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The truth about House of Juliet

When in Verona, a visit to Juliet’s house is a must. Or is it?

I was warned by all the travel websites that this place would be insanely crowded. I thought maybe they were exaggerating, so I went to find out by myself (being a literature lover I cannot not visit it). And, this is what I witnessed.

Juliet house was crowded. So much that you cannot even make out the main entrance from the main street. From the entrance, you cannot see anything but hundreds of heads.

You see the walls of the courtyard covered top to bottom, right to left, with love notes and confessions (which for me was a highlight). Before you reach the tiny courtyard, on your left you would find mail boxes where one can write letters to Juliet (Like in the movie).

Finally after reaching the courtyard when I looked up, I saw a modern version of Romeo and Juliet standing in ‘the balcony’ and kissing while their friend was clicking pictures from below.

I couldn’t get a picture while touching Juliet’s breast (which is considered good luck in love) because it is not possible when you are traveling alone. People give you like one second to do the act. I don’t know if they know that it’s not even the real statue.

So, I looked around to find the most ignored space in the courtyard, and I asked a gentleman to click my picture with this door. At least, I got the entire frame to myself!

Romeo and Juliet didn’t actually lived in Verona, the city was just a backdrop in Shakespeare’s work of fiction. Yet, Verona celebrates Romeo and Juliet like they were real. They have Romeo and Juliet restaurants, bed and breakfasts, shops, and what not.

Albeit this elbow pushing, suffocating experience, I am glad I went there. Because, it’s Romeo and Juliet. Also, because there are only few places in this world dedicated to love or lovers.

I just went there for the sake of visiting and spent only 10 minutes. If you are a literature freak, I know you would

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Eulogy for self!

She always wanted to be remembered. It was important for her, so much, that she wanted an extraordinary death. Perhaps while climbing the mount Everest or while sky diving. Where she would come out as a hero rather than just a death body. The reality was far from it. She died in a normal and somewhat funny way. She was telling a story to all her grandkids and suddenly decided to pop a pill which was past its expiry.

“She hated the medicines. I don’t know why she took it that night”, said her lover and husband of last 50 years.

But, being the sunny positive person she is, her epitaph reads- don’t mourn, my last meal was sumptuous.

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Hemingway Cafe Milan

I cannot talk about Milan and not mention this quiet, around the corner cafe that I bumped into, on a sunny July morning. I was hungry and needed to reload my energy for a day of exploration in that horribly hot weather. I walked in to see if it’s open and it was. I ordered breakfast and a cup of cappuccino. It was my third day in Italy and it didn’t disappoint me when it came to its coffee.

After placing my order, I came and sat outside. I was in Milan. A place I always wanted to visit. I was excited thinking that within an hour I will get to see its famous Duomo. I looked around myself. People were coming and going, minding their own business. There’s no one in the cafe beside me and this old man. Suddenly the name of the cafe caught my eyes. ‘Hemingway Cafe’. Why chose to name a cafe in Italy after a famous American author? It intrigued me.

When my order came in, I asked the waiter, who spoke little English. He had no idea. But, he pointed to the owner of the cafe, the old man who was sitting with his back towards me, and said I can ask him. Unfortunately, he spoke only Italian. When I asked, he looked at me intently and gave me a big smile. I finished my breakfast, which was by the way, the best panini I have had, and left to explore the fashion capital of Italy.

At around 8 pm, I came back to my hostel. I was exhausted. I just wanted to have dinner and sleep. However, there’s this Irani girl and we started talking. We talked about Iran, India, USA, Trump, war, just everything. I lost track of time. It was well past ten when I ventured out in search of dinner and this cafe was the only place open at that time near my hostel. I don’t generally eat at the same place twice when I am travelling, but I had no option. I loved their breakfast and coffee, so I thought why not give it another chance.

This time I met two wonderful people. The chef and a girl who was waiting tables. I went in and asked if they have anything left. Any vegetarian food. They clearly had nothing, but the chef said, “I will see what I can do”. That gesture really touched me. I haven’t met many chefs who said that to me. They generally say, sorry we are closing or no food left. But, never that. He reminded me of home where nobody wants you to go to sleep hungry.

Although late, the cafe was full with young people. The laughter, the conversation everything was just so lively. Even though I was alone, I was having a great time. After a while, the chef came in with my dinner. It’s a big vegetable spread with fresh cheese and bread. It was enough for two people and I gulped down everything with happiness and gratitude. It was delicious too. In fact, the best meal I had in Italy!

I am back home now, and still occasionally I think about this cafe. That wonderful meal I had there. I will definitely visit it the next time I get a chance to go to Milan. This time I will take my husband. We will order drinks, eat their free chips and soak in the magic ambience of Milanese evening.

I was still curious about the cafe’s name. So, I did a little research and found out that Hemingway was in Milan for few months during World War I. In fact, his most literary work ‘A farewell to Arms’ is based on his life in Milan.

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Venetian diary – IV

There are many areas in Venice where prostitution thrived in the 1500s, and the most famous among them is the Carampane district near the Rialto. The entire district looks like a tiny courtyard, whose number of buildings is countable on your fingers.

The profession was encouraged and supported by the Venetian government because it attracted international tourists and thus increased the revenues. When the profession was at its peak, many Venetian girls, as young as twelve and thirteen, were working as prostitutes. The young girls were more in demand and were putting the older ones out of business.

You see that bridge? Its name is Ponte delle Tette, which translates to ‘Bridge of Tits’, because that’s where the older prostitutes used to exhibit their sensuality in order to lure customers to the other side where they were in business.

In these windows beautiful older girls would stand as mannequin to show what’s on offer (window shopping much?) to lure customers. And, what was on show was rarely offered in real.

The area where once rich merchants thronged, rarely sees any tourists these day.

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Venetian diary – III

Customized walking tours are so common in this part of the world. And they are not like the traditional ones in which the guide would just ramble on and on about a place or monument in the most uninteresting way possible. They are fun, engaging, free (they don’t charge, you just tip them) and can be easily booked online.

On my husband’s recommendation I registered myself with walking tours, and I am so glad I did. I enjoyed them thoroughly. And if you are someone who likes to explore a place on foot, who wouldn’t mind walking for two hours or more, and enjoys interesting trivia about a place, then you would love these walking tours.

The most impressive thing is that these guides put a lot of effort in their content which speaks volumes about their passion for the city.

According to my tour guide in Venice, this church is the most preferred wedding church in the city. The most obvious reason is that it’s somewhat white in colour. The outer appearance of the church resembles an antique jewelry box. The name of the church is Santa Maria die Miracoli -‘the church of miracle’, and that’s makes it auspicious for weddings. And apparently, this is the only church in Venice which has direct Gondola access. So, a bride wearing heels and a fancy gown doesn’t have to walk a lot and cross a dozen bridges to reach her wedding venue. She can just get down from the Gondola right in the front of the church.

Unfortunately, I didn’t witness any wedding in Venice. But, I did one in Florence!

Thanks to my tour guide, I also got the opportunity to see the red light area of Venice.

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Venetian diary – II

I hate those travel blogs where they write about all the things you need to see, all the things you need to experience, when visiting a place, making you feel like your trip would be incomplete if you miss any one of them. One thing they don’t realise it that we all are different and we all travel differently. Travelling is personal. We all have different priorities and expectations when we travel. So, no matter what anyone say, don’t fall into these tourists traps, and pick your own things to do while travelling. Trust me, you would love that more.

I was confused about what I wanted to experience on my first trip to Italy. I had just one day in each place, and it’s not enough to cover everything that I wanted to do or see. So, I made my own itinerary according to the time and things I wanted to do or see. And, Gondola ride in Venice was not on my list. I had my reasons. They are insanely expensive. Gondola ride in a jam packed canal is not charming at all. They look more prettier from afar. And, I swear there are tons of other better things you can do by saving your money on a Gondola ride.

I roamed around the different districts in Venice. I took a walking tour which was interesting and fun. I ate and drank in those hole in the wall cafes, which were much better than the ones in the main squares. I hopped on a boat and went to Burano for a quiet afternoon. I had a tons of gelatos. I got drenched in the rain later in the evening while exploring the San Marco square. I just got lost in the city. So, I did whatever I wanted to do and I don’t regret at all.

You need months, or maybe years to explore Italy. A day in any Italian city is like a fleeting moment. Just like a beautiful landscape you see for few minutes when you drive by. My first visit was like that. Like I was just stopping by to say hello and make an acquaintance.

I believe I will get plenty of time in the future to brew a love affair with Italy- until then I am happy with my hello!

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Venetian diary – I

One can either get down directly at the St. Lucia station, in Venice. Or you can get down in Mestre, the suburb of Venice and then take a bus, train, water boat, or the tram . In my case, instead of directly going to Venice, I decided to reach its suburb ‘Mestre’ first and then take a tram ride to Venice. Just the way most of the locals do. I love tram rides. They are pure old school charm. They are unbelievably cheap. And, they slowly chug their way across the city, giving you the perfect opportunity to see all the prettiest things a place has to offer.

When the tram moves ahead leaving the suburb, one can see the vast Adriatic sea on your right. This last stretch of the ride is long with hardly any stations in between. You won’t see any other person or vehicle outside the tram. Just the sea and fleets of ships and cruises coming in or going out. Just when I thought this ride could take a while and I should settle down, I saw the stretched out land floating in the sea from where the Venetian lagoon starts. When I reached the final tram stop- Venezia- Piazzale Roma, it was 8.15am.

Only when I stepped out of the tram, I hit me that I was in Venice. The city on water. The city of art and beauty. The city labelled as one of the most romantic cities on earth. As I walked towards the heart of my city, I saw people cleaning the streets. Vegetable vendors setting up their stalls in the market. Owners decorating their fancy Gondolas. I saw locals starting their day with a glass of wine. Previous day tourists slowly making their way to the station. What I loved the most was the smell of freshly brewed coffee that was coming from every possible direction.

I think, there’s no better time to arrive in a new city than early in the morning or late at night. You get to see the non-touristy side of a place. Without the fancy layers. Without the makeup. Without all the daily pretentiousness.

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A new low in Indian Democracy!

The territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over the region of Kashmir started with the partition of 1947. Kashmir, at that time, was predominantly a Muslim state and was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. After partition, the princely state was left to decide on its own whether to join India or Pakistan. The Maharaja hated the Congress, so he couldn’t think of joining India. But, joining Pakistan meant that the fate of his Hindu dynasty will die eventually. With vast majority of the Kashmiris having no strong affiliation to either India or Pakistan, Maharaja clung to the idea of Kashmir’s total independence. His dream was to make it the ‘Switzerland of the East’- a completely neutral state.

However, the situation turned hostile soon after when the Pathans raided the valley. Many accounts say that the attack was initiated by Pakistan, but it is still disputed. Maharaja Hari Singh then turned to India for help to push back the tribal invaders. Lord Mountbatten, however, suggested that it would be ideal to secure the Maharaja’s accession to India before sending off their troops to defend the valley. Under such circumstances, on the 26th of October 1947, the Maharaja executed the Instrument of Accession. The objective was to join India but with their own terms and conditions as laid out in the Accession.

Article 370 is the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the India, which came into effect in 1949. It allows the India-administered Kashmir to make its own laws in all matters except defence, external affairs, and communication. It denies non-residents the property rights in the region. It exempts Jammu and Kashmir state from the Indian constitution and establishes a separate constitution and a separate flag. In simple terms, the residents of the state live under different laws from the rest of the country.

In 1954, through a presidential order, Article 35A- the Permanent Residents Law was introduced as an extension to the old provisions under Article 370. By this, the local legislatures in the India-administered Kashmir can define permanent residents of the region. It forbids outsiders from permanently settling, investing in properties, holding government jobs or getting scholarships in the region. The provision also bars women residents of Jammu and Kashmir from property rights in case they marry a non-resident of the state.

Indian government claims that the Instrument of Accession indicated Jammu and Kashmir’s desire to be part of India. While Pakistan claims the instrument as fraudulent and do not accept the accession of Kashmir to India. This resulted in the first Kashmir war in 1947-48, between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir, after which the United Nations imposed a ceasefire on the 1st of January, 1949 with both nations agreeing that a referendum would be held in the matter of its accession. But, that referendum was never held, and the territory of the state was divided along the cease-fire line, with India getting the southeast part and Pakistan getting the northwest part of the state. One could only hope that it was the end of Kashmir controversy. However, as it turned out, it was the first of many to follow.

In 1965, Following Pakistan’s ‘Operation Gibraltar’ which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to spark off an insurgency against the Indian rule, both the nations broke into war again, which is better known as the Indo-Pak war of 1965.

Then came the war of 1971 also known as the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War’, which started with India as an ally of Bangladesh but ended as an war between India and Pakistan. The result of which was the Shimla Agreement. To restore and normalize relations between the two countries, it was agreed that “in Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the ceasefire, shall be respected and recognised by both the nations. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line”.

Again in 1999 Kargil war was fought to flush out the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers disguised as Kashmiri militants into position on the Indian side of Kashmir. Thus, it is quite evident that Kashmir has always been a matter of controversy between India and Pakistan with both claiming the region fully as theirs, but owning only partially.

The revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A, which gave Kashmir the special status as an autonomous state for 70 years, is a long made promise fulfilled by BJP by shunning the ideas of democracy, cooperative federalism, and individual liberty, that our constitution upholds. The government used its rigid legislative authority to demote the status of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to Union territories, without so much as a room for consultation with the people of the state or their representatives. Thousands of Indian troops were deployed to Kashmir, schools and colleges of the area were shut down, local and democratic leaders were detained or put under house arrest, tourists were ordered to leave, a major Hindu pilgrimage was cancelled, free movement of the people in the region was stopped, and communication was suspended.

In the name of correcting a ‘historic blunder’, the government tossed aside the terms and conditions laid down in the Instrument of Accession. The move will change Jammu and Kashmir’s administrative status from a state to a union territory. The remote area of Ladakh will be separated from Kashmir and turned into a stand alone Union territory. Jammu & Kashmir, will no longer have a separate flag and a separate constitution. All Indian laws will be automatically applicable to Jammu & Kashmir. Non residents now can buy property there, join government jobs and avail educational scholarships.

The culture, demographic and history of Kashmir has always been different from that of other parts of India. Since, the start of the insurgency in India-administered Kashmir, government has had a patchy relationship with Kashmir and they have struggled to fully understand the needs and sentiments of the Kashmiris. The youths of Kashmir have always harboured a sense of alienation from the rest of the India, which will only deepen further now. By allowing non residents to settle down in Kashmir will incorrigibly tarnish the demographic status of the region, saving which was the basic agenda of Article 370 in the first place.

This is not the first time the Modi government had made a stealthy decision and forced the nation to deal with the devastating consequences. The wounds from demonitisation is still fresh. The special status of Jammu and Kashmir was never meant to be permanent, but to scrap it hastily without the concurrence of it’s people raise nothing but suspicion and distrust. In the name of national integration, it looks like a planned, well thought out step to attain complete safforanisation.

Written on 7th of August, 2019.

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Excerpt

“……he is at that point of his illness, where only a blurry line remains between his reality and hallucinations. The voices have become frequent too, and so is her presence. It’s been three years since he started imagining her. Three years since he fell in love with her. A lot has changed since then, so much that he has forgotten about his existence before she came to his life. He has forgotten his reality, his identity; his life, a concoction of dreams and imaginations now.

In her, he now sees the disapprovals of the society. That’s why he hates her now. He cannot believe how could this person not support him in his aspirations. He is disappointed, but more devastated. The daily fights are weighing down on their relationship. His love for her was on the verge of shattering into pieces again, he is not sure if he would be able to put them together this time.

He doesn’t know whom to turn to now. His friends think he is going crazy. No one bothers to put up with his made up unrealistic stories. They were emphatic before, but now everyone seems to be ghosting him. They don’t answer his phone calls. They make up excuses whenever he invites them over. His parents do not understand why he is sad. What is it that he is unhappy about?”

 

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck- a book review

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”, is a debut book by a popular New York based blogger, Mark Manson. The author is extremely knowledgeable, witty, and has a great sense of humour. No doubt, his debut has gained so much popularity in such a short time. It was also in the list of most read books of 2017.

This is a self-help book. However, by calling it just so will be a grave injustice. What sets it apart from other books of this genre is its narration style. As already written on its front cover, this book is about a counterintuitive approach to life. The writing is crisp, hilarious, and yet brutally honest. At times you would both want to laugh out loud and hang your head in shame at its on point sarcasm. It is a light read and doesn’t require the reader to have an analytical mind. Mark successfully explains all the concept in the book with live examples, thus making it easier for the reader to grasp and remember.

The book teaches you to prioritize your life. To value only the things that matter to you, and to discard the rest. As Mark writes, “In my life, I have given a fuck about many people and many things. I have also not given a fuck about many people and many things. And like the road not taken, it was the fucks not given that made all the difference”.

The best thing I liked about this book is how it doesn’t preaches about positivity and motivation. It doesn’t try to sell you the old “feel-good-about-yourself” shit. It teaches you to be honest. It tells you it is okay to be mediocre, to be in deep shit, as long as you accept it, take responsibility for it, and make honest efforts to come out of it.

Anyone who wants to change their life will find this book extremely helpful, refreshing, and effective. And, you don’t necessarily have to be a self-help book lover. Read this book to use your fucks wisely (both literally and figuratively).

4/5

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About crazy races

I saw him coming from the opposite direction. A boy of about eleven-twelve years, maybe. He was running bare foot at a great speed, his lanky built swaying rhythmically. He was out of breathe. Although, there was a distance of few steps between us, I could see he was perspiring. He sat down, with his legs extended out freely, on the side of the road. His head was shining under the light of the lamp post. Perhaps, he was playing with his friends and running for fun.

I thought it would be fun to challenged him to a race. I was really hoping he would agree and make me do my warm up. He laughed at first. When he realized I was serious, he refused politely. He got up, and sat on the road side iron bar with his legs dangling. He said he needs to go to the market. I was disappointed, but I didn’t show it to him.

I had hardly walked a few steps, when I saw another young boy walking towards us. His loose t-shirt and oversized sleepers made him look tiny for his age. It turned out these two were friends and they’re heading to the market together. “She is challenging us for a race”, the bare foot informed him. The tiny one looked at me, as if for confirmation. When I nodded my head, he agreed.

“From where to where?”, he asked with an amused look. I made them walk to a huge speed breaker, and asked them if they would cover a distance of 1km. Afteral, my intention was to run till the ground, where I was going for my workout. They said they are running late and can do only a short distance. So, we settled for a 400 m race. But, our ideas of 400 m were different from each other. After an elaborated discussion, we successfully decided on a finish line. The tiny one picked his oversized sleepers in his hands, and we all took our positions.

On the count of three, we broke into a race. It was exciting. The last time I ran a race was probably in school. After a few minutes, they were running ahead of me. It was funny how they turned their heads every other minute to check if I was still running. Perhaps, they thought I would give up. I am not running for the last 4 month for nothing, fellas. A grown up lady racing with two young boys in the middle of the road, was quite a sight!

I was running with full concentration. I was taking bigger strides, fully opening my hips. One foot and then another. Suddenly, I was Monica Geller and was desperate to win. I swear, I was very close to running past them, when a gang dogs suddenly decided to join us. Barking and jumping, they scared the shit out of me. Why did they have to come and ruin the race? I was almost winning!

No regrets, however. The boys had a good laugh. And, I got a good story to write about.

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A little note on self-motivation

When was in my early twenties, everything that could go wrong was going wrong. Career graph wasn’t satisfactory, love life was a big joke, there was a huge (I thought so at that time) family issue, I thought I was letting everybody down, and was on the verge of ruining my life with constant comparison with my peers. I wasn’t depressed, was just demotivated about life in general.

I was disappointed in myself. I was scared. I didn’t know how to get back on my feet. I was ashamed to ask for help from anyone. I was a ‘judgement fearing‘ person back then, and others’ opinion of me mattered a lot. Luckily, a few warm people were around, who took the responsibility of putting me on the right track. I remember spending hours on the phone with them, with words of encouragement flowing continuously from the other side. It’s only with their help that I decided to take charge of my life again.

I started spending more time with myself. I would spend hours in front of the mirror and say positive affirmations out loud. I would write motivational notes to myself. I gave up doing things that didn’t make me happy. I started doing activities that I love and enjoy. I learned to say ‘no’ to people that didn’t matter. I surrounded myself with kind and positive people, who would lift me up. Slowly, I started seeing good changes in my life.

However, it wasn’t easy to motivate myself constantly everyday. Motivation doesn’t always appear when you look for it. Some days you feel like conquering the world. And, on some, you cannot even drag yourself out of the bed. It tends to die out soon, and you have to refuel it again and again. As rightly said by Zig Ziglar,People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Let me enlist here a few simple strategy that I do daily to keep myself motivated and happy.

Practice Gratitude

This one tops my list. I do this unfailingly every day. If you think you cannot follow many strategies, than just follow this one. I assure you, it will make things right instantly. I practice it daily, by making a list of 10 things that I am grateful for. You can also write down these things in a journal. You can mail it to yourself or to a friend. You can say these things out loud. You can share this list with a friend or husband or anyone in the family. Now, these things needn’t be always significant like a successful recruitment or clearing of exams. It can be something normal as a cup of coffee, a breezy night, clean clothes to wear. It can also be things we take for granted, for example a good healthy body or having enough ration in your kitchen or 24 hours water and electricity supply.

Believe in your journey

We humans tend to compare ourselves with our peers all the time. My friend is getting a job, so should I. My neighbor has bought a house, I should too. Someone else’s achievement or growth jolt us from our happiness and we start to grieve. Especially, in the age of social media where everyone’s life is up for showcase, we compare our life all the time. What we forget is that our journey is different, our goals are different, and our struggles are different. There is no point being sad if someone is getting married, when what you want for yourself is an around the world in 80 days trip. It is absolutely absurd feeling depressed over a friend’s career growth when you desperately want to be a sit-at-home mom.

This is my second most favourite strategy. To believe in my journey and my goals. I believe that I know what’s best for me more than anyone else. I don’t let someone else’s journey crush my plans and destinations. Instead, I only take happiness and motivation from others’ success stories, and apply to fuel my own.

Set small goals

It’s great to set bigger goals and targets, but they could be daunting and scary at the same time. Biggest target makes you procastinate. Let me site a personal example here. For a long time I have harboured this secret desire of participating in a marathon. I was not a runner. I was not even a physically active person, yet I wanted to run a marathon. It was a big task. It looked impossible to achieve it. So, I never tried. Then this year, I changed my thought process, and set a tiny goal. I told myself that I would just running. I did. I am running for the last four months. I feel more motivated now. I am even planning to do my first serious 5k within a month. After completion a couple of successful 5ks, I will move on to 10ks. And, soon one day, maybe a marathon. This made me realize that tiny goals are easier to start with. Chunking down of a big task into a lots of small tasks makes it more attainable.

Surround yourself with positive people

This one is my favourite. I surround myself with positive people. People who encourage me to give my best efforts in everything. People who pat my back for even the tiniest of achievements. People who talk, think, and act positively. These people not only congratulate me on my success, but also help me look at the brighter side during adversities. Because sometimes, we need someone else to believe in us to help us believe in ourselves.

Keeping a positive circle of people changes your attitude towards life. It makes you more happy, productive, and peaceful. It helps you in dealing with stress and frustration. If you are positive, then you are always in a good frame of mind. You are more focused in your life, you fear less and develop a go-getter attitude.

Step out

Another miraculous strategy is to step out of your house. Just go out for a walk. Go out to meet someone or buy yourself a cup of coffee. Go out for a quick run around the block. Go to the beach. Go to see the mountains. Do whatever, but just go out and connect with nature. There’s only a few things which could motivate as much as nature does. We are genetically inclined to find nature soothing and helpful. Our environment helps us to become more aware and mindful. Nature’s beauty and energy can have a profound effect upon our senses. We feel rejuvenated, more alive, and more capable of achieving our dreams.

Motivation doesn’t come in one size fits all. It works differently for everyone. What works for me, may not work for you. Some may find motivation in books. Others may find it in movies and musics. I have just enlisted what works for me. There are millions of other ways out there. So, find out what sails your boat. Carpe Diem!

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My second

On 18th of July, I woke up to a mail from Women’s Web. It said I was selected as the author of the month. I was in a sweet slumber when I read it, so I dozed off again, keeping my phone aside.

I do keep dreaming about weird stuff all the time. It’s normal. I sleep on it to make myself realize that all dreams are not necessarily true. And, later, I forget about it for good. So, I had completely forgotten about this mail until I sat down with my first cup of coffee. That’s when I usually check my mails. Corporate jobs taught me to check them first thing in the morning. And somehow, the habit stuck.

It was just the usual mails that morning- bank statements, LinkedIn notifications, interview calls, Coursera reminders, WordPress notifications, Event reminders, Brain picking posts, and so on. As I was browsing through all these, I again saw the mail from Women’s Web.

I read it again. Author of the month? Yeah, right! There was even a questionnaire attached. They were asking me to send them the answers at the earliest. I was absolutely sure that the mail came by mistake, and they would send an apology mail by afternoon. I didn’t even see the attached questionnaire. I was so sure it wasn’t for me. I finished my coffee, and went about with my daily work.

After lunch, I received another email from them. Aaha, here comes the apology, I thought as soon as I saw the notification. I was only a tiny bit right. It was an apology mail, yes. But, for sending an old questionnaire. What? They apologized for wasting my time, and requested me to write the answers again.

This time, I forwarded the mail to my fiancé. He was elated. He checked their website and sent me a screenshot to prove that it’s not some kind of joke. They had indeed put up my name under the ‘Author of the month’ section. His only complaint was that they didn’t put my picture. He then asked me to start writing my answers.

I opened the mail again. I read it slowly this time, and let the news sink in. A feeling of immense happiness and gratitude engulfed me. My heart was all warm, and I was thinking what have I done to achieve this acknowledgement.

My mind wandered off to that June afternoon, two years ago, when I had written a long message to Paromita baa, whose writings I adore. I don’t remember the message in detail. I just remember that she wrote back beautifully, telling me to write until I write better. It took me almost 6 months to follow her advice.

Little did I know then that in two years I will be writing answers for an interview. I downloaded the new questionnaire, made myself a cup of strong coffee, and sat down to write the answers. You can read it here, my second interview in two months.

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First featured article

I started writing for Women’s Web two months back. I haven’t written many articles though, just two in two months. I am always looking for topics to write, and quickly discarding every idea as ‘not good’ without even trying. So, a few weeks ago I decided to write on every damn topic that crosses my mind (and of course, it also needs to be fit as per the website’s requirement). When Hima Das was all over news for her historic victory, I decided to write something on her.

Slowly, I found myself discarding this idea too. What will I write about her? Will I be able to do justice to her victory? What can I write that’s not already been written before? Because, her life, her game, and her every walking steps has already been covered in all the major newspapers and other print medias of the country. I was sure, someone on Women’s Web must have written something on her already. It’s a big portal with so many amazing writers, sure a news like Hima Das’ must have caught everyone’s attention.

When I did my research I found out no one has written anything on Hima. I was surprised. Surely I am not searching well enough. But, no. There was not a single article on her. A portal which publishes many articles daily, has nothing on Hima? I found it hard to accept. Why noone has written about her? The rising star from Assam!

It broke my heart, so much, that I decided to write it myself. But, I still wasn’t sure what to write. So, I decided to write about how her victory made me feel. How she would be an inspiration for the young girls of this country.

Every word of this piece came straight from my heart, yet I wasn’t satisfied. So, I let it sit in the draft folder for a week, until I found the courage to submit it. Today morning, 3 days after my submission, I got a mail from the website saying my piece got featured. Featured??!! Really? My writings never get featured, it is always someone else’s. Why have they featured it? Not only that, in the mail, they also wished more power to my pen. My pen? Do I even have one? But when I checked the website and saw my article there, with my name below it, the mail started to feel real.

It’s a big deal for me, because I doubt my writings. It’s a big deal that someone is reading what I have to say, and thinking it’s worthy enough to get featured. It is such an overwhelming feeling that I could cry. This has been the best morning in a very long time. You have no idea, how happy and grateful I am today. I promise, I will work hard on my writing. A big thank you to all the readers.

You can read the article here.

Posted in Books, Uncategorized

A Book of Light- book review

Jerry’s mother was bipolar. It began when he (her second child) was born. When it got worst, she tried killing herself several times, by jumping in front of a bus or cutting her wrist or running off with Jerry, a toddler, on her tow. Jerry created a novel (read the review here) from his experiences of living with a mother who was mentally ill.

Jerry’s book unleashed many such stories from people who have read and loved EM. At one of his book readings, a woman asked him to collect all these stories and create a book called ‘A book of light’. To create awareness about mental illness in our society. This book is a testament to the fact that, it often takes one person’s action to move and mobilise many towards the same goal.

The introduction piece of this book is written by Jerry himself. He has written it delicately, choosing each word carefully lest he hurts his readers. He has pointed out some hard hitting truth a family faces while taking care of a loved one. The entire piece is honest and hits just right. It is powerful enough to keep you wondering for days.

The book contains 13 stories. All revolving around the same theme of ‘when a loved one has a different mind’. Some are written fondly, some in grief, others in guilt, betrayal, remorse, and even regret. One could feel the helplessness, confusion, sadness, and denial a family goes through in such times. Each story is special in its own way, because each gives glimpses of something very personal and intimate.

If I had to pick my favourites of these stories, I would probably pick these five. ‘Papa, Elsewhere‘, ‘Daniella‘, ‘The Man under the staircase‘, ‘Anna‘, and ‘Some questions for a brother‘. First one was about a bipolar father, who when went missing, the family took a sigh of relief. Second was about a mother’s denial about her daughter’s depression. Third was about depression, and how it rears its ugly head. Last one was about regret and guilt for not reaching out when there was still time.

Only thumbs down with this book is that writing is not consistent throughout, which is quite obvious, as all writers are different. Few stories are well written, while some are weak in their narration and flow. If writing style is something you can ignore, then it’s definitely a good read. Because, what matters here is the emotions with which each story was written.

Posted in Uncategorized

EM and the big HOOM- book review

It is after a long time that I have completed a book in one sitting. The last time I achieved this feat was with Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘In other words’, in 2016. The two long years were totally worth the wait.

What a shame, I have not discovered Jerry earlier! I have not even heard or seen this book anywhere, despite all the literary awards it had won. If not for Amazon’s sudden recommendation, I would not have come across this book at all. But, better late than never. I am glad to have found it. This was not just a book, it was an experience which will stay with me forever.

Pinto writes this searing autobiographical tale about the havocs his mother’s illness wreaks in his family, and how they struggle to cope with it. He had carried his torch bravely to shed light on the dark areas of his life, in just 235 pages. There are many stories in this story, revolving around EM, the mother.

The story is about ‘mental illness‘, a topic which is still a taboo and looked down upon by our otherwise modern society. It is something we always hear happening to someone else, but never to us or our loved ones. It is something we believe we know about, but we don’t. We only see the superficiality around mental illness. We never tried peeling off the layers and tried to accept it like any other physical ailment. We stigmatized mental illness with guilt, bad omen, black magic, and other superstitious stuff, so much that people feel humiliated to be associated with it.

The story is about a middle class family living in an 1BHK apartment in Mahim, Bombay, who just wishes to function like a normal family. A family who sit down for chats and copious amount of tea anytime of the day. A family who can count on its fingers the number of happy carefree days they had. This story is about a mother, who would seem cool and modern with her puns, open-minded discussion on sex and dating, if she hadn’t frequently wished to die. Whose bipolar condition makes her so unpredictable that one moment she is smoking beedi and chatting with her family, and the next moment she slits her wrists. A mother who was first diagnosed as nervous breakdown, depression, schizophrenic, mania, and finally bipolar.

This is about a sister, who silently gives all her time, effort, and energy to her family. She just keeps doing what is expected of her, without feeling pity or helpless. This is about a father, who is resilient and strong enough to see the love of his life wither away by a mental illness. A father who re-writes all this plans for a secure future, so that he could afford his wife’s medical treatment for years. A father who explains to his young son that mental illness is just like diabetes. This story is about a grandmother who thinks she could find a way to her daughter’s thisthing (mind).

This story is about a guy who likes stories and probe everyone for details. A guy, who listens to his mother’s stories to find out the first sign of nervous breakdown and manic depression. A guy, who is torn between his love for his mother and frustration of dealing with a mental illness patient day in and day out, and often looks for refuge in poetry sessions, movies, and book readings. A guy, who is open about his mother’s illness and yet clenches his fist when someone asks if his mother is mad. A guy who occasionally thinks if his mother is acting and making everything up just to console himself.

Pinto’s debut is a work of love, patience, hope, helplessness, and immense sufferings. You would see it, despite his non-sentimental way of describing such a stomach-clenching subject. His writing is raw, vulnerable, beautiful, evocative, and haunting- all at the same time. The story flows seamlessly throughout the book. You could connect to the characters from the very first page, and you would fall in love with their honestly and vulnerability.

I found myself pausing in between to contemplate how cruel life can be sometimes! I absolutely loved reading it. It is a rare book, and I urge everyone to read it. It is like a story which will make you believe that love is still out there, just getting tested with uncertainties of life. It will make you believe that ‘a normal family’ is a myth; every family has its own struggle, some are just struggling hard.

I appreciate Pinto’s effort in penning down such a difficult phase of his life.

_____________________________________________

Next I will read a book compiled and edited by Jerry Pinto, ‘A book of light‘. It was created to illuminate the darkness about mental illness in the middle class society. It has many stories by different people on how it is like to live with someone with mental illness.

Posted in Books, Uncategorized

How to buy good books?

I have been reading since the age of eleven- twelve. Reading helps me escape the reality and create my own bubble. Bookshops, book fairs, bookshelves, make me go weak on my knees. Needless to say, I have a good collection of books, which is constantly increasing. But, that doesn’t stop me from buying more. And no, I haven’t read all the books that I own. Nobody does that. It’s an universally accepted fact.

Every year I try to read atleast 50 books. That means I must have more than 50 unread books on my tbr list every year. All the books have to be good and interesting, so buying books involve a lot of research and thinking. Many of my friends ask me how do I buy good books. Well, to be honest, it takes years of practice to judge a book or to spot a good book at a first glance. Identifying a good book can be tricky, but I have few well tested tips and tricks which make things easy for me.

How do I buy good books?

1. I stick to timeless authors. Those who are consistent with their literary work. They seldom disappoint me. When I am totally clueless about which book to buy, I decide to buy books by these authors. Because, I love reading them and they are worth my money. Some of my timeless authors are, Haruki Murakami, Khalid Hosseini, Orhan Pamuk, Jhumpa Lahiri, Robin Sharma, Arundhati Roy, Amitabh Ghosh, Ruskin Bond, etc.

2. I read reviews. I take out some time before my book shopping sprees to read book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I generally read 5 reviews per book, to finally decide whether to buy or not. I recently ordered Jerry Pinto’s two books just by reading Amazon reviews. Waiting excitedly for them to arrive!

3. I go to bookstores which have a wide range of collection. The probability of coming across a good book is higher in a good book store than in an average one. So, I always choose my bookstore wisely. I spend a good time exploring the books category wise, discount wise, and author wise. I even read a few pages of the book, before deciding whether I should spend my money on it or not. Sometimes, when the owner of the store is well-read, I get some good recommendation too. Bonus tip- if you show loyalty to one Bookstore, you get awesome discounts. Trust me!

4. I ask well read people about their favourites. There are many good authors out there; who may live in a different country than yours, write in a language than yours, but their words appeal the souls nonetheless. It is impossible to know each one of them. So, I ask well read people about their favourite authors. Many a times, they name authors that I haven’t heard before, they suggest me books I haven’t read or seen before. It’s definitely a great way to explore the literary world. Bonus tip- good authors always have great writers as their favourite. No doubt I came across gems like ‘Man’s search for meaning’, after having a conversation with an IIT Madras Prof.

5. I refer to booklists. Every year Bill Gates, Obama and other famous people like them publish an annual reading list. Online book stores publish their annual bestselling book lists. There are best books of the year lists. Then Man Booker selection lists or Pulitzer’s nomination lists, and lists of the other major literally award winners. These lists are easily available on Google. One can create their own list too. For example, list of banned books, weird books, funny books, books to read in one’s lifetime, etc. This is how I came across book like ‘Reluctant Fundamentalist’. I recently bought one of Bill Bryson’s books because, apparently, he is the funniest travel writer ever.

6. I ask for book recommendation. There are many readers in my circle. They are my instant and never failing go-to source for books. I know people who reads more me and they recommend me a lot of good books. I can rely on them, because they know my likes and dislikes. I have few such people on my speed dial, just in case. One of my oldest reader bff have been asking me to pick up ‘A man called Ove’. And, I can blindly trust it to be a great book.

7. I follow Instagram accounts of fellow bookworms. I passively participate on online forums or Facebook pages for bibliophiles. I stalk bookshelves of other people. I go through Amazon wishlist of my friends. I keep my eyes open to see what random people are reading on the metro, on flights, at cafes. Once I followed a girl inappropriately to find out what she was reading, because the cover was too pretty (don’t try this, it never works. Instead, just ask politely). I mentally note down the books I like and read their reviews online, before buying them. I found ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ through a FB friend.

8. I judge a book by its publisher. Always. A good publisher, in 90% of the cases, publish good books. Most of the time it is safe to pick up new titles or new authors, published by a well known publisher. Some of my favourite publishers are, Knopf, Faber and Faber, Graywolf, Mc Millian, HarperCollins, (and of course) Bloomsbury, etc. I never hesitate to buy their books, even if the author is unfamiliar to me. Promising and upcoming Indian publishers are, Juggernaut, Zubaan, Aleph, Vintage, etc.

9. The most clichéd one. I read blurbs. If it interests me, I read the first page of the book to see the writing style. If both seems satisfying I end up buying the book.

I bought these books at JLF’ 18 after following this cliché tip.

10. I follow my instinct. After years of practice, I am getting better at this. There are titles which catch my attention at a first glance (I called them love at first glance), and most of the time I buy them. Bonus tip- if the cover of the book is standard and not colourful, chances are that it’s a good book. (Most of Murakami’s books). However, if the cover is too dramatic, I refrain from buying them. They seem too loud for my taste.

I end up buying ‘The Art of Discarding’ because its cover was too classy. And, definitely no regrets. And, Manu Joseph’s ‘Illicit Happiness of Other People’ was definitely a love at first sight.

These are the only tips I could think of right now. If you have any more input or tips, do share. Would love to try them out.

Thank you for reading. Now, go buy those damn books!!

A crisp and short version of it appeared in the Assam Tribune’s Horizon. Here is the link.

Posted in Uncategorized

Coffee and thoughts

I have recently realized that I think and write better with a cup of steaming coffee at my side. The stronger the aroma, the faster my thought processes. There are three reasons for this realization. First is, I have always imagined a writer writing something frantically while sipping coffee. To me, a work desk without a coffee mug on it is almost a sacrilege. Second, whenever I decide to write something, I procastinate – let me have my coffee first. Because, what gives a better kick than coffee? The third and the lamest reason, another excuse for more guilt-free caffeine intake.

This makes me wonder what if, this becomes my writing quirk? Like, successful novelist Mark Twain and George Orwell used to write in bed. They claimed to be able to write better in a sleeping position. Virginia Woolf was known to pen down her thoughts whilst in a standing position. The famous bestselling author, Dan Brown, believes that hanging upside down helps him in curing writer’s block. Hemingway used to write only after having a large amount of alcohol. His famous adage is, “write drunk, edit sober”. I was so inspired by Hemingway that I had even told a friend that I want to try it to see if my drunk mind thinks better. Sadly, I haven’t, yet. There was this weird quirk of Victor Hugo, who used to write naked.

No, I am not comparing myself with these above mentioned Gods of literature. I dare not, ever. I am just citing examples of peculiar quirks they have/had. I would be happy if drinking a large amount of coffee becomes my quirk and helps me in writing better and more often. But, my mamma won’t be happy about it. She just doesn’t like the fact that I run on coffee. According to her, the root of every problem in my life is coffee. My occasional grey hair, absentmindedness (did I spell it right?), abnormal sleeping patterns, mood swings, all because of coffee. I fail to understand her logic, and she fails to understand my need.

I should also mention here that it is impossible to write with my mom being in the same room. She would constantly interrupt my deep thoughts with random questions or neighborhood gossip. My ‘I am thinking, mom’ announcements is of no use to her. She just doesn’t understand my writing process. When I stop typing in mid-sentence and stare into the oblivion for ideas or thoughts, she thinks I am depressed and would constantly ask me what happened. People say, when two person love each other deeply even the silence between them is beautiful. Not for mom and me, atleast.

Luckily, I have been successful in finding a common ground now. I write only when mom is not at home or asleep. Mostly when she is asleep. Because, I love writing at night. This can be another quirk! The eerie silence of the night helps me in clearing my mind. I feel I am in my most creative form when everyone else is asleep. It gives me the peace I want, and helps me concentrate. I love writing when it rains. I love writing while travelling too. But, writing at night is the most favorite. I believe one needs a perfect environment for any kind of creative work. It may differ from person to person. I almost have an elaborate imagination of how mine should look like.

I dream of this amazing coast side bungalow, with an open deck hugging it from every side. There is this eerie silence at night except for the occasional tides crashing in. My work station is right in the center of the balcony, facing the sea. I imagine myself walking to the edge of the deck looking for new ideas and thoughts, until I couldn’t get any closer. The place also has its own step down touching the rocky coast, where I would sit for hours in search of inspiration. With a cup of coffee in my hand, of course.

If you are reading this, do tell me about your quirks and dream work (writing) environment.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

100DOR

Just like that my 100 Days of running came to an end. Two and a half months of daily workout was unimaginable for me. But, with dedication, self-discipline, and strong determination I did it. I would not say, I became a better runner. To be frank, I am still far behind to call myself a runner yet. But, I definitely gained a lot of strength and stamina. On the first day of this journey, I could barely walk for an hour, I can now continuously workout for almost two hours. That feels like a pretty good achievement in itself.

What motivated me to keep going?

There were many things that kept me motivated. The most effective of all was the weight that I had lost. It was a wonderful feeling when I would stand in front of a mirror, and I would see a leaner and fitter woman. I still remember that day when I easily wore the jeans which was too tight to button up before. One of my friend had truly said that the best way to check if you have become leaner is to rely on your clothes. They never lie, she had said. So, when my clothes started to feel loose, I knew I was losing weight. It gave me the push I needed to put on more effort in my workout.

What do I do when I don’t feel like going out for a run?

No matter how much motivated you are, there would be days when you would just want to sit back at home and relax. I felt so too, and often. I knew I had to do something about these pangs of demotivation. I did a few things. First thing that is known as social-media-obligation. I started uploading post-workout pictures as my daily WhatsApp status. It kept me in check, and helped me in continuing my exercise routine without missing a day. There were of course days when I couldn’t go out either because of the weather or due to time/place constraint, on days like that, I either exercised indoor or ran on the treadmill. I missed working out for four days during Eid holidays. I was 8 hours away from my hometown, at a friend’s place, and there wasn’t any ground where I could run in. I felt so guilty that as a punishment, I added 8 more days to my 100DOR target.

Second thing that I used to do was to call my closet friends on days when I don’t feel like working out, and they would give me an encouraging pep talk. My mother helped me a lot in this journey. She pushed me harder than anybody else.

Third trick was to put on my workout clothes and shoes, and walk around until I would feel motivated to eventually leave the house. This is something a lot of workout motivation videos on YouTube say, and it is super effective.

The last thing was to watch running videos or fitness channels on YouTube or Instagram just before going to bed. They helped me become a fitness-enthusiast.

One could also try making a workout buddy, who is as determined as you are. One could get bored of the same exercise routine, so I would suggest to mix it up a bit, and try different activities to make it more fun. One could also document their journey in the form of videos or blogs, to keep track of the work in progress.

Is this the end of my fitness journey?

A lot of friends have been asking me about my plans after completing this 100DOR. They want to know if this is the end. They want to know what is going to be my next challenge. And my answer to everyone is- NO. End of this challenge is not the end of my fitness journey. This was just the warm-up. There is a lot more to follow.

Did I control my diet too?

The answer to this one is ‘yes and no’ both. Because, no, I did not deliberately controlled my diet. Yes, because, I worked so hard on the ground that it was almost heart breaking to ruin it with the over-eating or junk food. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, I did not try to eat healthy. It just came naturally.

What did I learn from this challenge?

Nothing is impossible. All you need to do is to control your mind, and be consistent in your work.

Posted in Uncategorized

Right or wrong?

There are two reasons why I am writing this:

1. I am still not sure that the term I used in this context was correct or not. I want you to read this and give me your valuable opinion on it. I want you to correct me if I am wrong.

2. People turn a blind eye to such activity. There could be two highly probable reason for this- no one wants to interfere or lack of awareness about the topic. I am going with the later here, and putting forward the argument that crime happens when you do not pinpoint it for lack of knowledge. That makes the second reason why I am writing, to create awareness.

I have feared that writing about this incident would bring me criticism of reading too much into the incident and over reacting. But, I had to write about this. I let all of you, who reads it, to be the judge and tell me if I am right or wrong in writing about it.

We were a group of 10-12 people at a friend’s birthday party yesterday. There, I called someone a child molester. (That someone was an old school friend, but after yesterday’s episode I am not sure if I can still consider him one.) There were two kids- one boy and a girl, their age not more than 5 years, present in the room. You know how kids are, they come and flock around wherever the adults are. And, it is a common thing for any adult to lovingly strike up a conversation with kids in such scenarios.

Most of us were happily chatting away with each other, when this person (Let’s call him PW) was trying to have a conversation with the little boy. His voice wasn’t stern or anything, he was laughing and holding the boy lovingly by his wrist. The boy was smiling too, but trying to free himself and flee, which is quite normal for kids to do. Although PW was sitting in front of me, it took me some time to realize what he was whispering to the kid. PW was asking him if he has a penis, and to show him if he has one. Before I could interrupt, the kid was successful in freeing himself and ran out of the room. PW started chatting with someone else. But, my mind kept processing what just happened.

After a while, a friend of mine from school came and took the vacant seat in front of me. That’s when I noticed that PW wasn’t in the room. I knew the kids were playing outside, because one could hear thier voices coming from the balcony. My friend’s sitting position was perfect for a clear view of the balcony. So, I asked him if PW was outside? His affirmative response bothered me. I excused myself and went out to check what was going on. PW was still busy convincing the little boy for sneak peek of his penis. When the kid refused, PW teased the boy saying, “you are a girl, you don’t have one”. It is important to clarify here that kid wasn’t refusing verbally. He was refusing through his body language. A classic scenario of being uncomfortable and yet helpless. I should’ve asked PW there and then, but I couldn’t. There were few other people too, and I didn’t want to create a scene of any kind. I came inside- angry and disturbed.

Soon after, someone came in laughing and said out loud that the kid was trying to touch or had touched PW’s genitals. A few people thought it was hilarious. I sat there quietly, observing things and reactions. But, all I could think of was how kids copy us. How they observe adults and imitate their behaviour. I was thinking how easily PW taught that kid that trying to see/touch someone’s genitals is normal and funny. All in good humour, you see.

After that ‘tit-for-tat’ episode, when half of the people had left the room, PW came in and I accused him of being a child molester. A few others were present. I don’t know if they heard anything, because no body said a word. PW brushed aside my remark, with a ‘stop-bullshitting’ look on his face. But, I went on to tell him how his tiny gross behaviour could affect the child. How it could damage a child’s psychology forever. PW didn’t buy any of my reasoning. He didn’t even feel he was wrong. No one else came to my rescue and told him he was not right in his conduct.

By definition child molester is a strong term. It means one who sexually abuses a child, also called child molestation. And, child abuse is an activity which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. There is no exhaustive definition for child sexual abuse. It includes a wide range of activities, all of which can be divided into touching and non touching activities. Touching activities include touching a child’s private parts, asking a child to touch an adult’s private parts, forced intercourse or oral intercourse with a child, encouraging a child to play sexual games. Non-touching activities include showing pornography to a child, intentionally exposing adult’s genitals in front of a child, inappropriately asking a child to undress or expose his/her genitals etc. Sexual abuse/molestation whether intentional or unintentional could cause irreparable damage to a child. It can cause them depression, anxiety, long term psychological trauma, stress, physical injury, mental disturbance, urge to withdraw from school and society, inability to lead a healthy adult life and many more. Abuse can leave imprints in a child’s brain for ever, and shatter them permanently.

I know, PW’s behaviour was not deliberate. He wasn’t seeking any pleasure from it. But, I felt his behaviour had the propensity to be harmful to the kid. Children are delicate. We can never understand what goes into their mind fully. It is one thing to show them your love and affection, and another thing to impose yourself on them unintentionally. Interacting with kids maybe a small thing for the adults. We may not remember the interaction as vividly as a kid would. That’s why we should be cautious. We never know how our words and actions would affect them. We should know that there exists a fine line between interacting with a kid and making them uncomfortable. No kid would tell us we are making them uncomfortable, even if we did. Because, they don’t know how to react in such scenarios. They are kids, it takes them a long time to realize that. But that shouldn’t be the defence for our behaviour. Our actions may cause irreparable damage to a kid, we must understand that and act accordingly. After all, a harm, however unintentional is still a harm.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 90

It is easier to meditate when on a bicycle. It is easier to meditate while running. In fact, it is easier to meditate anywhere, anytime- if you just know how.

I have been juggling between cycling and running from last one week. Running becomes monotonous after few days, if you keep running on the same track again and again. So, when I got the opportunity to bring in a different form of workout in my routine, I embraced it whole-heartedly. It was 8pm when I was heading to the grounds for my run after a meeting, when my friend offered me his bike. I beamed with happiness holding the handles. The prospect of roaming around my hometown aimlessly was delightful.

I cycled for around one hour that night. I went to all those places which I otherwise avoid to explore on foot. The weather was damp, and the probability of a light drizzle was looming in the air. The roads were deserted. There was this silence all around, a comfortable one- like when you are home alone but not scared. As I was roaming around the residential area, something warm memories engulfed me, and took me to those teenaged carefree days, when me and my friends used to cycle around cheering and laughing.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 70- what running taught me?

More than two months ago, I took this resolution of 100 Days of running.

Last 70 days were amazing. I never thought a resolution as tiny as running could change me and my life in such tremendous way. I didn’t know running could be my savior on bad days. That I would fall in love with it completely.

Of many things that running taught me, the ones written below are my favorites:

1. Beginners: We all were beginner once at things at which we excel now. In fact, each one of us are/were beginner somewhere. And, to excel we must repeatedly keep moving forward. Everything looks challenging at the beginning, but as we go on learning, things start to look easy and enjoyable.

2. No shortcuts: There is no shortcut to success. In fact, there is no shortcut to any goals. To get full result, we should give our full effort. Working on self is a long process. One needs to be patient for that. One cannot expect a great result, with minimum work done. Nothing works that way.

3. Convince the brain: Whoever had first said, “It’s all in the brain”, had summed up life’s greatest lesson. Our brain tricks us in believing that we can’t do challenging things. Every negative, discouraging thoughts are born in the brain. If we keep listening to it, we can never succeed. So, instead of being tricked by our brain, we should trick our brain into believing that we can. Because, when our brain says ‘yes’, our body says ‘yes’.

4. All adds up- good and bad and the worst: No one can be a consistent performer. But, anyone could be a persistent performer. It’s not necessary that we would do the same amount of work everyday. Sometimes, we outdo ourselves. Sometimes, we under do ourselves. We shouldn’t get dishearten by the bad days. Because, good days, bad days, and the worst days together make the journey worth cherishing. It’s all adds up at the end.

5. You respect it, people respect it: This one is as simple as it reads. If we respect what we are doing, others will respect it too. If we respect our goals enough, we would do everything to accomplish it. When we respect our goals or work, others will too. No one would ever tell us that our goal is too insignificant or too big to achieve. People will trust our hard work and resolution, and will have faith in us that we can complete it. No one would ever try to talk us out of it.

And the last one is, there is nothing that we can’t do. It’s just a matter of putting our heart into it.

Posted in Books, Uncategorized

TBR stories

Book 1: I knew Stephen King since I was a kid. I knew that his writings are a legacy for American Literature. But, I haven’t read any of his books. Horror is not my genre, you see. It scares the shit out of me. I stay away from horror movies too, I can’t constantly keep looking over my shoulder. I don’t want to feed my over imaginative mind the seeds of this genre. So, I never tried to lay my hands on any of King’s work.

One day, while I was looking for writing motivation online, I came across a short writing advice from Ogilvy. Then, one blog lead to another another and I stumbled upon King’s famous writing advices. That’s when I came to know about this famous title. Over the years, I read many snippets from this book on various articles and blogs. Everyone claims this title to be the best advice one could ever find on writing. Ever since then I wanted to read it. I knew if I ever decide to write my first book, inspiration has to come from King’s ‘On writing’. I never went running after it though, I wanted it to come to me at the right time. At a book launch event, last year, I heard the author saying how this title motivated her to actually start writing her first book. This incident rekindled my desire. But, I still choose to not buy it myself. I wanted the involvement of some cosmic power. I wanted some sign. I wanted this book to come to me on its own.

Two weeks ago, I found this book at my friend’s place. Out of excitement, I asked her if I can borrow it. She couldn’t let me, because she is doing her doctoral research on King and often needs to refer to this title. Also, she stays 7-8 hours away. So borrowing it for a day or two was not practical. My fiancé was in US at that time, and we were not talking because of the horrific time difference. That’s why I couldn’t share my excitement on encountering the title that I was waiting for, for years.

Two days later, he had went to Barnes and Nobles. He was asking me to give him a list of authors that I want to read, but I was too lazy to give him that. So, he called me to ask what I need from B&N, I didn’t answer. I was having dinner, and I wasn’t expecting him to call at that time. His schedule at NY was tight, he knew he wouldn’t be visiting the store again. So, he went ahead and bought this King’s title. I totally consider this as a sign. And, this doesn’t ends here. To make it more cosmic, he went ahead and wrote a note too. I can’t wait to start reading it now.

Book 2: There are few books/authors that are so special that you just can’t buy them online. You need to see it and buy it there and then. There should be some kind of romance in that first meeting. Like caressing the cover very delicately, holding the book closer and sniffing it’s crispy pages. Books like this should be bumped into unexpectedly someday, and your eyes should light up at the encounter. Just buying them online and waiting for ages for them to come seems disrespectful. I only imagine such books waiting; at a swanky bookstore or under a haphazard pile of books in a second-hand shop, or at a friend’s personal library, to be asked out in the most classiest way one could think of. Plath is one such. But unfortunately, I never saw Plath in any bookstores ever. Not even in book fairs. And, if you do see her at your friend’s bookshelf, chances are that there might be a line of people waiting for that book already. Maybe that’s why I blurted out her name when my fiancé asked me what he should get me from the Strand (I had no idea that Strand is world famous) Bookstore, NY. I just couldn’t think of anybody else. Plath seemed like the perfect contender.

Book 3: In January 2016, I came across Hal Elrod on YouTube. After listening to one of his intriguing speech, and learning about his life struggle, I started looking for this bestseller. Those days I had trouble getting up early in the morning. Even now I do, but the situation was worst then. And for me, verbal gyan doesn’t work as much as books do. So, I felt this book would solve my problem. I felt this was the miracle I was waiting for, so much that I started hunting for this book crazily. It wasn’t available online, so I called up all the bookstores in the city to find out if they have a copy. I didn’t find it anywhere. I even called up few of the Crossword outlets outside Delhi. They didn’t have it either. Although, they did say they could arrange it, but it could take a month or so. I declined the offer. Because as stupid as it may sound, I have a policy when it comes to books- “If you are having a hard time finding a book, then don’t run after it. Wait. It will come to you at the right time“. So, I stopped looking for it and waited. I had this weird feeling that I won’t find it in India, and will eventually buy it from the US of A only, and that’s what happened. It got thoughtfully picked up for me from the Amazon store, NY. And, the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate. Since, I am seriously considering of joining the 5am club soon. I hope this book helps me in strengthening my resolution.

Every TBR has a story. Don’t you agree?

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Day 45

I haven’t written much on my 100DOR for the last one month. Today, when I have finally decided to continue writing, I thought of giving a honourary mention of ‘Day 45’, as it was super special for me.

People say, that running changes life. It changed mine too, and when I was just half way through it. At the start of this journey, I was of course expecting something good to happen at the end of it. But what happened was more than I could have ever asked for. Day 45 changed my life in a beautiful way.

I went for a morning run that day. I was nervous, worried, and excited for what was to follow. I stayed at the ground for almost two hours- trying to calm all the jitters in my body. Generally, running keeps all my worries on hold. But, it couldn’t do so that morning. I was all worked up.

Fortunately, everything went smoothly, and by the sunset I was engaged! And I looked a lot prettier than I did during my run. Thank God!

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Shall we dance?

I can’t dance. I am the girl who would always stand away from the dance group at a party. During my friends’ birthday parties, when my whole girl gang would move and groove to the music, I would stand in a corner sipping cold drinks.

People on the dance floor always makes me jealous. Their effortless and synchronized body movements look magical to me. Something that I clearly don’t possess. Growing up, I harboured this secret desire of dancing in public flawlessly. I did take part in many dance competitions in school, but I was never satisfied. I knew I lacked the dancing gene. But still I insisted on continuing.

The worst is I didn’t know (I still don’t) how to dance Bihu. A dance that I grew up loving. A dance that makes me tap my feet. A dance that every axomiya knows. Yet, dancing to the dhul and pepa seemed like a daunting task. I once mustered all my courage to perform at a local program. I was bad. So bad that people laughed, and I decided not to get up on stage again to dance Bihu. Later in college, when I would see my friends getting ready in Muga mekhela for Bihu performances, something in me always cried for not knowing the dance.

Once during a dance audition in school, my teacher asked me if I am really Parash ‘s sister, because he is such a good dancer, choreographer and what not! It was very embarrassing. It was the last nail in the coffin which destroyed all my hopes of dancing in public again. When the embarrassment went away, the incident became one of my favourite because it taught me to laugh at my own shortcomings. Very few can teach you that.

As I grew up, I learned that not everyone can do everything. And that’s perfectly okay. Maybe I am not good (not even average) in dancing, but there are many other things that I am good at and can be good at. It took me years, but a few years ago, I finally accepted confidently that it’s okay to be bad at a few things. And I needn’t be ashamed of it.

So this Bihu, I decided to re-learn a few moves. I decided to dance in whatever way I can. I decided to dance for myself. I decided to dance for the little girl in me, who all her life resisted dancing Bihu in public for fear of judgements.

And, I did. I danced today with the Husori team in the locality. I danced bad. But, I danced happily to the sound of dhul, pepa, and taal. For the first time in my life, I didn’t care about anyone’s opinion on my dancing skills. For the first time, not embarrassed at all by my dance moves.

That’s me after the dance. My happiness says it all.

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Day 38

This was Day 38. My body has well adjusted to my workout regime. My pains have gone. My sore and tight muscles have gone. Even my feet uneasiness have disappeared. I now feel light and quick on my feet. The distance which earlier seemed threatening now looks doable with minimum effort. I have now completed shifted to running. I can now run fast and for longer. I get immense satisfaction from the workout these days.

Working on one’s body is a continuing process, just like eating. You just can’t overfeed yourself for one year and try to sustain without food for the rest of your life. Similar is working out or exercises. You must start and you must never stop. When I had just started running, many people would come to me and tell me that I mustn’t stop. I can’t figure out why they thought I would stop? No one can stop once you get the taste of working out. Once you get the benefit you are getting for grinding yourself an hour daily, you won’t stop.

I am glad it has become a habit for me. I just cannot imagine my day without it. A slight delay in my running routine makes me restless now. It’s given me a new and better way of life, and I have embraced it with open arms. Wish I had started earlier! 🙂

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Day 35 and why our reason matters?

In last 7 years, slowly and gradually I started putting weight. From a lanky teenager, I became all curves and fat. Sexy prominent jaw line became double chin. One kg here, one kg there, and without even realizing I reached that point where it was hard for people to imagine that I was ever slim.

First of all, I was in denial. I was too confident that my body would lose the extra fats as naturally it gained them. I was wrong. So, when I realized that, I started exercising. The reason for me to start is to lose weight. And nothing more than that. I wanted to lose weight for a friend’s wedding, to fit in my birthday dress, for that dream vacation, for that perfect date, and so on. I was willing to put in my minimum effort, but I wanted results too quickly. My reasons were always short term.. In such short duration, it was not possible for me to reach my ideal weight. Thus, I would get demotivated when nothing works. And, I would give up trying.

In March this year, when I took my father for an annual routine body checkup, I checked mine too. When all my reports came normal and good, I felt eternally grateful for my body and health. That’s when it striked me that I should start working on my health (and not on my weight) more. After I came back, I decided to do this 100 Days Running Resolution (100DOR). Without any gaps in between and without any excuses. It’s been more than a month, I am still going strong.

Now I know, why all these years I never felt motivated to do any type of physical exercise. Because, my reasons were all wrong. My reasons demotivated me, so I couldn’t continue. There was no joy in continuing. There are not a bigger goal in view.

That’s why, this time brought in a bigger picture, a bigger goal, a bigger motive. I decided to feel great about my workout. First of all, I set a time, long enough to achieve what I want to achieve. Because, all good things take time. Second, I decided to do something that would make this running a habit instead of ‘once in a year’ thing.

Today was my 35th Day.

#65DaystoGo 😀 and so many people are inspiring me to go on. So many have come out and confessed that I inspire them. It is really making my journey more exciting.

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Day 33

I always had this assumption that losing weight is easy. I never sincerely tried losing my extra kilos before. So, I had absolutely no idea as to what one needs to do to lose weight.
I had this notion that one needs to work their ass off. Something, that I have been doing from the last one month. Maybe, that’s why I was all disappointed when I checked my weight yesterday. The scale showed 5 kilos less. While my sister was elated, I was going, “5 kilos? Only? After all 32 days of hard work?”.

I shared this news with a few fitness freak friends of mine, and to my utter surprise, they congratulated me. One of my friend even asked me if I am starving myself to death? I said I am not. In fact, I feel hungry every few hours and feed myself well when I do. He said that 5 kilos is a good achievement then. Their responses made me very happy and motivated.

Today, I worked harder. I didn’t let my brain make any excuses. I pushed my body to the edge and was surprised to see how it adjusted itself. I have a new goal now- to be able to run continuously for 5kms. I am super positive that I can achieve this by my 80th Day. I now can run 2.4 km with only few stops in between. So, 5 km looks very doable to me.

April was easy. May looks challenging, because summer is here. And, I have tons of other works in May. I may have to juggle a lot of things to make room for my running. A few journeys is also on the cards. I have even started googling for good grounds in those places to run. Come what may, I am not quitting. I want to see what happens if I don’t quit.

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Day 32

Some days, I will feel motivated. Some days I have to drag my feet. The days when I am jam packed with plans, my brain tries to trick me to miss your workout is more. It requires an extra effort to design your day in such a way that you are able to make time for your priority. These days running has become my priority.

Today was a long and hectic day. From 8am to 3pm I had the last session of the Art of Living Program that I was attending. And later in the evening I had a movie plan with my sister. We would have to leave for Tinsukia at 3.30 pm, for the 5.40 show. I knew we wouldn’t get free before 8pm. So, my Sunday was already booked from 8 to 8.

I was really worried thinking about my run amidst all these plannings. Night run was not possible, because I didn’t know any good ground or stadium in Tinsukia. Also, it was highly possible that I would be tired by night. And, I didn’t want to carry all my running stuffs to Tinsukia. The only option I had was to go for an early morning run, so that I come back by 7am. That would give me an hour to get ready and have my breakfast before the AOL class.

Now getting up at 5.30am is not a cake walk, especially for someone who generally sleeps at 1-2am. I knew I couldn’t afford to not wake up. I didn’t want to miss running. So, I ate early and slept around 11pm the night before, to get the required 6 hours of sleep. Which, I know, is a pre-requisite for a good workout. I am proud that I woke up at 5.30am, that too even before my alarm rang, and was able to pull my running.

Today, it was easier for me to make an excuse and not go. But, I refrained myself. I know I wouldn’t be able to handle the guilt of not going. This running, which I started as a challenge, has now become a commitment to my body. From which I cannot return. Correction: I do not want to return.

I clicked this after an hour of workout.

This was while returning home.

I clicked this to remind myself- that mornings are beautiful and I should wake up at 5.30 am often.

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Day 31

Thank God for enthusiastic kids who listen to anything you say. There is this kid in my neighborhood, who has just taken his class X exam. I came to know that every morning 6 to 8 he plays football in the stadium. So yesterday, I fleetingly mentioned that I would love to go with him. I asked him to wake me up before he goes. Today morning at 6am, he was there at my door. I was very sleepy, but didn’t have the heart to dampen his spirit.

The kid told me that he needs to wake up one of his friends who stays closer to the stadium. He said they are going to play football together. This reminded me of my childhood, when I had a close gang of friends. We used to be excited about morning walk or cycling. One of us would take the responsibility of waking the whole gang up early morning, and then we would all set out on our little cycles. While our parents slept peacefully, we were outside in search of adventures. I had this believe that we need to be on the roads for new adventures. Aah, such good times!

This is me after my one hour running. Do you see some change in my body? I see. I find myself very tall and handsome in this one. I am so excited that my legs are getting lean. I used to love my lean and strong legs.

The next 30 days, along with my regular running, I am planning to add 40 minutes of yoga and pranayam. I am also focusing on controlling my diet and completely avoiding sugar. And, I have started to drink lots and lots of water.

Let’s see if I can keep up with all of these goals. Will keep you updated. Till then, work on that ass you always wanted.

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Day 30- one month anniversary!

I snoozed the alarm twice. I clearly had no intention of getting up at 6 either and go running. “I can always go at night”, I told myself, “let’s just sleep now”. I pressed the ‘snooze’ again and slept some more.

When mom came to wake me up at 7. 30am, I told her, “It’s anyways too late, the sun would come up anytime now”. I turned the pillow upside down, and put my cheeks on the cooler side. Before closing my eyes, I decided to check my phone for any new notifications. There is a new message from my aunt, “OMG, you have lost weight!”. Something that my ears were literally dying to hear. I read the message a few times. It made me so happy and excited that I decided to screw my sleep and grab my running shoes and hit the road.

I jumped out of my bed, and rushed to the balcony to analysis the weather condition first. My years of experience and best judgement told me that it’s a cloudy morning and wouldn’t be too hot until 10-11 am.

And, I was correct. I got a perfect blend of warm and cool weather to run in. At one moment I even thought it’s going to rain. But, Thank God it didn’t. I had an amazing time.

This is me after my running. Sparkling with all the sweat (read diamonds) on my face!

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Day 29!

My first morning run in the last 29 days, and I see hope in myself.

In the month of February, every night before going to bed, me and my sister would decide to wake up early the next day and go for run. And every morning we would laugh at our audacity to make such a plan.

Waking up early when I do not have an important purpose (like a job or a schedule flight), is almost impossible for me. I am not a morning person. So when I set the alarm yesterday night, to wake up early to go running, no one in my family gave any reaction. Because they are used to it. When the alarm rang in the morning, my sister looked at me with an amusing smile on her face and asked, “So, are you going?”.

Only when I got dressed and stepped out of the house did she believe that is was actually happening. When I started walking towards the stadium, I believed that I am going to do it. And, when I returned after an hour with sweat dripping from my whole face, my mom accepted that I did it.

Thanks to my Art of Living classes, that is taking up most of my evenings. It is only because of it that I am compelled to go in the morning. It is because of it that in the battle field of my mind, exercise won over sleep. And, I got the after taste of a morning workout.

I really see a hope in myself.

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Day 28

The morning run didn’t happen. My alarm did wake me up at dot 5 am, but I was in such a sweet slumber, cocooned with heavy warm blankets, that I pressed snooze and slept again. God knows, how I used to commute to work in Delhi. I am really not a morning person. I have not lost my hopes though, one of these days I am going to do it.

The whole day I was fretting over my running schedule. Finally, I decided to go at 3pm, when sun was at its hottest. I agree, it wasn’t the best decision. But, I didn’t have any other option. Mom clearly told me she won’t allow me to go alone at night. And, I don’t expect anyone to accompany me. So, I went in the afternoon.

My sleepy hometown sleeps a little more in the afternoon. You wouldn’t find anyone other than the kids- rushing to tuition classes, or dance classes, or to the tennis court. The hotness does n’t seem to bother them. Nor do they worry about getting a tan or headache. I wish I was more like them!

I thought there would be no one in the stadium at this time, and I would do some quick 30 minutes running and go back. But, I was wrong. There were kids playing football and cricket. As I stepped on the ground, I felt their eyes on me, this grown up woman in her full running gear in this damn hot weather, with amusement. And I almost assume them scream- you don’t belong here.

I avoided looking anyone in the eye, and started my warm up routine. And after a few minutes, when I slowly started running, I was cautious. I thought everyone is looking at how well I run. I started sweating and was out of my breath soon. I had to stop umpteen times to wipe sweat off my glasses and forehead. And, my knees were making things worse. After a few minutes, I was cupping the right knee with my hand like an old man. I was so jealous looking at those kids playfully running around the field without a tinge of tiredness. Somehow, I ran for a few minutes and managed to get out of the field without any major embarrassment.

I didn’t give my best today. But, I have tomorrow for all the improvements. And this important knowledge, will let me sleep peacefully tonight.

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Day 27

When I was in class IX, I did this Art of Living programme in Duliajan. I didn’t know then what’s AOL is all about. It just came from word of mouth from a friend of my father’s, and he insisted that I try. I learned a lot of valuable things from that first session. I loved it so much that I did another programme when I was in class XI. I religiously used to meditate and do pranayams till class XII. But, when I moved to Delhi for higher studies, I couldn’t continue my meditations. I got so busy with classes, friends, new adventures that I completely lost touch with AOL.

A couple of years back when the thought of reconnecting with AOL occurred to me, I started looking for available programmes in Delhi. But, something or other kept happening and I kept procastinating. And thus, more than a decade just passed without me doing anything about it.

So, the first thing I did after coming back home was to call up those people who are still connected with AOL. There is this brother of mine who knows about my inclination towards spirituality. He encourages me all the time to meditate. He thinks by meditating I can unleash more of my hidden potential. So, when he came to my place two weeks ago and told me about an upcoming programme I got really perked up.

I wanted to enroll, but was very dicey about it, because the programme’s timing is 4.30-7.30 pm, which might extend to 8pm. That would mean I wouldn’t get time to go for my run in the evening. And, I would of course not compromise on my run. But, on the other hand, I really didn’t want to miss this opportunity. It’s not every day that a programme like this gets organised in my hometown. After much debate and discussion in my mind, I eventually decided to join it with a promise to self, that no matter what I wouldn’t miss my runs.

Today was the first day of the programme. It’s a 6 days programme. I met people from different age group. We all were there for different reasons. Some came to learn AOL to get rid of medical ailments. Some came looking for a cure to their depression. Some came to find happiness and peace. And for me, I went there to have another life changing experience. They conducted a wonderful session. We exercised, talked, learned meditation, played games, and laughed a lot. The programme got over at 8.30pm.

I was really upset thinking that I might miss my run today, because it was seriously too late to go out for run. But, I didn’t think much. I came back home, changed into my running wear, and was out on the road by 8.50 pm. The roads were deserted. There weren’t many people too. I just saw a few shopkeepers, who were closing their shops. But, there is nothing to be scared of as such, no matter what my mom says. So, I decided to do two quick laps around the Zaloni Club and come back home in 30 minutes.

I am grateful that mom understands my obsession with this 100 Days Running Resolution. And she allowed me to venture out at 8.50 pm. But, she may not allow it every day. So, from tomorrow, for the next 5 days, I plan to go in the morning. Let’s see how that turns out.

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Day 25

I am so so thrilled that I already covered the first quarter of this journey. I am glad that my 25th day happened on the same day as 2018 London Marathon, one of world’s premier marathon. I couldn’t have asked for a better coincidence!

When I had just began this journey, I thought 25 days is a lot. I thought I would quit within a week. But, I didn’t. In fact, the thought of quitting seems absurd now. Making time for my run feels like the most easiest task in this world. I have really fallen in love with it.

There are moments when I become so lost in my run that the world around me cease to exist. All I hear is the sound of my breath. All I feel, is the magical way in which my feet take one quick step after another, making my run effortless. At such time I feel I am floating in the air. I have started calling this experience as ‘in the zone run’, where I forget about every single thing on this earth and concentrate on just moving forward. I love how my heart beats fast and loud after every ‘in the zone run’. I haven’t been this aware of my heart before. I cannot help but keep my hand over it and feel it thumping. I find this spontaneous gesture of my hand very sacred. It’s the only time I interact with my heart, and we share a mutual feeling of gratitude.

I had never thought that running would help me in practicing mindfulness so beautifully. It helps me to be aware of my entire being. It helps me to be in the present moment. It helps me in clearing my mind. It helps me in getting rid of all the toxics from my body. It helps me to become a better version of myself.

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Day Twenty-two

I am grateful to those people who have shared their workout journey with me, someway or the other. Even though, I wasn’t instantly inspired, and didn’t jump on the bandwagon with them, but their stories helped me imagine mine. I thought if they can, why can’t I. And, that’s the beginning point of my journey. So, I am grateful to all those who motivated me to begin my story.

These days I am working out together with a friend. He is helping me a lot with my after run exercises. Today, he made me do push ups. And, I realized soon that I cannot do push ups. That’s a new revelation for me. I couldn’t believe that an exercise which looks so easy on the outside could actually be so tough. After a few failed and funny attempts, I decided to learn it through YouTube videos as soon as I reach home today.

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Day 21

Annnnddd, that’s how you successfully complete three weeks of running.

When I started, one week seemed like a long time. One month felt like an unmountable work. 100 days felt like forever. And here I stand today- tall, proud, happy, and much lighter- on the threshold of 3 successful weeks. Three damn weeks completed. Three fucking weeks. I would have to say it over and over again to let it sink in.

These three weeks have made me a totally different person. A person I admire, respect, and once dreamt of becoming. Something which I started only as a way to test my self determination have become something I have fallen in love with. When I am on my heels, I feel I am running towards my goal. I feel I am running over all my problems and worries. I feel like like a bird, running above everything I ever was; and the feeling is so liberating.

But it’s not as rosy as you may think. The journey hasn’t been easy. There were times I would go out of breath. My knees would pain like hell. My legs would give up. My brain would constantly yell- ‘You are tired, you can’t do it’. The struggle is to overcome all of these coming together. To beat all these problems and move ahead. It’s true what they say about running being a metaphor of life.

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Day 20

Those who knows me know how scared I am of street dogs. I feel every dog I see would come chasing me. On my way to the Helipad today, near the Tiny Tots school, I ran past these three kids. As I crossed them, I saw three dogs coming from the opposite direction at a great speed. I stopped running, turned back, and asked the kids where they were going. When one of them pointed a finger straight, I took a sigh of relief and asked them if they would walk with me. I told them I am scared of dogs. They laughed at first, but agreed to help me.

One of them, very excitedly told me that my track jacket is of the same brand that he has. I asked him what does he play.

The youngest one answered, “Volleyball”.

I turned to him, “Do you play too?”.

“I used to, but not anymore”, he said.

“Why not?”, I asked.

“I don’t have time”, he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Why?”

“I have a lot to study every day”.

“Everyone studies. But, one needs to play too”, I told him.

“I want to study hard to become a great man”, he reasoned with me.

The one who was mute till now, spoke up, “Studies will sharpen your brain. But, sports will make your body stronger”. “Hai na Di…”. Unsure of how to address me, he added meekly, “Aunty?”.

“Khelo bhi, padho bhi. Dono ko sath sath balance karna padega”, is all I could say.

When we parted ways, they mumbled at unison something like, ‘Bye aun…Di”.

I am still thinking about our conversation. Why people in our society think only studies are important? There are values one should learn along with the school work. Values like team work, discipline, sports spirit, fair play. Values that one learn on the field when they play. At such an young age, kids shouldn’t be pressurised to become a great man. Shouldn’t be deprived of sports and games. Education is important, but it shouldn’t end up robbing one’s childhood.

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Day 19 and I acted like a complete maniac.

At around 11am, my relatives made an impromptu plan to go to Tinsukia in the evening for shopping. I wanted to go, but knew that they would be stuck there till dinner time. Because, generally when we go to Tinsukia, we don’t give up on the rare opportunity of eating out. So, I knew if I go, I would miss on my Day 19 running. And, that was something completely undesirable.

I peeped outside to check on the weather. It was a bright sunny day and hitting the ground at this time looked really silly. But when I told my mom, she asked me to go in the afternoon, very casually like it’s not a big deal. I gave her my usual ‘Are you kidding look?’. But she was serious. So, I considered the idea for few minutes.

I knew I would look like a maniac running around in the scorching heat. Nobody does that. Not in my hometown. Here, an afternoon nap is a must, and girls don’t step out in the sun to protect their fair skins. And I was thinking of doing the unimaginable. But when mom said, “Go even if you so look like a maniac. You have goals to achieve”, I got encouraged.

Perks of running in the afternoon? I got the ground all to myself and I ran like a maniac.

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Day 18

I want to remember Day 18 as the day when I went for my run without even removing my makeup. And this photo stands testimony to it.

Biggest achievement is not those sweat gleaming on my face, but it’s the lipstick. I did not lick it off. Yayy!

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Day 17 and my cravings for a good massage

I planned to go for my run around 4.30-5pm. And at 2pm in the afternoon, I started watching this movie on Netflix and I don’t know when I slept off. The weather is to be blamed for this. Anybody would fall asleep if it rains the entire day. My mother thought I am not going for my run today (I’ll have to explain her the 100 Days Resolution again), so she didn’t wake me up. It was 5.30pm when I woke up. Peha was at my door. I had promised earlier to go to their place in the evening. And since it was raining, he came to pick me up. I was in a dilemma. I didn’t want to miss my run. I wanted to go to their place. I didn’t know what to do. It would’ve been rude to not go with him. So, I convinced him to follow me in the car while I run the whole way.

(Someone called me Superman today.)

Peha tried to persuade me saying it might rain again, and I could skip it today. Or I could run on the treadmill at his place and so on. My mom tried to convince me too. But, I know how different it is to run in an open area and on treadmills. I told him that it’s important that I go for my run. It’s important that I don’t miss. Finally, he got the point. He saw that nothing is going to change my mind. So he agreed. I gave a head start and he followed me in the car. In about 40-45 minutes, I covered the entire distance.

This taught me that if you remain true to your goals, everyone supports you. Everyone adjusts as per your requirement. If you show enough determination, the Universe will move people, events, time, to make things work in your favor.

I am happy that I managed to squeeze the run in my routine today. Even though I was struggling to stand up properly after the run. I am still walking with a slight limp. I have this excruciating pain in my knees. My legs are paining as I write this. I feel this weird stiffness in my calves and rigidity in the bones. So much, that I can’t even stretch them properly. I am tossing and turning in bed in the hope of respite. I badly need a massage. I wish I was in a massage parlour right now. How amazing it would have been!

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Day 16- photo journey

The weather was lovely yesterday. So, I took a route longer than my usual one.

Duliajan boasts of such clean and green environment. It’s a pleasure to walk around. I wish the younger generation understood this and leave their bikes at home.

After leaving in metros for almost a decade, you wish for a quieter place like this to return to. I wonder sometimes, why did I stay away for so long? Why it took me 9 years to return?

This is the Helipad. When I was a kid, I sometimes saw helicopters standing here. I don’t know who flew them. But, I remember excitedly sticking my head out of the car window to see the helicopters everytime we pass through this area. There are no helicopters now. People just come here for workout.

You see those kids in the distance? They were practicing for a dance performance. I am glad they are learning to make such good use of public space. It reminded me of an afternoon spent loitering around at Nishat Bagh in Kashmir. Where a huge group of young boys were singing and playing musical instruments. It was a delight to hear them. And here, seeing these kids dancing made me smile.

How could anyone not run here?

“I really regret that run”, said no one ever.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 15

I was doubtful when I started this 100 Days Running Resolution. I thought I would quit after week 1. But, look at me, I crossed the ‘2 weeks +’mark today. I have successfully completed 15% (as a mathematician pointed out) of my target. Yayy, to that!

I realized that I enjoy going for my runs alone. I feel like it’s a sacred time. A time, which I should solely dedicate to myself. It is not just an exercise, it’s a way of feeding my soul. I just don’t run, I do a lot of other things.

I run at my own pace. I am not running to win any competition. I am not running only to lose weight. I run for the sake of running. I run to understand why it’s a favorite thing of so many people out there. I run to calm myself. I run to clear my tought process. I run because I can. And, I will run because I have fallen in love with running.

However, I am not setting unrealistic goals for myself. My target is to run for 100 Days without any gap, and to learn the basics of running. To perfect the basic techniques. Once I do that, I plan to work in my speed and core areas. I don’t have any trainer, I am just learning from YouTube and my workout enthusiast friends. As long as I improve 1% daily, I am satisfied.

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Day 14- the most adventurous one till date.

I defeated the rain today. I showed it that it’s not stronger than my dedication. I have never been this satisfied before.

Fourteen days ago, I would have stayed in my bed on a rainy evening. And would have fallen asleep at the first sight of lightening. But today, today I went out for my run. I cannot believe it. Somebody pinch me!

I came back from Tinsukia around 6pm, and by 6.40 I was lacing my shoes. Standing in the balcony, my mom was warned me that it’s about to rain. I noticed that it was windy outside and there were not any star in sight. Still I didn’t pay her any attention, because I knew if I lingered on a bit, she would stop me from going out.

I was on my way to the Helipad when there was a power cut in the entire residential area. Even the street lights stopped working. There was total blackout except for the lightening. I stand rooted to my feet thinking if I should continue or not. When I heard the clouds roaring, I reminded myself, “Garajne wale badal baraste nahi”, and continued moving forward. I, somehow, was convinced that before it starts to rain I will be back home.

How wrong I was! It started raining soon after, leaving no option for me but to run in the rain. I thought it would stop after a few minutes of shower, but it didn’t. I found myself literally running against the rain. I couldn’t see anything, because the raindrops were blinding me. The wind was blowing hard. And, all I could hear was the thunder. It felt like I am on an exciting adventure. I imagined I was running a marathon, and people were cheering for me. Oh, what an experience it was!

By the time I finished for the day, I was drenched. Water was dripping from my hair. My face was stone cold. Only the heart felt warm.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 13

The weather is very cloudy these days. The rain visits us at its own whims and fancy. The fields and roads become muddy and slippery. That’s why, from the last 2-3 days, I am running before sunset. Another reason to go for an evening run is the photo, which comes out brilliantly in natural light. Someday for this sole reason, I am gonna start running early morning.

Everything has it’s own ups and downs. I don’t run satisfactorily everyday. Sometimes, I do good. Sometimes, I feel I could do better. There are also times when my feet hurt so much, that I have to sit down on the ground to nurse them. This 100 Days running resolution is a lot like life. If you worry too much about the downs, you won’t enjoy your run. And, if you think you can’t do better than your ‘satisfactory run’, you won’t push yourself to give your best.

Did I tell you that I am in love with my after run glow? I have never in my life loved sweat so much as I do now. I feel it’s my body’s way of saying- ‘Thank you’.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 12

I am so excited thinking that in two more days, I will be completing two weeks. Wow, who would have thought that I could pull it? I am happy that I am going more stronger each day.

Day 12 was fantastic in every way. Dad dropped me off till Zaloni Club, where I waited for Nimi for a few minutes. When I learned that she’s running late, I decided to go to her place because the Helipad is closer to where she lives. I slow jogged to her house, and noticed that I didn’t even break a sweat. When during my initial days, 10 minutes brisk walk would make me all tired and sweaty.

Together we headed to our designated place and decided to run for about 40 minutes. I ran a bit effortlessly today. I wasn’t too exhausted, and slowing down in between really helped me regain by breath. I was able to use the running tactics I learned from YouTube. I felt that my stamina is improving. I could now run a bit longer than I used to. I am yet to learn a lot of things, and I have no plan of stopping until I do.

I am really glad that Nimi decided to join me. It’s wonderful to have a friend by your side on your most important journey. I am sure that we would both reap the benefit of this hard work that we are putting in. Looking back to this time a few years from now, would be really nostalgic.

I bumped into a lot of familiar faces (Avinash, Satyajit, Jahnu, and Arindam) today. That’s the perk of living in a small town. And, that’s also a perk of being on your feet instead of your vehicle. It was really nice stopping for a few minutes and catching up like old times, you get to actually see the enthusiasm the other person shows on seeing you.

Day 12 was overall a good experience. Can’t believe I am so close to making it two full weeks.

P.S. I absolutely love to say ‘yes’, when people ask me if I am on some fitness goal.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 11- The new me

Eleven days ago, I had no idea that this girl existed. I have never seen her in my entire life. I don’t know where she was hiding all these years.

Do you know this girl? She is showing such unimaginable determination from the last 11 days. Something which was on her ‘to-do’ list for the longest time, is finally a routine thing. She hasn’t skipped once since she started. No excuses, no procastinations. In fact, all she does after she wakes up revolve around running. She reads about running, watches videos about running, and think about running.

She was not always like this. She dreaded working out and would only procastinate doing anything that was beneficial for the body. Most of the time she only dreamt of working out, hitting the gym or whatever that she saw those Instagram models do. She would only scroll down the Facebook newsfeed which was full of blogs on healthy diet, ideal lifestyle, quickly losing weight, and millions others, with absolutely no intention of following it. She only imagined herself running- with those sexy sports wear clad to her lean and strong body. She imagined herself running for miles effortlessly, without doing anything to turn it into a reality.

Things have changed now. It’s been eleven days. She started running and discovering a whole new world since. She runs for one hour daily, and it has started becoming the highlight of her day. It was her 11th day today, out of her planned 100. This 11 might be a tiny thing for many. But for her, it’s a mini milestone. There is still a long way to go, but cheers for the miles already covered!

Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

Excerpt from a rainy night

Rain always evokes beautiful feelings in me. Maybe that’s why on rainy nights I get my inspiration to write. The sound of raindrops takes my wanderlust heart to places I have not visited in a long long time, which are buried under the layers of newer memories. Rain helps in unearthing them, by bringing back the fragrance of familiarity and feeling of home.

However, growing up I used to find it difficult to fall asleep on rainy nights. The non-stop sound of raindrops on tin roofs and window panes, was something I detested as noise. One afternoon it was raining profusely, and I had a high fever. My mother wanted me to take a nap, and I was unable to do so. That’s when she taught me to find the melody in rain drops. She taught me to see the rhythm in that sound. Ever since that day, rains have felt like a lullaby. I love sleeping to the sound of it.

I am at Grandma’s place today after almost two years. Everyone sleeps at 10pm here. As I was getting into bed, it started raining. And instantly in my mind I said, “Heiya, dighol thengia ahile”.

Deuta used to tell us bed time stories. Every night before going to bed we would decide the story and he would read out to us. He was a good narrator too; he would change his voice, give dramatic pauses, and convincing facial expressions. I remember, how for many months we would request him to read out ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Slowly there came other stories too. Stories of fairy tales, fables, mythology, ‘Buri aai’r xadhu’ etc, and he would later use references from those stories in the day-to-day conversations with us. One such was of ‘Dighol Thengia’.

I have lived in many places after I left home after school. I have travelled to many cities and towns. I have experienced rains in almost all of those places. But, rains of no other place ever gave me this feeling. Rains were just rains. But, here in Assam, it is ‘Dighol thengia’ and will always be.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution

Day 7- Successful one week.

I was very happy to have completed one week successfully. That too, without any excuses or hesitation. It may be a tiniest achievement as compared to my main target, but I am still proud of myself. To commit to something daily requires a lot of determination, focus, and a constant reminder of why you started. The difficult part is not running, it is keeping yourself motivated to do it regularly. I am trying many things to keep myself motivated.

I follow a lot of fitness fanatics on Instagram, my favourite is #fatgirlfedup. They give me the daily dose of encouragement I need. I watch different running videos on YouTube, and learn different tips and tricks. I read blogs about how to work out without any professional help. I look for inspiring quotes on the internet, to look up to when I feel low. I started uploading an after workout photo on WhatsApp for everyone to see, because I love how I look in them. Also because, I wanted to let everyone know about my journey by this daily photo update. Now I just cannot miss out on uploading those photos, because my friends keep asking me if I went for my run. There are people cheering on me. People telling me I am motivating them. I feel so great about it.

This was me after Day 7. The contentment you get after running is infectious!

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution

Day 6- Under the stars with the fireflies

On my 6th Day, I decided to go out alone for my run as nobody was there to accompany me. Dad said he was too tired after work, so I didn’t insist much. I decided to go by myself to a nearby playground. Dad tried to persuade me to go in the morning and that it’s okay if I miss it one day. But, I was adamant. When he saw that I show no sign of quitting and was ready to venture out in the dark, he decided to accompany me. I was delighted, because I am really scared of stray dogs and desperately needed someone to shoo them away. He fetched a torch light and we both started walking towards the field.

Although it was 7.30pm, it felt like midnight. The playground was pitch black, as there were no lights. I was having difficulty in assuming the length and breadth of the field. I started walking very cautiously lest I step on something undesirable. May e Dad sensed my tension, for he took me to one of the football goal posts and made me walk to the other on the opposite side. He asked me to run between these two posts instead of doing rounds. He started walking ahead of me flashing the torch and I ran behind him. After a few rounds, I became familiar with the field and was comfortable in running at my own pace. Dads really have a solution for everything.

The stars above were shining bright, as if they came out just to see me running. And the playground started to glow in their light. There were so many fireflies in the thick bushes surrounding the field. I felt like running with them, and what a fun run I had!

We both had a great time! Looking forward to many such evenings under the stars with the fireflies.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution

Day 5- My body, my rules

The secret to successfully work on yourself is to never get disheartened when people say they see no change in you. Carry on your work silently and make your success make the noise. That’s what I am doing. Because I am not doing it for a short term gain, I have a long term lifestyle plan.

I am toiling. I know how much work I am putting in. I know how I am stepping a little out of my comfort zone every day. I am pushing my limits everyday. I am testing my self determination, which I thought I don’t have when it comes to exercise. So, nobody else has a say in it, especially when it’s negative.

Along with running, I am also improving my diet. It’s difficult to control diet when you stay at home. Parents are a weird creature. They keep complaining that I am putting on weight, but when I sit for my meals, they will serve me a heap of food. But, I am being strict with myself. I am eating everything but in smaller portion; completely avoiding sugar, and eating more greeny leafy vegetables and fruits. And, making sure I do a hearty breakfast and light dinner.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution

Day 4

Today morning I went to see the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge. That means a 5 hours drive from Duliajan, up and down, and the bad roads in between make it worse. I came back home around 4.30 pm. I was exhausted. But, I knew I had to go running. I cannot miss. Being exhausted was not even a valid excuse. Without thinking too much about how I would run, I just grabbed my shoes and headed to the ground.

The moment I stepped inside the ground, I felt this spring in my feet. And I knew I would do it. When I see other people working out, I feel a different kind of energy. And that’s what works for me. My mind became light and I forgot everything about having a long day, and being tired. I just started to run. It’s true what they say, “it’s all in your mind”. If you can think it, you can do it.

I did it. I ran for an hour. And, after finishing I took this photo, where my friend told me that I look like a ‘sexless weirdo’. But, I have never been so proud of my body before. I am so confident about my look now, because I am working on it. I feel happy.

As I was completing the last lap, one of my bffs came to meet me. She was so happy to see me running. I have the most amazing friends. We build each other up.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution

Day 3

What do you do when you have this ridiculous determination to go for your run and a dinner invitation soon after? And, the venue is far away from your home and you want to be on time? Also, you don’t have a vehicle.

In this scenario, I decided to run to the venue. After this confession I may come off as a hungry wolf who couldn’t contain her excitement at the prospect of free delicious food. But, I am proud of what I did. Think what you may.

With each day, I falling in love with my hometown all over again. I never used to run/walk so much around the town before, there was always car or scooter to my rescue. And I didn’t know what I was missing on. There is so much more you observe when you are on your feet. I am glad that I am running. It makes me so much more positive. I am discovering a new side of me. I feel grateful.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 2

I am not a morning person, and I am not letting this become a hindrance on my road to 100 days running challenge. I believe, the best time to go running is a time you find convenient. So, my sister and I decided to reserve one hour from our evenings for running. I am super serious about it.

The most important thing which I am keeping in my mind is, a lot to be done to improve my body. It’s going to be a never ending journey. And I am not expecting an immediate result. Because when you expect too much, you get demotivated easily. I know good things take time. So when I ran today, I didn’t pressurise my body. I did what I could and I did good. My aim is to improve 1% daily. And that’s what made it easy today.

I ran for an hour. Of course, not continuously. I ran, I slowed walked, I brisk walked, and ran again. This is the cycle I followed. But, I didn’t stop in between to catch my breath. I was on the move continuously.

I believe I did better than yesterday, but less than what I would do tomorrow.

Posted in 100 Days Running Resolution, Uncategorized

Day 1

This piece is about Day 1, which I completed. I don’t even know if I would successfully complete the rest 99 days. But I am trusting myself. I am willing to try. I want to see how far I could go. I want to see what keeps me going and what stops me. I would need tons of motivation to complete this journey. I have some amazing friends who are more than happy to help me in this journey. They have volunteered to cheer for me and have promised to help me keep going. I have promised myself that I won’t quit. I stand vulnerable here, but thankfully not scared.

I want to document every step of it, so that I can look back when needed and see why I started when doubt arises. I know it would take a lot to finish this, but I am not thinking about the rest 99 days altogether. I am planning to take one day at a time. My focus is to improve 1% every day. If you want to be a part of my journey, you are most welcome. If you want to share your experiences, I would be humbled.

I am lazy when it comes to exercise. It requires constant nudging and pushing to make me get up and get going. I am not very proud of this. When I was in Delhi, I would find many excuses to not work out. Some of my regular and favourites were- there isn’t a good park in the locality, all the fields are far away, there is not enough time in the morning, after work it is too tiring, will start from next week, next month, next year and what not! I really thought that’s what is stopping me from working out and getting the ideal lifestyle that I want.

I moved back to Assam last month. Before coming I made this resolution to go running for 100 days without any gap. I had planned to start it as soon as I land in Assam, but that didn’t happen. No excuses to defend myself now. I have enough time. There are so many good grounds and spaces in my hometown. The weather is so lovely here. Roads are so well lit and good to run on. The nearest stadium is less than a km away from my place, and yet going for run seems like a daunting task. That’s when I realized that what’s stopping me isn’t scarcity of places, time or facilities, it was me. I was stopping myself. Not lack of suitable external factor, but lack of internal factor- strong self-determination. But, sigh! Even this realization failed to jolt me up and give me the much needed kick. I hated myself for not doing it and yet wasn’t doing anything to change my behavior. However, there came up something else which hit hard.

Earlier this month I took my father to Guwahati for a routine health check-up. Every doctor that we met asked him to walk to get a good control over his sugar level. I parroted that to him word to word; explaining how beneficial a walk is and how he could go for one every morning. When I listened to my own words I realized how wrong I am. It pinched me that I was preaching something that I wouldn’t practice myself. That’s when I made up my mind to set an example for him. To make it look easier to go for a quick walk/run everyday. To do it myself first, unfailingly, before I ask him to do.

So yesterday, after one and a half months of shameless procastinations, I finally grabbed my shoes at around 8.30pm and went out with my sister. “If not running let’s go for a walk”, I told myself. The weather was breezy and the wind felt cool on our cheeks. I decided to brisk walk, because I was out of practice and badly needed some warm up before I could plunge into running. We didn’t have any specific route in our mind, we thought it’s best to walk around aimlessly for about 3-4 Kms. We both are amateurs and know nothing about the “do’s and don’ts” of running. So we just walked, stopped in between to catch our breaths, and walked again. We took it light and just made our body aware about the change of routine that we are planning for.

Even though I didn’t run much, I felt liberated and happy. I stopped in between to look around and soak in the surroundings. My hometown looks like a picture straight out of a travel book. It boasts of such natural beauty. Clean environment. Fresh air. Fine smooth roads; on both sides of it there are beautiful big trees lined up with their branches reaching out to each other. The footpaths covered with dry leaves and flowers, and when we walk on them they make this crisp sound like crumbling of papers. There were fireflies all around- twinkling amidst darkness like the stars above.

We walked passed the primary school in which we used to come for our drawing classes on Sundays. On my right now, the Nehru stadium was visible. The ground was all quiet as if resting after a hectic day. All its greenness gleaming in the lights. The chance of the stadium gate to be opened this late was very slim, so we walked straight to the Duliajan club. Unlike the stadium the club was buzzing with activities. There were a few cars parked in the parking lot. We even heard a few laughter, maybe the boys were sharing a joke after a game of tennis. Leaving the club behind, we entered the residential area where houses were lined up meticulously as in a 3D project. They stand quietly in the dark with only their roofs shining because of the street lights. The long curved road which leads to the helipad is almost everyone’s favourite. When we were kids we loved cycling in this area. All the roads were almost deserted now except for an occasional passing of cars. A few people were walking their dogs with their eyes glued to their phones. We saw an elderly man on his cycle, the leisure with which he were cycling was enviable. Perhaps he was heading back home after a day’s work. There was two girls who were walking hand in hand ahead of us, maybe they were taking a night stroll after dinner. I have never seen people going about at such ease and without hurry in the cities.

When we reached the helipad, it began to drizzle. We were unprepared. There is this thing with Assam, you never know when the weather is going to change. After a bright sunny day it may rain profusely at night. And a perfectly cloudy day may magically start to brighten up with the setting sun. When we heard the mild thunder we knew that it would rain soon. Home was still 1-2 Kms away, and we had to double our pace lest we get drenched. Thankfully, we made it home just in time- tired but happy.

Posted in Books, Uncategorized

How to attend JLF like a pro?

Hello fellow literature lovers!

If you are looking forward to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival’19 a.k.a ‘the most fabulous literary love-fest in the world’, then you are at the right place.

(This picture was taken at JLF’ 17.)

Although anyone can go and attend the fest, but I believe that you can make the most of it if you go with a little hands on tips. So many programmes happen there that most people tend to get lost and exhausted. Lest it feels like just another crowded fair, prepare yourself with a little knowledge on JLF to avoid the hassle.

To make it easier, I have listed down a few pointers based on my own experiences which you can keep in mind before you go to the ‘Ibiza of the world literature’:

1. Registration

Always register yourself well in advance through the JLF website. It is better to register for all the days, even if you do not plan to attend the entire event. Registration is free of cost, if you do online. For on-the-spot registration at the venue they charge a small amount. Online registration would require you to have an email id or a valid Indian phone number. You can also register on someone else’s behalf. After you register, they would send a code to both your phone and email. It is very important to save that code, because they ask for it at the venue.

2. Event list

This one is most important for me. You must download the itinerary list from the JLF website, and go through it atleast once before you actually go. There are going to be 7-8 programmes simultaneously going on at the venue. To avoid missing out on the events/authors of your interest, I would suggest you to go through the itinerary list for each day thoroughly and circle out the ones that you would want to attend. This way you can plan your visit as per the session schedule that interests you.

3. Hotels/Lodges

It is advisable to stay closer to Diggi Palace. However, such stays are going to be very expensive or unavailable if you do it just before the event. So, you must book your hotel well in advance. If your hotel is not closer to Diggi Palace, then you can easily commute via autos, Uber, and Ola.

4. Entry (with online registration)

I always do this. I register online for free and on reaching the venue I look out for the desks which cater to the online registration. They ask you for your registration code. You can show it on your phone. If you lose your registration code then just tell them your phone number, they will retrieve your information. They also ask for a valid photo ID proof. Once checked, they give you a name tag and an itinerary booklet. Keep the booklet handy for easy reference. You must keep wearing the name tag at all time. Do not lose it.

5. Entry (with on the spot registration)

For on-the-spot registration, I would recommend you to reach the venue around 9am to avoid long queues. Carry a valid ID proof and some cash. (JLF’ 18 on-the-spot registration charged Rs. 100/person). Here, you cannot register on someone else’s behalf.

6. Reach early

It is always advisable to reach the venue early i.e., before 11am to avoid the rush. Around afternoon it gets very crowded, and then the entire security checking process can take up to 30-45 minutes. To avoid wasting your time try to reach early.

7. Less luggage

This one is no brainer, as we all know how convenient less luggage is. It is advisable not to carry many bags with you inside the venue, otherwise you’d feel exhausted watching over your luggage constantly. And there is going to be a thorough security check of all your bags every time you enter, so less luggage makes it easy for all.

8. Credit/Debit card

JLF’ 18 went totally cashless for all purchases (books, food, etc) inside the venue. So, do carry a valid credit/debit card. They don’t take cash no matter what. However, you can buy rechargeable cash card through advance deposit, which is refundable.

9. Help

For any help get hold of any volunteers. They will help you out for something as trivial as booking a cab back to hotel.

10. Water/Food

Drinking water is available in abundance at many places inside the venue. There are many food and beverage options too, but they are a little bit expensive. However, there are few cheaper options available outside where you can grab a quick meal. If you don’t want to spend time going out and coming back (because every entry asks for security check), you can carry your own food. I saw many elderly people doing it.

11. Author signed books

There is always an author signing booth closer to every session venue. To get author signed copies, make sure you reach the author signing booth before everyone else. But, before rushing off to the signing booths ask the volunteers whether a particular author will sign books or not, because they sometimes make some last minute changes. In such cases, you can approach the authors on your own after the end of the session.

(I approached Dalrymple when he was casually walking around.)

12. Sessions’ venue

There are always 7-8 sessions going on simultaneously in all the session venues. There are two types of venue inside Diggi Palace- a closed one and an open one.

To attend a session inside a closed venue, it is advisable to reach early and take a seat as there is limited seating. There is no such issue in an open venue, so you can stand anywhere and attend. Durbar hall, Samvad, Baithak are closed or small event venue. While Mughal Tent, Front Lawn, and Charbagh are open.

Change of session notifications are always put up in white boards outside every session venue, so always look out for them.

13. Best sessions

This one is my personal observation. I noticed that best events are always lined up in the last two days. However, this may not be true all the time. So, if you are going there for less time, choose the dates based on the scheduled events by going through the itinerary list. And, if you hate crowd don’t plan your visits on the weekends especially Sunday. Entire Jaipur decides to drop by on Sunday.

14. What else you can do inside Diggi Palace?

There are plenty of options other than attending sessions. You can talk to random people and make new friends. You can kill your time at the book store. There is plenty of food and beverage options, which you can try. You can take pictures for your Instagram profile, as the entire event boasts of beautiful geeky decorations. If you get too exhausted to do anything, you can head to the open food court near Baithak to grab a beer.

Important note: JLF is a no smoke zone.

(This was me at JLF’ 18.)

14. Do not try to juggle

Keep aside an entire day for Jaipur sight seeing. If you are new in the city, you cannot successfully juggle between sight seeing and JLF and would end up losing on both.

Bonus tip: Wear comfortable shoes if you are planning to spend the entire day at JLF. And after the last event of the day head to Tapri (which is very close to Diggi Palace) for a cup of tea!

(Me again, with my JLF friends at Tapri.)

With these pointers, you can easily attend the next JLF like a pro. Have a great time and don’t forget to share your experiences with me.

For any other query you can mail me.

Posted in Opinions, Uncategorized

Elephant joy rides! (Or is it?)

This year I attended the Jaipur Literature Festival for the second time and already felt like a pro (Note to self: write a blog on it soon). I was there for only two days, and so I chalked out the events that I wanted to attend well in advance. Being a self claimed movie buff, one event that I was particularly looking forward to, was a movie screening.

Detail of the movie:

The title of the movie was ‘Where the Elephant Sleeps‘. It is a documentary about agony of elephant joy rides at Amer Fort, Jaipur. Directed by a German movie maker, an animal activist, and an elephant lover, Brigitte Uttar Kornetzky.

The movie explored the reality behind animal joy rides that are so popular at Amer Fort. How they are tamed in unhygienic and unsafe conditions at Hathi Gaon, a village in the outskirt of Jaipur. The people manages the elephants absolutely for tourism purposes and they try do so by incurring minimum expenses. The elephants are made to work all day long and are given very little food. Even the medical facilities given to them are negligible. In case of ailments, the elephants are not even taken to vets, as they cannot afford its cost. In such situations, the health of this mighty animal deteriorates at an alarming rate. Sadly, the people who tame these elephants cannot fathom the injustices they are doing to the elephants. For them, these animals are just a mean to earn livelihood- however wrong it may be.

The film evocatively raises this issue and successfully creates an impact.

Next day at Amer Fort, I saw how much of a thrill elephant rides are. A ride till the Sun gate costs around 900-1200 INR. Because of the long climb, many foreigners were availing the rides. It is only because of its growing popularity that elephants are compelled to live in Jaipur, whose weather is too harsh and not at all ideal for the animals. It is depressing to even think about what these elephants go through in the name of tourism.

This photo was taken at Amer Fort, Jaipur. Sure an elephant ride looks royal, but we should see the reality behind it that exists.

The film made me question every animal joy rides existing in every corner of this world. Do everywhere animals are harshly treated and trained to make them fit for tourism? If yes, will you avail them next time?

PETA and many animal activists are working to eliminate such inhuman practices. Many petitions and PIL have been filed too to ban these practices. But we all know how slow these things work. So, instead of waiting around for law to do its part, we should know that as an individual we too hold a great power. A power to make such use of animals redundant. We can do this, if we choose not to take these rides, baths or whatever ‘shit’ that they sell us in the name of tourism.

So next time before you pose for those Instagrammable pictures, will you stop for a while and think about those poor souls who can’t even speak out in agony?

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

#002 #100POEMCHALLENGE

Yellow is my favorite colour.
I can see no more,
but I feel.

I feel it
when I eat ‘dal’ and suck on mangoes.
The taste tells me if it is yellow.
I am a slow eater now,
I try to savour the colours more.

I feel it,
when I sit by the window
and the warm sun washes my face.
I close my closed eyes, absorb the warmth, wondering if it’s more orange today!

I feel it,
in the warm and fresh laundry heap on my bed.
I hug them and bury my head.
I rub my nose on them- wondering what
smells yellow has.

I feel it,
When I touch my old books.
They say- torn and old pages
turn yellow.
I trace my fingers all over-
wondering if yellow feels like
forgotten and dusty.

Was my dog’s collar yellow?
And the kitchen door?
or was it the marble floor?
Maybe.
Who knows?

If I try really hard,
I think I see yellow everywhere.
Yellow little spots dancing in all the black.
They gradually grow,
and engulfs everything.
Maybe the black absorbs all.
Maybe yellow adds to the blackness.

Yellow, now, is a boat
slowly moving away from the shore.
Appearing tinier and tinier
until I remember no more.

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

#001 #100POEMCHALLENGE

Why do you pull down that top?
Pull up that skirt?
And suck in your tummy,
when you look at me?
Why do you stand
with disappointment,
hoping to be someone you are not?

Why do you cover your scars
with expensive cream and concealer?
And press your rebellious hair to make it straight?
Why you smile your smile differently,
and wonder which one makes you more pretty?

Why do you
stoop,
go far,
come closer,
turn back,
turn sideways, and
then turn front again?
Art of pleasing,
is not my forte.

What I show
will always be
a reflection of
how you see you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Do it the right way

My knowledge about breast-cancer is that of a layman’s, as I am neither a doctor nor a medical student. I don’t know how it happens or why it happens, but I do know what happens when it happens. I have friends whose mothers had suffered from it. I witnessed what their families had to go through. My friend had to stop her studies for one year because she had to take care of her mother. I saw how frightened and stressed they all were when the chemo sessions were going on. I know how strongly her mother fought. She was bed ridden and had lost all her hair when I saw her after the operation. Another friend’s daily routine almost came to a stop when his mother was diagnosed with breast-cancer. I saw how unsettling it was for his entire family. They couldn’t understand why it happened to her, for she had a healthy life style. I saw how his mother fought it for months. 

During that time, I researched a lot about breast-cancer, and understood that it could happen to anybody at anytime. And that’s a serious issue, because women are not as conscious about their health as they should be, specially in Indian society. They are so busy taking care of their homes and families that they end up neglecting their own health. I have seen my own mother and aunts, who forget to take their meals on time just because they would be busy with household chores. I have hardly seen them taking medicine not even when they are ill. In our society, a woman’s health comes after her household’s and family’s responsibilities.
I was horrified to know how its treatment involves severing the breast from a woman’s body. For me, it looked like robbing a woman’s of her feminity. I, of course, cannot imagine what a woman would mentally go through under such situation. I also learned that there is no particular reason which causes breast-cancer. The best we can do is to look for the symptoms which indicates the possibility of it, to nip it in the bud. Here are some of its symptoms.

After seeing my friends’ mothers fighting it, I was so affected that I started checking my own breasts regularly. Even when there is a slight pain or dis-ease, I would stand in front of a mirror and self examine. But, this is a far fetched thing to expect from all women. They hardly get the time to take care of themselves, let alone self examine their own bodies. My grandmother laughed at me when I asked her to check regularly. She said she was too shy to even touch or look at her breasts. My aunt was shy to get her breasts scanned when she had gone for a full body checkup. She asked me if she could skip it, as it is less likely that she would have breast cancer.

So, I know how unaware our society is about this issue. How shy we are to even look out for the symptoms regularly. Awareness is important and necessary, but it has to be in a right way. It is not something to be taken lightly. Maybe that’s the reason why I lost it, when I saw this stupid message bombarding my Facebook messenger last night.

The message was about creating breast cancer awareness. The game is to update one’s status describing their love life through different flavours. This is not new. Every year it circulates on Facebook (only among girls). Last year it was about posting the ‘colour’ of one’s bra as their Facebook status; the year before, it was something equally stupid.
The message was this:

I saw many girls on my friend-list following this. And I wondered if they have actually thought about it. Showing solidarity and standing up for a cause is nobel, but it should create some impact too. Please don’t trivialize this issue, by putting pineapple or apple as your Facebook status. This is not going help anyone. Infact, there is a page on Facebook which asks everyone to stop spreading this message.

Ladies, if you really want to create awareness, then I urge you to do it in the right way. You can talk to women in your family and locality and make them aware of it, you can encourage women to self examine their body, you can invite some doctors to do free breasts checkup drive, you can volunteer for this cause, you can take part in various marathons (eg. Pinkathon) which collect funds for this cause, you can help fund-raise for breast-cancer treatment. A small step from your end will make all the difference.

And most importantly, don’t forget to get yourself checked on a regular basis.


Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

Of lost and found

I grew up writing diaries. I used to write about my day-to-day affair at such length that it used to look like someone’s autobiography. I wanted it to be one. Thinking, one day when I become famous, the world would want to know about me. I made sure that I write in nice clean handwriting, so that everyone understood it. I used to pour down my deepest thoughts and secrets without a clue that those entries would find two readers soon- my younger siblings! I came to know about it when, over a fight, they threatened to tell Maa about the love confessions that I had written.

I was a study table person. I used to keep all my important things on my table or in the book shelf. Now the book shelf was open to all, and I had neither my own room nor my own wardrobe. I always had to share it with my siblings. So, the safest place was my table. It was a brown table with its top surface bearing marks of my scribblings and doodlings. It had a drawer without a lock. I never felt the need for one, as I assumed my order to not to touch my stuff was enough to keep my siblings in check. So, when the security got compromised, I felt violated and helpless. I knew I couldn’t make them unread whatever they had read. So, I begged for a new study table with a lock, which would keep my secrets safe. My parents never listened to me. Refusing to give up, I made a plan to take revenge. I tried to find out my siblings’ secrets. But they had new stylish tables with lock system. My sister carried her keys wherever she went, and my brother was too young to have any secrets. So, it was a dead end.

I had forgotten about my intention to take revenge until I unintentionally did. I found a beautiful pair of white heels my brother had secretly bought to give his girlfriend. It was smartly hidden in our shoe shelf, and I accidentally found it. I didn’t tell maa, because I wanted to wear it myself. He didn’t give it to anyone for a long time. It was a torture for me to see the heels sitting there on the shelf new and unused. When I asked again, he said I can take it. It was years later that he disclosed the full story behind the white heels. Once, I came across a love letter tucked inside in one of his books. I clicked a photo of the letter and teased him to post it online. Of course I didn’t plan to, but he really thought I would. But, I did read it aloud to my mother, and we both had a good laugh. I still have the photo in my gmail account.

I returned the favour to my sister as well. Once when my mother asked me to clean her table, I went through all her stuff. I found a small teddy bear with a box in one of her drawers. It had a tiny ring. I knew it was given by her then boyfriend. I kept dropping hints till she knew what I had found. My sister and I got our first cellphone very early in life. I am not a tech savvy person, but she is. When I was still learning about my phone’s settings and all, her’s used to be password protected. Out of curiosity I picked it up when she left it unguard on her bed one day. I read the conversation with her boyfriend and found out a lot of things. I teased her for months.

I lost my habit of diary writing, but in return got so many beautiful memories. Does life have a funny way of making up, of filling the gaps, of forming a full circle or do we have a way of looking at the brighter side restrospectively?

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

HS Episode #1

The ride from the station

is always a special one.

My memory of the place

leads my emotions home first;

I just follow it.

The ride to the station

is always difficult.

Heart sits back stubbornly,

feet reluctant to leave; already

wanting to come back soon.

The days in between —

pass like winter afternoon;

it had hardly begun

when it’s half gone.

Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

Of familiar roads and our Lambda

(A certain street in Duliajan)
Disclaimer: I do not claim copyright of this image. It was not clicked by me.

Last month, on a lazy Saturday I woke up thinking about our old scooter. A green and black Lambda. As I made my morning coffee, my thoughts wandered off to the good old days when the Lambda was an important part of our life.
The Lambda was unattractive and old. It was infamous as the noisiest vehicle in our locality. Yet, it was dearest to my father. Every morning at 9, he would get on it and leave for work. And every night, we would wait for the familiar noise of the scooter, which would come from afar announcing his return. Its noise was a commotion for many, but for us it was the feeling of comfort and happiness of having one’s father home.

The ability to accommodate our big family successfully on the Lambda was a talent in itself. There were some fixed steps to do it. At first, my father would start the scooter, sit on it and hold it firmly. My mother would sit on the back seat. Next, my sister would lift herself up with the help of the foot rest to sit on mother’s lap. Brother and I would stand on its front deck, with our bodies slightly bent lest we obstruct father’s view.

For others, maybe we looked like some 80’s movie poster where a family happily rides on a scooter together. But, on the inside, there were constant struggle for us to keep our feet on that tiny deck without stomping on each other’s feet. Mother always had to sit cautiously; she was scared to even move her muscles. Father would sit calm and composed balancing the scooter marvellously, all way. Lambda was the first thing which made me realize my father’s strength. I saw him as a hero when he rode it.

I called him last evening to ask about the Lambda. I could imagine him smile at the sudden mention of his long lost companion. He told me how he had bought it for a mere sum of 1500 rupees.

He had a special bond with it. It was my father’s best confidant. It had witnessed both my father’s forgetfulness and love. Once he forgot to pick my siblings from school. When he realised, he rushed back on his scooter to get them and found them sitting on the school porch till late noon. Another time, my mother sat on it all night long, because father didn’t open the main door; he had apparently forgotten that she was yet to come back from a party, and fell asleep. The Lambda also helped in bringing home our first bicycle on it’s back. I wonder if it was as proud and happy as my father was, to see us grow!

Father told me how mother didn’t like it much. He narrated instances when she coaxed him to sell it. But, every time he had his reasons- “the engine is still running fine“. “They don’t produce this model anymore“. “I will sell it when it stops working beyond repair“, and thus, held on to it for years. According to him, her patience exhausted the day when he took us (the children) out on the scooter. While returning, it broke down in the middle of the road leaving no option but to push it home, with his three children in tow.

My father rode it happily for many years till the January’ 99. That year we had moved to a new house, and owing to its close proximity to father’s office, market, and hospital, father hardly got any opportunity to ride it again. The scooter got a place of honour in our society’s parking lot. Occasionally, my younger brother would go and pretend to ride it. Sometimes, when we passed by it, we would lovingly trace our finger on its dusty seat and think about the good old days. Dad religiously saw it every day as he walked to office, but that was it. After few years, our interactions with the Lambda slowly came to an end. And, it stood in the parking lot gathering rust and dust.

Then one fine day, one of father’s colleague put a ‘For sale’ sign on it, and offered it for 500 rupees. Mother laughed at the prank saying noone would pay 500 for that rust. But, the very next day, a person showed up to buy it. Father never wanted to sell it, but for him the sadness of seeing the Lambda standing all alone was more than not seeing it at all. Also, he wanted to prove to my mother that his Lambda was still worthy. So, he took it out for one last ride and happily let it go.

After this conversation with my father, I realized how without even intending to, he kept the Lambda alive in our heart. He never bought a two-wheeler again.

Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

We cannot afford to be indifferent

Picture of Syrian kids in a refugee camp, waiting in a queue for food.

Disclaimer: I do not claim copyright of this image. It is used here only to show the state of mass starvation world wide. This image was taken from:<http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/shared/npr/styles/x_large/nprshared/201310/228844734.jpg>

I took up a new job recently. On my first day, I was elated to know that my office provides free lunch. Now I don’t have to worry about what to eat at work. For someone who has been cooking for last many years, this is a blessing. However, I was saddened to see how people fill their plates with a lot of food and do not care to finish it. It deeply affected me to see the wastage of food on such a big scale. I tried talking to some of the people about it, but they flatly retorted me with, “The food is not delicious”. My friends at work didn’t share my concern, instead they asked me why I care, it’s the company’s money after all. I didn’t know how to respond to it, I couldn’t understand, why nobody cares? I started to think about my life experiences, which helped me to be considerate about food.

I was a stubborn kid. I used to be picky about food. In spite of having many healthy food options, my favourites were the junks. Anything nutritious was too bland for my taste buds. I was a lactose hating kid. To much of my parent’s horror, I hated milk, cheese, butter, curd, cream etc,. At the age of four, I stopped eating meat, fish, and egg; it was because of my own wish rather than any religious reason. I was too young to comprehend even the meaning of vegetarian. When people asked me why I don’t eat meat, my answer was always ‘because I don’t like it’. As I grew up, I realized ‘not eating meat because I don’t like it’ was too silly for people to understand. They used to insist me to try a small amount. Some would even serve me a little meat, saying it would do no harm. My objections were always brushed aside. So, I started telling people that I am affectionate towards the animals and it hurts me to eat them. This reason worked for about 2 decades of my life.

My parents were worried about my eating habits. Their sole concern was to give me the required vitamins and minerals, as I was very lean and thin. I was an energetic kid and loved almost all kinds of sports. So, it became all the more necessary to make me eat healthy and energy giving food. My dad took every opportunity that came his way to sermon me on the benefits of different food items. Fishes are good for proper functioning of the brain, carrot is good for eyesight, gooseberry is good for the skin and hair, milk is good for healthy bones and so on.

My mom, who was an unmumsy mom, took my food habits a bit sternly. She never ran after me around the house with a plate of food, trying to feed me. She never lured me with tasty desserts when I won’t eat. She never let me watch the television during meal time. She never tried to coax me in finishing my meal, nor she would prepare my favourite foods to make me eat without any tantrum. Instead, she started adopting the ‘eat whatever is served to you or stay hungry’ policy. Because of this, many a times I would go to bed without eating, only to cry at night of hunger. This was my life’s first food lesson. At a young age, I learnt that getting a plate of food is a blessing, and one must appreciate it. I learnt that it is better to eat what you don’t like instead of staying up hungry all night.

I took part in a 10-days trekking program in school, when I was in 8th standard. Many of my fellow friends and seniors also participated in it. Our base camp was an army hostel in Darjeeling, and our incharge was a colonel. He was very strict and disciplined. Early morning on day 1, he had announced that everyone must finish their meal completely without even leaving a grain of food on the plate, or else will face consequences. Of course nobody took him seriously until breakfast that day.
We were served two seasonal vegetable, 3 chapatti, big bowl of dahlia and one glass of milk, and we were instructed to finish it all properly. We had the liberty to refuse anything that we don’t like, at the time it was served. Colonel himself stood at the place where we were instructed to wash our plates after finishing our meal. When I walked up to wash my plate, the colonel stopped me and asked why I didn’t finish the vegetables and dahliah. I said I didn’t like it. He looked at me in anger and warned that until I finish everything I won’t be allowed to leave the mess. I was terrified. With tears running down my cheeks and silent screams of ‘I am done eating’ on my mind, I went back to my seat. I sat there thinking how I am ever going to finish everything on the plate. It took me all my guts and several glasses of water to gulp down everything. Finally, I faced the colonel with a triumphant smile and walked out of the mess successfully. This was my second food lesson. To take only what you can eat and to finish everything that is on your plate, no matter how tasteless it is. This incident left a deep impact on my mind and food habits.

In 2014, I started living with my siblings in a rented apartment in Delhi. The decision was taken more at our parent’s behest than our own willingness. Since, all of us were in college and had study obligations, we decided to share the workload around the house. However, things didn’t run as smoothly as we expected. There were times when we all neglected our responsibilities. There were times when brother would forget to pick up the groceries while returning from college; I would refuse to cook because I had to study for a test the next day; sister would not clean the house because of her hectic schedule.
Cooking seemed to be the most daunting task of all. After making dinner and doing the dishes every night, I would be so exhausted that I cannot even study. This was very frustrating especially during exam times, when I had so much to study and so less energy. I hated cooking and would crib about it everyday. Then one day, while watching a documentary, I saw how some people live in extreme poverty and they do not even have the basic ingredients to cook food. This realization opened my mind. I suddenly felt ashamed for carrying a bad attitude towards cooking my own meals. I learnt how lucky we are to be able to buy our own food. How lucky we are to have all the things one needs for cooking. That day I decided not to crib about it ever, and to cook food lovingly and happily as long as I live.

These learnings are too common, and I know many of us have had these experiences. Yet, we fail to inculcate these lessons in our day to day life. ‘Food is our basic necessity’- it is one of the first lesson we all have learnt in school. Yet, we fail to value it because we can afford it. We believe, since we can afford to buy it, we can afford to waste it as well. What difference will it make?

Well, it can make a lot of difference. Think about millions of children who die of hunger every day. Think of those people who beg so that they can eat. Know, that every plate of meal you throw into a dustbin can feed a hungry person. Many toil on empty stomach so that they can feed their family. There are many disabled persons who cannot cook their own meal and there is noone to help them. Know, that every time we waste food, we are wasting a farmer’s hard work and a bread earner’s sweat.

We alone cannot solve world hunger or poverty issue, but we can all play our part. Let’s start with valuing food and try not to waste it.

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

The other way

I decided to move on with a heavy heart,

for I knew our love was torn apart.

Here lay my heart,

with feelings suppressed;

All the memories we have shared,

have only left me in a mess.

Never knowing if we’d have a chance to get back together,

Just tried to forget what we had with one another.

Pretending that what I felt was through.

I went around telling people I’m over you.

I’m tired of hearing and telling [those] lies,

Because every time I try part of my heart dies.

We both have reasons, both know why

Let’s let things go before I start to cry”.

I wrote this poem on 5th of July, 2012. I had forgotten all about it, until a friend mentioned it to me. I don’t make a copy of things that I write. Sometimes I mail them to friends, and sometimes I just lost them. And years later when I try to recollect the words that I had written, I fail. Nothing comes to my mind. I was looking for this poem for a long time, but couldn’t find it. I am grateful to my friend who searched it and gave it to me. This is not just a long lost peom, it’s a part of me too. A part I no longer am, I longer carry. But, once in a while, it’s good to be reminded who I was, what I felt and what I fought for. Thank you so much.

Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

Uber Story

Image source: Secret- the daily teachings.

In my sleepy home town, we hardly had any public transport. Since it’s a small town, we would take either the car, or walk, or cycle wherever we want to go. There were no autos, buses or taxis to take us around. But, there was always my father, mother, or some friendly neighbor to pick or drop me. We never actually felt the need for a public transport. For me, public transports were the inter state buses, trains, and aeroplanes. Something which people take to go outside their town or cities, which I was yet to explore.My perception changed when I moved to Delhi for my higher studies. I started taking the shared autos, buses, and metro; and fell in love with it. I was blown away by the broad and beautiful roads, unceasing traffic, and advanced infrastructure. I loved how almost half of the city’s population appear and disappear with the metros. It took time for me to get accustom with the public transport system, and once I did, my legs would mindlessly take me wherever I want to go. In Mumbai, I fell in love with the local trains. One could travel for miles and miles on them for as less as 8 rupees. I loved taking the late night’s local, when the train breaks the darkness with its familiar sound as it crosses station after station.
Things have changed a lot in the last few years, and with it the transport system changed too. Now we have Uber and Ola where we can book a cab with just a few touch on our phone screen, and within minutes a cab arrives to pick you up at your doorstep. Now, I don’t have to be dependent on anyone to pick or drop me. I can book my own cab, and get going. Such luxury, or should I say ‘independence’?

However, cabs aren’t as cheap as the metro or the local. So, to avoid burning a hole in my pocket I book shared cabs. They are economical, convenient, and offers you interesting stories and experiences. I have had my share of both good and bad experiences of shared cabs. Sometimes, I meet nice and charming people, who exchanges a smile, a formal ‘hello’ or mutual feeling about the weather, and then retire to their self without violating the social norms of public space until we both reach our respective destinations.

Most of the times, I sit as an observer and open my mouth just to ask the driver to put on the radio if others don’t have an issue with it. After that, I watch what my co-passengers do, how the driver drives. Or I look out of the window, enjoy the music and pretend I am going on a long drive. I solely devote my cab rides to myself, to tend to my thoughts and to replenish my exhausted energy. So, I find it extremely uncomfortable when fussy and cranky people get on the cab, and expect the driver to fly the car. They never seem to have time in their hand, and every little thing upsets them. It is very hilarious to see them complain about the traffic to some non-existing audience, and fight with the driver every second of the ride. Most of the time they forget that it’s the ride they have bought and not the driver. The most dreaded thing is when they pull out their phone to narrate their bad day in a melodramatic way. I look at them and wonder why do they have such fucks to give to every little thing that comes their way?
Most of you may debate about the pros and cons of shared ride. But luckily for me, most of the time it had been a good experience. (Except the time when my driver was shouting on the phone threatening his wife that he would collide the car with the next truck he sees.) I always book a share cab when I know I have buffer time, and not when I am heading to an important meeting. I know I cannot save both ‘time’ and ‘money’. So, to get one, I happily compromise on the other.
And, I am amazed at the perks that I get from shared rides. Apart from leaning to be patient, considerate and accepting, I also come across new places. Once I get to go inside the beautiful residential area of Defence personnels in Delhi. The beautiful organized colony reminded me of my little home town. Another time, I got go inside the CISF training institute. Yet another peaceful area in Delhi. Again, the day before yesterday, while on a shared ride, I discovered the beautiful and vast IARI campus. India’s best Agricultural Research Institute! Who would’ve thought that there is such a grand campus on the Delhi’s busiest Pusa road? Well, not me. While my co-passenger was fussing that she is getting late because of the long route the driver took, I was gushing over the fact that I discovered a new place (things like this rarely happen after 9 odd years in the same city). I was awed as the car passed by the green and clean campus, thinking how lovely it would be to live in a place like this. I made a mental note to visit it on a lovely day someday. Sadly, my co-passenger didn’t share my enthusiasm and pouted the entire way until she was dropped.
This made me realize that we always get what we keep looking for. As Dale Carnegie so wisely put:
“Two men looked out from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw stars.”

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Freedom

Every year, unfailingly, on 15th of August,
we retell the tales of our freedom struggle.
71 years ago, on this day,
newspapers carried headlines in bold,
_’Independence Dawn’_

_’The battle won’_
and
and

_’Sovereign India born’_.

But ask about freedom of religion to the 17 year old, whose life was subjected to his religious preferences. The mob did not even see it as an offence. The 17 year old, who wasn’t even given a chance to say his last goodbye. With whose dead body, the hope of a secular India died.

Ask about freedom of speech, to those whose souls burn with guilt every night, for not fighting against violence and injustices. Who let their voices get suppressed, for they have a family waiting to be fed.

Ask about freedom of profession to the Muslim father who soiled his whole day to feed his child! Only to find in the evening that his home was burnt down alive. Because in front of his residence, a malnourished cow had died.

Who is to guarantee freedom, when our law and order is itself corrupt? When culprits roam around unarrested and victims get ostracized?When justice is delayed and sometimes denied?

They say children are the pillars of our nation. Ask them if they can achieve freedom when they grow up. When they are robbed off their childhood and are deprived of education. When they roam around begging on the street, without even a sandal on their tiny feet.
Even after 71 years, why it is still a distant dream? Why don’t for these issues the so called ‘nationalistic enthusiasts’ scream?