure you give your hundred percent. It's OK if everyone doesn't like you or knows about you. It exhausting to even try doing that, and no matter what,  you are never going to succeed in pleasing every single person around you. So relax and give yourself a break. You don't have to keep everyone happy. The only person who needs to be happy is YOU.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Scottish Affair !

While waiting eagerly to board my flight for Edinburgh my husband casually mentioned that they call it as "Edinbrah", I found it amusing and enchanting! And enchanting it is. It's breathtakingly beautiful. Never have I been so taken by a city from the first glance. There is something very magical about the whole place, maybe it because they have a Castle right in the middle of city sitting majestically over a hill! It's not like your typical sordid city at all, the place has a charm which takes you back in time.

Edinburgh is a visual treat. And we were lucky enough to be there on it's best behaviour(weather-wise). So even though it was cold and windy, it was sunny most of the days and surprisingly pleasant.

The best part about Edinburgh is that it's not as big or complex as other metropolis, so you don't feel "lost". Spend a day or two and you feel so comfortable that you feel you belong there. Unfortunately Scotland in itself is very vast and trying to cover it via public transport with limited timeline is a herculean task. So we couldn't visit most of the places we had planned for, instead were guided by a very helpful ticket conductor to visit a nearby small town - North Berwick.

North Berwick was like a wild card entry! We had no idea what lay ahead, haven't done any research on the place and so had no expectations. The place is an absolute gem! It could not have been any more perfect. In fact if not for my undying love for Bangalore, I would have loved to retire in North Berwick! I simply fell in love with Tantallon Castle which although in ruins is gorgeous and a view to kill for!

In above pic you may notice a distant white rock, it's called Bass Rock and is not white at all. It appears white due to thousands of gannet birds which cover the entire surface of island. They have a telescope at Tantallon Castle which gives a clear view of Bass Rock with it's lighthouse.

But as I always say it's not just about geography, a great place needs interesting people and great food. And am happy to say that we met some very fine Scottish people. To cite few examples, when we were enquiring about our transport to Tantallon Castle in city tourist center (which was more like a table in public library), we were disappointed to learn that connectivity was not as good we had hoped for. Buses were on hourly basis and we had just missed the one by 5 minutes. As we stood outside considering options, an old gentleman approached us and asked in rich Scottish accent if we would like a ride to castle. We asked if he is going that way to which he replied no, but that he would love to drop us anyway. What a kind gesture! We thanked him profoundly to which he only smiled and said maybe I will consider it as my today's "good deed". Similarly we were once "looking" quite lost (we were only trying to figure out which is our best option for dinner), and a kind elderly couple stopped to find out if we need any help with directions. We confessed our dilemma to which they happily guided us to one of the most authentic Scottish pubs we had ever had the opportunity to visit.

Not to mention this time, we experimented with AirBnB. For those who are unaware, it's basically letting strangers stay at your place! It a very alien concept to us Indians, the idea of entrusting strangers to come and live, giving access to your home and kitchen. Although it seems uncomfortable initially, we had a really good time and I can see why the idea is gaining popularity across the globe.

There are so many places which I would love to revisit and moments I wish to re-live in Edinburgh that it would be hard to pick one. But if I have to I will pick Arthur's seat. Like the rock on which Edinburgh Castle is built, it was formed by an extinct volcano (again in the middle of the city!) and is often described as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design". You can climb up and bask in the everything this city has to offer.

As I watched the sun go down, overlooking this magnificent man-made city on one side and resilient eternal sea on the other side, I couldn't help but contemplate on life. If someone told me as a kid that one day I would be sitting on a mountain top in Scotland enjoying a splendid sunset, I would have laughed off because I didn't grow up dreaming about such things. But here I am and I couldn't be more grateful. A perfect way to say goodbye to the city of "Edinbrah".

Friday, 19 May 2017

London Diaries

Tower Bridge
So this year we had a very british holiday - quite literally. Thanks to my bestie and her ever accommodating husband, we finally took a huge plunge to cross the ocean and treat ourselves to a lavish 2 weeks vacation!

After weeks of planning and replanning, we shortlisted two cities - London and Edinburgh. Of course, that doesn't mean we covered every nook and cover or for that matter even half the popular places. Because I don't believe in running around when on vacation. I am the kind of person who would rather visit one or two spots and really get to soak the place than hopping around trying to cover everything. For example we spent close to 10 days in London and still somehow didn't get the "time" to visit Buckingham palace. We were either too busy driving around aimlessly in the countryside or exploring gastronomic delights on the streets of Soho!


Since there is too much to talk about, let me take this post for London. The countryside is pretty scenic, sometimes they remind you of lush greenery of India in monsoon and for a moment you wonder if you really are in UK. But the stark contrast is evident the moment you arrive at town/city.

In suburbs, most of the houses looks identical (they have planning permission which legally binds them to follow certain norm). And they have beautiful well maintained gardens and this uniformity is surprisingly quite pleasing to the eye.

Another odd thing you would experience is how long a day feels like because sun shines from 5 in the morning to 9 PM and that's loong! That said, London is usually under cloud cover and it can get pretty grim.

London Eye
The city itself is quite lively and like any other metropolis is a cacophony of cultures. London is so global that sometimes you have to really search hard to find a true Brit!

Bond Street
The biggest cultural shock is their "mannerism". It's rude to look at people. It's rude to rush in public transport (they have excellent train connectivity throughout the city). Not to mention "please" and "thank you". I was so used to thank you's that today when I went to my local supermarket guy, I slipped a thank you and to my pleasant surprise without a second thought he smiled and said you are welcome.

Although I couldn't help but notice that in our own way we have few luxuries which most of the people outside India don't. Like an average Indian here can afford a maid/cook. Our society and family circle which feels overbearing at times, reduces the chances of loneliness and abandonment. And you realize how we take a lot of things for granted here, even sunlight which we constantly crib about makes a huge difference in our overall mood.

At the end I returned home with memories I would cherish for a very long time. And a rekindled affection for India.

But yes I would miss London for it's picturesque countryside and endless eateries, from it's black and white hues to melancholy blues. I would miss travelling in the tube and soulful musicians on the street. I would miss the time I spent with my old friends and company of our new friends. But more than anything I would miss exploring myself through a new city.


On my return flight, I watched an ad which perfectly captured the emotions I was going through.

"We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us. Not for the airports, but the moments we want to never end. Not for the status or the symbols but the places we've never been. For the new perspectives and what remains to be discovered, for a chance to know something new. For the experiences we have acquired and those still yet to come. For the stories we are given and those we create for ourselves. Every story has one thing in common- a beginning, by the end we are not the same, we are more..."

Friday, 21 April 2017

You Are Never Too Safe

Growing up as a girl in India you get used to a certain level of sexual harassment. The normal ogling, whistling, nasty remarks and inappropriate touching are passé - not that it has stopped but one simply learns to ignore. But today I got a glimpse of something different altogether - power of mob.

I was walking back home through a reputable residential area just few blocks away from my place (around 5 PM) when a gang of bikers (5-6 bikes) approached from the other side. And by bikers I mean low class thugs with disgusting smiles smeared their across the face. But since it was middle of the day and in a short distance there were two watchmen (albeit shady looking) I assumed there was nothing to fear. Next instant one of the bike stopped close to me and stopped, I continued to walk trying to follow our "ignore" policy and in background I heard them discussing whether to pursue me or not. One guy finally said let's go and the sound of engine went slower and slower.

All through my remaining walk I couldn't help but think about what had happened. It was all too quick for me to feel scared and luckily nothing did happen, but if they had indeed decided to pursue what could I have done?

You see even if we are not as strong as men physically somehow when there is just one, you fool yourself into thinking you can fight. But what are you to do if there are more than two? I mean even if one is trained in martial arts what is one to do against a group of people?

There is phrase "united we stand, divided we fall", which took a whole new meaning in this context. You see there is evil in each of us, of course some have more than others but my point is individually we fear society and its general norm. If that guy was going alone in the bike I am sure he wouldn't dare such a stunt in the middle of the day. But with his friends around who share similar mindset, this cheap (but otherwise harmless) guy gets encouraged to such obscene acts.

That's when you realize how powerful a mob can be and how dangerous it can get. A mob doesn't have a face. A mob can get away with anything and unfortunately they have managed to do it in multiple occassions. And it explains why there are so many cases of gang-rape in our country.

The worst thing about the whole incident is I can't find a single thing I could have changed or avoid as precaution. I mean I was walking in a safe, residential area in the daytime, wearing jeans and casual t-shirt. What else could I do as a woman to keep myself safe? And now knowing something like this can happen in future, how can I prepare myself to deal with a gang of men?

I don't feel scared. I feel helpless and hopeless by the entire episode. Physical wounds may heal, but the emotional scars which never heal and that's exactly what sexual abuse does to you. Even though superficially things look good, our foundation itself is faulty. I wonder how many generations it will before this mentality is wiped off from our minds.

Till then, girls, never let your guard down.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Why Gold Is Not Overrated ?

Photo: Quinn
I always had a slight repulsion towards gold. Mostly because growing up in India(especially Kerala), I saw gold as a synonym to dowry. So even though the gold in itself is beautiful, I could never see it without my tainted prejudiced eyes.

But yesterday I found out about the origin of this precious metal and for the first time I saw gold as something more than a commodity of marriage business. And I was so excited about this new found information that I decided to share it with you guys..

1. Gold comes from Outer Space!

Unlike other elements including carbon or iron, gold cannot be created within a star/planet but instead must be born from an event known a gamma-ray burst. Basically collision of two neutron stars - Supernova! And all the debris from explosion (including gold in the form of dust) was thrown flowing across the universe. Some of these particles helped in making our solar system. When the earth was molten, all the gold probably sank into its core and slowly after millions of years small part of gold reached earth crust due to asteroid collisions or volcanic moments.

Gold is literally stardust.

Photo: NASA

2. Used by Astronauts

Gold reflects infrared and harmful UV rays and that's why astronaut helmets come equipped with a visor coated with a thin layer of gold.

Photo: Mo Riza

3. Golden Cure

Some gold salts have anti-inflammatory properties and at present two are used as pharmaceuticals in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other similar condition. Apart from that research has been going on for it's use in cancer treatment. The radioactive gold isotope Au-198 can be injected directly into the site of a tumor, where its radiation can destroy tumor cells without much spillover to the rest of the body.

4. Gold is Rare

Gold is rarer than diamond. The world pours more steel in an hour than it has poured gold since time began. That said, since gold comes from space there is a huge possibility that it can be found on other planets like mars, venus etc

5. It was our First!

Gold was one of the first metals discovered by man, along with copper, around 5000 BC (7000 years ago).

Photo: Alexander

So even though I still hate the way gold is connected to Indian wedding scenario, I can't help but be awed by this star-studded (literally) metal. It has definitely got my attention and well deserved respect. I hope in future instead of just accumulating it for economic reason, people take a moment to admire gold for what it really is - a souvenir which defies time and space, which has travelled from across the universe and still shines as it did when born.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

My Candy Crush Saga!

I play Candy Crush. A lot. It's funny because I used to hate people who played on phone all the time. So how did it all start? Well like any other bad habit, there's always a friend. Of course it started with me making fun of her for playing something so silly. But then one fine day, out of desperation (when you are waiting for someone in public place and have absolutely nothing to do), I was forced to open "Candy Crush". And after 3 years and 877 levels, I am hooked..

It's quite mindless and monotonous. In fact, my husband refused to even call it a game since it has no strategy per se (to my utter annoyance). But over the years I have found a great comfort in this childish game and here are the top 3 reasons why..

1. Zombie mode

I have often observed that when I am playing, I am blank. Which may not seem impressive, but is actually impossible to attain in my case. I am constantly thinking. If am awake, I'm thinking. Which is not bad in general but there are times when I am depressed/angry/sad and just want to come out of that thought process. A quick game resets my mood to neutral! Which is good enough.

Note: Although not always viable sleeping is the time tested remedy to fix your mood.

2. Patience

Candy crush has many levels and after each episode you can either wait for 3 days for next level or "ask your friends" to help or "buy" your way out. So even though I am addicted to candy crush don't confuse it with someone who has lost her senses over it. Which basically means I never spend a penny over it. Or bother to send random requests to other people. So I wait. Eagerly for 72 hours( checking and rechecking every once in awhile) for the next level to unlock. Trust me it has really taught me patience!

3. Optimism

Candy crush has this amazing gameplay(or lack of it)  that even if you fail 10 times, you will eventually clear it. Seriously. As my husband says there is no strategy. Sometimes it's just luck. True, but isn't that's how life is? This may sound insane but there have been times when I have played same level for a week and at the end when I do clear (which you always do in candy crush world), I get this overwhelming feeling that in the end things always work out.

I do think it's a bit weird that I compare a stupid game with real life but the truth is it does makes me feel good at the end of the day. From helping me to fight that awkwardness of waiting alone to calming me down when I am furious, in its mindless way it has given me company. I know one day I will outgrow it but till then I love Candy Crush!  

PS: Please don't send me any candy crush request on facebook ! ;)

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Letter To My Husband

Dear Husband,

Today is just another casual day. It's not your birthday or valentines day. In fact our last anniversary we just had a low profile family lunch. But I always believed that marriage is the culmination of ordinary days made extra-ordinary for no reason. So today I want to thank you for some of the things which remain unsaid.

Thank you for being honest with me. For accepting that you are not a romantic person by nature. For not pretending to be someone else and giving me a chance to accept you the way you are.

Thank you for adjusting with me and welcoming me to share your room. Being a girl we are always told how a girl has to go through hardship of living in a stranger's house. But I am sure it takes a lot of effort from a guy as well to get used to someone else owning the room he has been living all his life.

Thank you for not being a selfie addict. Seriously. Or the kind who keeps playing with his phone in movies or the kind who thinks street food is uncool. I can't imagine my life without pani puri.

Thank you for understanding my needs as an individual. For not freaking out when I talk to my male single friends or meet up with them. It takes a strong man to be OK with that.

I know you are not good with words, and have a tendency to run away if someone cries in front of you. So thank you for holding me and not running away when those tears come flowing down.

Thank you for the respect you give me. It need not be expressed in words but I feel it in the way you treat me.

But more than anything, thank you for believing in me when I doubted myself. You always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and motivate me to work hard for it.

We are not perfect. But thank you for not being afraid to show your flaws and embracing mine. I know I am strong enough to survive on my own, that I could live alone. But it surely feels good to know that I don't have to do it the hard way. That I don't have to fight this harsh world alone. That someone would miss me if I were gone.

I don't have to write this letter in public and usually I am highly against sharing my intimate feelings in such forum. But I am sure there are many people reading this who feel the same way about someone. It could be your partner, parent, sibling or friend. But we don't take a moment to express how you feel about them, sometimes taking for granted that they know. But trust me it doesn't hurt to say somethings aloud. It need not be words, just small subtle gestures. But take an effort to convey your feelings once in awhile to people you love and care about.

You don't need a women's day, valentine's day or anniversary for that. If you are alive, it's good enough day!



Friday, 3 March 2017

What's Wrong With Us?

No matter how optimistic I try to be, I wake up everyday to hear some horrendous news around the world. As if the entire fiasco in USA is not enough, closer home things aren't looking bright either.

Last week we went on our yearly pilgrimage to Goa, well the place really does bring lot of peace and happiness to us. And even though I love the place, I can't help but notice a kind of double standard experienced in many of the restaurants/hotels. Things are a lot more "nicer" if you are a "white". They are such subtle things that you may not even notice it if you are visiting the place first few times. For example waiter is more attentive or generous with smile or just the attitude they have towards you. And it is a no-brainer why it happens, most of them tip well. And by well, you have to remember that when you convert from dollars to rupees even peanuts becomes humongous!  Lot of people from western countries look down upon you, and you can't do much about it but it hurts to see that even in your own country you are given second preference!

And then there is other extreme, where Tamil Nadu decides to ban Coca Cola and Pepsi in order to promote local products. The excuse they are giving is that these brands are "toxic". Really? And how do these local brands plan to make soft drinks healthy? Are they suggesting that everything available in the market are healthy? What about cigarettes and alcohol? My intention is not to ban cigarettes as well but that at the end it is the decision taken by consumer what they want to do. I mean I personally don't drink soft drinks but that is my choice. Why do you have to ban other products to sell your product? That's just a cheap trick. And how is this different from situation in US where these pseudo-patriots want outsiders to leave their nation?

As a nation you should aspire to promote yourself ahead of outsiders, but that doesn't mean you  forcefully ban everyone else (at least not in a democratic nation). I think as an Indian we should first learn to respect ourselves. If we wouldn't respect ourselves and our fellow citizens, how do you expect outsiders to do the same? That said there is a huge scope of improvement in the way we execute our ideas. Instead of trying to bring down others, how about we try to promote our products in a better way. Like a majority of people think "Burgers" are cool but "Vada Pav" is strict no-no! Most of the times it's just the mindset. Another huge problem we face is the quality of our products. The notion is that Indian products are low in quality. Although it's a very generic statement but I am sure you are getting the crux of our problem. These are the issues which cannot be resolved overnight but the problems won't go away until we try to solve them from the root cause instead of just trying to enforce some stupid ban.

A nation cannot change until each individual decides to contribute in its course. You and me don't have the power to change law but then again we don't have to wait for some official imposition to make some change. Start with something small, next time you go to supermarket give a try to some local products. Only if you are completely satisfied by the result continue the product. And please don't assume someone is better off than you just because their english is better than yours!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Just My Luck!

There are people who don't believe in luck. I am not one of them. And it's not because I was born unlucky or bad things kept happening for no reason. In fact, growing up I realized I had "above-average" luck. But from past few days I have been experiencing some real shit luck. And for someone who is not used to it, it's more annoying!

Have you had those days when everything that can go wrong, goes wrong? You know if you are lucky you happen to be in right place at right time, well in "shit-luck" you end up in wrong place at the wrong time! First few times I was in denial and thought it must be coincidence, but when you have more and more of these "coincidences", you realize something is terribly wrong with your luck. So I have been feeling a bit low lately and was talking to my husband (cribbing to be exact) about my state and he said luck is like sine waves! It goes up and down periodically..

Apparently when you are at downfall, you should keep kicking and fighting against all odds till you turn your luck around. Sigh! It feels like a lot of hard work. Suddenly I feel sad for people who have prolonged periods of bad luck. Till now I never understood how it feels to put your everything, do everything right and still no result. I mean usually when things don't work out it's because I didn't work hard enough and that didn't make me feel miserable (although it should). Somehow you feel you are the one in control of situation, but this, this feels horrible!

They say everythings happens for good, so maybe these tough times will help me in ways unforeseen by my shortsighted vision. Maybe it's all about perspective and not about good or bad (it sure doesn't feel good right now!). Sometimes I feel comfort in knowing am not the only one having bad luck that there are so many people struggling with it. Does it make me a bad person? I don't know but atleast it makes me feel less lonely.

So till my sine wave turns up I am going to kick hard and refuse to give up so easily. Sometimes things go wrong for a reason or maybe there is no reason, sometimes life just sucks. But life doesn't end with it. So we just have to drag ourselves up and get over it. I feel better already!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Misadventures In Beauty Parlor

I don't go to salon that often. You see one really needs a lot of motivation to maintain appearances when you don't have to go to office and face any judgemental eyes! So who cares if your eyebrows are little bushy?? Besides my salon visits almost always ends up in catastrophe..

Like the other day, I went and asked for a clean-up. The lady assigned to me started some preparatory work, after few minutes she calls another lady and talks in their native language (they happen to be from north east) all the while looking at me. Then the other lady shakes her head and makes a gesture as if refusing and they both stand in front of me having some kind of argument. Now at this point am staring at them trying to understand what seems to be the problem because they are obviously talking about me. It was so awkward that after a while I had to ask if everything is okay because in my head am wondering if she is new and has no clue how to do a clean-up! I mean it is really annoying when people talk in front of you in different language even though they can converse in language known to all (and have the audacity to not even pretend it's not about you!).

Every girl knows that when you go for a haircut, your hairs gets much shorter than you expected. So when you say you want a trim, some 4 inch gets chopped off! And I am not being paranoid when I say that it is possible that you get your eyebrows chopped off accidently too. Because it happened to me, well at least a good portion of it. It may be funny now but not so funny when you have a wedding to attend in couple of hours.

On another occasion I decided to get hair streaks. I am sure getting a color yellow on my head never crossed my mind, but that's what I ended up with because the person concerned tried experimenting with colors! For next 6 months, I watched my hair change color from yellow to shades of brown I never knew existed. Am still waiting for my natural jet black to come back.

Not to mention that on my wedding reception day, I looked like a geisha! I mean we had an actual japanese lady in guest list and I looked fairer than her! The whole make up  looked so tacky that I had tears in my eyes which had somehow eluded on my wedding day. I had to put filters in my pic(above) to hide the horrendous whitewashed complexion.

But more often than not my husband finds my trips to parlor amusing and somehow I have started taking a less offensive attitude towards it as well. I mean eventually with time everything goes back to its original state. So what if my hairs are shorter or eyebrows a tad out of proportion, it will grow back soon. And just like that one fine day you wake up to a breakthrough moment when you realize that a lot of things are too trivial to be fussed over. Getting few things wrong is not the end of the world.So what if you picked a bad restaurant or wrong movie to watch. It's not the last time you are doing these things. We often waste time trying to do things perfect and lose out on things which matters. And by the way no matter how hard you try, things are going to go bad that's what makes it life.

That said, I stopped making last moment visits to salons before functions because that's not "embracing life", that's just stupid.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sleepless In Bangalore

I am a night person. I can't sleep before midnight and the mere thought of getting up before 7 is laughable!

I wasn't always in love with night, growing up like most families we had 10 o'clock deadline (after all there isn't much to do as a 90's kid). Nowadays kids have too many things to do, play games in phone or pick a channel which play their programs whole day. Anyway that deadline got pushed further with college, when suddenly you have this awesome device through which you can chat with your friends all night for free ( good old days of 100 sms per day)

Although it's not habit which made me fall in love with nights, because I have often worked in morning shifts and never once enjoyed it. Especially when the weather is cold! How can one leave the comfortable warmth of bed and splash freezing cold water on the face?

But what I love the most about nights is that it's "me time". With each passing hour, the noise and chaos around you seems to fade away. There is an eerie silence, almost an air of melancholy. But even in this lonliness I find comfort. Even small mundane things like reading a book or listening to your favourite song is an experience of whole new level when done in the cradle of the night.

Sometimes in the middle of night, I step outside and watch stars. Often there is a faint breeze, a romance in the air! You see during day we have so much to do that we never think about things which doesn't require our immediate attention. But nights, that's another story... In the wee hours our mind takes it's own flight and heart can lose all it's rationalism. Maybe it's my imagination, but it's as if  the time itself slows down.

I know I can never convince a "morning person" to see the beauty of night, but you must try atleast once. Steal a night for yourself. Let the night spin it's magic wand and take you in a journey so splendid that the same old boring world transforms before your eyes into something mysterious and beautiful.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Why So Serious?

I go for walk couple of times a month (or year..but that's not the point!) in a neighbouring park. Being a residential area, the crowd consists of people staying around which is mostly Indians. Once in awhile you see a foreigner running or walking a dog. Now here's the thing, whenever a foreigner crosses you and you happen to meet each other's gaze, most of them invariably give a polite smile!

I was so shocked the first time that I actually turned my head back to see if he was smiling at someone else. Soon I noticed that it was not just a one off case and most of these people regardless of age or gender find it absolutely normal to smile at strangers. Initially I found the act uncomfortable but surely enough it felt good! I mean honestly if someone is to look at you, would you prefer them to stare at you and walk off or smile politely? Because I quite liked the idea. Only problem was it felt stupid that I have to wait for an outsider to show some friendly gesture when so many of my fellow citizens are walking next to me every day. So I decided that I would try the same gesture what these outsiders do so charmingly. After all this was a neighbourhood I was staying in and pretty decent looking people, so how hard could this be?

So next day I went for walk with mission to smile at at least one face and spread this positive vibe around me. Now all I had to do was find my target!It turned out to be pretty tricky because being a girl, I was not sure if a common Indian guy will misinterpret my smile for something else. Finally I picked an elderly lady who was sitting alone in park. As I crossed her I gave a subtle smile and imagined a beautiful smile back..which never came. All I got was an angry stare as if I was insane!

But it got me thinking how rude and indifferent we could be to each other. I remember back then when I used to work in shifts and had to eat alone in office, I used to go for lunch before noon because it was extremely intimidating to enter alone in a cafeteria bustling with people. I still find it uncomfortable to go for a movie alone (and have never done it). I remember once I had to go for lunch at a fine dine and every single waiter gave me a look as if I am odd one out. And by that I don't mean they ill treated me, rather they gave me too much attention! I do have friends (girls) who eat out alone or watch movies alone, but personally I don't think it's a very welcoming atmosphere..

In this current era, when our friends are mercilessly thrown all across the globe, when everybody is so busy that people schedule and reschedule to meet their own parents, I wish we had a place which was not so cruel to a single person. Is it too much to ask for a little act of kindness from a stranger? Would it be that creepy if you enter a train and fellow passenger smiles at you? Is it impossible to make a friend who is not your schoolmate/colleague/friend of friend? If so, it does break my heart because we never know how much fun we would be missing out in our life by stealing these potential moments from our lives.

I failed to bring that smile at park last year, but I refuse to give up. So here's my new year's resolution - go out and talk to strangers. Meet new people. Make new friends. Smile more and make others smile.