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.

All Is Life

Hold on, in times of pain and strife:
Until death comes, All Is Life.
-Ruskin Bond

Whether by accident or by design,
We are here.
Let’s make the most of it, my friend.
Make happiness or pursuit,
Spread a little sunshine here and there.
Enjoy the flowers, the breeze,
Rivers, sea, and sky.
Mountains and tall waving trees.
Greet the children passing by,
Talk to the old folk. Be kind, my friend.
Hold on, in times of pain and strife:
Until death comes, all is life.

Ruskin Bond

My apologies.
Apologies for all the non-relatable yet tempting optimistic content that we are having to binge over social media.
In times when the motivation to get out of bed or to create a to-do list seems beyond lost,
enjoying each moment is a myth.
Kudos to each and every soul out there that has been keeping the spirits up and have managed to create a routine and find sense in these pandemic times.

Some of us have been exploring cooking, while the others have been baking their hearts out.
Some are discovering the art of reading, some have been educating themselves with online courses.
Some of us have taken to workout challenges, some are being pro cleaners and organisers.
Some are taking to art and some have been binge watching series and movies.
Some are always available for that 3am online games, while some are catching up on all that lost sleep.
Some of us are allowing ourselves the unusual slip on routine and responsibility.
Some of us are pushing ourselves to create a routine for the future.
Some are growing a kitchen garden, some are now making their own cloth bags and masks.
Some are catching up with their families and friends.
Some are taking in the much needed break from work and society like a pill of meditation.

While all these things sound like the actions of composed minds in these times of strife and distress.
But believe me when I say,
It isn’t easy for anyone.
Families have been separated.
Relationships are going sour.
Truth is being spoken.
Corners are being cut.
Gender equality and roles are being put to test.
Stomachs are going hungry.
Birds are let thirsty.

That hot morning tea is turning cold in order to put food on the table.
That office desk is catching dust, and there is an itch to call and ask for the dues.
That need to enjoy summer evenings with friends is stronger now than ever before.

Everyone needs a break;
A break from this enforced break.
Suddenly the phrase, “Excess of anything is bad” is relatable.

But guys, hang in there.
Remember, this year is about surviving- no matter what your New Years’ resolution was.
We need to survive- physically, emotionally, financially.
So hang in there and be kind
Because “Until Death Comes, All Is Life”


To the ones asking and enquiring about my long distance lockdown, thank you so much!
You guys are absolutely beautiful.
I’m back to my marital home. Back to Mr Husband. And Very Happy!

Dear Women,

“Where there is a woman, there is magic.” –Ntozake Shange

This is an open letter. This is to all the girls, each one of whom is a uniquely fascinating cocoon and will soon break out into a vibrant butterfly. This is to all the women who are currently discovering their super powers and importance in the world.

“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

There is so much out there that I couldn’t have anything more original and unique to say or share. But there are somethings that I wish for each of our beautiful souls…
May each one of us receive the love that you deserve and then some more.
May there be so much respect that the specialised need for women’s safety be eradicated.
May each one of us have the luxury to place ourselves first sometimes.
May there be enough space that we needn’t worry about being misunderstood.
May equality prevail so that we do not have to feel guilty about fairer sex privileges.
May each one of us experience acceptance on such a scale that we too learn to celebrate ourselves- in all complexions, through the stretch marks, for our shapes and sizes.
May there be no need to break through a glass ceiling because all we have is the horizon to look at.
May each one of us have the liberty to decide our own parental instincts, capacities and the lack of it, without being judged for it.
May there be more fathers, brothers, friends, boyfriends and husbands who do not attack femininity as a mainstream joke, nor do they appreciate it among their peers.
May we have the courage and support to chase our dreams and the comfort of knowing that failure isn’t ours always.
May we travel both the worlds- inside and the one around us, and thoroughly enjoy it.
May we all smile more often because we are happy, loved, cared for and cherished.


“Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress.” –Kiera Cass

“A woman is like a tea bag: You can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” –Oprah Winfrey

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” –G.D. Anderson

“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” –W.E.B. Dubois

“Real queens fix each other’s crowns.”

Let’s celebrate us!

The Girl Gang

I got me a girl gang that stands as strong as blood

In the last decade of my extensive exposure to the internet and peeks into people’s personal lives that they’ve chosen to make public, I’ve always fancied the concept of a girl gang.
For a student who switched schools every few years, I didn’t see me having a group that knew one another from our own diapers to the time we were changing diapers. A group that knew each others secrets from the start, got their first racer bras together, had their nails painted and went from genre to genre marking our growth.

But Now…
Now that I’m preparing to change my last name, leave the town I’ve always called home for another, to having two sets of parents – one that got me into this world and another that got him into this world, from sharing my room with no one to creating a co-habiting space with another.
Now when I’m preparing to dawn a new skin and grow into it.
From being the younger sibling, the notorious one with a loud (almost wild) laughter, the whim thrower and the one always taken care of… a few weeks from now and I’m walking into being the eldest, expected to be responsible for more than myself, a benchmark setter of sorts, the one holding the baton of two families at once and creating a balance.
(I know I’m not the first one to go through this transformation and will not be the last)

But Now…
Now when I had to pick my gang and put us all together for a weekend, I knew I was blessed for having have met them at different points in my life. Over a weekend I had the luxury and good fortune of getting me a school friend, a friend from under-grad, a friend that came into my life as a gift from my brother and a friend who saw me through my masters (solo living away from home).
A bit nervous about this mixer, the weekend couldn’t have been better. While at the beginning I was the only common point for all of them from different phases of my life, they all walked away with new friends. And I walked away with a group that will remember my childhood dreams, my grad school ambitions and my crazed spirit- never letting me lose sight of who I am, who I can be.

I got me a girl gang, finally!
I got me a girl gang that has seen my drama.
I got me a girl gang that has done some really crazy things with me and for me.
I got me a girl gang that looks after me.
I got me a girl gang that taught me how to look out for each other.
I got me a girl gang that lets me vent so I can be my best version in the world.
I got me a girl gang that knows my story and doesn’t judge my dark spots.
I got me a girl gang that laughs, cries and dances with me.
I got me a girl gang that is just a call away, no matter how long it has been.
I got me a girl gang that appreciates my smarts but calls my bluff as it is.
I got me a girl gang that stands as strong as blood.

Here’s to my bunch and all your bunches that get you roaring!!

ECCENTRICITY

Edith Sitwell

Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness.
It is often a kind of innocent pride.
And the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and the vagaries of the crowd.

Edith Sitwell

How better could one explain this term?
Very often and very loosely have I heard very many people use this as an adjective for two opposites; for the smarts and also for the looneys. How then should I agree with them when I fail to understand their hypocrisy?
Or should I just believe that they use the term for people and behaviours that are beyond them (good and bad), and give due respect to those who dare to emerge on the either extremes of the bell curve of accepted normalcy?

The Circus Elephant

The show stopper for me always remained the elephants. The ginormous and magnificent beings that have ears and noses larger than all and suspiciously tiny eyes.

As a 90s kid, a large part of my summer vacations was making a day out of a trip to the local circus. We’d spend days planning the day; making a group, convincing parents, thinking of the potluck, prepping for the post show games in the garden and actually picking a date- most of which was done by the mothers while we just nagged around.
As trivial as it sounds right now it meant a great deal then. The drive to the venue was filled with incessant chatter among cousins and friends, trying to recall the events of the previous year’s circus, making creative assumptions about everything we wished to see in the current year’s performance and how much fun the immediate future was about to be. There was a large part of this conversation which revolved around the food our mothers had packed, the sandwiches and juices, the jams and candies… no one wanted to talk about the fruits of course.

The sight of a familiar, larger-than-life, multi-coloured, striped tent would automatically have us gushing. Our caps and hats in place and shoe laces tightened, we were like bulls waiting to charge, waiting to find a seat and waiting for the show to begin. Visiting the zoo was one of the compulsory trips on our annual curriculum, but a circus always held a different charm. The animals were the same, but here they were let loose instead of being inside cages and yet they were sources of entertainment rather than being intimidating; funny, isn’t it?
Year after year, the routines remained the same. The monkeys cycled, the gymnasts were on acrobats, the dogs carried baskets of flowers and sometimes fruits, the lions roared, the bikers rode in horizontal circles defying gravity, the masters made the lions act like tamed dogs, the magician pulled out vibrant ribbons, white pigeons and rabbits from their hats.

The show stopper for me always remained the elephants. The ginormous and magnificent beings that have ears and noses larger than all and suspiciously tiny eyes. Unaware of the order of the food web or placement of herbivores in it, to me they were the most powerful of them all. The reason they had all my attention was because despite their size they played the role of a juggler with hats and colourful balls. They stood on two legs over an inverted bucket. They made me laugh and tickled my ribs like the clowns around them.
Why was someone who is strong enough to uproot trees with a whisk of its trunk alone, being so cordial?

The answer of course came much later. Years after I had stopped going to circuses. Years after the use of animals at circuses was declared as cruelty against animals. It came in a lecture when the professor was teaching the concepts of Conditioning, Learned Helplessness and Parenting.

A baby elephant is left in shackles and nailed to the ground for majority of its free time. Every time it tries to break free, it is punished with severe pain around its ankles. With years of trial and error resulting in pain and failure, it learns a lesson for life!
Fast forward many years ahead, as a full blown adult sized elephant with the ability to crush anything and everything on its way, it remains humble. It is humbled by an experience of its childhood. It has the potential yet it undermine itself. Tied down to a spot with just a feeble rope and anchored to the ground using a disproportionately small piece of wood, it never tries to make a run for its freedom and allows itself to be commanded at the helm of a midget stick being pointed at it.

Many of our actions have consequences large enough to change the fate of a person and their self image.
When you compare between siblings or friends, you are always inflating someones self efficacy while deflating the other though the short term agenda was to motivate. When you tell your child that they are not yet prepared, you could be leaving a long term impression about them not being good enough. When you tell your spouse to be more like your parent, you are telling them that they do not compare or provide as well as you have been provided for. When you tell a hurt boy to not cry like a girl, you are forcing the thought process that girls are weak and among girls that boys are stronger. When you ask someone to work on their size, complexion and tan with the intention of helping them work on their appearance, you could be instilling an inferiority complex through discrimination.

There is an old hindi proverb “हाथी के दांत खाने के और दिखाने के और” which loosely translates to “elephants have different teeth to eat and different to show”.
It is the same with our words. They intend something but could have a very different effect.

People

I know there are terrible terrible people out there but listen:

Okay, I know there are terrible terrible people out there but listen:

I also know that there are people who stop and smile at tiny plants growing out of sidewalk cracks, people who laugh so loud that they snort, people who compliment others randomly, people who take pictures of their friends because they love seeing them happy, people who ramble about things that they’re passionate about, people who blush and stutter, people who are kind, people who are warm, people who love and love and love.

There are people who are intrigued on seeing a bird’s nest, people who slow their cars to let the pedestrians walk, people who stop to look at the clouds and smile, people who walk a mile extra to conserve the environment one step at a time, people who pet strays like their own, people who share food with strangers, people who give bear hugs, people who stay up all night with their loved ones just so they do not feel left alone, people who suffer with a simple just to provide two square meals for their family, people who do not like taking credit for things thy’ve contributed in, people who give and give and give.

My Love, there are all kinds of people out there… So wear the tint that you can appreciate and only then start looking at the world. Because, you will only find the kind that you seek.

The Backwards Law

It is only when you love all the colours in a rainbow do you accept the rainbow’s beauty or else you are just knit-picking!

Recently a friend shared an interesting post with me, via social media.
In all honesty its been a little more than a week since he shared it, but today I’ve decided to put it out here and share it with all you people.
Its taken me some time to ‘unpretzel my mind’ and its still a work in process…


‘Wanting positive experience is a negative experience; accepting negative experience is a positive experience. It’s what the philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backwards law”- the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The more you desperately want to be rich, the more poor and unworthy you feel, regardless of how much money you actually make. The more you desperately want to be sexy and desired, the uglier you come to see yourself, regardless of your actual physical appearance. The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you. The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-entered and shallow you become in trying to get there.’


If you are wondering what took me so long to chew this up, gulp it down and try to digest it… well maybe you should read it once again. And then one more time if you still feel the same way.
And these multiple reads were what I needed to internalise these words in the first place. The idea of always being happy and being positive has been so largely marketed and glamourised that we forget that we are more complex machines than any we have created and that we have innumerous softwares that work parallel to one another and mechanisms which are far beyond our own understanding and control.
It is not just okay to feel low, in fact sometimes you owe it to yourself- if you are low, allow yourself to feel it. If you are feeling upset or even angry, you have a reason; so don’t undermine your own smarts. By this I don’t mean to say that you can do outrageous things and take extreme measures, all I mean is that we need to feel the whole spectrum of our emotions and then act with the best possible alternatives.

Have you ever been given a compliment which not only do you not understand but cannot even believe it because you think the contrary of yourself? And somehow that compliment or comment (as you don’t believe it) comes back to you from time to time.
Ever wondered why someone thinks you are beautiful while you don’t think your complexion is good enough or you are too tall to look good or too broad structured to look cute? Are people really always trying to flatter you? Could they have an ulterior motive to achieve by making you doubt yourself and classify your insecurities flawed?

It is only when you love all the colours in a rainbow do you accept the rainbow’s beauty or else you are just knit-picking!

Paper Boats

“Could you read this poem out to me?”

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running stream.
In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of the village where I live.
I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and know who I am.
I load my little boats with shiuli flowers from our garden, and hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land in the night.
I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the little clouds setting their white bulging sails.
I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down the air to race with my boats!
When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.
The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading is their baskets full of dreams.

– Rabindranath Tagore

During a sweltering summer afternoon, my younger sister- who sometimes is an adult but mostly a teenager, walks upto me with a book of poetry held loosely in her hand. She sinks next to me on the bed while I continued watched the fan over head churn and spit warm air around.
With her head rested on my raising and falling stomach and cotton stripped pyjama clad legs hanging lazily off the bed, she asked out of tired curiosity “Could you read this poem out to me?”. While a bit agitated, I agreed as there was nothing better at hand for me to occupy myself with.
There were no conversations that followed. Just the two of us, lost in our own lands of thought, counting the boats we have sailed to no specific destinations and longed for a response from the universe.
With a decade between the two of us, after a year of this summer afternoon, it still amuses me how age truly is just a number and how I (even now) continue to dwell in my own child-like fantasies hidden under the drapes of adulting.

Note:
1. Shiuli: also known as night-flowering jasmine and coral jasmine
2. Child-like: when an adult continues to have (nice) qualities of a child such as innocence and trustfulness

EXCITEMENT

It is very similar to the exact opposite of itself!

Increased heart rate
High adrenaline level
A feeling of restlessness
A state of mental arousal
Heightened sense of awareness

It is a combination of all the above signs and symptoms that we use to explain what excitement does to us. It could be the little things that make us skip a beat or the prolonged moments that leave us with our hearts drumming in our ear. It is the sweating palms and shallower breaths of anticipation.
It is what one experiences when heading out for a crazy night of fun with friends, also when meeting someone who is a stranger with potential to be more that just an acquaintance.
It is exactly what I experience every time I’m boarding the flight for a trip that I’ve been planning and putting together for quite sometime, also when I sat smiling next to him for the first time with cameras and happy faces pointed at us.

With lack of context it is very easy to confuse these signs between excitement, nervousness and fear.
Ever realise that?
We go through the same set of physiological responses when experiencing excitement and fear, while they are such opposites!
If you try to think a bit longer and dwell deeper, it is easy to see that the root difference is based on the fundamental element of ‘known’ and ‘unknown’.

So the next time you’re scared of something and it is leaving you sleepless at nights and anxious during the day, spend some time and energy in getting to know more and more about it. Because the more you learn the more your brain is likely to make it into a pleasurable and exciting experience rather than a dreaded and feared one.

Here’s to getting to know more and being more excited each day!