Sunday, December 16, 2012

The White Quilt

This is my entry for the indifiction workshop.    Leo gave the plot of the story for this workshop.
The complete story can be found  here too.


                                                      
                                                                                                       
Sandhya

They are mocking at me ,from the pages of the afternoon tabloid.The young faces of Deepak and his so called girlfriend. It has been almost a month that Deepak was away from home on a road trip ahead of elections.Suddenly my mouth goes dry,eyes straining against their sockets,I try hard to focus on the written words accompanying the story about Deepak... It is his love story splashed all over the papers today. Darkness engulfs me and I feel cornered. Words and letters begin swimming in front of my eyes,like giant black ants eager to meet ugly,grey ,hairy spiders...all very slowly  merging into one huge black spot in the centre .Concentration has left my mind....unnoticed. I should close my eyes and think , think very hard about my next action.It was after all anticipated and  just a matter of time.They tried their best to hide it from me but scandals like these can never be hidden ,at least not from the kind of people who were tirelessly working against me and Deepak. Sometimes I do pity Deepak ...

Deepak, my husband,the debonair young politician had recently forayed into the murky field of politics.Unlike other politicians, he carried a clean image and was projected as a promising future leader by his party. His image  in college was that of  a shy, handsome boy who had a mind of his own .He hardly spoke but when he did, one could not help but listen. His lean strong frame stood tall owing more to the way he carried himself and less to his being six foot high. He had  intense good looks with wheatish complexion and deep set eyes. He was one of those rare breed of handsome boys, who was not aware of his good looks.If he was ,he definitely did not show it and that made him more desirable to girls. We provided a perfect balance to our relationship, his quiet unassuming ways and my extrovert nature. Mere thought of  Deepak  always filled my heart with happiness. Then why was it different this time...I feel a certain kind of panic deep inside..a feeling that something unpleasant was coming my way.

 Deepak had told me about a surprise that he had planned for the our second wedding anniversary and that was all he was ready to reveal before he left for the road trip. The love lorn eyes,the pained look on his face, was it unreal...a figment of her imagination ? Well , it did not seem so ,not at that time.Incidentally,it was the first time,that they were apart from each other for so long. They had been inseparable, from the time of  being the best of friends in college, to  being married now for almost two years. 

Lost in my own private world, I  hear a pounding sound, but am unable to point  out the exact source.Is it my heart beating against my rib-cage ?The sound is incessant ,and gathering momentum now.I open my eyes and trace the sound to my bedroom door, someone is banging on the door! In my need to be left alone in my hour of gloom ,I choose to ignore.I can hear whispers urging me to open up.I know better.Sliding beneath the cover of the soft quilt,I lie in wait for the pounding to stop and it eventually does after a while. Quilts are the best things to have happened to me, particularly this white quilt .Dad got it for me when I was a  little girl and it never left my side since then.I can shut myself from the world whenever I feel the need, even from Deepak. It does not allow any one to enter my space ,light and sound included.It is my world, my secluded space..safe and comforting.This is like a hidden bunker for me ,deep inside the earth. I don't miss anyone,especially mother when I wrap myself in the tender ,warmth of this quilt. Mother!!

Almost as if on cue,the pounding on my door begins once more,softer this time and very familiar in rhythm. It is not possible for her to have come down here ,not now when there was no one around to fetch her from thousands of kilometres away .I hear a soft tender voice calling out to me.My heart leaps in my mouth as I try hard to focus.It is her ! I jump out of my bed in my hurry to meet her.She is my shield and I feel safe now...Suddenly everything around ,inside and out ,is  quiet.Time has come to a stand still. She will set everything right,I am sure .I open the door and fling my arms around her neck.We are clasped together  in a tight embrace for several minutes .I hear all familiar words of endearment and my restless heart and agitated mind are at peace with each other.I realize that her presence can not be a mere coincidence.Strong as she was in her resolve to protect me from all evil, she was ignorant about many worldly wise matters-travel being one of them.Then how did she manage to arrive all alone..who informed her that I needed her at this time?Could it be Deepak ?

I detach myself, from my mother's arms and I soon find my thoughts  drifting towards Deepak. Is it possible that he ,in his need to be with that younger girl,has meticulously planned his exit from my life? I shall not speak, I shall wait for my mother to explain her sudden appearance in my life.Almost for  two long years, I have been away from mother and my maternal  home .I also can not believe that in a few months from now we will be completing two years of married life ,Deepak and I .Two years of being away and the same time spent being married.....one felt like eternity and the other just flew by.

.

*********************************************************************************
                                                                      

 Deepak

The timing could not have been worse.It is  difficult to concentrate on the most important phase my career.The switch of career ,that seemed so natural and effortless a year back ,is slowly draining me out.I feel constantly being pulled in two opposite directions .Home and politics...choosing one over the other is out of question for me.I am missing Sandhya more than ever at this stage.She ,who has been my pillar of support  from the time we became best friends in college was herself in need of a support system now.I find myself thinking about her constantly while travelling.Good,  I had managed to  arrange for Sandhya's mother to be with her till I was free from elections.At least I am assured of her well being in my absence.The last conversation I had with my mother in law is still etched deep in my mind.

When I made that call to her,I narrated  briefly, my concern for Sandhya's health and my impending road trip ahead of upcoming elections.I voiced another concern of mine,a doubt actually,the seeds of which were sown by my sister in my mind.On my last trip with didi to my constituency, I sent in some donations to an asylum with didi. That is when didi chanced upon a psychiatrist who had treated Sandhya briefly before marriage.  Mother in law asked me whether I was  aware of my wife's condition. I said it looked like depression and that is when for a brief moment there was silence at the other end.Few moments later,in a deep ,emotion filled voice,she told me that her daughter had been under treatment for Schizophrenia since the age of  twenty.She thought I was aware...that Sandhya had confided in me.Well obviously I wasn't aware .I don't know what shocked me more...that I was kept in the dark about her condition or the fact that the revelation  made no difference to me at this stage.She feared that a relapse was under way when I narrated a few recent  instances where her behaviour had  seemed bizarre to me.

 I wanted Sandya's mother  to be with Sandhya because I feared for my wife's safety. Sandhya had left the house once in the dead of the night and the neighbours had escorted her back home at dawn.She could not explain her absence and was quiet afterwards for a couple of days before bouncing back to her normal self. Sandhya had lately been plagued with excessive jealousy when it came to me and our common friends especially women. She picked fights,became cranky,tearful and later withdrew in a shell for days on end.It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to have a normal conversation with anyone of the opposite gender.

Armed with half baked knowledge of the disease,I was not the best person to have dealt with her symptoms.I asked for Sandhya's medical history,groped in the dark for any evidence of her being on medication for all this time that she was with me.I drew a blank.I had to act swiftly,now that I was aware of the disease and its progression. Sandhya was prone to violence ,if the disease was allowed to progress untreated. I sought help from a renowned psychiatrist.I was informed by her mother that Sandhya would rapidly turn suspicious of everyone close to her .She would also refuse medication of any kind .Sandhya was aware deep down , of her condition but would be in a state of denial. Haloperidol liquid mixed in her food / beverages was the only option left. Determined,I latched on to it.I had to be extremely careful and discreet about the whole thing .If caught,I could face losing Sandhya's trust for ever. I had been able to manage pretty well , till it was time for me to leave.

It would be a few days before Sandhya's mom could arrive from Canada. I entrusted the responsibility of administering medication to didi who stayed a floor above till that time.I left with a heavy heart, my mind clouded with uncertainty.I remember the night I left home..Past few days Sandhya slept longer and  like a log, owing to the medication.She lay curled up in bed under her favourite quilt.With her small frame,it was almost as if she was not there inside.Her quilt was always tucked snugly around her and I knew better, than to disturb her in her sleep.From one raised corner of the quilt, an old photograph could be seen. I picked it up to see that it was her favourite candid shot of us ,clicked during one of our college trips.Young and beautiful Sandhya was laughing with abandon and I was looking at her face intently. I had held her for the first time that day. The desire and longing was writ large on my face and Sandhya often teased me about it.I put the photograph in my pocket and  slipped outside . I then sat in the living room waiting for my trusted driver to arrive .I thought of readying her milk in the mean time just in case she got up earlier than usual.

How I wished Sandhya was healthy enough to accompany me on this trip. She weaves magic with her words. My speeches written by her have always been successful in connecting with the masses.The best part was that she did it in minutes,it came straight from her heart .I depended heavily on her instincts and her ability to read people.I felt incomplete without her beside me.
It was  going to be a long winding road ahead ...


****************************************************************************
                                                                  
  Sandhya

I knew this was coming. I had only one proof of his relationship with that young girl and he took it away stealthily in the night from under my pillow.
He betrayed me ..How could he forget my years of dedicated friendship and love..Few months of lack of physical intimacy, is all it took for him to bury our wonderful relationship deep into the oblivion.
It hurts, deep inside somewhere,it does...
They told me ,he was up to something.I was naive ,blinded by his love all this while.The girl in the photograph looks familiar,may be a junior in college.They said, Deepak was drawn towards that girl and I ignored.All this while I thought the voices were evil.I thought they conspired against us as a couple.Now I know,they are my friends. They said they were special, as special as I am. I believe them when they say that only I can hear them.I do.It is going to be our little secret from now on.
If it was not for the voices,I would not have walked into the kitchen where Deepak was mixing something in my milk. I witnessed it all myself . I was also able to dodge that other female  who Deepak had entrusted to cook for me.She wanted to give me Vitamins along with food.I quietly took them and later threw them away.
No,I am not even letting mother in, this time.I think she talks to Deepak behind my back.

Deepak came home tonight with a defeated look on his face. 
I smiled to myself and Deepak and mother reacted as if they had seen a ghost.
'I am going to be strong,I will not waste my life ..I will stay alive.. I will not run away..I will smile always...'-I repeated to myself again and yet again .Mother made me repeat after her  while she fed me, gave  calcium tablets along with milk and stroked my hair gently till I fell asleep.I longed for those moments..Times change,people do too.The pain however just wouldn't go away...

************************************************************************

 Deepak

I lost...
I was so preoccupied throughout the road trip and the subsequent elections ,that it showed .I was just not there in my whole being, and it showed.I was not spared.I deserved what I got.

I returned defeated to what once stood ground as my home.She looked at me like one would, at a stranger on the road. She curved her lips but smile eluded her pretty face.

I lost...
I was not there for her when she needed me the most .Her silent cries reached out to me across the skies but I just could not reach out to her in time.


****************************************************************

She had stopped living ,somewhere in between .Life was not the same without Deepak. He was no longer exclusive with his attention .He basked in the glory of mass popularity that he enjoyed as the youngest politician.Then there was this heavy guilt of hiding a slice of her life from his best friend and love.Her shoulders felt heavy and she felt  a sharp stab in her back that hurt .
By the time her mother arrived,Sandhya was hallucinating. She was stuck in the past when she and Deepak were just friends and it was okay to hide a secret or two from friends.She held that old photograph close to her heart.The carefree young girl in the photograph became someone else,one who vied for her husband's love and attention.Fear gripped her in a vice so tight that she felt suffocated.She disconnected ,cut her ties ,her bond with Deepak. She was strong..she would live.With this thought ,she smiled .
Deepak could not bear to see her like this. She had stopped all medication soon after their marriage.Disease crept up slowly  like cancer ,spreading its tentacles He was assured by experts in the field that the disease was not incurable.If Sandhya continued taking medicines lifelong ,she can lead a normal life. 
There was hope at the end of the tunnel and Deepak was ready to hang on to the last bit of hope.She was his life and he was going to claim his life back from life itself. 



******************************************************************
                                                                                                   
                                                              
 A year later...

Deepak and Sandhya were part of a special delegation to East Europe .Sandhya was four months pregnant and  working as the official speech writer for the party.They worked together complimenting each other beautifully.Hallucinations were non existent , though jealousy crept up with its ugly face every now and then. Deepak was learning to live with it. Sandhya  alternated at times between periods of trust and mistrust but she now accepted her condition well and never missed a dose. 
Together ,they had gathered the loose ends ....
The white quilt at home, looked tired  and worn out... 
                     

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In the name of a knot...For the sake of a knot.

It has been a long time since I last claimed my own space.Had nothing in my mind to share and  I am hopeless when it comes to forcing myself to write.I met an elderly lady as I traveled last month and my brief interaction with that gutsy lady has given me enough inspiration ,to last a long long time if not a lifetime.I translate in my humble words what she spoke in rural Marathi language.As she narrated her life story to me, I fumbled with my responses while she had no dearth of words or expressions to drive home her point. Wish I had jotted down her poetic expressions in her own words at that time.My urban education paled in comparison to hers .She did not have to repeat the oft told-Life is the biggest school and experience, biggest teacher .  

She was married in her teens to a family of fifteen.What was expected of her,she hardly knew.What makes a husband ,she had no clue.
She did her best to go with the flow,for her mother took to bed and the father was no more.This be your family or so she was told,why it never felt like one she often thought so.
She was caught in a whirlwind as years turned decades  .Staying up late to get up at dawn ,she hardly slept as her own world took rest.
Four kids in succession, people frowned .She had no say in that ...did  that count ?
He, who once walked her around the holy fire, never cared to match her steps ever after.
She wanted wings, he chose solitude.
She wanted to sing, he hardly spoke.
She yearned to travel,he tied her down.
Calm she stayed and retained her nerves. Her spirits still high, waiting to soar...she added years a few more.
Never a fight ,hardly an argument and sixty long years of  co existence .An ideal couple, people said .What a marriage it was ,they all admired !
Age caught up faster with him,than he thought.Birds of the nest , all soon flew.Left behind in silence were these two.
She found her voice one day , as she felt being 'heard'.
Now,she talks as he listens..
she sings as he applauds..
and she travels as he trails...
One who left her no choice is himself left with none.
As she guides him across the life- roads ,his gnarled hands entwined ..she thinks of  the ties that did nothing but bind.
Life is one full circle,in the name of a knot ...she just lived each day for the sake of the knot.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

QUIET- SUSAN CAIN A BOOK REVIEW


This review of Quiet by Susan Cain comes long after I actually read the book.The reason is that I found the book stimulating enough to deserve a second read .This is the kind of book which always will reveal something new with each read.

Simplicity of a subject depends on how well researched it is.Quiet is one such thoroughly researched book.In fact I was surprised to see the acknowledgement and notes section at the end of the book.It is a sizable part in itself.

The book throws visible light on the vast spectrum of human personalities.We see people as introverts and extroverts but do you know that an introvert need not be shy or a hermit or misanthrope always ? The book tells me that there are four quadrants to personality types : calm extroverts, anxious extroverts, calm introverts and anxious introverts. If this leaves you confused ,think Barbra Streisand as shy extrovert ( larger than life persona with paralyzing stage fear ) Author thinks Bill Gates is a calm introvert ( keeps to himself but unfazed by others' opinions )

Do you think fixed personality traits exist? If not, when should you act more extroverted than you really are?These are some points to ponder and the book goes on to explain with examples about the special situations in which being an extrovert may prove beneficial.Psychologist Mischel admits that personality traits exist but they may occur in patterns.For example, some people may be aggressive with peers and subordinates but docile with authority or even vice-versa.

Extroversion may be the cultural ideal but you can not ignore the quiet guy sitting in the corner ,observing the happenings and making mental notes.He may not 'look' like a leader but may actually ' be' the leader.Yes,it has been proved that there is something called as a soft power which requires sustained attention. Introverts are capable of giving sustained attention .The roots of  this trait lie in the culture rather than conditioning of Asian and Asian American students ,says a study in the USA. Their success is attributed to this 'soft power'.
They are generally quiet but then ,conviction is conviction,at whatever decibel it is expressed !

This book celebrates the power of Quiet .It highlights the value of silence and solitude. After reading this book I have a new found  respect for the people who live in their head.

My take -Excellent read.
                                                                                                                           Pic credit -Google images

Monday, October 1, 2012

Oh My God -Review


 I had missed the famous Gujrati play and had heard many good things about the same,so when the movie based on the same released last weak,I decided to check it out.I must admit that I was a little sceptical about the movie being made out of a play.Such movies tend to get stretched to reach the cinematic lengths,literally.

Oh my God is all about an atheist who has the guts to stand by his belief or lack of it.Many might not say it in the open but may reject the film for its sheer audacity.How often does one come across cinema actually attempting to break the shackles of religion ? All are aware but how many speak up against the commercialisation of God ? How many of us are able to negate the fear of God and religion ?

All this and much more is explored and dissected in the film . Religious leaders have been put inside the witness box and questioned  by the protagonist. Paresh Rawal,an actor par excellence,has portrayed the character of a non believer in an endearing way.There is subtle questioning  of blind beliefs and rituals through out the movie . Without being insulting, the movie talks about preachers putting up God for sale.

Movie has talked about  hapless victims of a  bizarre   clause printed in a microscopic font by the insurance companies.Companies routinely deny claims in cases where damage is because of so called 'acts of God'. Kanjibhai has lost everything in an earthquake and much to his shock,his claim has been rejected by the insurance provider.Pushed to a corner,Kanjibhai sues God and summons are sent to His representatives on Earth ( Godmen and preachers). A courtroom drama ensues wherein many myths and beliefs are broken .
After initial protests,Kanjibhai ( Paresh ) finds support of masses from all religious backgrounds.

Mithun Chakraborty gives yet another praiseworthy performance as an effeminate God man.In fact audiences will recognize all those real life people who inspired the reel characters . Akshay playing God did not work as much for me.Go Govinda song was a misfit and adds nothing to the film but I find the number catchy and I love Prabhudeva and his moves so I enjoyed it. Sonakshi and Prabhudeva were watched closely right down to their funky smart shoes, ( Now I know why my son begged for those fluorescent green, hideous , ridiculously expensive shoes last month )


Although a fun film throughout,it does have certain minuses too.A big minus for me is the  need of the makers to confirm to the presence of God .I feel they kind of succumbed to the societal pressures eventually and the sad part is ,they did take the help of a  miracle.A huge negative for me! Experience would have been perfect ,if they had stuck to the core of non existence of someone who has never been seen by anyone.A line in the film by Paresh Rawal, "Religion ,either makes man a slave of rituals or a terrorist!" The film could have easily slipped into a philosophical mode or could have turned preachy but thankfully it did not .

My take-An enjoyable family entertainer,worth watching for the subject and remarkable performances by Paresh and Mithun.

Pics - credit Google images.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Printer that left an imprint-HP inkadvantage Blogadda meet.

  The Blogadda #HP inkadvantage meet at Fat Cat Cafe was a lively interactive meet where bloggers met one Saturday afternoon to get enlightened  about printing. We all have printers at home which over the years have served their purpose but are still part of our homes and offices. My oldest HP printer still occupies a corner in my back office. The old faithful Black and White Laser printer is put to work daily by the assistants . Newer printers have been bought ,yet old ones remain....Through this meet I wanted to understand what suited best for my office and home needs.


The meet started with every one coming up with innovative ways to introduce oneself using at least one word out of many given by the hosts. It was intriguing how bloggers came up with funny one liners and paragraphs and poems to introduce themselves. Tweeting was taken to another level,with Sagarika from Blogadda announcing special prizes for funniest tweet,most number of tweets and whacky tweet. There was hardly any dull moment at the meet .


Few questions were put up for the bloggers which they were more than happy to answer. Mr Ghosh from HP  gave a talk on various printers and especially talked about the star of the afternoon ,the printer with the #inkadvantage.At 0.80 paise it seemed to be really at an advantage.


A a few questions were thrown at the gathering for an interactive session. That set all of us thinking about printers back home and at the office .Almost everyone who spoke had a favourite printer to talk about.




Fun began with a Jenga jung of sorts between two teams. After the careful dismantling of the towers and exercising their mental faculties,the winning team got busy tweeting furiously, again.
I have always been fond of At Fat Cat Cafe's food and as always,it did not disappoint me.  



The printer with an edge was the real winner that day . It comes with a few star features as we were informed by Mr Ghosh :

Reliable,time saving results made easy.
Easy mobile printing--from virtually anywhere.
Designed with the environment in mind.








The winner who got the printer could not stop grinning from ear to ear. Mr Ghosh was more than happy to give away the gifts.






Late afternoon progressed swiftly and merged with the evening as we got bust mingling with friends and the enthusiastic Blogadda team. Some candid shots by Magiceye  and  Photokadha were in place.
Evening skies indicated that it was indeed time to wrap up the meet and that is exactly what we all did.
We made few new friends and gelled with the old ones that afternoon over chai , coffee ,food and much more.
It is not surprising that I am looking forward to the next blogger meet almost as soon as I come out of the one I am at ,at that moment. One of the many advantages of blogging ,I must say.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Melbourne Treasure hunt !

  I woke up to the news that I had  won the ....its your time to visit Melbourne now contest by IndiBlogger !
 I had to leave within a weak for that promised trip to Melbourne and the culmination of the entire activity would be a 'Treasure hunt ',- their e mail mentioned.Only after I completed the entire hunt solving all the clues en route,will I be eligible for the grand prize they said. Treasure hunt in Melbourne ?

As my flight landed at the Melbourne airport ,I was whisked away by the organisers and  dropped over to my hotel room with an envelope which had the first clue.I had an hour to freshen up and join them in the hunt .

Clue 1-  Hang on a deck for an edgy experience in the sky .

We drove up to the Yarra river in Melbourne .To have discovered something as beautiful as this was nothing short of  a Eureka moment for me.
Located on top of the tower by the same name,the Skydeck 88 opened up  a breathtaking view of Melbourne city below. All this from a cube that hangs outside the tower to offer an unrestricted view.
                                                                               

A beautiful earthen pot caught my attention and I knew in an instant that my second clue will be found exactly there.I was absolutely right!

Clue-2 Get arts,craft fun and  frolic ,be one with the crowd as you get fed on this square !


To my eyes it seemed as if  the whole city had gathered there in the night.Myriad hues under the night sky,the square had come alive. There was no dearth of activities at the Federation Square. As soon as I entered the arena,I was welcomed and taken on to a guided tour on foot and then we cycled for some distance . The late night wanted me to call it a day and that is what I did before a Tai chi master smilingly handed me a Rose with the next clue.

Clue-3 It is filled with hot air, the kind that makes you fly !

As soon as I cracked the clue,I lost my sleep and waited for the crack of dawn. The excitement was palpable in my whole being ,the heart and pulse merely conveyed the symptoms as palpitations. A one hour long vegetarian ,Champagne breakfast tour had been booked for me. I was soon in heaven,  literally ! Yarra valley and its vineyards below ,vast expanse of green against a burst of orange in the sky...this definitely goes down as most memorable one hour of my life. Later,hidden in the bread box,I found the next clue..

Clue -4 Now you hop,off you go....find me around when you are done.Pay me not in cash or kind ,I drive you around  my Melbourne dear!


The hop on hop off  shuttle is the most convenient and fun way to tour and indulge in the attractions of the city. I skipped a few stations I had already had the pleasure of seeing and lingered on at few other ones. 
  • Stop 1 Arts Precinct
  • Stop 2 Federation Square
  • Stop 3 Sports Precinct
  • Stop 4 Chinatown Precinct and Theatres District
  • Stop 5 Melbourne Museum and Carlton Gardens
  • Stop 6 Lygon Street Precinct
  • Stop 7 University of Melbourne
  • Stop 8 Queen Victoria Market
  • Stop 9 Waterfront City, Docklands
  • Stop 10 Docklands Stadium and Victoria Harbour
  • Stop 11 William Street
  • Stop 12 Southbank and Yarra River
  • Stop 13 The Shrine and Royal Botanic Gardens

A tiring day came to an end but not before I picked the next clue from my last stop at the William street.

Clue -5  Swim with singing dolls..they dance to your tunes and swim alongside you.

                                                      
  Next day was dedicated to swimming with Dolphins and seals and many more water sporting activities. I spent the evening in a spa ,relaxing and listening to music. 
Treasure hunt successfully completed ,I bagged the grand prize of an all expense paid visit to the Great Barrier Reaf ! It could not get better than this for sure..!

I loved and lived Melbourne...its your time to visit Melbourne now !! 

This post is my entry to the  its your time to visit Melbourne now by Indiblogger in collaboration with  visit Melbourne       



My need for speed !






My need for speed
is great indeed                                                        
But the fear of the drive,                                            
..stays in overdrive

I got the Mercedes
with Vodafone I am in,
Indiblogger that I have been
well placed are my loyalties...

Who but me, deserves to be..          
in that race with Lewis
Let me overcome my fears,
let me be thrilled...                                      


Hey Lewis ,Welcome to
amchi Mumbai !!








This is my entry for #the Vodafonespeedfest  Indiblogger contest

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It Happened One Night - Until I could soak no more...

It was pitch dark as she set her foot down on the platform.Darn!Last track again!She had no patience to walk over the entire length of the platform to make use of the foot over bridge. Moreover ,climbing in her pointed pencil heels was out of question ,her feet were already killing her.The next moment,she decided to cross the railway tracks .A huge mistake that she was going to repent for a long time to come.

She crossed the first track and looked carefully on either side for any signs of an incoming train.There was none.She walked ahead balancing on her pencil heels.Spotting a huge puddle glistening under the Red of the railway signal,she stopped in her tracks briefly.Some thoughtful soul had laid down two concrete slabs across the puddle to cross over,she observed .Reassured,she put one foot forward and stepped over the slab. In a flash, to her extreme horror,she found herself in a deep ditch.Her nostrils were filled with the worst stench she could ever imagine .She tried to hold on to the edge of the ditch but the  lose earth caved in and with each effort to come up,she sank deeper and deeper inside the muck."Help!" she croaked .Nothing came out of her voice box.The whole world froze in front of her eyes as her voice deserted her in panic.She managed to reach the second railway track somehow,wading through the gutter and suddenly saw a long distance train approaching.It hurtled past making her head spin.Her heart leapt in her mouth at the narrow escape and a terrible ringing noise in her ears made her dizzy for a few moments.The downpour was heavy now, accompanied by thunder and lightening.Grabbing the railway tracks,she hauled herself up with all her might.She kept throwing furtive glances towards the far end of the station, for any incoming train.Drenched to the core,trembling with fear,her body and her soul could soak no more..

She dragged her tired, feet on the rough earth .The dainty high heels were missing, her soles were sore and her spirit dim from the death defying experience.She tried flagging an auto rickshaw as she came out in the open,to take her home.Two rickshaws one after the other , slowed down as they approached her but sped off soon after they saw her.She soon realized why.She begged the next one to drop her home at triple the usual fare.Money talks and people listen.But the night was still young and her ordeal.....far from over! As she closed her eyes and rested her weary feet in the rickshaw, she felt the screeching of tyres as they went around negotiating  a sharp bend in the road.Next moment she found herself on the road beneath ,with the toppled rickshaw around and on top of her .Too stunned to react,she stayed put .She had given up by now,she was drained out  and ready to face whatever came her way. It was more than she could endure..she could soak no more !The happenings were beyond her comprehension .It was more like she was playing hide and seek with death.The driver emerged in seconds from the rickshaw and she felt a number of hands extracting her from the rickshaw. All emerged unscathed,including the rickshaw.She wondered why she had never believed in miracles, ever !

Once home,she rushed past whoever opened the front door and shut the bathroom door behind her.She was stinking and the stench was unbearable.Unmindful of the banging hands on the bathroom door,she continued her efforts to free herself of the offending dress which was clinging hopelessly to her body.Her favourite dress had to be thrown....She was surprised that she thought of that,it ought to have  been the last thing to cross her mind. She tried to wash away the muck, from her body and the experience from her soul as she stood under the shower.The knocking on the door was frantic now..She let them know that she was fine and spent a good 45min under hot water. 'The clothes,had to be rinsed at least, to rid them of the odour ',she thought.She adjusted the setting of  the washing machine and added  Surf Excelmatic in the receptacle.She added a fragrant antiseptic liquid to the final rinse receptacle before starting the wash cycle. No soaking required,they had claimed. This was beyond soaking and frankly she had considered the dress discarded already.

Once out of the bath,she sat down with a cup of steaming chai ,narrating the dramatic events of the night.She skipped the dangerous details of the use of  the railway tracks as the anchor or the narrow margin by which she missed the passing train.The family found the whole thing to be funny!! There were peels of laughter from all around interspersed with words of admonition from seniors,followed by more giggles.'If only they knew' ,she thought before joining in the fun.She was surprised that she actually could laugh and joke about it.Never again shall I cross the tracks ,she promised herself. A grave mistake,that could have put an end to this dream life she had had, as a gift from beyond.

She woke up very late the next morning .Armed with her morning cup of tea and news papers , she settled down. She heard  her maid call out  to her-'Didi, I have ironed your silk dress too' ."Huh! that one ?Throw it Rama "-she said. By that time Rama had walked in with the dress ,bewildered at the command. The dress was spotless! "Did you soak it and wash it again before ironing?" She asked. "No,I did not.I just removed it from the machine and ironed it. Why would you want to throw the dress ?It is so pretty ..Rama mumbled. Why indeed ?
Surf Excelmatic had worked ! Soak no more and shoak ( शोक )  no more !

The cleansing of clothes was practically effortless.She could not say the same about her terrified being.The night was hellish,dotted with nightmares.It will take a long time before she could put this episode somewhere at the back of her mind..hidden.


This post is my entry for the Indiblogger Surf Excelmatic #Soak no more contest.If you like this post, to vote for it, please drop in  here .Thank you .

Friday, August 24, 2012

Award Time

I was apprehensive about the subject choice for my 100th post when BlogwatiG  decided to come to my rescue,unannounced ! To say that I was pleasantly surprised will be an understatement of the year! I have been wandering in this blogworld since a few years albeit regularly irregular in my contribution. Have still not learnt the ropes but I love writing and that brings me back in this space again and yet again. I read more than I write but I intend to bring both to equal footing soon. Thank you for wishing me good luck just for that...oh you haven't ? Then please do .

Thank you BlogwatiG for nominating me for Leibster Blog award .Now Leibster in German means sweetheart ,so thank you again ,makes me fell all loved .If you have not met BlogwatiG ,you can meet her here.
                                                         
                                                                   image curtesy Sandyspeak              

Rules -

--If tagged or nominated,you have to post eleven facts about yoursef.
--Then you answer eleven questions the tagger has asked you and you post eleven questions for people you are going to tag.
--Tag eleven blogggers (with no more than 200 followers )
--Tell people that they have been tagged.
--No tagging back. 


 My take on myself..
                                                                                             
1.Smiles are beautiful ..When not restoring smiles clinically as a dentist, I like to see smiles all around me.
2. I still feel as though I am fresh out of college,in spite of my mirror telling me otherwise.
3. I have strong shoulders which close friends feel free to cry on.
4. I can be a good listener if you can hold my attention.If you fail to do so, my mind leaves my body and its only my gaze that you are talking to.
5. I am still scared of my mom .
6. I have hyperactive tear glands ,can shed copious tears at the drop of a hat. I am capable  of crying while watching a Salman Khan movie too......Lo Bolo !
7. Can not survive without reading books.Print fascinates me.
8. Non-Diabetic but unable to digest too much human sweetness of behaviour.Can see right through it.
9. I am very bad when it comes to matching faces with their names. The twain rarely meets as a perfect match in my brain but I can still talk for hours .
10. I am jinxed when it comes to hiring Rickshaws...I hide behind something and let  my kids,building watchman or anyone else on the street for that matter, do that job for me.
11. I plan to learn at least three forms of  dancing after my retirement.My knees have promised to behave.Then some day I can be found dancing or  reading or writing somewhere in the mountainside in my little cottage.


Answers to questions that BlogwatiG asked -

1. Do you think a 3am friend is a myth?
    Not at all ! I am privileged to have both , imaginary and real !
2.What would you rather be ? A celebrity or the Prime Minister of the country ?
   A celebrity without a doubt. I love attention and our prime minister  does not get any (of the right kind) .
3. What is that one thing that you would like the older generation to imbibe from the younger?
   Do not beat around the bush..come straight to the point for God's sake ! Adaptability, on a serious note.
4.What is that one quality that you would want the older generation to pass on as a legacy to the younger generation?
   Let experience teach ..mere words don't preach.
5.What is your take on beauty contests ? 
  A thing of beauty now, is Silicon for ever. Overrated.
6.If there was one thing you could do to make a difference what would you do?
   Invent a cost effective ,environment friendly, non-exhaustive fuel.
7.What has been your electricity consumption for the last month ? Is it going to change for the better?
  Erm..considering my two descendants who hit the AC button as a reflex action as soon as they enter their      room and.....umm..the fact that Reliance has khunnas against Juhu residents ...ok I quit explaining  ,INR  11000 .I keep trying  to reduce  , I promise to try harder.
8.Who is the one person that inspires you?
  My Badi Buaji  (aunt) is my main source of inspiration.Cancer struck,till her last breath she spread   compassion .Selfless ,sans any expectations..she only gave love. The mould was broken as she left this world.
9.Did you ever go back to school and meet your teachers?Why? 
   Have gone back to school and college both  and more than once ,to meet my mentors and guides.Two ladies,adverse circumstances,tough taskmasters ,dedicated to work, committed to their students' welfare and full of love.
10.What colours would you paint with, if you had just two to choose from?
  Black and White without a doubt.This way I get to paint the town red with my own shades of grey.
11.One line to describe Blogwati G 
   I do not need a line,I am a woman of few words...
     ' Electric piya'   is my description of BlogwatiG



My questions for the lovely people I tagged--

1.Name one situation that you feel you just can not handle.
2.Impulsive or calculative, what would you choose to be in life ?
3.Is it easy for you to accept your mistake in public and not feel embarrassed ?
4.Do your actions differ in a lift if you suddenly realize the presence of a camera inside?
5.How many times in a month do you feel like not having a bath ? What else do you do for water conservation ?
6.What is your personality type-'jumping in the fray' or ' steer clear' when it comes to controversies ?
7 Do you think,harmless lies oft spoken,are just that..? Harmless ?
8.What will make you feel more insecure, receding hairline or ballooning midsection ? Why ?
9.Three things you would like to acquire before you die (materialistic please ).
10.Do you believe in passing on gifted stuff or would you rather hold on to it even if you are never going to use it.
11.What irks you the most in people?



I tag the following very good people because I read them regularly and love their craft .Some of them may not be aware that I read them and some have been reading my ramblings and have been more than kind to comment .Thank you guys for enriching my life .


Raj of beautiful mind


Please comment below and leave a link of your post .Thank you and have fun...



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nokia Apptasting Indiblogger meet at Taj Land End

Most awaited event of this month for Mumbai bloggers was the Nokia Apptasting Indiblogger meet  held on Sunday ,the 19th of August 2012 at the Taj Lands End Hotel Bandra.
                                                                              
Atmosphere was charged as I entered the hall at the Taj. Registration done,I proceeded to the table where all my fellow Indiblogeshwaries were seated. Dressed in various shades of Red and Pink,we were eager to have a good time. Soon enough, Anup , Vineet and the five years young Indiblogger team made us hug each other and kiss our phones and scream hurr.. hurr... hurr . Soon there was no more  ice left to break and we settled down asking for more.
                                                                                                                         
Hosts Rajeev Makhni of Gadget Guru fame and Vikas Khanna ,the famous Michelin star chef of Masterchef India fame took over the reigns. A quick round of introductions of bloggers followed and then the hosts called upon two important people on stage.
                                                                       
The lady in Blue ,Poonam from Nokia made herself a part of the proceedings . She could have had her epic moment of becoming Katrina or Malaika if she had agreed to dance to an item song . Egged on by Rajeev they even played the song but Poonam didn't say 'aaja nach le' . Next person to be introduced from the Nokia camp was Simran. Now,Simran has become a household name since DDLJ,so when Rajiv Makhni called out this name and a cool dude with a cute smile walked up, many hearts were shattered. Simran was made to sit on a stool by Bauji of the evening Rajeev Makhni to get his handsome face morphed beyond recognition.An epic ' Ham aapke hain kaun ' moment was reached as Simran acquired  bee stung lips a la Madam Jolie ! I am sure Nokia will have a fan in my son who has a picture gallery full of morphed and ghastly images of himself.
                                                                         
Speaking of images,the Nokia pure view was put to use and Rajeev demonstrated how the best of individual images from several clicks can be clubbed together to create one single group photograph.This Group photo app was one cool thing that needs to be acquired by me asap,since my eyes refuse to stay open as soon as any camera says 'click' to me in my face. Now that rare shot of mine with open eyes can be saved as a face saver. Friends must be happy.

Since people started drinking early in the evening, another app to measure the level of alcohol in the system was expected and we were not disappointed.Nokia has such an app.which measures level of permissible alcohol. Our tech- guru spotted one guy in the audience who was declared drunk unfit to drive in front of  a very sober audience. Breathalysers ki aisi taisi ,our traffic Pandus can be handed a Nokia loaded with this app.Nokia are you listening?  
                                                             
Nokia city lens was one useful app demonstrated by Rajeev. It helps locate nearest locations of importance in your city as you turn the phone in a particular direction.Without GPS,I thought it was amazing! To know more have a look  here.

For foodies, a food spotting app that spots the nearest eatery complete with menu et al is available at a click Vino app helps them pair their favourite food with the choice of wine.

The apptasting session kept us glued to our seats .No technical jargon thankfully for us.The best part of the apptasting was the tongue in cheek humour displayed by a very witty Rajeev .Corners  of my mouth never left my ears all through the evening.Ek ek ko bade hi pyar se mara sirjee! I specially loved the quiz with four enthusiastic teams and two quiz masters , Vikas Khanna and Rajeev Makhni . Rajeev sympathised with the contestants for jumping into the fray.What I observed was this young team called Banno ki Sahelis who in spite of many wondering as to why they were there,were completely unapologetic about it.They were there to have a good time and they did just that and surprise surprise..won the game.They laughed ,danced,fumbled,answered without the fear of failure and won the game and my heart for sure.Congratulations  girls! The guys looked like they were appearing for a campus selection interview. Utter confusion prevailed as techie answered a foodie question and foodie took a shot at a techie question.Rajeev  left no stone unturned in pulling poor Vikas's legs as he passed a true and false question to the next contestant.
                                                                       
Vikas, as endearing as ever,remained rooted to the desi mitti , providing many 'aww cho chweet' moments to the already awestruck girls. Both guests were seen mingling with the bloggers much after the stage event drew a close and patiently posed for photographs with the amateurs

Hunger pangs were satisfied by a very scrumptious ,aesthetically laid out spread in the lobby. Bloggers mingled over Dal Makhni and Kheer.

Without looming large, Nokia had an impressive presence at the event.Quiet,expressive and to the point.I liked that, unlike many other corporate events where entertainment and interaction is practically non existent .
                                                               
Must appreciate behind the curtain efforts put in by the Indibloggers team .I love to see the gentle, smiling faces of a very capable team welcoming and saying goodbyes. All I can say is I am a proud Indiblogger.
                                                                       
Congratulations guys and thank you for a lovely evening.


Four Seasons Wine and Food Pairing Event

                                              
Beautiful setting by the beach,friends for company,scrumptious spread and that perfect liquid paired with all of the above..what more could I have asked for on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Organised by Ginger-claps for UB groups' Four seasons wines,the event was a small, interactive affair hosted by Novotel.
                                                      
Ashu,from Ginger Claps informed me that it was all about pairing food and wine together .That was enough to arouse my interest in the event.Novotel provided that perfect setting by the sea . Event started a bit late but once it started rolling,it got better and better.The appetizers  looked inviting and tasted even better.The appetizers were paired with a glass of Rose wine.A round of starters,raised toasts and lively conversation set the room buzzing with excitement.                           

Without much fanfare,Mr.Abhay Kewadkar, chief winemaker and expert took over the reigns of the event as we travelled with him to faraway vineyards to soak in the pleasures of growing,extracting,curing,preserving and storing wines.Keen as I was to learn more about wine pairing with food,this seemed like a perfect opportunity and I had no intentions of letting go of any of that.
I always felt rather uninformed when I was in the company of those who made a spectacle of wine appreciation each time they ordered their glass.There are two kinds of people accompanying them,one who joins the game of pretension and the other who watches in amusement or awe.I have always left the choice of drink to my guest whenever I entertain.

Mr Abhay opened his talk by saying there were no rules to be followed while  serving wines.I was pleasantly surprised to see a small sigh of relief escape the lips of many in the audience.He said it was perfectly alright to enjoy wine as any other beverage along with food without attaching too much importance to it.
                                                    

I had always heard of 'White goes with White and Red with Red' when it comes to wine and my knowledge began and ended at that.I wanted to know how one could pair wine with say coastal Maharashtrian food or spicy Kolhapury food ? I also wanted to know the difference between fine Indian cuisine in India and traditional regional cuisine and how well can it go with a glass of wine.Mr Abhay along with the dishy chef Ranvir obliged willingly and gave us all the answers we needed.It was only later that I found out that they have quite an informative website and if you need to know more about food and wine pairing visit here.


Next, we were part of a live,interactive cooking session with chef Ranvir at the two live stations .I tried my hand at making ravioli stuffed with Lamb mince while the other table fried veg cheese balls stuffed with Jalapeno and sun dried tomatoes served on a bed of Spinach.                        Piping hot food washed downed in minutes ,we soaked in some more as the host talked about his experiences in wine making.It was thrilling to know that Mr Abhay was working on  book dedicated to food and wine pairing and that our two bits could be a part of the process.
                                   
The leisurely afternoon was stretched further as main course was followed by exotic looking and even better tasting desserts .They came in tiny bits easy to pick and gobble down.

As the Sun changed its position in the Sky and the evening drew closer, I began summing up in my mind and felt there was this one small thing that would have made it easier for us to know the selection of Four Seasons Wines better.Select wines could have been kept together with accompanying basic information about them for comparison and appreciation.A guided tour of sorts would have been perfect for better understanding.
                                                  



Kudos to Ginger Claps for bringing it all together for bloggers .An afternoon that ended with coffee with friends mulling over the experience.
                                                         




PS-I for one, will wait eagerly for the above mentioned book to launch .


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ummeedein - उम्मीदें

सुनते  हैं उम्मीद  पर  दुनिया   कायम  है

वैसे,   उम्मीद  का  क्या   है .?..

कहीं भी लगा लीजिये , कमबख्त  लग  जाती  है

खैर तो  उसकी  नहीं  जिससे  ये   लगायी  जाती  है

अरे ! लगाने   से  पहले   पूछ   तो   लिया   होता,

 बेचारा , खरा   उतरा   तो   भला  हो  उसका ,

जो   निकला    नाउम्मीदा  तो   कहेंगे   ,

                                         निकम्मा   नाकारा   !


लगा   कर    खुद से  सिर्फ  उम्मीद

 खरे  उतरो     उन्हीं   पर   ही..

झांको   तो  अपना  गिरेबान  ही बहुत   है

उम्मीदें    तो  ऐसी  हों  ...

न   औरों  की   तुमसे    ना   तुम्हारी  किसी  से   हों .

~~शर्मिला~~

                       

  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brothers in Arms..

A little walk the talk with my two brothers before Rakshabandhan.
I always wanted to ask you dear brothers :-
--What were you thinking before beating up a random guy who YOU thought in your head was following me on his bike? I was not being an ehsaanfaramosh when I did not appreciate your 'efforts' because I sincerely thought that  the poor guy must be speeding  on the road which did not belong to us ,in his hurry to reach somewhere important.As far as my speeding is concerned ,you are well aware of my aversion to use public toilets and my heading home speed has always been maximum. In other words,I was not speeding away from the poor soul,he did not even register,my only aim was to reach the loo asap.
--Were you aware of your size when you thought of confronting a guy who you thought used to stare at me? Thankfully the guy did not return the dent that your tiny 11year old fist caused him in his ribs .You just about managed to tickle him,pun intended. My embarrassment? The word did not exist in your limited primary school vocabulary so let us not come to that.
--I hope you understand now, that all those who glanced in my direction were not exactly Goondas.
Thank you for 'protecting' me  in the school Rickshaw.The stern looks on your little frames was enough to scare anyone and everyone harbouring any ideas regarding your big sister sitting in the middle.
--What made you break open the lock of my mystery box and secretly read my secret diary. Had I not destroyed the same in my volcanic anger,I could have been a strong contender for Booker or some such prize.Teen angst makes a good read you see! There can be no best-seller like a campus love story or secret conversations of gossip girls at a pyjama party. Your loss entirely, brothers -in-arms ..you lost your only chance to be famous brothers of a published author.
--Why did you ,without failing even once,redirect your ire against me whenever mom sent me over to untangle your wrestling limbs.I always ended up being at the bottom of the pile, completely at your mercy.I very sheepishly admit today that I loved being the reason for you to forget about  your own fight .That you thoroughly enjoyed my plight was wicked on your part but then..

                                                                          courtesy Google images             



                                                                  courtesy google images      


--MB ,why on earth did you learn the Railway timetable by heart ? Why did you cycle all the way to the station just to see the super fast Gitanjali Express hurtle past the platform? Why??
--PS, was there any day in your life,that made you less saintly than you have always been? Please own up.MB and I could never match up to your standards.
--Why would both of you be more interested in tagging along by my side every day .Old Peepul was on your side ,one look at its accommodating frame and I would give in.
Brothers in my arms,thus I had been ,
till better sense prevailed and
they sprouted wings.

I also have a  few confessions  in place in this space today -

--I apologise for making you run errands for me just because I was the big sister and I knew you could not refuse me out of love. However, if you think I am going to own up and say that yes, I did call you one day from the playground just to give me a glass of water,you are mistaken.Believe it or not, I DID NOT know that you were playing outside .Not my fault that you responded to my call while fielding near our gate. I am not even smiling while I write this,I swear!
--I am guilty of stealing Dusserie mangoes from your share and eating them up during Summers.I have been suitably punished -while you embraced fitness ,I still struggle to shake of those tyres.

I can go on and on but just one last thing on my mind has to be told now, lest I forget.
Remember,the photograph we clicked at a nearby studio on my 13th birthday? Dressed to kill in my new Yellow Maxi,I was so sure I could give Miss India some serious competition that day.  You could have shown some sensitivity towards a girl entering her teens,rather than contorting your faces  when the photographer cheerfully said ISSSMILEE!! I could never flaunt that photograph in school.Three  faces contorted beyond recognition in their vain efforts to control laughter, did not make a pretty picture.We could have simply laughed and saved mom and dad some money that day,don't you think?

I have sent my Rakhis in time this year to escape your wrath PS . MB, I will indulge in some harmless extortion when I see you that day.Be prepared !





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