I am large, I contain multitudes

I have a contemplative self and an impulsive self. A short-term self and a long term self, some distant past selves and distant future selves. At present I am in conflict with myself about the imaginary selves and the so-called real self.

Which of the self is actually me? Who am I?

No, it is not dissociative identity disorder, though at times one may think it is. Mind is a devious creäture who makes us believe who we are and is aided by the powerful emotions – anger, guilt, sadness, desire, pain, longing etc. Within our brain are different selves who pop up in and out of existence, each one with different desires, and each one wanting control and planning, scheming, plotting to get hold over others.  Walt Whitman said it aptly, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

I think I have a strong coping system to deal with all my selves.  The idea is to maintain a balanced interplay between all the selves, a balance between long-term contemplation and short-term impulse.

As the time span increases I feel we have more multiple selves. I feel that I shift from one self from another smoothly; there is no clash, no conflict, no overpowering of one over other. Sometimes these selves that we create protect us, help us cope up with daily life situations, help us emerge from some deep hurt or realize some desire. They also help in making us strong. I see it as therapy.  I feel that different selves are brought to the fore by different situations and it is a continuous process.

A friend once remarked that I come across as a shy, introvert, scared, insecure person and that does not fit the image I have as a blogger / writer in virtual world. People who read me and know me from there expect me to be that gregarious, extrovert, bold and outgoing. Both these selves are me. One what I wanted to be and maybe was from within and other which people saw in me as a person who interacted with them. These interactions also differed from situation to situation and people to people.

I noticed over the time that I was able to merge the various selves to create a new stronger self, shedding the weaker aspects. From the moment we are born, we wear a mask and a robe of who the people around want us to be and the layers increase with time and under all this the true self in subtly forcefully buried.

I felt that under this entire role-playing I developed some overpowering selves which took control over those which initially existed. As the awareness increased the conflict also did. Maybe, to combat that, I created more imaginary selves, one of them being my virtual self. Most of them are various “me” in complete harmony and control over the situation they are in.

I realized that this creating imaginary selves  helped me to become what I am today and by that I mean to uphold what I believe in. Enjoying fiction requires a shift in selfhood and I think participation in what is unreal is the best way to spend the leisure time. To take on different identities makes takes much of sadness and hurt from the real-time experiences. It helps heal. I find creating alternate identities or selves, interesting and harmless.  My imaginary friends and selves have a lot of fun and adventures. I am fully aware of these imaginary situations and selves and often joke about it as I love my schizophrenia J  . I guess they have made me more socially adept than before. More confident and secure and most importantly helped in “being myself” and not a shadow of what others expect me to be.

Most of us from time to time hold conversations with people who are not actually there. Conjuring up people or physical props is common and with me creating selves to match these props or people comes easy. As I said before maybe I have a strong coping system. Internet is interesting place for creating the alternate self and many people indulge in it due to its relatively safe environment. I know people who have created different avatars to explore or release different aspect of them.

It would be remarkable if all the selves coexisted and worked as team inside our mind but they clash and create compulsions and addictions. If one can keep them under control then they can prove beneficial too. In my case to an extent they did help me get out of a messy life and change my path.

Self binding helps to contain oneself from dominating the other self. Both the short-term impulsive self and the long-term contemplating self are essential for growth, the conflict continues and sometimes one wins, sometimes the other.

I define my self as what I stand for and believe in, sometimes visible and at others camouflaged.

I remember a short verse from Rumi which says it all:

 “Anyone who knows me, should learn to know me again;

For I am like the Moon,

you will see me with new face every day.”

― Rumi

This post is in response to week  #54  (5-27-12 to 6-2-12): Self  BGE 2


Memory of Memories 2- The True Indian Summer

Only two long hours in intense heat and dust of summer afternoon, with strong hot dry wind, (loo as if is referred to in India), devoured not just the body but the soul too. It simply sucked life out of me. Mostly confined to the stabilized city life of 20 degrees Celsius in air-conditioned homes, offices and even public transport, the metropolitan dwellers are devoid of the true experience of summer that sweeps northern India and some other regions in the months of April to July. With coming up of malls and supermarkets, even those visits to local bazaars, bathed in sweat and grime , laden with cloth bags overflowing with groceries etc have become rare for us.

Indian summer is not romantic, short, and full of blooming flowers and mild sunshine like the English Summer nor is it anyway near to the descriptions we read in the western stories. It is a furnace that engulfs all that comes within the range of its gaping mouth, an extreme season with heat rising from the asphalt and sweltering hot winds screaming through  towns and villages like a lunatic. In big cities however the summer almost loses all its nuances of sun and shade, thirst and cooling sherbets, sweat and breeze. There are those for whom summer is cold dark air-conditioned places and others for whom it is dusty heatwaves, sweat, prickly heat and a doomed existence under the merciless sky with sun spitting fire.

In northern India summer is a season of trees. I have spent endless summers in north and everything revolves around shades of trees for a common man and the other creatures that are destined to atone for their sins under the surveillance of a cruel barren sky.

Sitting in cool comfort of my 20 degrees Celsius room and sipping a chilled beer I was suddenly filled with a longing for those summer afternoons that stretched languorously, endlessly. When life moved at slow leisurely pace, when long power cuts made us yearn for comforts, when preparations to combat the hellish summer was a meticulously planned task, when something new was invented everyday to pass those still, listless days and nights, when adults were too wary of controlling the children and afternoons were spent under makeshift huts of upside down chairs and cool white sheets, when we read and sang and played indigenous games, climbed trees, plucked fruits or simply lazed on a straw mat (chatayi) or  under the tree shade, mainly  flaming Gulmohar, Neem, Tamrind, or Molseri, like a buffalo immersed  in pond thankful that it doesn’t have to swish its tail to shoo away flies.

Even blinking an eyelid took effort so we just lay there, very still… sometimes carelessly nibbling on a twig of grass and trying to decipher the cacophony of  crows, mynas, barbets, parrots and other birds hidden in the thickly covered branches. We even had the house sparrows then.

As the day progressed the shops pulled the shutters down, streets wore an empty look, people dozed under huge  trees in parks and roundabouts. Schools had holidays and parents had one more trouble on their mind – how to keep the restless kids engaged but we found our own ways and even conjured up mischief , knowing none of the adults would lift a finger , leave alone come chasing us.

We have lost peace and joy to comfort and stress in these modern times. There was ample time to just do NOTHING and it did not matter at all. As the fragrant mango blossoms began to turn into small green fruits, we knew it was time to gear up for yet another summer. Earthen pots (ghada and surahi) were bought with utmost care to keep drinking water cold. We even had small earthen pots called kasoras for making curds and chilling kheer and phirni (Indian sweets made from rice and milk).

Khas mats were rolled out and a systematic arrangement was made for them to keep drenched with water. The sweet fragrance still intoxicates me as I think of the cool breeze that used to filter through them to fill the curtained room.

In the evenings water was sprinkled on terrace and garden which steamed angrily but eventually cooled down under our bare feet. Wooden woven charpoys would be neatly arranged in verandas or terrace as most people slept outdoors on summer nights. A big table fan would sometimes add some music to the stillness or we would lazily sway a hand pankhi (fan) made of cloth or straw, even old newspapers served as fans .

The nights were deeper, darker and full of zillion stars. It was a fairy tale that came alive outside the mosquito nets.  We would lie down wearing the minimum clothes needed and listen to the night sounds.

The fabric used in summer was usually handspun khadi, thin handloom or mulmul ( voile). I remember cursing the men and boys for having one advantage over us girls – they shed everything except their lowers and let the breeze flirt with them. It seemed unacceptable and cruel. We also wrapped wet gamcha ( thin cotton towel) on our heads and half of face when we stepped out in heat.

Summer food included everything that acted as a coolant. Fresh green coriander, mint, raw mango, coconut Chutneys, fresh salads of kakdi and cucumber, fresh chilled sherbets made from khus, lemon, phalsa, bel ( stone apple) were kept ready at all times. Even thandai, rooh afza, aam panna, Kokam sharbat, nariyal pani (coconut water) were great favourites.

At our home there was a tradition to offer petha or peda (Indian sweets) with cold water to anyone who came from outside. It protected against the excessive heat. Various raitas ( condiments made from yogurt) were included and dahi bhat (curd rice) seasoned with curry leaves was a must every day. Curd, in various forms was included in every meal.

Most of the meals ended with mangoes. Dashehree, langda, chausa, neelam, safeda… the variety was endless. Even the little chusee aam ( to be sucked) came in abundance. Fruits also included jamun (java plum), phalsa, watermelon, musk melon, loquat (Japanese Plum) , plums, apricots, peaches and pineapples. Mango eating was a ritual in itself. Mangoes were soaked in cool water in big tubs or buckets. None ate one or two of them. They were eaten with passion and abundance with juice dripping from between the fingers. we had to drink a bowlful of kachchi lassi or mix of water and cold milk to calm the heat after eating mangoes. Green raw mangoes were used for chutneys, pickles and aam panna (drink).

Burf ka gola (balls of crushed ice dripping with colorful sherbets) , faluda kulfi were a healthy substitute for ice cream which was a luxury at that time. We even had chilled phirni, custard, jelly, fruit smoothies etc as everyone had sweet tooth.

Roasted / boiled corn cobs with masala and lime or butter and spicy tamarind chutney (Sonth)were the delicacies we enjoyed in the evenings.

A staple thing for us kids was roasted wheat flour mixed with boora cheeni (kind of powdered sugar considered to be cooling) and namakpare or mathri. Sattu made of powdered barley, horse gram and other pulses was another coolant which we had to drink with salt or sugar. I began to enjoy it much later though. Sattu is made with seven  cereals, millets and pulses.

There was a certain pleasure in sweating it out to prepare these delicious things, serve and relish them with family. A pleasure mostly lost these days, with everything delivered and available at one call’s distance.

Being born in a family which has confluence of two cultures, added to the summer delight.

The only thing that I resented as a kid was to travel in DTC buses to public libraries and cultural centres. Reluctantly I would walk out of house at snail’s pace all covered to protect myself and believed that time was a conspirator who deliberately moved slower than ever but at later stages as a teenager I began to enjoy those outings. Sometimes we also went to India gate lawns and to see circus or visit old city, monuments, parks and museums etc.

I itch to go back to those days, and to the true Indian summer which is now only a memory. I am glad that I made my kids experience at least some of it by taking them to village and other places I had visited and introducing them to many of the summer rituals that not just brought joy and helped pass the endless days but also brought the family together.

Lines from a favorite song come drifting to me …..

Dil dhoodhta hai phir wohi , fursat ke raat din ….


Memory of Memories 1 – Treasures from childhood

So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.
Gaston Bachelard 

As a kid I never understood why my mother had a bagful of old letters, cards and another of little mementos, clothes from our childhood. It seemed like an extra baggage though once in a while I did do through them and listened to the stories attached. When I grew up, got married and had children mom gave my little clothes to me and said ,” theses are for your sons”.  I smiled. Suddenly there was a gush of emotions .. you know I think I got it from mom, this sentimental gush for people and things 😀

I carefully wrapped them and gave to the boys. Even made my younger one wear my parkar polka ( lehnga and choli) I am sure he hates me for this but he looked super cute 😛  . Maybe I wanted to fulfill my desire to have a daughter by dressing him like one .. Ya ya I know that’s kind of not good but then every boy is dressed in those pretty frocks as babies , aren’t they? 🙂 I will share the pic if he allows . This particular lenga I had word on my first birthday and is very precious to me.

The other thing that mom gave was a small coat and cap which I wore as 3-4 month old baby . It is still is perfect condition with no dry cleaning and all. Preserved  just with love and care.

There is some special fragrance and softness in these clothes. I had seen myself wearing this in photographs but to hold it in my hand and run the fingers on its fabric gave me a feeling which is beyond explanation.  I realized there were so many things which were part of my memory of memories. Things straight out of magical days of childhood, connecting me to those wonderful days. A little box that held my first curl of hair, my umbilical cord wrapped in cotton wool. little anklets, small silverware ( a glass, bowl and spoon).  It brought back memories of many things that were so precious to me but aren’t there now. A doll I always tagged along everywhere, picture books, scrap books, box of crayons and much more. Those were days when we had imagination and crayons instead of mobiles and play stations.   I now knew what ma must have felt to so carefully treasure them. There are letter written in colorful scribble  from me to ma, picture with alien like characters and scenery with exceptionally imaginative colors. 😀 .

Many times ma would take the bundle out and we would read and go through all of it and laugh and cry at the same time. She also managed to make the grandchildren gather around her and narrated stories about our childhood much to the amusement of the lot.

Letter writing is a lost art. I feel that nothing can replace the warmth and intimacy of a handwritten note or a hand-made card. Just as I was encouraged to write letters and draw , I encouraged my boys to scribble a few lines or draw something and send to grandparents. It always went with my letters and kids felt so proud of their feat every time , waited eagerly for mom or dad to reply. They were never directed what to write, just given a paper, pencil and colors and what emerged was a kaleidoscope of their imagination . I believed that this kind of interaction helps to develop a bond and creates a comfort zone. It sometimes even bridges the generation gap, at least it did in our family.

As they grew older and learned to write , these letters became one amazing peek into their inner world. Mom carefully kept each one in labelled envelopes with dates and time written in neat bold letters. From the time they began to hold the pencil/ color to when they could write properly. My elder one sent a lot of handmade cards and letters from hostle to both mom and me and each of us kept each one.

letters and cards from grandsons to their maternal grandmother

There is a bundle of my letters to mom and Adi’s letters to me. Pix will be added soon. 🙂

I have preserved some of the things from the childhood of my boys. Some of Adi’s stuff was buried in a transparent plastic bag as part of  Dorling Kinsley Publications  millennium year project.

I am a sucker for such stuff. 😀

Like mom I too kept the little clothes, letters, pictures, cards, toys, whatever I could squirrel away.

  Here is my elder one’s first birthday dress. (he is twenty year old handsome adult now) 🙂

Adi’s first formal wear

There are a treasure trove when it comes to these beautiful memories. I am sharing just a few. I may add a few more pictures in coming days.

I always loved book and the family encouraged reading from a very early age. Most of the books I gave to a library of a village school. The picture dictionaries, children’s literature by Tolstoy and other books from PPH( People’s publishing house), CBT, etc. Some books were handed over from my brother to me and some others are part of my maternal grandfather’s collection. Collectors issues, first prints and some now out of print editions. Here are three of my favorites from my  childhood.

The pages have yellowed with time. The books are a treasure from childhood.

The covers. These are out of print I think. In Poem Town is in 8 volumes.I have only one left.

These books are priceless treasures. Fruit Gathering ( Indian edition 1927), a gift from my grandfather’s collection. In Poem town is published by Blackie and Son Limited (London) somewhere between 1939=45). It says ‘Book production war economy standard’ and here we are talking of WW2. Now we are six doesn’t have the first page so the year is not confirmed but its yellow crumbling pages show it is as old as the other books.  I am searching for someone who can preserve these books. If someone can help , please leave a comment.

I will do yet another post as I get hold of some other precious things which are tucked away somewhere.

Do you have such precious objects? Things from childhood –  yours or your children’s? Do share links if you write about them.

Here is one more post I did long ago https://tikulicious.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/heirlooms-treasures-from-the-yesteryears/

Photo Essay- Humayun’s Tomb And A Day Saturated With Prayers

It is all a matter of faith. They say, when there is a calling then only one can visit the Dargah of  Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Delhi’s 14th century Sufi saint.  After years of waiting I was finally able to offer Chaddar at the mazar. There is something in the air which slowly seeps into your being and a complete transformation takes place.  Fragrance of incense sticks, flowers, the soothing melodious sounds of qawallies sang in devotion to the Sufi saint, the devotees all add to the somber atmosphere of the Dargah. Tears flowed as all the pain, hurt accumulated over the years  flowed out. I felt completely cut off from everything around me. Its a feeling of  complete oneness with the saint, something one can not describe. We offered prayers and the dargah nasheens ( caretakers) helped us in that.

The world suddenly changes to medieval one as you leave the main road to go towards the Dargah. Labyrinthine alleys, crowds of beggars and street-vendors, bazaars with cheap eateries hawking kababs and other delicacies, people selling caps, rosaries, religious posters, books, CDs, turn it into a magical world. The unusual blend of music, ritual, food, crafts and local traditions insulates one from the hustle bustle of outside world.

I tied the thread on the jaali and closed my eyes in reverence. One can feel the the immense love and affection that Hazrat Nizammudin Auliya, the14th century poet and Amir Khusrau, the musician shared. The passionate submission to the khwaja that one witnesses here  is unique of Sufism and the magnetic pull which brings one again and again to the this shrine is unmistakable.

We did not take any photographs as it was a purely personal visit but a  post on the Dargah is due with all the pictures.

The photo shoot  took place at Humayun’s Tomb. Magnificent and impressive the newly restored world heritage site is one of my favorites. Every visit to this striking monument brings out some mysterious  intrinsic splendor come alive.

The west door from where the tourists enter the complex.

The magnificent view from the west door.

The recent restoration and conservation of  the gardens, pathways, fountains and water channels of the chahâr-bâgh, or four-part paradise garden, surrounding Humayun’s Tomb has simply made the mausoleum look even more beautiful than before. All the lost glory of this tomb seeped in melancholy and solitude is back. For the first time in 400 years, water channels in the 16th Century Humayun’s Tomb were reactivated to facilitate the water harvesting system in the tomb, making it the largest heritage site in India to have such a system. The Tomb is also the only site to have a water harvesting system that covers two acres of constructed area and 30 acres of the entire site. At night, when the tomb is lit up, it is truly spectacular to watch the fountains and the building in backdrop emerging out of  the deep shadows of the garden.

The lush green gardens with trees and water bodies are a refreshing sight. Surrounded by ancient ruins, the place draws you to itself. The gardens are dotted with  Black Bean Tree,Budha Coconut,Palms,Figs,Anar,Chandani,Citrus,amalta,neem,champa ,amaltas etc. The complex has some of the oldest trees in Delhi. The sound of the koel bird echoed in the still summer evening. One could also hear peacocks at a distance but I wasn’t able to spot one. Though we spotted a pair of beautiful storks.

Along with the tourists and locals who come to relax in the midst of these serene surroundings we found some gorgeous crows cooling themselves in the plush lawns.

Another crow decided to take a bird’s-eye view from the stump of  palm tree.

The garden restoration has breathed new life into the legacy of  the first garden tomb of India. 500 pomegranate saplings, 2000 flower-bearing fragrant plants like Hibiscus,HarsingarChandni and Jasmine, as well as shade trees like mango and neem, were planted in the 26 acre garden and one can see the stunning results as one enters the complex.

Centuries’-old Indian craft, modern technology and hard work of dedicated laborers revived dilapidated monument and gave it a much-needed face lift.  Humayun’s Tomb finally rose from its slumber to its former glory. The restoration of Isa Khan’s Tomb is still on and tourists are not allowed in. Country’s oldest sunken garden is being uncovered here. We saw some of the things which were excavated from the site.

One of the best preserved and tourist friendly monuments of Delhi, Humayun’s Tomb is the finest specimen of Indo- Islamic architecture. Apart from the main building we visited some other monuments inside the complex and in it’s vicinity  like, Barber’s tomb (nai ka maqbara), Neela Gumbad, Chillah Nizamuddin Aulia, Afsarwala Mosque, Afsarwala Tomb, Arab Sarai, the lovely garden of Bu Halima and Isa Khan’s tomb.

We talked around the complex absorbing is rich past and mesmerized by the  beauty of  the ruins. Unknown graves took us by surprise and the plush soft green grass took away all the tiredness and heat of summer. We leisurely walked barefoot on the moist grass, oblivious to the love birds( couples) and the foreign tourists. The sun was beginning to set and the tomb glowed in its golden light of the melancholic dusk. The cool breeze added to the serenity of the place.

We sat near the elevated  boundary of the tomb’s platform and gazed at the beauty that surrounded us. It was a day saturated with prayers and ancient history.

Humayun wasn’t one of the greatest of Mughal emperors. A dreamy romantic king with a soft heart who was fond of books, music, astrology, he was born to Babur, the founder of Mughal dynasty he spent his life pursuing the pleasures and lost his empire to Sher Shah Suri. His brothers turned hostile, friends became enemies and long serving servants fled leaving him lonesome and humiliated. The man who once had the entire north of India under his thumb, Humayun, was forces to languish in solitude. One can feel the gloom and desolation in his grave which has no inscription etched on it. Unlike other emperors his beloved wife is not buried next to him. The eerie silent pain seeps out of the grave and hangs in the air of the quiet tomb. My heart went out for this lonely emperor as I walked around the main tomb.

456 years have gone by since this unfortunate king died and was buried here. He lost everything and dies falling from the treacherous straits of Purana Quila. The tragedy did not end here.  A century later, the headless body of Humayun’s great grandson, Dara Shikoh, the greatest Mughal emperor India never had, was also buried here.  Dara was murdered by his own brother Aurangzeb. This glorious tomb is the only thing left of Humayun.

I reflected on our day as Adi and I talked of the king , his mausoleum, the river Yamuna that flowed nearby , the shrine of Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia and realized how much human and cultural history every nook and corner of this area held. We missed out on many nearby Baoris (wells) and smaller mosques and monuments and vowed to come back soon.

The evening shadows deepened as we left the past and drove into the glitter and madness of present. Our hearts filled with mixed emotions and saturated with prayers.

Last Fling Before The Ring – Lakshadweep Calling

It is unsettling to say the least when you watch recording of Oscars in the night and, next morning, bravely venture to get a free skin analysis done in a salon and then like an idiot decide to shed clothes to observe yourself in the full length mirror. Trust me it is not easy if you are in mid forties, mother of two and have neglected yourself since long. I could hear Oscar Wilde’s ghost whisper in my ear, “Twenty years of romance makes a woman look like a ruin; but twenty years of marriage make her something like a public building”.

I didn’t look That bad but my skin certainly did.  I stood staring blankly at my once clear glowing face marred with sun spots, lines and sun tan. Signs of early aging were slowly becoming visible.  My skin surely needed a lot of detoxification and damage repair.  Getting into swimwear each day made me conscious of what I needed to do but the question was HOW?

With splitting heart my eyes scanned the disaster that was looking at me from the mirror and I cursed myself for so sadly neglecting myself and wondered if I could ever get a nice healthy, toned body with a clear, glowing flawless complexion again. All the healthy food I was eating wasn’t helping much it seemed.

The shrill sound of the doorbell shook me out of my reverie and throwing some clothes on I rushed to the door.

“Mom, I have a surprise for you” my younger one beamed with joy.

“Yeah sure, I just woke up from a nightmare so it better be good” I muttered as I kissed him on the forehead. Realizing how pigmy like I looked in front of this handsome six footer.

“Oh come on mom, chillax . You will love this.”

He handed me a bright invite

My knees gave way as I sank into the sofa. My reflection sprang out of the mirror and began to roll on the floor laughing.

“What? I can’t go to this beach bash  looking like this and it’s going be such a harsh sun out there. Not the right season. What is she thinking? “

I imagined myself all browned like a roasted chicken with a face which could scare the daylights out of anyone.

“I am not going and that’s final”, the words sounded feeble as the thought of verdant landscape, deep blue lagoons, white beaches and fun-filled laughter of my best friends in bikinis and sarongs filled my mind.”

It was too tempting.

I pinged her on Skype.

“Hey gorgeous, did you get my invite? We will stun the sun on those enchanting beaches and have a wild, happy time there so start packing. There is so much to do there, including water sports. Am so excited and I won’t take a No for an answer, ok?”  She looked radiant and she was just a few years younger. How the hell she manages that, I thought. What could one say to a girl so full of life and whose name meant “like sun”. She could brighten up any life any time. That’s what made her special.

“Hey, I just got the invite. It’s beautiful. Bachelorette party, you wild thing, only you could get this crazy idea, Mind blowing’. We laughed.

“What’s life without some fun, baby. I knew you will love it.

“True, but don’t you think It will be too hot and sunny, Kyra. I am not sure I am fit enough to face the harsh sun and push my body to that limit. I won’t feel comfortable in beach wear and my skin will be more damaged than ever.” Reality suddenly dug its claws in me.

“Arrggh, what world are you living in babes? Step out of your cocoon. It is high time. Begin to love and pamper yourself.  It’s never too late. All the adventure sports, relaxed time with friends will do you good and to some extent tone your body too. It would be just like old times. You are coming. That’s it.” She smiled warmly.

“Alright, alright, but look at me, what about my skin, I already have a complex about how I look these days.

“Oh, have no fear when Kyra  is here” she winked.  “Hold on” she vanished from the screen and appeared in a second.

“I have a magic potion for you. I knew you will make excuses as always. Check these out” She displayed a range of LAKME sun expert products on the bed. “These are my constant companion when I travel and you know I do travel a lot. Look at my skin. The sun can’t harm the skin however harsh it may be. It is sweat and water-resistant so you can use it while swimming too. Isn’t that great? Trust me. Wear Lakme sun screen and you don’t need anything else…. sad that there are no nude beaches” , we both giggled as the young man next to me sighed. You can join their page on FB also I love Lakme 

“How cool is that”. I said happily and watched as she explained the goodness of Lakme Sun Expert range of products. I lapped it up all and my heart suddenly took a flight when she said these products not just protect from deep skin sun damage but also heal, repair and correct past sun damage, dark spots and pigmentation. Water resistant, now that was a life saver.

This was sheer magic and a relief. I made a mental note to pick up everything my skin needed, forgot the morning trauma and said, “I am game, let’s have a kickass all girls getaway. “Am so happy for you Kyra and hey, thanks for thinking of me”. She blew me a virtual kiss.

“Oh come on Tiku, you are my best friend. I couldn’t have this bachelorette bash without you. Now cheer up. Remember your favourite Bruno Mars song

“there’s not a thing that I would change

Cause you’re amazing, just the way you are”

I laughed and blew her a kiss. “You bet”

My son threw his arms around me and said to Kyra, “Hey sunshine, wish men were allowed too. Hawt chics and no men, not fair but am glad you convinced mom. Love ya”

“I told you I will, handsome.” She winked.

“Umm so it was a planned conspiracy, huh? I ruffled my boy’s hair.

“Yes, coz your boys think you deserve it as much as I do. We know you always wanted to go to Lakshadweep and love beaches”

I was filled with love for these beautiful people in my life.

“Yes, few things in life are as enjoyable as frolicking carelessly on the beach with you girls. The waterfront, sea breezes, my best girlfriends, icy cocktails served up with paper straws, adventure sports, late night grill and grub.” I said dreamily.

“Yes, Yes, You just pack your essentials and hey, you still look amazing so shed all inhibitions and bring yourself out of the closet along with those sexy outfits of yours.” She winked.

I laughed. “Of course we will freak out. I am ready to challenge the sun. The allure of the deep blue lagoons is simply too much to resist.  Imagine the enchanting expanse of emerald isles, unpolluted, warm unruffled water, and miles of sun drenched spectacular creamy sand beaches, swaying palms, dazzling underwater marine life, deep mysterious coral reefs. It is going to be a breathtaking adventure Kyra… Gosh I can’t wait now.”

“Yeah, I want it to be the best days of my life with you guys. Imagine all six of us together again. It’s been so long. There will be so much to do, scuba diving, snorkelling, Windsurfing, parasailing, water skiing, deep-sea fishing. I have kept the last day for the un-inhabited island of Bangaram.  We will just quietly laze on the beach and soak in the bewitching beauty around. Having fun with the gang again will be a bonus”. Her enticing smile filled the screen and my heart.”

She knew I hated the sun and didn’t feel comfortable leaving the confines of home.  We always knew what was in other’s heart. Distance and time hadn’t changed anything. My body could do with some exercise and toning and this vacation would not just provide that but get me loads of sunshine vitamin without any harm.

“You will have an awesome bachelorette getaway  Kyra. I will see to that.” I promised myself to make every moment special for my best friend and made a note to call the rest of the gang and plan a special beach surprise for her, lavish lunch, her favourite game of volleyball, dance, music, delicious local food and cocktails as a cherry on top. I thought of all the nature walks and sightseeing tours I could arrange for her, knowing she was fond of knowing about different cultures and places. Visit marine museum and take our binoculars to do bird watching. The sun-kissed days will have a lot to offer.  Excursions in glass bottom and sail boats, fishing trips that will take us into the brilliant sunsets.  We will pamper her and ourselves to some exotic luxurious spa treatment too. The nights of course will reveal its secrets when the time comes. Memories of the night outs we six used to have, came flooding to me.

Promising to meet soon I got off skype‘s virtual world and took out my notepad to plan the surprises for her. I had lots to do, things to buy beginning with my magic Lakme sun expert. Nothing was going to stop this wanderlust now especially not the merciless sun.

This post is especially written for  Indiblogger’s 

The Lakmé Diva Blogger Contest

Pic courtesy Google, Photoshop edited by me.

Satyamev Jayate – Are you ready to do your bit?

It takes a special kind of moral courage and commitment to self and society to address issues that have been pushed under the carpet for so long. Issues that are associated with our everyday lives and yet we have an ostrich like attitude towards them.

Female feoticide/infanticide ( do read the link Unnatural selection published in The Caravan magazine), new-born girls dumped into bins to die ( womb to bin )  all crimes against women, child abuse (including CSA), child labor, child marriages, beggar mafia, gay rights, honor killings and mining and wood smugglers nexus, Deforestation, e-waste, elephant and tiger poaching, farmer’s suicides and many more such burning issues need total involvement of masses, stringent laws and punishments, and most of all strong administration.

Isn’t it sad that it takes a Reality Show on National TV hosted by a film actor to awaken the masses and bring their attention to what’s happening right under their noses?

Didn’t we all know that female foeticide exists in our society and needs to be abolished. If we decided not to wake up to the grim reality will this celebrity reality show really do anything ? If it does then it would be a miracle.

Sad, that despite the regulations, campaigns, awareness programs, sting operations, newspaper reports, blogs, media coverage the truth is that the evils have managed to dig their claws deeper into the core of society and government is feeding the monsters.

Amir’s effort is credible, there is no doubt about it but the questions which bother me are  –

Will it also become a twelve day wonder like all other reality shows?

Will it just keep gathering accolades week after week?

Will people just sit down in the comforts of their homes on Sunday mornings and watch the show, listen to the stories,  write/ talk / tweet about how “brilliant” it was, how much they “enjoyed and liked” watching it( I was appalled to see wall post of some people on Facebook saying how much they “enjoyed” the program and congratulating Amir and other panelists).

Did they miss out the silent tears and agony that had now dried up in the eyes of those who have suffered?

Was it all just a staged event for them?

Did they miss the point somewhere?  I hope Not.

I hope this doesn’t become a routine where an issue is brought up every week , raises the TRP, trends on twitter and other social media networks and dies a silent death.

This needs to go beyond. The social change, the mindset change needs to be bigger than this.

I sincerely pray that the fight against issue of female foeticide or sex selection  does not get limited to sending SMS to Rajasthan Govt. or signing a petition. It needs to get more real than this reality show. It needs to cover the entire nation.

Another thing that makes me ponder is- what next ? What are the options, what actions need to be taken, what is an average person literate or illiterate (for education has nothing to do with this inner awakening) going to do in this direction?

The issues have been raised, the horrifying painful truth brought out once again from under the carpet, Govt. agencies, Doctors, medical practitioners’ nexus exposed , Now What?

Will some one wake up and take an oath to eradicate this evil from the root at least by doing his/her bit ?


The website of Satyamev Jayate  , the Facebook page  , the twitter handle  , the You Tube channel  , will they just provide praise and links and act as promotional sites to increase rating OR offer solutions, knowledge, support systems ? Will it be the nucleus to the Sunday program  where   people get involved and work in the direction of bringing the much required change?

If Not, then all the effort will be  a lost cause. People will choke over their morning coffee watching the show like benumbed spectators like we have been doing since centuries. Aware but always in denial. Telling ourselves that somehow it doesn’t matter to us.

Let this not be just an “exquisite piece of TV journalism” .

Let it be the spark to ignite the flame in every heart to abolish each social evil.  To change the narrow mindset, to fight against controlling, insecure, prejudiced deep patriarchal attitudes that are entrenched in our society’s collective psyche  resulting in skewed sex ratios,  lack of brides in some states, men are forced into bachelorhood due to lack of brides,  thriving racket of trafficking of women where they are sold and resold ( remember baby falak’s story )  and any related crime against women.

Sex-selective abortion statistics are mind numbing (Thirty million girl-children killed in the womb in the past six decades).

Simple language, no screaming to bring some pressing issues to the fore, important points explained for the benefit of those who may not know the facts, the inter- relation of some other crimes which are born under the wings of this one , the positive stories of those brave people who not only fought against the evil and emerged victories but made decided to share it with millions of viewers , to give them courage and reason to step forward and shed fear. The change brought by Deputy Commissioner Kishan Kumar of NawaShahr where the sex ration is equal . ( 1000 girls per 1000 boys)  was an exemplary story. Exemplary for everyone; masses , officials, government. Y chromosomes of a male are responsible for the gender of the baby. An important fact which should be brought into focus more strongly.

The show presenters  took care to cover all aspects  but there needs to be a constant engaging,  proper interaction  with the masses, follow-up to show what efforts were taken on that particular issue.  I hope it  helps in sensitizing Indians about so many issues that they would generally ignore and provoke them into some sort of positive action.

Amir says,” “I want to be part of this silent campaign in a very dignified way without hurting any body’s ego.”

When issues like these are raised, when dying fires are stirred, when centuries old norms are questioned, when nexuses and mafias exposed , not one but many egos will be hurt.  Are we ready to push through all this and  join our voices with his?  Will it create That impact in the hearts of its viewers?

The choice is ours.

Speak up, Fight,  or Suffer.


Are you ready to do your bit with or without Amir? 

Last Night


Last night was longer and made for torture or reflection or for savoring of loneliness. Like an ancient tomb where the souls come out gasping for life and searching for potential bodies which they can occupy. The soul with as opposed to them struggles to escape.

I lay taking in the  stuffy darkness of the room.  Everything began to rapidly merge into blackness. Unfamiliar shapes, menacing, uncanny, or merely grotesque began to emerge.

Some prisons don’t have bars, or guards. Such was last night, thicker than any wall, blind, empty and  immensely engulfing . Like a huge gaping hole which slowly sucks you in and  now and then you brush against appalling things that roam and prowl in its chambers. You see nothing. Hear nothing. The murderously asphyxiating silence is all one has for company 

Was I scared? No. It was a trance like state where you feel nothing or feel so deeply that the pain makes you numb.

An owl screeched and I could imagine it gliding past my window. Stillness returned.

On the opposite wall a pattern began to emerge. The fluorescent hands of the clock like some invisible claws blurred into nothingness and a face of time emerged. The glowing numbers burned holes in my mind. Nothing stirred.

Spellbound by the deep penetrating eyes I lay transfixed on my bed.  Thirst like the scrape of hot sand-paper began to bruise my throat. I tried to get up but something held me tightly to the bed. My eyes returned to the face on the wall.

All the uncertainties, all the questions came rushing to me. Here was Time who had all the answers.

“Only the time will tell ” I was told.

I looked beseechingly , pleading for the answers. None came.

Maybe it wasn’t time for them to be revealed.

So, why was it here, staring at me like a death mask ?

What did it want?

Why it glaring eyes seemed to look accusingly at me, making me shift uncomfortably?

Time doesn’t tell anything. It doesn’t heal. Don’t believe it all you have been told. Time simply crushes you, chains you, makes you its slave and whiplashes you to obey its commands. The answers, the healing comes from either within or from elsewhere. Time just watches the drama and laughs at our misery . Time is the devil to whom we have sold our souls. It is the master , we  mere slaves. Only an inner uprising can bring the change. Only that can create true love, true courage, true self.

Tonight the battle was at its peak but something was amiss or maybe someone and it made all the difference.

I shifted my pillow to the other side but I could still feel its gaze  penetrating   through my skull.  It’s measured ticking reverberating.

With some effort I pulled myself out of bed and removed and shoved the menacing clock under a pile of clothes. The muffled sound of its breathing still audible.

I gulped a chilled glass of water and decided to lie facing the window. The hot summer night-sky claimed me.

The butter-gold moon came encroaching through my window. Suddenly filling it with a calm glow. Spent by my inner state of being I watched as it lingered in deep sky. Watching me with its forlorn eyes.

A jarring buzz vibrated in the small of my back  scaring the wits out of me. The cell phone had quietly slid itself and nestled in the comfort zone away from the events of the night. The led light brought me back to the real world. Reluctantly I opened my laptop to work. Sometimes one is just pulled from all sides like an elastic band and then released. The sting of pain shot through my head as my fingers tapped mindlessly at the keyboard.

The cellphone meanwhile breathed its last. Sleepless and restless I went to put it for charging, took the chair out in the balcony and slumped on it. The moon had disappeared behind the high-rise buildings. The air was still and did not provide any solace. Back in the room I brought the clock out . The hands had miraculously appeared, the face had melted into the fiber of the machine. 3 AM it said.

I could hear an early bird call somewhere.

Sometime loneliness and absence digs its claws deeper than usual and leaves one wounded. Such was last night. The ache hasn’t subsided nor has the yearning.