Have you ever questioned life from the eyes of a leafless tree?

(In winter) there is time to note the beauty of leafless trees, and the lovely handwriting of their twigs against the sky.” L. B. Wilder, 1937

The tree of life

Leafless trees opening their arms to the skies above under the lucid moonbeams on a full moon night or silhouetted against the setting sun.There is something about these beautiful images that hold me captive and I always ask

Have you ever questioned life from the eyes of a leafless tree?

I sometimes feel that leaves take away the beauty of the trees. All trees have a story to tell if we see them closely. The knots, the twisted branches, the empty nests and the ones with birds still in them, they have some magic, something spooky about them. I always felt drawn to the naked beauties of trees. As  a child I used to imagine shapes in the entangled branches and loved to create my own stories about each one of them.

Standing in solitude, they can signify anything from love lost to struggle and a new beginning. To me each tree is a poetry written against the sky.

Here are some pictures I took while photographing the spring flowers around my neighborhood..

Life is a bitter sweet symphony and I love it in all it’s twists and turns.


Poetry : Beloved

A silence has descended
In our heart’s garden
Where love blossomed
And butterfly hopes fluttered in a
Kaleidoscope of colors
Where fragrant jasmine dreams
Intoxicated and merged
Our souls into one
Where silver moon shone each night
And days were kissed with lucid sunbeams
Where winds whispered sweet nothings and
And trees swayed with melodies unheard
Now I look at the willowy moon,
And at the jasmine vine
Clinging close to my window
The collage of your pictures
On the fire place mantle
Or the old letters, gifts,
All neatly tied up with silken string
Every thing carries me to you
Though you have moved my love
You see, you left a little of you in me
Little by little you drifted away
To some distant land guarded by walls
Little by little you pushed me away
And closed your soul to my cries and calls
If ever you feel that you need to come back
If ever your soul seeks me again
If ever the passions ignite your heart
If ever the memories of bygone love
Haunt your nights and visit your days
If ever the loneliness sweeps back again
And the longing, the urge grips your being
Then my soul mate, my love,
You will find me waiting
Just like before
For the fire in me is
Neither extinguished or forgotten
And the tender sapling of love
That you planted in the soil of my heart
Has taken firm roots and
Turned into a flowering tree
The fragrant breeze that flows
From my land to yours
Over the tranquil blue waters
And golden sand dunes
Like a guarding spirit
For as long as you live
Moves with you
Binding us together
With an invisible thread of love

Tackling Computer Related Health Problems

Regular use of computer can lead to several health problems. These days most of us are required to sit in front of the computer for long periods due to the computer-related jobs. Maintain certain postures for a long time, causes repetitive stress injuries (RSI) over a period. Many techniques and postures cut the harmful forces acting on the body, and considerably minimize the risk of injury.

We can considerably reduce the injuries and pains by paying attention to some of the factors discussed below.

Keep a Good working posture:

US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends some important methods to support neutral body postures while working at the computer workstation. I read about them and found them very useful. Here are some tips for regular computer users.

Keep the hands, wrists and forearms straight, in-line, and almost parallel to the floor.

Keep the head bent slightly forward or at the same level and well balanced. It should be in-line with your torso.

Keep the shoulders relaxed. Let the upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.

The elbows should be close to the body and bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
One should keep the feet fully supported by floor or footrest.

The back should be straight and fully supported with proper lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.

A well-padded seat to support the thighs and hips is a necessity. Keep it generally parallel to the floor.

Keep the knees about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.

Stretch Stretch all the Way:

While working on a computer one should stretch after every one hour. One should avoid sitting in one particular posture for more than an hour. Stretching exercises can help in a long way. For example, lean forward with your arms crossed in front of you. Hold your knees and push your knees apart. Keep your hands on them. This will stretch the shoulder blades. Also, stretch your fingers, arms, hands, and torso at regular intervals.

One should make sure to exercise and move the hands, legs, back, and neck for at least 10 minutes throughout the day. Periodic short walks from your workstation helps the blood to circulate properly and reduces the risk of cramps.

Monitor Pointer/Mouse and Keyboard Placement:

Placing the keyboards, pointing devices or working surfaces too high or too low may result in awkward wrist, arm, and shoulder postures.
Adjust the keyboard to maintain straight or neutral wrist postures. Left-hand users can use an alternative left hand keyboard, with the keypad permanently affixed to the left side Place the devices such as keyboard and mouse phone within the primary work zone area.

Place the computer monitor at the recommended viewing distance and angle (the range of 20-40 inches (50-100 cm). Adjust it to the right clarity settings to avoid eyestrain.

Keep the chair height and desk height to a comfortable level to maintain a neutral body posture. Sit at a safe distance from where you can clearly view the monitor and read the text without slipping to awkward postures.
Keep the monitor directly in front of you. Your head, neck, and torso should face the screen.

Look at far-away objects like wall clock etc. to give periodic rest to your eyes. Viewing the monitor for a long period causes fatigue and dryness so blink at regular intervals to give the eyes of necessary moisture. Some other non-computer tasks such as filing, phone work, etc. can give your eyes the needed break from the strain.

Choosing the Chair:

Use mobile and size-adjustable chairs if you are a regular computer users. If the desks are not at the right height, they may force you to take awkward postures such as extending your arms to reach the keyboard, which will strain the arm muscles. There should be adequate clearance space for the thighs, legs, so that one can often change working postures
The chair should give adequate support to the back, legs, hips, and arms. It should have a back rest to provide necessary lumbar support, comfortable seat, and soft armrests for a relaxed working position.

Relaxing arms and wrists

To keep your wrist and forearm relaxed during work and to avoid pain, try one of these methods:

If the keyboard tray/surface is not big to accommodate both the keyboard then position the mouse tray above the keyboard. One can also keep it next to the key board tray. A fingertip joystick attached to the keyboard also helps. Pointing devices attached to the keyboard such as a touch pad are also a good idea. The size of the point devices such as mouse should be right so that they fit the hand. Mouse pad with a wrist rest helps in keeping the wrist relaxed.

Keep these pointers in mind and make the necessary changes to avoid lower back, neck, eyes and wrist strain due to long hours of computer working.

Travel Memoir : A Drive Through Clouds

Traveling by road in the majestic Himalayas is treacherous at times. The spectacular network of these remote rugged winding roads can give you a big adrenalin rush at any given time. The hair pin bends, gorges, steep valleys, narrow slushy muddy tracks that take sheer courage to maneuver and some times the unfriendly terrain make it an adventure which only the brave can afford to go through. A little distraction or error in judgment can lead to a disastrous end.

The rain and snow add to the drama that unfolds at every tricky turn. There are always chances of land-slides; road blocks and one must know the basic of mountain driving to avoid mishaps. The worst comes when you are caught off guard and have to trust your ability as a driver, a cool mind and the intuitive powers to help you navigate the snaking trails.

For us who love to venture into unknown territories, the roads journeys from Rampur Bushahr to Kinnaur and Khajjiar to chamba in Himachal Pradesh have been really breathtaking and the extremely difficult to maneuver till now. At both times we went ahead without prior study of the area and were fortunate to come out alive.

Dalhousie is the gateway to the Chamba valley. The best way to explore the charismatic beauty of the region is to hill walk or trek. The tranquility, beauty and the exquisite scenic surroundings are an unforgettable experience. After out enchanting stay at Khajjiar it was time to continue our journey to Dharamshala via Chamba.

We decided to follow the Khajjiar – Chamba road and vaguely asked the locals for the directions. It was raining heavily and most of the valley was covered in low clouds and dense fog. The rain had brought down the temperatures too. Our car glided through the unknown serpentine rugged mountain road in near zero visibility.

It is not a drive for the weak hearted. As we looked down the deep gorges and steep ghostly valleys enveloped in a cloudy mist, we realized the height at which we were traveling. The habitation in the valley below resembled small dots of blue and black. The roads were hardly visible but sometimes we could see a gray black line crisscrossing along the lower mountains.

We thought that this was going to be our last road adventure as we carefully maneuvered the hairpin bends, depending solely on the gut instinct.

Visibility was nil and there was not a single soul in sight. It was truly a drive through the clouds. The tension was mounting and a silent fear had gripped all of us. We had no idea even if this road was the right one and there was no turning back. We had to go on.

After an hour of cruising through the unknown under merciless rain and bone chilling cold, our alert eyes saw a roadside kiosk emerge out of no where and all our stressed out muscles relaxed at once. We found that it was a tea stall and the locals thought we had completely lost it. No one dares to drive in weather like that on an unknown high mountain road like that one.

We decided to drink a cup of hot sugary tea and wait for the rain to stop but it continued to pure ceaselessly. We scanned the deep dark valley below and shuddered at the thought of dropping down hundreds of feet down in that abyss. It was spine chilling

The time factor was very crucial as we still had to cover some distance to reach Dharamshala before dark. A 220 Km. six-hour journey and the weather made it very clear at least two to three extra hours were needed.

When you surrender yourself to nature, it takes care of you. This is one fact we always believed in. We drove on in absolute stillness. Half way down the road we saw a few workers repairing a damaged road in cold, rain and muddy slush. They advised us to go very slow and wished us good luck. It was good to see those dedicated courageous human beings who make our journeys safe.

Suddenly our friend who was driving the car stopped the car. The spectacle that greeted us was astounding. Right in the middle of the road was a flock of at least 9-10 huge vultures, majestic creatures so rare to see these days. Unfortunately the bad light and rain prevented us to click pictures. It was  experience of a life time and the kids watched the raptors with awe. Our day was made.

Those were the famous Himalayan Griffon vultures. These birds of prey are a dying species and we held our breath to savor the moment. Griffons are about 41-43 inches long and have a wingspan of 260-289cm. and are the second largest old world vultures. Slowly we made our way on the road and the knightly creatures decided to give way to us. Mystified by the beauty of those birds we continued towards our destination.

After a drive of half an hour the sky cleared and we could again see beautiful green valley dotted with tiny houses and thin zigzag maze of mountain roads below. We had managed to cover the most difficult part of the road. It was an enchanting sight. The rain had completely stopped. The riot of colors that flooded the mountainsides also became visible now. Wild flowers in all colors blossomed as far as we could see, oblivious to the human existence.

We were relaxed and happily chatting. The kids kept talking about the big birds and soon we entered the picturesque Chamba valley.

It was a journey through timelessness, an adventure which would haunt us all our lives. It remains a true Himalayan odyssey and an enchanting drive through the clouds.

(Image courtsey Google images)

Flash Fiction : Veiled Heart

You veiled your heart from me.

Yet I managed to enter your heart, silently on cat feet.

I came to steal all the sorrow, pain, hurt and suffering from you.

I even emptied my heart of my own burdens to make space for yours.

However, I realized you had buried them some place else, somewhere beyond my reach.
I felt pained and let down. I had a right to them as much as you had, may be more.

Still despite of all your silence and all your efforts to hide within your so-called shell, my heart found a way to yours.

You even dressed it in rags and made it beg.

It kept beating at the door of your heart, unconditionally without questioning.

Every time you try to kill it, like a phoenix it rises again from its ashes.

The slightest breeze of love that is part of a bigger scheme of things blows sometimes even the heaviest of veils away.

Do not attempt to fight what is part of your destiny, have faith.

Sometimes we lose time and by the time we realize what we have lost it is too late.

As he stood by her grave, her words kept haunting him. A tear slipped through his soft brown eyes.

55 Word Fiction : Untitled

She stared at the computer screen.

No mail


The cell phone was blank too.

She sighed

Looked long at the mug on the table

In one gulp, she drank it

Sometimes sleep is the only solution, she thought.

The phone kept ringing

It rang too late.

55 word fiction : That Night

She cooked his favorite food, took a long fragrant bath, put on the flimsy gown and prepared herself for the big night.

She would give him what he had been wanting all his life.

The frenzy of her passion surprised him.

He slept like a baby.

Next morning he found her hanging from the fan

Savitri, Woman of Substance – A Story

The night slowly slipped behind the back stage making way for the dawn that glowed with joy from behind the cloud curtains. The rays of the morning sun started to spread the cheers across the marbled floor of the sky.

Savitri rubbed her eyes and yawned as the sun light brushed on her face. She rose, picked up the broom and cleaned the area near her home. Then she went to the hand pump, drew some water and went about her daily chores like many of us.

She quickly revised all that she had to do before the rush hour. There was drinking water to be filled from the municipal tap before the line went to the other end of the earth. There was a specific time period and if she missed that they would have to drink the dirty hand pump water. Then there was cooking to be done, lunch packed for her little children and husband. She would wakeup the kids in a while and dress them for their school. Savitri made it a point that no matter what the kids will not miss even a day at the school.

I guess most of us did have a similar kind of routine but our daily chores and private moments with family were not for public eye whereas Savitri’s were free for all. She lived on the pavement near our apartment. The posh residential complex meant for the who’s who of the capital. Where people hid their family skeletons into the cupboard, and shoved their dirty linen under beautiful Persian rugs. Savitri’s world was open for scrutiny all the time; she did not have one single private moment of her own.

Savitri’s husband had moved to the capital as a laborer when our apartment foundation was being laid. He was the right hand of the contractor and good in his mason work. Like any other average person who wanted to make good money in the big city, he too nurturing a dream of a “private” home and other luxuries of decent living.

Her village in the interiors of Bihar had no electricity, water or even a road. Shyam lal wandered here and there for one year before a contractor hired him. There was no way he could keep his family with him. Time passed and loneliness of the big city started to take its toll on him. He got his pregnant wife just after a year’s stay in unfriendly city.

Savitri and her husband wandered for many days until they found the construction site of our apartment and made it their home. They now had an envious address in town.

Shyamlal was a mason and spent many days in some or the other construction site but it was not getting him good income to support the growing family. He did odd jobs like cleaning cars or cleaning dishes at parties with the tent house guys he had befriended. Somehow they managed to meet the both ends. Savitri worked as house maid and earned a bit to pitch in, but with an infant in her lap and three more to take care of, it was becoming a bit rough for her to do her bit..

I would often see Savitri’s little family and her open life from my balcony on the fifth floor. Many a times I tried to get the whiff of what was cooking for lunch at her home. She would bathe her children one by one under the broken municipal tap and try to make the new baby sleep amidst traffic fumes, noise and filth.

I would pass her humble dwelling en route to the market and often think about the rigid rules we had at home about cleanliness. I would always be uncomfortable of my clothing when I would glance at the rags hanging on a thin dirty wire near the side wall of our apartment building.

I never stopped at Savitri’s home but smiled once in a while at her or handed some fruits to the children while passing that side. We had developed some silent unheard of bond between us.

One day as I returned home from the market, laden with bags of all shapes and sizes, I heard her shout from behind.

“Madam ji your purse fell off when you crossed my house.” She handed me my wallet with a smile.

I was touched by the honesty and sincerity of this woman. She was poor but not greedy. I mumbled my thanks with a smile and handed her a fifty rupee note. Suddenly the color of her face changed.

“We are poor madam ji but we are not beggars. My husband earns well to feed and keep us. You give eatables to my children that I don’t mind because food is sacred but money…. You are insulting me.” The proud woman said with a hurt in her voice.

I never felt more ashamed in my life than at that moment. A humanitarian lesson came to me from the most unexpected source.

I patted her back and walked silently towards my home. Days passed and I got busy with my new found work. My maid usually went for the local household purchases so my interaction with Savitri became less.

One day the bell rang at the crack of dawn. Half asleep and tired I dragged myself to the door to find Savitri with all her children.

She muttered that she was sorry for disturbing me so early but it was urgent. I became defensive and asked what the urgency was all about. I was sure she wanted money or some other help by telling some sob story.

“We are leaving for the village for good. Me and children” she said.

“Why? Is something wrong and what about Shyamlal?” I asked, curious to know what had hit them to move from the city after such a long time.

She was a woman of few words and in short she explained how her husband had got into bad company and came drunk most of the nights, hit her and created a scene by demanding physical contact when he pleased.

“I have two growing sons and three daughters and if we stay with him it would have a bad influence on them. I want to make my children civilized respectable citizens. I have some savings and I am sure we will be better off without that creep.”

“I don’t want my children to think that a woman is a ball of dung to be kicked around.” she said with pride glowing in her kohl dark eyes. I was dumbstruck. She was not willing to sacrifice her self-pride at any cost. I fell from my own eyes that very moment.

Here was I struggling to keep a dying relationship with a married man and here was a woman who had never set foot even in a local school teaching me what woman’s liberation was all about.

My respect for her grew from that day and I wished her success with her liberated new life. I went ahead and hugged her to her utter surprise. We parted with moist eyes.

I watched her walk away majestically with honor followed by her proud children.

The locality suddenly lost one of her most élite residents. Shyamlal wandered aimlessly for many days in half drunk condition. Maybe he lost his job too. After a few days the locality was cleared of the growing slum near it. The space on the pavement constantly reminded me of humble Savitri and the lesson she taught me before leaving. A lesson, all the years of my élite education could not teach.

Herbal Teas and Their Benefits

A visit to a well-known tea parlor in old Delhi opened a whole new world of tea infusions, flavored teas and herbal teas called Tisane. The world of herbal teas extends much beyond our realms of imaginations and there is a variety of aromatic teas available which not only have health benefits but also delectable flavors.

Tisanes, as herbal teas are known, resemble the common tea and are similarly brewed in boiling water but they do not have the tea leaf from Camellia Sinensis bush. For over 5,000 years herbal teas have been part of the tradition and culture around the globe.

Tisanes can be made from the mixture of fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds or roots, grasses, nuts, barks etc according to their health benefits and taste.

The common health benefits of drinking herbal teas are:

1. A calm and relaxed state of mind

2. A healthy heart

3. Aid in stomach and digestive problems

4. Tisane also cleanses the body of toxins and promotes positive energy and wellness

Tisanes, Herbal infusions and their Health Benefits

Chamomile tea, Jasmine tea and Ginger tea are some of the common herbal teas. Each one of them has a distinctive taste as well as health benefits. Apart from these the spices that go into making a great herbal infusion are All Spice to soothe the common cold and relieve upset stomachs, Chrysanthemum to help reduce body heat during fever and to help protect against liver damage and in neutralizing the effect of toxins in the body, Lemon grass for its calming properties, Parsley for its diuretic effect and to help with kidney function, Peppermint as greater stress-relieving and help with stomach and to help with the digestive ailments. It also acts as a breath freshener. One can choose from a wide variety depending on the need.

Chamomile Tea

The chamomile tea is made from dried chamomile flower petals. It is a part of the daisy plant family.

I have been using chamomile tea as a stress reliever and it really is a great remedy. Chamomile is known for its calming attributes and has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties that help relieve and keep away a variety of maladies including painful bothersome cramps during menstrual cycle. Chamomile tea is a favorite sleep inducer and a natural cure for people suffering from sleep related problems as it is a natural sedative.

It is found to be useful in treating and relieving morning sickness, restlessness, rheumatic problems, skin ulcers, stress-related flatulence, teething problems, ulcerative colitis, wounds, it is also a muscle relaxant and antispasmodic.

Chamomile is often used to help relieve anxiety and is rich in essential oils that help the digestive system function properly. It is also good for the skin; Dip a cotton wool in the tea and use it as a skin cleanser or compress. One can use it to cure tired strained eyes by putting chilled Chamomile tea bags or Chamomile ice cubes as compress.

So Chamomile tops my list of herbal teas.

Jasmine Tea

Jasmine tea is made with a special blend of high quality loose tea leaves with jasmine flower petals.

Jasmine herbal tea has an exotic aroma and flavor and all the wonderful antioxidant properties of a green tea. It has been known for centuries due to its relaxing and warming qualities and soothing effects on the digestive system.

Jasmine tea eliminates the free radicals preventing some forms of cancer; it also helps in arresting aging process. It connects with cholesterol, blocks it, decreases its level in blood, as well as prevents bad cholesterol.

Jasmine tea is believed to prevent brain strokes, heart attacks, thrombosis and arterial sclerosis thus proving highly beneficial for our circulatory system. It prevents diabetes and reducing high blood pressure.

Jasmine tea helps in fighting viruses and bacteria. It prevents influenza, cavities and food poisoning, cholera, dysentery, mouth bacteria etc. One of the most important jasmine tea health benefits is to improve intestine conditions by blocking development and growth of bad bacteria and strengthening good bacteria in the intestines.

This gentle fragrant tea is a storehouse of medicinal properties and very delicate in taste.

Ginger Tea

Ginger is a natural spice and known world over for its medicinal properties. It is an underground stem and highly sought after for its health benefits. It has a calming soothing flavor with just a little bite to it which makes it even more delicious.

Sipping ginger tea before starting on a journey relieves one of the motion sickness as it helps to calm a queasy stomach. For hundreds of years people have used Ginger tea as home remedy for nausea and colds to indigestion and joint pain. It also helps to boost the immune system and promotes cardiovascular health.

It prevents nausea and morning sickness in pregnant women and aids digestion. It also acts as an appetizer. It stimulates blood circulation and thus gives relief from rheumatoid arthritis and joint pains. It helps cure flatulence, indigestion, and diarrhea.

A little ginger tea a day can slow production of triglycerides and Bad cholesterol (LTL) in the liver. Ginger tea is very effective in treating the nasty common cold as it loosens the phlegm and fight chills by spreading a warm feeling in the body.

It is also helpful in curing headaches and onset of migraine.
Ginger tea can be made by peeling and grating fresh ginger root, and then boiling it in water. The tea can be simmered for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the desired strength.

So now that we know the benefits of Tisanes or herbal infusions brew your own cup of these delicious healthy drinks and stay healthy.

Chicken Soup for the Indian Romantic Soul : I too got published

When I got Chicken Soup for Every Mother’s Soul as a gift from my mom, I never thought I will see my name in the contributing writers list in the CS series and then came the mail from Guest Writer and friend Raksha Bharadia saying that she is collecting contributions for her new book, I was thrilled. I sent some of the material and she selected one of my poems for publishing. I was ecstatic.

Recently on visiting Teksons I found Chicken Soup For the Indian Romantic Soul on the racks and picked up a copy with a big smile on my face. The feeling one gets to see the name among the contributors is something I can’t describe. A stepping stone for me as a creative writer. I read and then read it again. It felt so good.

I picked a copy and gifted it to my mom who has been a pillar of strength and encouragement to me. I wrote ” this is from one eternally romantic soul to another. Thanks mom for helping me take the first steps in a romance called life “. The eyes said it all, the lips remained silent. She hugged me an wished me luck.

Here is a link to the poem which was included in the book.

Precious Memories

The poem is very speical to me although it is one of my early ones. It’s dedicated to a very special some in my life. I thank him for being my muse and adding the romance in my life.

Thanks Love.

These are the small pleasures of life. Every thing counts however litttle. One needs to be grateful for even the smallest joy that comes our way in any form and it mutiplies manyfolds.

I thank Gulnaz for introducing me to Raksha and Raksha for giving me the opportunity to showcase my writing. Love you both.

The book has 101 inspirational stories that will touch your heart. It also has some poems. I really liked the simple short one by Shekhar Kapoor. My friend Arun Nair also has a short story of his own marriage in it. Congrats Arun. I loved the contributions of  Jane Bhnadari, Raksha Bharadia, Anand Patankar, Usha M, Vibha Karnik,Meenakshi Roy. The other stories and poems are also worth reading. Over all it is a great read.

The book which was released as a  Valentine Day special has everything a romantic soul wants love, compassion, companionship, memories , belonging, and romance. A perfect gift for someone you love.

It feels great to see my work being recognised and to receive my first earning, or maybe second if count the Indus Ladies prize money 🙂 . Friends do get your copy ..