Monkton Mondays!

I keep meaning to write and when I finally sit down to do so…I see it’s been 3 weeks since I last did! I could apologise but I’ve been busy having good times 😛 I mean…one has to occaisonally go about and do happy blog-worthy stuff no? 😉 Lets see…last I posted was just before we left for Goa for Junior’s spring break. What followed were four glorious days of fun and frolic with friends and family 🙂 Break was longer but I had carefully choreographed the visit so it sou;don’t exceed my tolerance threshold! Make of that what you will 😛 but if you’re anything like me and/or know me well, you’ll understand why I can only manage short bursts of joy in Mom’s home! Believe me it’s better that way for the both of us 😉

Back home in Bangalore and we still had a weekend before school re-opened, so we visited the Banerghatta Biological Park and took a safari. There’s also a zoo which we avoided on advise from most friends who said it was totally avoidable. The safari was great fun though, and although the animals are in a controlled environment, it’s nonetheless exciting to spot a lion, a bear and a tiger…lolling around and sleeping off the dry summer heat 🙂 Junior was beside himself with joy and I’m always happy to get that perfect shot. In June, we are off to Kabini – to visit the Nagarhole National Park. I’m super excited at the thought and am crossing every part of my body and mind in the hopes of seeing a tiger in the wild!! I’ve heard one once in the Kaziranga National Park and the sound still gives me gooseflesh in the best possible way.

This last weekend Junior turned 6 🙂 He still isn’t bothered about parties and so we did a cake-cutting in school, the day before and spent his Birthday morning visiting Martins Farm and playing with the farm animals there; while in the evening we saw Aladdin – a musical play where we met several of his classmates and they all had a ball running around in the manner of headless chickens 😉 😛 I think they all enjoyed the goofing around more than the play! You know how little boys can get! And while I was looking for books as return gifts, I discovered Tullika. I’d heard of Tullika of course – an Indian Publishing house that does fabulous children’s books but didn’t know that they also offer special Birthday packages! Ordering the books was a piece of cake thanks to the prompt and extremely helpful Aneesha 🙂 I picked my books and sent them a list and sat back and relaxed. They sent me the books wrapped in gorgeous wrapping paper that matched the book covers complete with printed Thank You cards!! They even sent Junior a free book as a Birthday gift. Truly awesome service Tullika!!! Thank-You once again, especially to Aneesha who co-ordinated with me 😀 Cannot recommend them enough!

Add to all of the above, planning a trip to Ooty on the 17th of this month, my ongoing Photography challenge and reading East of Eden…and you know I’ve been a busy bee! Well that brings us unto today…the first day in a long time that my mind feels peaceful enough for a return to a routine. Hubby’s Birthday is coming up on Friday, but since no gifts are to be given nor expected – it’s all cool 😉 😛 And so to Mr. Monkton…It seems only fitting that I should dedicate this week’s post to Junior – who brings me more joy than I imagined possible and more hope that I believed existed. He makes all sadness bearable and all happiness happier 🙂 And there are times when I look at him and wonder what it is in me that deserved him…whatever it is…I treasure it and I treasure him ❤ :* Now enough with the sappiness and lets get to it!

a-birthday-blessing-edward-monkton-6006096-0-1342798896000Happy Monday People 😀

Never miss a chance to dance in the rain! 

The Birthday Story…

So here we go again…another year under a considerably broader belt 😉 Isn’t it wonderful how the years have been expansive in addition to everything else?

I had thought of what I wanted to say and it was pretty much the same stuff I say every year around this time. Then an hour ago, I listened to this talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie entitled The Danger of a Single Story and she blew me away with her eloquence and the simple lucidity with which she articulated her thoughts. She was brilliant and the subject matter intriguing. She talks about how we cannot know a place or a person unless we know all their stories – and there are many. How we can dispossess and diminish people by concentrating on just one of their stories, when empowerment and humanity are just another story away. What she said isn’t new, but the way she said it was powerful and I listened spellbound. She’s a fantastic storyteller. If you have a few minutes, give her a listen. You won’t regret it.

And so naturally I began to think of all the different stories that make me who I am today and that continue to evolve around and within me shaping my tomorrows. There are ongoing sagas and a million short stories. There is poetry and farce. It’s part soap-opera and part fairy tale. And at the very heart of it all is me – just another little speck of dust whirling away in the Big U – following my own orbit and trying to figure out ‘What Next? What’s the next story?’

And I find myself asking that now – what is that next story? But it’s mostly rhetoric, you know what I mean? It’s what makes this journey exciting – the not-knowing! So although there are a few stories that even now are unfolding and others that lie nascent – all I want to do today is be thankful for all of them. And I want to thank my friends and my family for allowing me into their lives, their hearts and their stories – cause that is what I am – the product of a million different tales. I am honoured and I am grateful. It’s been wonderful and it’s been worth it 😀

And if you still haven’t wished me – well that’s a whole ‘nother story 😉 😛

Have a Happy Day People ❤

Here’s to Stories & Storytellers everywhere 🙂

To the boy who lives…

My favorite picture of the two of us - taken the day before my wedding.
My favorite picture of the two of us – taken the day before my wedding.

The night you were born was unremarkable – a night like any other I suppose inasmuch as two nights are alike. I was asleep at Ghatkopar and although your arrival was eagerly awaited I had only a vague notion of ‘when’. I was only 12 after all and such things as babies belonged in another universe.

I remember Tai waking me up to tell me I had a sibling as clearly as if it were yesterday. She said I had a sister and in the dark I couldn’t see her twinkling eyes and her soft smile. She knew I had my heart set on a brother and nothing else would do! I remember rubbing sleepy eyes and saying that was impossible! It must be a brother, she must be mistaken! I remember her gentle laughter as she agreed, saying yes indeed she must be in the face of such confidence, and it was! It was you – come to turn my life upside down and my heart inside out with your own unique brand of love, friendship and compassion.

In those early years, at times I loved you so intensely it hurt and at others I was indifferent to your very existence, too wrapped up in my own adolescence, stormy as it was! But you know that already – you were there after all and bore the brunt of my temper often enough. I could apologise I suppose but there wouldn’t be much point now would there and besides, you know how much I hate saying Sorry 😉

And so the years passed and with them came the trials and triumphs unique to every life’s rhythm. We persevered and overcame while drawing heavily on your seemingly limitless stores of courage and patience in the face of Herculean odds. How did you do it? It was a mystery to me then and remains one today. Your gentle heroism is what I hold within my soul. It is what allows me to breathe on days when all I want is to curl up and die. It is what keeps me smiling while my heart breaks. It is what renews faith and brings me hope when all seems lost. You are the Light at the end of my tunnel. Always were. Always will be.

Another night 4 years ago. Another phone call. And again Life turned upside down, heart turned inside out. Gut-wrenching grief and a paralysing helplessness. An unwillingness to live and laugh in a world that no longer had you in it. And You – as always, my beacon. Willing me to breathe, to persevere, to live. Sending me a little boy to bring me back to the land of the living. A beautiful piece of you that clutched my finger and my heart with that same ferocious devotion that once was uniquely ours. My very own miracle. How did you do it? A beautiful mystery 🙂

And so I smile and open my heart again to the vagaries of unconditional love. I try hard to be more like you were – gentle, compassionate, patient. More often than not I fall flat on my face, but at least now, I stand up and try again. You gave me that along with everything else. I read these words and truth be told – there are no words to say what you are to me, how much I miss you and how much I love you. No words. But that’s alright, coz I know and you know. And that is all that matters.

33 years to the day – and nothing’s changed. It’s still you – holding my heart in yours, killing me softly with your song. Always is. Always will be.

I ❤ You, B.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Once upon a time, there lived a boy. He lived in a large house, in a tiny village, in the small state of Goa, a Portuguese territory in India. He had 3 older sisters and an older brother, but over the years, his family got bigger as 6 younger siblings were born.

An interesting story surrounds the circumstances of how the boy got his name (shared by an older sister). The family had just lost their oldest son (just before the boy was born), possibly to typhoid, at the tender age of 16. He was the boy’s stepbrother and much-loved by all. When the day of the boy’s naming ceremony dawned, he wouldn’t stop crying. All day the house resonated with his continuous crying, until his worried parents consulted the village priest in desperation (that’s what they did in 1938 in obscure Goan villages when children had problems). The priest had a solution (Don’t they always?). He told them the crying was probably because the boy’s brother’s soul was lost and unhappy (Surprise, surprise! I thought the soul was free from all desire? Never mind, what do I know!), on account of him having died young with lots of unrequited desires, and that he was making clear his displeasure over the new arrival because he thought it would mean his own departure was forgotten, diminished somehow. Don’t shoot me, it’s what the priest said!

The solution he suggested was what we here in Goa call taking a ‘Prasad’, not to be confused with the ‘Prasad’ that is an offering to the Gods. This ‘Prasad’ is akin to seeking God’s blessings or permission to pursue a chosen path, a second opinion of sorts, from the expert! It’s an ancient, fascinating local custom, of divine communication! Bits of a leaf from a particular tree (usually the ‘Bael’ (Aegle marmelos) tree, a favorite of Lord Shiva), are applied to different parts of the Idol in the temple with water, while family elders (mostly men) sit around the Deity, and the priest, either poses the problem that has been troubling them or asks for blessings before a major decision is made (buying a house, a car, before a marriage, changing a job, travelling abroad and a million other things!). It really is quite fascinating. The priest frames the question, so that Yes or No is the only answer possible. Then in a clarion voice, he demands that God should make a leaf from the left side of the Idol fall, for a Yes, the right side for a No or vice versa. The questioning goes on as every one sits rapt and praying until a desired answer is obtained 😉 This is serious business and if a Yes is not obtained it could lead to weddings being called off, business ventures abandoned, houses left unsold…you get the picture.

Taking ‘Prasad’ is very much a cornerstone of Goan society, even today, certainly in the GSB community (a class of fish-eating Brahmins and traditionally considered the highest caste in Hindu society in Goa), that we belong to. It was taken after hubby and I decided to get hitched…you know just in case we were displeasing the Cosmos and in danger of bringing innumerable sorrows upon our families (like that would have stopped us ;-)).

So, back to the story then. On the priest’s suggestion, a ‘Prasad’ was taken, after which it became crystal clear that the dearly departed soul of the older brother was indeed forlorn and devastated by what it perceived as a happy ‘moving on’, by the bereaved family. The family was instructed to name the crying boy after this much-adored sibling and to honor annually, a young boy, who hadn’t had his ‘Thread Ceremony’ (a coming of age ritual among Brahmins), as a mark of respect to their departed son, in the hopes that this would allow him to ‘Rest in Peace’. The boy had to be someone who hadn’t been through the ritual Thread Ceremony, because the boy had died before his. And so, Dad is named Ramchandra (Lord Rama’s name), after an older brother he never knew, but apparently resembles! But such are the complexities of Hindu society, that though you may name your children after family members that have passed on to show respect, you may not then call them by that name, for fear of offending them!! (I know! Go figure!) So, there’s another name that becomes for all purposes except legal, the real name! And so, my Dad’s given name is ‘Vasant’, it’s what everyone, who’s allowed to use it, calls him! It’s what my Mom called him, when they married and lived first in Bombay and then in Japan, until she stopped when they moved back to ultra-conservative Goa, where it’s Ok to just holler ‘Aye’ or some such to get your husband’s attention but sacrilege to use his given name (it was in her generation). It’s what his friends (the few he has) still call him 🙂 and it’s what I wish for him on his Birthday – coz ‘Vasant’ means ‘Spring’ and that’s what I want for him as he turns 72…a Second Spring!

Can’t think of one person who deserves it more 🙂

Dad...Then & Now 🙂


Happy Birthday Daddy!

Monday Musings…

You knew this was coming didn’t you?

How could you not…after Sunday Stories, Monday Musings was never far away 😉

Oh well, I never said I was particularly original 😛

If you’ve read this you know yesterday was special to me.

Today is special too. The birthday of another awesome guy, whom I loved and who loved me dearly.

My Grandfather. One of the gentlest, wisest, most selfless men I have ever known. An authentic ‘Gentleman‘. My Aboda (my name for him is the result of a childish mis-pronunciation of the word for grandfather in Marathi‘ajoba’), was a true patriarch and an exemplary role model. His soft-spoken ways, his penchant for neatness and order (which my Mom has inherited), his unending store of anecdotes and stories and his wisdom in sticky situations are the stuff of legend in our family and in his tightly knit circle of friends. He played the flute (when I think of it now, his instrument of choice seems so in keeping with the man he was – mellow, soft and yet affirmative), loved animals, books and music (interests that we have all inherited), had a gentle sense of humor and sharp wit. To me he embodied the inherent potential in his name ‘Atmanand’ (bringer of joy to the soul), and then some. A principled man. Honest to a fault, and always sensitive to the needs of family and friends.

A 10-yr-old me dressed in my first sari with Aboda & Ma.
A 10-yr-old me, dressed in my first sari, with Aboda & Ma.

My own memories of him are all happy! I was very much the pampered first grandchild in a family that loved daughters 🙂 He had a special name for me and the way that made me feel is something I sorely miss, especially when times are rough. He took a keen interest in my education and was terribly proud when I expressed my intentions of studying medicine. He had wanted to be one himself, but circumstances (as so often happened in his generation), didn’t allow it. He bought me all my medical textbooks and when we began Pharmacology (his subject of special interest), he would gift me a copy of that venerable bible of Pharmacology, Goodman & Gilman, every time the latest edition released in print! Not that I ever read it as much as I should have!

When I fell in love with Hubby, my parents were rather difficult. In the manner of most conservative Indian families of the day, they were not fond of love-marriages! It affronted their sense of decency! They were uncertain of his specialization in Preventive & Social Medicine (I know! Splitting hairs! They didn’t really have anything else to object to you see. We belonged to the same caste and he was a doctor from a ‘good’ family, which loosely meant our families were of equal standing in the community). What did it mean they wondered and was it good enough to put food on the table? Aboda spoke to my Mom and set her mind at ease as no one else could have. He was a father figure to my Mom, whose own father (his older brother), had exited her life when she was just a child. His word was as law to her, not that he would have ever coerced her in any way.

He wasn’t one for travel and yet he showed his wife most of India. When Dad moved to Singapore for work, Mom worked hard to convince him to visit. Although reluctant at first, he did and when then truly enjoyed himself. The simple things were what brought him most pleasure…the mellow sweetness of a papaya, early mornings spent in the garden listening to birdsong, the fragrance of jasmine flowers, restful evenings spent in the company of my brother. He was never one to do the touristy things. He loved being with and surrounded by nature. All through his life he lived by his principles, never compromising his integrity and along with his younger brother, ran a successful business that manufactured chemicals used in the making of perfumes. His clients always spoke highly of him and admired his sense of fair-play.

The Best Grandpa!

That is the man that I miss today; miss and remember. A tiny snapshot as it were of what he meant to me and to our family. In typical fashion, as Life went on, I became busy with my own and didn’t see him as much as I should have, as much as I wanted to. Tragedy struck unexpectedly. The first we knew of it was when his left femur snapped like a twig. I knew then in my heart that this was the beginning of the end and I could see in his eyes, that he knew it too. We didn’t ever say the C-word out loud. There seemed no point – we knew it had spread and he was very clear about not wanting any treatment. He made it through the surgery to fix the femur and seemed to be doing Ok. My aunts nursed him and I visited him as often as I could. He was in typical ‘Aboda’ fashion, deeply apologetic ‘for all this fuss’, as he called it. Only he would still worry about us, when his own body was crumbling away ad in pain. Two months later, he was gone. I remember watching him, in a coma, on life-support in the hospital. The doctor had said, we needed to tell them if we wanted them to revive him, ‘aggressive resuscitation’ they called it, to keep him in the world of the ‘living’, if not truly alive. I knew what I wanted. I wanted him to leave with dignity. The way he had lived his life. We told them our decision. When he passed away, it was akin to the end of an era for our family and for me it was not only a Grandfather lost but also a very dear friend. I remember sobbing like a baby on Hubby’s shoulder as they took him away, bereft, suddenly rudderless, suddenly alone, knowing that the world had irrevocably changed and nothing would ever be the same again.

As time is wont to do, it has enabled me to look back now and celebrate his Life and times on earth and amongst us, with joy. We have a word in Marathi, ‘yug-purush’, which I loosely translate to mean ‘a one of a kind man in a generation’ (Don’t quote me though. My half-knowledge of Marathi is legendary in the family!).  For me & mine, Aboda was such a man. He remained to the end, a simple man. A man of few needs. One of my enduring memories, is of him, sitting in his favorite, sagging armchair, eyes closed, soft classical music playing on the stereo, running the fingers of one hand through his dog’s fur (the dog was always found curled up under his master’s chair :)), while those of the other tapped the rhythm of the music on the arm-rest. A man completely at peace with himself and Life. A man who brought much happiness to all whose lives he touched. A dutiful son, a devoted husband, a loving father and uncle, a loyal brother, a friend par excellence and the best possible Grandpa a girl could wish for!

Happy Birthday Aboda 🙂

You Rock!

The Birthday

It’s that time of the year again.


Two candles, one flame. It's how I like to think of us!


My brother’s Birthday.

A day rendered forever bittersweet since he passed away last year.

Last year we had a small remembrance…cut a cake, lit a lamp and published a poem in the newspaper.

This year, I’m not sure what I want to do. Whether I want to do anything at all. I was thinking of getting the Colonel’s chicken home for the occasion. He loved it and was sorely disappointed when neither KFC nor McDonald’s came to town, before he left. He would be happy, now that KFC has finally arrived, and I for one will never be able to eat it or even pass it by without thinking of him. In a good way though…you understand…in the very best of ways 🙂

I know Mom will light a lamp…I like the thought. A tiny light from us for the one who lit up our lives with the brilliance of a thousand suns! He was like that…brilliant, radiating joy and wisdom. So wise…however did my little brother get to be so wise? When did that happen? And so patient! I wish had a fraction of his patience, I’d be a better person. And yet, unlike others, his condition (he had DMD) didn’t bring him all that close to God. Well, not in the conventional sense. Not that I knew of anyway. Although he never made a point of it, he was an atheist, not really a believer. He tolerated all the stuff my parents did, (staunch believers both), the worship of countless deities and every manner of ritual, with his characteristic quiet diffidence. He wasn’t one to rock the boat with passionate arguments. No, those were entirely my domain! He was like my mother in that way – acceptance, compromise and reserve, his mantras. He understood her too, something I struggle with everyday.

I remember as if it were yesterday, the day he was born. I was away in Bombay for the Diwali vacation. Before leaving I had made it clear to my Mom that the birth of a sister would be sacrilege and utterly unacceptable! I was 12! Ever since I longed for a sibling, I always imagined a brother. I had always wanted a brother, so I could celebrate ‘Raksha-Bandhan‘ and ‘Bhaubeez’, without having to rely on the charity of cousins. I wanted someone who was mine, rightfully and exclusively. I got him at 10.14 pm on the 24th of October 🙂 We were all fast asleep when the telephone rang, but the adults were obviously expecting news and so were alert. My great-aunt answered the phone and then woke me up to say I had a sibling. She said I had a little sister but for some reason I couldn’t believe her and I must have said so vehemently, ‘coz the next moment she was assuring me that my wish had come true and that I had a little brother. My brother – all mine. By rights. My Dad & I traveled back to Goa, a few days later, I think. I can’t remember all the details. What I do remember is my first sight of him. He was red, very red it seemed to me, except for his hands that seemed almost purple (I know now that he must have been polycythemic), wearing nothing but a cotton nappy, nestled in my Mom’s lap. He wasn’t crying. He was looking around with those shining, bright eyes in a most intelligent fashion. I can’t say it was love at first sight or even any sort of connection, ‘coz at 12 my knowledge and understanding of such things as emotions was negligible, but I remember thinking, ‘He’ll do.’ Just that, ‘He’ll do’, and it felt right, like it was meant to be. I probably said something to that effect to my Mom, although again I can’t remember. I was happy. I remember feeling pride too, although I have no clue why I should have felt that particular emotion, even before I had begun to know him properly! My wish had been granted, I had my brother, all was well with the world!

Now Diwali looms around the corner again and I’m alone. Or am I? I’m older and wiser (a little) and I choose to believe that my brother is always by my side. And I don’t mean that he’s in my heart in the conventional way (although he is). No, what I feel is more tangible (No! Not ghosts and spirits silly!), just a very strong presence, a real feeling of his being around me, protecting me from harm. Nothing scares me anymore, ‘coz he brings me strength and every time I feel bleak and hopeless, he brings me hope. Tangled problems have a way of sorting themselves out and solutions seem to suggest themselves. Perhaps, it’s coz I have conversations with him all the time. When I have a particularly irritable or sensitive problem, I always ask him what I should do and always, always, the answer comes to me 🙂 How lucky am I?

We bonded solidly as he grew older and the decade between us shrank to nothingness 🙂 Music, cricket, politics, Bollywood, Hollywood, God and Death; we discussed them all and then some with passion and abandon. I never treated him as a patient. I just couldn’t. I was always honest with him and I like to think compassionate, but never soft. It’s not my way. But he understood. He understood me with all my faults – my anger and impatience and stubbornness and that frightening need for constant change. He was the only one who did. It’s hard to write more…unexpected tears. I didn’t think I would cry. I didn’t want to. And yet the tears aren’t all in sadness for his loss. Not anymore. They are also for the joy of having known him and for having loved and been loved by him 🙂

I’m reading the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik (incidentally my brother adored the epic and watched the TV series based on it only a million times :)), and have been thinking about that most sacred of all Hindu scriptures, The Bhagvad Gita (loosely translated as The Song of God). I found a quote that resonated with me in particular at this time in my life, “There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.” And so, with conviction, I choose Happiness and banish doubt. For what do I have to fear? I know this much is true, my brother is watching over me and will never let me come to harm. And that knowledge lets me move mountains 🙂

Happy Birthday B!

Love you hamesha, P.

The Good Daughter!

That’s me 😉 Or at least was me on Wednesday the 11th of August, my Mom’s B’day 🙂 I was on my best behavior, determined to show her a good time and for once, I didn’t mess it up!

The day began with a sing-song recitation of Happy Birthday by my Dad and I, and the presentation of cards, four in all, for Mother, Daughter, Wife and Granny, one for every role she so faithfully fulfills 24/7. Needless to say, she was touched and over the moon! It didn’t matter that I bought every card and wrote it myself and had my Dad and Granny and son do the honors. Not to her and not to me 🙂

Then the phone calls began and with every call, the smile on her face became wider. I’ve watched my Mom’s smile disappear gradually over the years, to be replaced by a look of constant worry and the strain of nursing a sick child – Life was just too hard and happy moments, hard to come by. But thanks to my son, she is now rediscovering the lost art of the smiling 🙂 I told her of my lunch plans, keeping the Salon visit and surprise party, carefully secret! She had no clue – Mom is not suspicious by nature. She takes people at their word and believes the most far-fetched stories some have fed her 😉 always rising to their defense when they are caught out, a fact that irritates me every time, but proved invaluable in my own happy deception! Lesson learnt – Never underestimate stuff that bugs you! Store it away carefully for future use in tight situations 😛 You never know when it may come handy!

I took her to lunch at an old favorite of mine, a Chinese restaurant, Goenchin. It’s cozy setting was perfect for the intimate tête-à-tête I had in mind. Along with an excellent lunch we made small talk and had bits of serious conversation, about Dad, about the loss of my brother, about Life. I’ll be honest – I was really nervous about this whole day, particularly about spending all that time alone with my Mom! Uh huh! Silly as this may sound – I was scared and nervous about being alone with my Mom. I have good reason to be, given our history – I always screw things up in my inimitable way – saying the wrong thing, turning a discussion into an argument, being judgmental. I didn’t want to ruin this day that I had planned for her and I’m thankful and pretty proud of the fact, that I didn’t!

As lunch drew to a close and we were licking the last bit of ice-cream off our spoons, I revealed the next step of my plan – a visit to the Salon for some good old pampering of those tired fingers and toes! She was pleasantly surprised and watching her face light up – knowing that I made her feel special – that felt good, really good 🙂 So, off to the Salon we went and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly! Mom has NEVER had a manicure or pedicure! She never bothered with that kind of thing when she was young and stunningly beautiful (beauty skips generations apparently 😉 although my brother was beautiful!) and never had time for it when she was older, so this was a real treat! It felt good to watch her unwind, as her tired feet were soaked in warm water, their fatigue massaged away by expert hands. In typical Mom fashion, she was initially embarrassed of the condition her hands and feet were in, but that was soon forgotten once the friendly staff began their administrations!

Back home from a well-spent afternoon, she couldn’t stop telling my Granny (who was in on the plan, of course!), how wonderful she felt and how thrilling it was to have a day out with her daughter in all these years. I couldn’t stop smiling either 🙂 She kept worrying about dinner and planning the menu, while Granny & I nodded and encouraged her flights of fancy, stealing amused glances at each other, across the room! At seven, the first guests began to arrive and Mom was in a panic, “What are we going to do! All these people and not a morsel of food in the house! We haven’t even started dinner yet! God help us!” That’s when I decided, to let her in on the final secret – a surprise party with close family, catered to perfection by her favorite caterer! She was unbelieving! She kept saying, “But you didn’t say a word! You didn’t TELL me!” And I kept saying, “That’s why it’s called Surprise, Mom!” It was a hilarious, wonderful evening, with good food and family and happiness all around! A memorable day, in the best possible way 🙂

All through the festivities, I felt my brother’s presence. I could feel his voice in my ear, comforting, whispering, quietly encouraging, “Good Job, Sis! You’re doing Marvelously! Stay cool now!” I know my Mom felt it too – she wears his ring now, on her finger, and she showed it to me on our way home from the Salon. “See, I always have him with me,” she said, “Both my children, close to me.” I can’t tell you how that made me feel, except to say that my eyes are tearing up as I type and my heart is full…full to the brim and overflowing with love and admiration and pride for my Mom and for the woman that she is.

It was the BEST day I’ve had in a long time and certainly the BEST day my Mom and I have shared in many many years. It brought us a tiny bit closer and gave me the confidence I needed to make this a regular event – ‘A Mother-Daughter” day out, once a month where we relax and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company!

Love You Mom!

You Rock my World!

p.s. A big Thank-you to all of you who sent your love and wishes to Mom! You added to her happiness and thanks to you, she is now a little less resentful of all the time her daughter spends glued to the laptop screen 😉


Yes, mine is a few days away. A few friends have asked me, what my plans are and all I can say is…for the first time in my life, I’m clueless! I have no clue and certainly no plan…not even a figment of one!  It feels kind of strange…maybe cause this is the first birthday in a long time at home with my parents and without my brother. Or perhaps it’s the fact that I am now so busy with everyday stuff…work, Ishaan, house, that I have no energy nor the inclination left to celebrate.

My 40th last year was a Blast – in more ways than one! It was the day after the horrendous Mumbai attacks began and for the rest of my life, I know I’ll always associate my birthday with violence. It was all just too close to home! Still, my friends pampered me with an intimate lunch and many gifts 🙂 and we all had dinner together. That’s how I’ve spentmost  birthdays; with friends and the hubby (who if I’m lucky sends me flowers!) Gifts are harder…he usually gives me stuff at odd times during the year (most often on return from a trip) and will say something like, “This is your birthday and anniversary gift for the year

This year, I feel lost. I’m still getting settled in Goa and life here is so different from the one I’ve led so far, it might as well be a different universe! I have friends – dear childhood friends and I have close family who care deeply – but things are different here or maybe it’s just me – I’m different! Changed somehow by all the stress and craziness around…

So, here’s my Birthday wishlist…lets start with the basics, shall we?

I hope the family remembers my Birthday! Don’t scoff!!! They’ve forgotten before!!

If they do remember, I hope they find it in themselves to get out of their various depressive moods long enough to smile for a while…

Flowers, cards and gifts would be in the present circumstances – nothing short of a miracle!

Hoping for Miracles 😉 One will do 😛

A cozy dinner & a long drive with hubby would be a welcome change 🙂

To get through the day without major fights with anyone!

And of course…World Peace 😉

There, is that so much to ask for?

We’ll see…

Happy Birthday to Me!

In Memoriam…

Today’s my brother’s birthday. He’s been gone now for 10 months and it feels strange to have his birthday upon us without him. What do we do with this day that was special only because of him?

Raspberry Cointreau Cake from the Marriot...he loved their cakes!
Raspberry Cointreau Cake from the Marriot...he loved their cakes!

To each his own I suppose – we’ve kept it simple and in the family. A chocolate cake because he adored them 🙂 A little diya and a garland for his picture, dishes he loved to eat for lunch, some laughter, a few tears and sharing happy memories…my recipe for a private remembrance.

We did put a piece in the paper, with a poem I wrote that I would like to share here. It’s called ‘Sentinel of Peace’, because that’s who he was for his family and that’s how we will remember him, everafter.

‘Sentinel of Peace’

He was a sentinel, guarding our door,

Sharing our secrets, our joys and hopes.

Holding our life in the palms of his hands,

Sheltering our dreams from stormy shores.

Together we loved, we prayed, we shared,

Together we fought, laughed and cried.

And although he’s gone, to his resting place,

His spirit surrounds us, free and alive.

So we celebrate him now, on this special day,

Our rock, our boy, our courage, our strength.

May he be happy in eternal sleep,

Gloriously shining, our sentinel of peace.

–          Harsha

It’s a tough day today with many mixed feelings and emotions running high. But I take solace in the fact that he touched the lives of so many people who remember him fondly, with love, with admiration, with respect.

What more could a sister want?

I love you bro, hamesha!

The Big 4O!

Can’t escape it, not anymore! It’s here! Well, it will be in a week – exactly 7 days from now – I will enter the 4th decade of my life!! When I think in terms of decades – the number still seems small 😛
I mean 4 vs 40…come on – work with me here 😉

Seriously speaking – don’t think it will be any different than turning 24 say or 37, or any age, for that matter. I thought it would – honestly, I was prepared for some earth-shattering insights into the world, humanity, my self! No such luck! The world, humanity and self all continue to feel and act much as they did when I was 37 – except of course the US just elected a black man to be President 😉
Aah…maybe this is a watershed year after all 😛

No complaints though – 2008 has been a fantastic year 🙂 Have had two ‘fantabulous’ trips each – to Europe and the US, work has been rewarding, friends have been supportive and family, loving! And now, here I am on the threshold of a new beginning – a time of change as I prepare for a new and challenging role – that of a mother. It’s one I’m unused to and didn’t particularly hanker after. One that made it’s way into my psyche, gradually, hesitantly, cautiously. And yet, now it seems firmly entrenched in my heart and soul – am nervous but not panicky, well not yet anyway!! Maybe when the toilet-training begins – my friends have been very helpful – painting vivid pictures 😛

And so I guess for me, what they say about turning 40 is true in a way – Life begins at 40 – and so it will for me – or at least, it will take off in a new direction, one that I am looking forward to 🙂

All this fuss over turning 40, got me to thinking about Life in general and decades in particular. Isn’t that what everyone that’s turning 40 is supposed to do? Ponder their life so far and plan for how they are going to make it more meaningful in the future? Well I’m not one for introspection – maybe it’s cause – all things considered – I’ve had a pretty great Life! Don’t really have any major regrets – that’s not to say that Life hasn’t been tough, yes it has, but nothing I couldn’t handle with the love and support of family and friends.

Speaking of decades, my first was fabulous – had a dreamy childhood, especially the 4 years spent in Japan, where I was first introduced to cartoons and colour television – Kid Heaven! The Teen years were, for lack of a better word, ‘typical’, full of angst, mood swings and craziness – my Mom will agree – made her cry many tears, I did! Sorry Mom! Through it all – managed to get through 5 years of Medical school, make the ‘best friend’ a girl could possibly have and find the ‘love of my life’! Not bad for a crazy teen huh??!! The twenties were more of the same – got married to the ‘love of my life’ though, amidst all the craziness 🙂 In the thirties at last I felt like I had a handle on Life. The craziness was tempered by the small amount of wisdom I had acquired thus far and I began to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel. And now, at 39, in the last year of what has been my favourite decade so far, I can honestly say that I like myself more than I liked myself at any other time in my Life!

Those who know me best, know that I am shy and reserved, even when I seem to be having a ball, that I am perfectly happy to be alone for days on end, that I avoid giving advice like the plague if I can help it(though some of it is pretty great!). that for all my bluster, I lack self-confidence and am not half as brave as I pretend to be, that I still find it hard to start conversation with a stranger and that I love dogs and books infinitely more than I will ever love people!

Since moving to Singapore, I like to think I’ve gotten better at some of the above! I’ve started working as an editor, a job that allows me to work with my first love – Books! I truly enjoy it and never in a million years ever thought I would be doing it! My confidence levels have improved and so have my social skills. I still find it hard to make polite conversation with people I dislike – but on the bright side, I don’t find the ‘need’ to be nice to too many people! And I still love dogs and books more than people – but I’m more patient with some humans 😉

I guess what I mean is – I’m just more comfortable in my own skin 🙂 Some people feel the need to grow a new skin when they reach milestones – me, I just like to give the old one a little wiggle now and again, so it fits better! Works for me! It feels right, fits like a dream – a perfectly tailored custom fit! I’m going to hang on to this feeling – I like it and I think it likes me right back – makes me a better person, a better friend, a better me!

And so it’s refreshing to think that the 40 years I have walked this planet have not been for nothing! It’s been an amazing journey – all those years of memorable and not so memorable moments, lessons learnt, goals achieved, friendships made, love given, love received – I have had all of that and more. Even though I haven’t changed the world in a big way, I have tried to better my own tiny universe and for me – that’s enough. Life is beautiful – more than I ever imagined possible, more than I thought I deserved…and I am grateful, very grateful to all those that have enriched it with their presence 🙂

So there…Bring on the big 4O – I’m rearing to go!