Frogs and The Pot

The world seemed to have tuned out of its murmur allowing a stillness to blanket it. The leaves stopped to rustle, the winds did not whistle, the owls seemed to sleep through the night, the bats lost their flight and the market place was barren during the day. All souls, both two and four legged, seemed to have taken comfort in their warm hideouts. 
Why wouldn’t they? After all, the darkest of homes seemed to have more light than the world. The world which was now all things grey. The gravel, the walls, the air, the trees. The winter had coloured the town GREY!

All the noses were left senseless and the human lips reached for amber and became accommodating of all breathing beings by sharing their fire with almost everyone. As the merciless winter of this year unleashed its last wrath by transforming water into glass like solid objects, it was the croaking ones left to fend for themselves. 
With an instinct for survival they all jumped into pots that were left on fire by some saintly souls… maybe for themselves or as a welcome post for these jumpers, who knew?
Either way it worked. They were likely to survive the night.

As the blood began to flow in their bodies again and they regained control of their senses did they stop the panic start to doze off… 

As the water in the pots began to reach a temperature that favoured their little frog bodies and made them feel at home did one of them start to croak incessantly; as if sending out alarm signals for all.
As they all lazily woke up in a frenzy to understand this maniacal urgency when they had just found solace did the alarm raiser say, “We need to hop away from the pots. They are going to be the death of us! We need to leave.” 
While most called it crazy, the older lot called it an immature specimen of youth, some thought of him as the one who was up to some kind of fickle game for more space and the rest followed sheepishly. Feeling dejected and rejected on being thrown out as an outcast, it hopped on with a conscience as clear as air and heart as heavy as boulders. Continuing on its need for survival, it hopped all night to keep warm.

It was only at the break of dawn did he return to its clan. Its body giving up due to over-working. The need for re-energizing was soon becoming of utmost importance- even higher than self-respect and pride; the alarm raiser decided to trace back its path that led him to the clan of majority. No sooner did he reach the heard than he found out that he was the last one standing. The old, the adults, the kids, none had made it through to watch the dawn break and see the glass like encasing of their pond melt away.

Now it shall never know whether it was immature or wise? Whether it was fickle or foresighted. All it knew that it was the only one to survive the storm before the calm. It only knew that it has believed in itself and walked away when things became too comfortable. It knew that anything that could warm up the freezing water to comfort them could also heat it up enough to kill them. And it had been the only one to survive, to breed a new generation.


Sometimes it is all about your gut instinct and believing in what you know. If you are sure that you know better and are being judged for it… think of it as a crazy stormy night and endure until you’re either proven right or have been taught better. But being rejected or feeling like an outcast is no reason to go adapt to things that aren’t better than what you already know. Suck it in, hold on a little while and float. Because baby if you don’t like what you have you need to take charge and show that the change you’re proposing is a good idea- and that’s something you need to do alone sometimes.

Of Weakness and Strength

“What is it, love?”
“Does changing so easily make me a weaker person, Baba?
And Baba responded with…

As the summer soarer higher with its glittering, perspiration inducing heat, I rested my head in Baba’s lap. Spread out in the verandah of the house that I grew up in, we enjoyed the silence with the now warm marble flooring and refreshingly cold glass of buttermilk.
Staring into the distance Baba was lost in thought, I knew by the nature in which he stroked my hair. His face emotionless and eyes set on something far far away. Humming a tune yet to be discovered, my thoughts hopped from one topic to another like a frog in monsoons. My eyes followed every bird that crossed my sky and trying to memorise the colour of every flower that grows in the aangan of my maternal home.

Suddenly feeling like I was missing out even thought I feel nothing but contentment at my marital home. And Baba just knew, don’t know how, that my thoughts were moving in directions unpleasant. He stopped stroking my hair, touched my cheek and asked “What is it, love?”

My response that came ahead was like a wild waterfall of words…, “I’m happy. But why do i still feel like I’m missing out? Don’t worry yourself, I’m actually quite content. But on somedays, I feel confused. It could be that I’m over thinking it or maybe I should give myself sometime. It hasn’t even been six months since moved. But it is just that, somedays I feel like I’m letting go of some parts of me that I’ve spend my young adult life working on. Not that it upsets me, in a twisted fashion it brings me joy. There are days when we realise that we have differing opinions on certain areas. We patiently hear each other out. But then I notice that he has changed himself to be in sync with my point of view. I seen myself change too. But I’ve found myself feeling guilty that I’m making him change or am changing myself. Is it fair to do that? Also, does changing so easily make me a weaker person? Does growing in love with someone do this to a person?”

By this point I realised that not only am I breathless, but also sitting up straight while facing Baba in a crossed leg posture. No idea when my body went through all this movement, but all my attention was on Baba’s face trying to gauge his every movement and expression. He slightly moved his lips into a smile and looked at my face gently, as if caressing it with his eyes.

He started to talk after what felt like a deep discussion with himself. “Love, your mother and I brought you up to be an individual, independent thinker. Give yourself the credit that when you decide to change, no matter how significant or insignificantly, it’s because you see some sense in his way of thinking. And because you agree with what he has to say on the same… Similarly, you have married a man of strength and character. If he decides to change and be more in sync with your viewpoint, what’s so bothersome? Do you not think that you could provide him a better alternative to the same situation? And do not be stingy in giving him the credit of being a responsible individual who has a head over his shoulder! Maybe, he decided to adapt and change because he found sense in what you spoke. It also shows that he cares for you and respects you.”

Lifting his buttermilk and cleaning the droplets that had formed on the glass with a swift motion, it felt like he was visually clearing the little doubt-droplets that has formed in my mind. He sipped onto it slowly, enjoying each passing second; as if he could hear the thought slow down in my head and was watching understanding settle in like the dust after a storm. After finishing his glass, he looked into my eyes, as if claiming my attention and said,
“As for feeling weak… I only see strength in this equation. Both of you are showing strength by letting someone in and allowing them to change you instead of being defensive. You are both acknowledging each others’ opinions and accepting the alternative by admitting that the other’s point of view is better than your own. If anything, I only see you growing stronger by accepting change while also making sure that you have shared your thoughts about the topic. No idea why you’d feel guilty about any of it?!”

And just like that we resumed our gazing into the nature, spread out on the warmed up marble floor. But this time I wasn’t chasing birds and flowers, but just allowing them to enter and leave my line of vision in their own time. Before I knew it I was gently woken up from a relaxing nap that I didn’t know I had indulged in…


While this isn’t an actual conversation that I’ve had with Baba, but one that I had with a dear friend- #cowsonsteroids is how we address ourselves. Keeping the Baba series of story telling going only felt apt. Do share and comment with feedback on my skills of story telling and whether you’d me to continue story telling or explore any other styles of writing.
Thank you!!

FESTIVAL OF SUN BATHING

Here’s me, wishing each one of you a Happy & Vit.D rich kite flying season. May you be rich in it!
Go out more often and absorb as much of it as possible.

Watching with bulging eyes and a child’s fascination, I held onto Baba’s finger as we walked down the beach. The turquoise waves were glittering against my eyes and the joy of the beach goers was almost infectious.
“Maybe it isn’t just me. I should find out if turquoise is on the happy colour spectrum according to colour psychology”, I made a mental note.
Almost immediately scrapping away the note; like an inquisitive child that’s incapable of containing her curiosity, I shared my thoughts with Baba hoping to catch an insight. He smiled. Continuing to walk as if he had a preset target in mind. But what was the hurry? We were just taking a morning stroll.
Weren’t we?!
Further ahead on the beach, we reached a stretch onto which the city seemed to have shifted its bedrooms. There were people by the hundreds who were laying there, lazy-ing around against the sub-urban busy backdrop. Spread out on their beach towels, generously rubbing sunscreens onto each other, floating on the turquoise creating an illusion of the black spots created when the eye hasn’t adjusted itself to the sudden brightness.
A few more meters and I could taste the salt in every bead that slipped off mu forehead and onto my lips to a degree that I could go on, no more. Not knowing that it was going to be a long walk, I had neither packed a bottle of water nor a hat; just flopping away in a pair of flip-flops which were beginning to feel uncomfortable in all that sand huh was quickly heating up now.
Holding Baba’s finger a bit tighter I silently signalled for him to stop. But to my amazement he did not just continue to walk he also did not look at me for a second. It was as if he too was silently sending me a message that he couldn’t be stopped. Red in the face with borderline dehydration, a growling stomach and now a slightly peaking temper; I held my ground throwing dead weight on Baba’s fingers.
I’m not sure what happened in that minute. What I saw next is not something I had expected. He looked at me with a child’s irritation in his eyes and then pointed at the sky with the awe of a child at an amusement park. I mean, this was beach and not DisneyLand!
I only understood the situation better after his next set of words, “walk a little more for my childhood’s sake?” Only then did my eyes honestly scan the skies to find the sun changing filters every now and then. There were kites all over. It wasn’t January but May, and yet the sky filled with colour.
And so we walked…

In Northern India, the month of January sees a steep drop in temperatures. The days are shorter and the sight of sun is even more rare. And if you have a chance to talk to the members of Gen X and Baby Boomers, you’ll find out that these freezing months and chilled breezes were invites to colourful kites painting the sky bright.


The kite flying, as my grand parents and parents have explained to me, is an excuse to get out in the sun after all that time of being bundled up under layers of clothing and holed up indoors. It is an excuse to get some exercise and release those chemicals while also absorbing some Vitamin D!

Our body produces vit.D by absorbing sunlight. This ‘D’ helps in absorption of calcium, resulting in healthy bones. Along with osteoporosis, it also reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart diseases, depression, diabetes and obesity.
One of the easiest source of vitD that is freely available to all of us is the Sun! But with a growing indoor life style, majority of the world population has a deficiency of it (mostly in the developing and developed nations).

So here are some eatables thatch help you gain more vit.D for a better mood, easier weight loss, stronger bones and better lung functioning.
1. Sesame: It is almost second nature to start craving for sesame (til in hindi) as a part of my regular diet just a soon as the winter comes. They could be just roasted, made into energy balls using jaggery to bind them or in the form of dips! They are one of the most under rated sources of vit.D and easily accessible. (I’m going to share a few links with recipes for the same, at the bottom).
2. Milk & Milk Products: Be it cow milk or alternate sources of milk (soy, almond, etc.), they are both great sources of vit.D! Cottage cheese, yoghurt and cheese also contains certain level of vitamin D. Nowadays, there is also fortified milk and milk products available at stores.
3. Mushrooms: They are a delicious source of vit.D as well as potassium. The level of the vitamin varies among the various kinds of mushrooms. Personally, I can add them to everything, right from soups to appetizers and salads to curries and noodles and pastas and rice (just not the desserts).
5. Egg Yolk: Often discarded for its high levels of cholesterol and disliked for its taste, this yellow softness is a sweetheart. The whites contain proteins but the vitamins and minerals are stores away in the yolk, making the consumption of the whole eggs are wiser decision.
6. Orange Juice: While most fruits lack vit.D except for oranges; they are a good source of calcium as well as vit.D. A glass of OJ can provide us with our daily requirement of D!

So here’s me, wishing each one of you a Happy & Vit.D rich kite flying season. May you be rich in it!
Go out more often and absorb as much of it as possible.


Sesame Seed Recipes:
Sesame Ladoo (power balls)
Sesame Dip
Sesame Sticks
Sesame Milk
Misc.

The Tale of The Medicine Man

And just like that, baba walked away with a satisfied smile, after sharing this little tale with me.

A long time ago, in a village of modest means, there arrived a medical emergency that the local remedies could not fix. For the love of the ailing member of the community, the members responsible agreed upon sending a bullock cart to request the doctor from the adjacent village to pay a visit. The ailing member seemed to be spending his limited supply of breaths, very soon.
The village that was accustomed to believing that they are one huge extended family, was desperately waiting for the bullock cart to return. They were all waiting at small distances from the furthest end of the village to the bed side of the suffering, each trying to provide comfort in anyway possible.
However there was one man that sat aloof from the rest. Seemingly unbothered by the events of the village, seated on a high branch of a sky-scraping tree. Many swore at his dis-concern and some swore to isolate him once they had averted the crisis at hand.
The kids ran from house to house, to and from the furthest border of the village. Screaming heavy breaths, raising dust clouds and earning applauds from all the others. There was chit-chat of concern and prayers that could be heard on every street and alley. There were complains about the absence of any signs of the return of the cart with the doctor- every eight to ten minutes, which soon increased the volume of the over all chit-chat.
Suddenly there was a loud horn blown that silenced the co-habitants and got them back to a decorum of sorts. In a matter of few seconds, the little border guards saw a large cloud of dust raising and charging at a galloping speed. And just like that, the cart with its guest traveller sped through the lanes and alleys with all the villagers making way for it.
A few hours and rushed supplies later, the suffering had received due attention and the sufferer was resting his illness away. And as a matter of principle, to keep their word, the adults began to look for the one who showed no concern. They ordered him to climb off the summit of the tree and receive the judgement for betraying the community in its time of need.

As he was dragged to be publicly humiliated and receive his verdict on misconduct, the sound of claps and applause began to vibrate through the streets, everywhere he passed. By the time he reached the townhouse, the venue of verdict, he was announced as the ‘Miracle Man’!

And the ones who were willing to think beyond miracles understood that it was no miracle that he knew exactly when to sign the horn. He just was sitting on a higher place, with a longer range of sight- because of experience and knowledge.


And just like the Horn Blower, Baba walked away with a satisfied smile, after sharing this little tale with me.

I had been troubled with a decision and he had been asking me to listen to my gutt and have some trust in him. While I continued to say that I trust him with all my heart, I was still full of little doubts of uncertainty. While the situation increasingly stressed me out as I felt like a deer caught in head lights, who seemed to have lost her better judgement. On seeing me breakdown and complain that I couldn’t make a call instantaneously because the complexity was over whelming and the consequences to the decision would have the magnitude that I had never yet faced. I had complained that he was pushing me too far and not being understanding of my situation.

After watching me go on for a while, when he saw that I had calmed down a bit, he sat me down and combed his fingers through my hair. Applying calming pressure on my scalp and shared this tale with me. Without having to blow his own horn, he left me with something valuable.
He smiled when he saw that I had begun to connect the dots. He walked away when he was sure that I had begun to understand that the higher branch was symbolical of a higher level of wisdom that had come with a combination of knowledge and experience, not just a higher level of a hierarchy through age and power.

Ba-Dastoor

‘O Soul, thou art at rest.
Return to the Lord at peace with Him,
and He at peace with you.’

There was the light blue sky, white marble domes with emerald and ruby pietradura floral art, guarded by a sandstone red prayer hall on the west and its mirror image for a guest house on its east side. The palette in front of me, as I sat on the Victorian bench in the heart of the lush green gardens, could not have been better.

In a borrowed kurta from baba’s suitcase and a pair of breezy pants, my sleepy eyes looked around with the excitement of a child when I first walked through the arch and glimpsed at the beauty in white. Said to have been constructed as a symbol of love by a man for his beloved over a period of two decades, this marble structure had me falling in love slowly but surely.

While I waited for nature to play out its theatrics, I tried to remember my first visit to the mausoleum-that has been a whooping part of the country’s identity. I wasn’t sure what we had done the first time; there were no strong associations or incidents to create a foundation upon. But there was a lingering feeling of déjà vu once our guide started unraveling the details about its history and symmetry of scales.

All I did was sit down and stay still.

I had to sit down and stay still while everyone around me kept moving in an over whelming frenzy.

I sat down and stayed still when everyone around me was high on anticipation of what was next.

I sat down and stayed still while the silhouette went through the shade card and eventually shifted form.

At first I saw the sky as a deep blue curtain floating against some sprinkled chalk dust and a fading moon; and the winds whispered to me

Then there were emerging patterns of cotton clouds and flying beings against a canvas splattered with gold; while the leaves rustled against the hardened path.

This gold ever so beautifully enveloped into a glowing sun left on a comfortable sheet of light blue; with the morning birds bursting into an acapella.

The scene unfolded from being a glittery performer to a somber lady of pastels.

In an urge to make a lasting association this time over, my mind pulled me back to something I had overlooked in my childlike haste of what lay ahead-

‘O Soul, thou art at rest.

Return to the Lord at peace with Him,

and He at peace with you.’

-the inscriptions on the entrance arch had translated.

On the way, most buildings were coloured dust and red with benches under trees that stood witness to the tales of love and romance over the ages. The air was stained with the crisp stench of hand rolled tobacco and the mildly brewing tealeaves. With cobbled streets and modest houses, the streets around the Taj felt like an architectural conspiracy.

Like most of my early morning squanders on vacations, even this involved baba obliging to my relentless pleas to go to the marvel and breath it in its glory along with the chirping songs at ungodly hours. There was suddenly an unknown comfort in this strange city, like I had become a part of its story as the story had become a part of me

*Ba-Dastoor is an urdu word, meaning unaltered

Hill Climb

After a while of aimless walking and wandering about, feeling like characters of an improv, in a setting drastically different from our regular, on a lazy Sunday morning…

During one fateful monsoon, I visited Dharamshala in a song like weather. Everything in this little Himachal town was picturesque- the rustic winds, the quality atmosphere and the calm of the hills. The view was warmly accommodating, almost like a welcome with open arms. It was the perfect mood for the cuddles, to stay bundled in cushioned beds and yet so appropriate for the wanderers to get lost. The Tibetan ensemble of the town gave it a foreign land feel and the weather was the right amount of soothing.

A group of three, we were well spread on the general tourist behaviour continuum. There are the kind who are just so over-joyed with the spirit of vacation that they can’t sit still for long. These are the ones who will have a checklist for the trip and will try to cut down on sleep just for that little extra. Then there are the ones who like to soak in all the energy they spend on a regular basis; the ones that just snuggle in and sleep to their heart’s content and rejuvenate through resting, if not hibernating. And then there are the ones who do a little of both and fall right in the middle of this continuum.

Ma- the one on snooze; decided to stay cooped up with an old book that I’ve seen her read multiple times and some masala chai. In awe with the place, Baba- the one in the middle of the continuum, and I- the hyper active checklist holder; tightened our trainers and started to explore the hills. No destination in mind and no plans at hand, we decided to see where the mixture of hills, greens and clouds would lead us.

To my utter satisfaction, I was ticking off many things on my informal list on a single stroll- walking on clouds, watching the far mountain snow glow lava as the first rays of morning sun hit it, hearing water flow as we sat listening to birds chirping, walk in the deserted lanes before they got crowded, clicked a gazillion pictures so I remember how beautiful the place is, made a bunch of wild flowers and growths to press into my book, heard the silent music of the town, observed the houses with their colour schemes and the setting of the place, filled my lungs with the uniqueness and tried to memorise the collective feeling of it all.

After a while of aimless walking and wandering about, feeling like characters of an improv, in a setting drastically different from our regular, on a lazy Sunday morning, we started to head back to our hotel room with the idea of some comforting tea and breakfast enticing us, as we desperately covered our ears from the surprise wind and the constant drizzle.

The uphill climb was a lung burner. We stopped by the very rocks where I has fascinatedly looked at the moss and baba thought I was crazy. Suddenly, I heard him say to himself,
“There is no better teacher than a walk in the nature. Every time we walk down the hill we are ramrod straight with arrogant broad shoulders, head held high with no appreciation for our lungs. Its only when we walk up, well, we bend, look humble and ask each breath to take it easy on us. And its only the uphill walk, the one that all of us dread, that gives us the best view there is. It’s such a beautifully detailed graph”.

I’m not sure if he was talking to me or just thinking out loud. We never spoke of it. But from time to time, I revisit that moment, when my lungs start to burn and I don’t yet see the view that the hill climb holds for me.

… because when a thought first occurs, it is organised into ideas and plans, and then transformed into reality. But the beginning really is in your imagination…

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