Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Memories of Ma's Guru of Knitting

My mother is the most graceful and ladylike person I know. There is not an iota of tomboy in my ma. She is always poised and has the right expression for most occasions except when she is scolding me for being the exact opposite of her.

Portrait of my mother
Photo: Shoma Chakraborty

My mother is also a very complex person to understand. A child of the partition she had spent all her life telling us stories about their ancestral home in what is now Bangladesh. Though I could never imagine the sheer magnitude of that house but, the house in north Calcutta that she grew up in is a huge thing covering two lanes with openings on both sides. All her girlhood and early youth was spent in that cavernous building with latticed varandahs and stained glass windows and green Venetian blinds surrounded by family and relatives. She had scores of uncles, granduncles, aunts and grandaunts not to mention a zillion cousins. 

From a joint family of eight siblings where everyone was good at somethings and would help the others with their skills from school syllabus to culinary and fine art and knitting/ sewing she was married and had to start her own household in Delhi all by herself.

Suddenly in her late 20s my shy mother realized that she was knocked out for a six. Married and moved to a city where no one spoke her native language, she started from scratch to reinvent the proverbial wheel. From learning to cook with the vegetables and fresh produce available in north India to learning how to explain even the smallest of things in sign language to hoards of people everyday who were mostly uneducated like the vendors, cleaners and shop keepers she decided to learn everything from the language to sewing and taking care of one overweight and over-indulged over-energetic toddler (moi).

By the time she hung up her spurs, she was teaching Hindi along with Social Sciences in school. 

Her stories of how she picked up the skills are not always cute. Some reek of helplessness and others were sheer grit. Some like reading and writing Hindi happened because she had to help us with homework. Cooking is something she was always great at and her cooking was always healthy even before it became a fad. As an old school friend recently told me, "your tiffin was always great tasting with no oil running even when it was okra and your rotis were thin and even." She should know because she is a food Nazi these days.

But, it explains why all of us have stayed the same size through the decades.

Anyway, a few days back we recalled this really cute story about her learning how to knit - a skill she puts to great use every year though her skills are absolutely rudimentary - no purls and chains in her stuff but, lots of practical cover and tonnes of love.

Here's the story of her learning knitting.

As a young woman with a leaky toddler in the 1970s she needed a lot of sweaters because even at age -1 I was always hungry and ever eager to either throw up or pee and since there were no modern diapers, it meant her changing my clothes several times in a day.

So, my poor parents were buying mini sweaters by the buckets to keep me warm and clean because my ma couldn't knit. 

The house we lived in was divided into four flats and there were two more Bengali families with five teenage kids who were always taking turns to pet me like I was a little furry animal. Not to say that I did not lap it all up. Till the age of five we stayed in that house and I was the cynosure of all eyes - the happiest toddler ever.

However, among the five was this young boy who was very sweet, slightly crazy, artistic young man with a golden heart and a wicked sense of humor. He was in sixth standard and was very attached to my mother because she allowed him to eat from her kitchen all day. He too - like me - was always hungry.

He also had a soft corner for me and my mother and so would keep an eye on me when my ma was busy with chores or had to take a bath or use the toilet. He would bring his books and sit next to me doing his homework while ma finished her personal chores and tasks. I remember spending a lot of time with him even as a toddler. My ma also helped him with his studies because he was not too good on his own and there was no one else to help him because all the other elders in the house were working. 

So, the legend has it that one day he asked my ma in confidence why she was buying so many sweaters because all the other women knit for their children. It was the done thing and he himself had never worn anything off the rack. He was really outspoken for his age and no one minded it because their was no use asking him to mind his own business.

Hence, my mom broke her silence on the taboo subject and let him into her little secret. She told him in strict confidence that she didn't know how to knit. 

That sad confession must have really touched his heart. Imagine a mother who cannot knit for her child! It was a huge scandal. He had fodder for a big gossip but, his kiddy heart was not inclined to abuse the trust of the elder who was actually helping him with his studies and who trusted him explicitly to let him look after her infant and fed him scrumptious stuff everyday.

Instead he decided to change the situation. He could because he had the power to do so.

So, the next day - weekend, he asked her to meet him at the rooftop in the afternoon and leave me with my father.

My ma agreed without asking why thinking maybe he wanted to learn new English words like always.

The next day they met on the terrace. Everyone else was enjoying a siesta after a mutton lunch - those were the days without TV and Internet!

So, the two co-conspirators got to work. He had stolen a ball of wool from home and had brought it up with a couple of sticks from the bathroom broom. 

He had learnt how to do basic knitting watching the women in the house and since he was a little guy who was always crafting  something they never even bothered to tease him. Most were scared of pulling his leg because his sense of humor would tear them to pieces. 

With that one stolen ball of wool and two coconut leaf sticks from the broom he initiated my ma to the art of knitting and taught her whatever she knows today. Hence becoming her knitting guru.

My ma who learnt quickly never looked back, though she didn't try increasing her repertoire by adding designs and styles.

Just last week, when my mother was knitting a small yellow sweater for my toddler niece who wants - "verrrrry loooseee sweateee!" My father suddenly looked up and chuckled, "each time you pick up the knitting needles, you should take a few seconds and thank and bless your guru."

They both laughed and I felt warm without a sweater.

Memories are the most beautiful things and this one melts my heart. 

Thursday, 7 February 2019

A Piece of Sky and a Roof Over the Head

It is a truth universally known that you have not arrived if you do not have the key to your own home in your hands - at least here in India.

I do not agree that an arrival of any kind is heralded by the ownership of a house but, I do concur that it feels damn safe to have a place to call your own when you retire and want to hang your boots up and not worry about eviction or bankruptcy.

Unlike many countries in the West, where the rents are so high that it is better to buy, we in India have it the other way round. The rents are not as crazy as the EMIs that you end up paying for a gazallion years - not unlike farmer's local loans in old Hindi films. Like in those farmers in the ultra-Left black and white films, the homeowner lives in the fear of eviction if - God forbid - a few EMIs are missed because of a loss of job or limbs. 

On the other hand, posh private banks that fall over themselves to graciously offer exorbitant amounts on a platter to mega-rich industrialists with almost zilch (if you consider the amount borrowed) collateral are not even interested in considering you although you have no intention of skipping the country using the same money that they gave you in all gullibility and glibness almost throwing it at you so that you can run and apply for a foreign citizenship thus, never paying even the amount borrowed forget the interest. 

Also, as it has happened with a lot of my friends, they bought a house in a city thinking of settling down happily ever after but, soon found themselves living far away in another city because, job and paying rent as well as EMI for the aforementioned house. 

The crux of the matter is that with no joint-family to fall back on and no fixed incomes due to 'safe' government jobs, buying a house on single income is almost as scary as volunteering to be a wanna-be knife thrower's assistant for a middle class person. 

Renting is a nightmare for single women who are often denied rentals because of their singlehood (for lack of a better expression). If she is a divorcee or a single mother then the stakes could be worse or none. Airhostesses and hotel staff or even call center employees who keep odd hours have it difficult too. 

Bringing in friends and even siblings to stay over is often looked upon with a frown and even prohibited.

Since our country has the second largest population in the world and considering that every 7th person in the world is an Indian I assume that all that is because the vigilantes don't want more kids to be born (tongue firmly in cheek) - at any cost because to be honest, even single men face the same firing squad when they go looking for a place to stay.

Anyhow, the truth is that I never stirred up courage to buy a house and as a result I pay rent every month for a shelter from where I can be evicted at a month's notice at any time and where I have to increase the rent after every 11 months - just like that - whoever came up with that clause had no idea what a disservice they were doing to the rental market. Today, spaces on rent command prices that have nothing to do with the situation that the property is in either in terms of maintenance or area it is situated in. As a renter you have no choice but to cough up whatever the "going rate" is and it gets worse for women because, they need some modicum of security where they live - hence more money.

Recently, I started wondering if this phenomenon was native to India or are there people across the world who were struggling with this problem.

I started looking up sustainable living ideas and budget homes on the Internet when I came across this whole world of Tiny Homes. It is a great concept and a tiny home does not always have to be trailer trucks. I have seen small houses that are built in as much square acreage as a two bedroom apartment but, built efficiently to allow it to have tonnes of natural light and fresh air. Some of them allow the owners the freedom of hooking their homes to a truck and move if their job moves or they want to go and try living in some other town!

What I found amazing was that it was a movement that is prevalent across the West and up to New Zealand but, bypasses Asia!

In India where shanty towns take up millions of acres of land and illegal constructions with no ventilation provide housing to millions of people with voting rights we need to look at the reason why it just does not suit those with vested interest to allow something like that to be taken up by the middle income group. 

When my sister had gone on a holiday to Europe some years back she came back pretty depressed because she realized that our so-called expensive flats were actually tiny compared to Western homes. It took me many days of taking her through our Colonial history and systematic plunder to pacify her but, her point remains that if we are paying through our noses for accommodations that are small and not even properly ventilated then why do we have to pay mega-bucks and enslave our entire working lives to own one.

And frankly after having seen the size of single bedroom apartments in Bombay, I think they are no better than glorified tiny homes and the same can be said of the Janta flats in Delhi.

Here, please don't start blaming the population. I have personally seen gigantic apartments in Gurgaon that are weekend homes for couples who live in Delhi. These houses are fully furnished and functional though seldom used. 

Also, the majority of the population that lives in super tiny rooms in Delhi and Bombay and in all other cities across the country has ration cards, Adhar Cards, Election Cards and live in illegal colonies that get 'free' electricity and water and please don't ask me how? We all know how.

Going by the fact that houses have been getting smaller and smaller by the year, I think, I don't mind retiring in a tiny house far away from the city lights and growing organic vegetables in the corrugated tin-enclosed backyard. 

Now consider people with farmhouses - which are no more legal than the slums - who are holding large tracts of land in what is now within the cities. They should be allowed to be cut off into small pieces and sold legally and only using white money. Same for the umpteen plots sitting for prices to rise in industrial areas - we all know how many of the 'offices' or 'factories' have fully running homes in the upper stories where families live lavishly defying every norm in the books.

It's about time Leo Tolstoy's story, "How much land does a man need?" After all, with all its propaganda of 'dumb' declarations of 'equal opportunity' socialism is not as 'demonically' against economic progress as capitalists would like us to believe. 

Why when the Republic of India that has millions of 'nationalists' staking claim to it cannot retrace its steps back and seek another bhoodaan movement? Why not fix land ceilings and usher in land reforms that are not mired in red tape? I say, why not make it an agenda and a reform to help everyone buy a home of their own and not just the "poorest of the poor" because, I am not saying free housing here but, affordable housing or low cost housing. Even sustainable living in communities. Why not seize assets of the unscrupulous builders who have run away or declared bankruptcy after collecting money for building flats and let those whose money they have usurped get a roof over their heads.

The answer to affordable homes is a transparent system that wants everyone to live safe from the huffing and puffing big bad wolf but, wait... Here I would like you to look up who are these builders, dig deep and check who holds the property business and I assure you that you will know why the people with "below the poverty line" cards and the super-rich industrialists will always be the beneficiaries of 'schemes' and 'deals' and why the tax-paying middle class will always have to enslave itself to put a roof over its bowed head.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Hipster and her Cuppa

All through my teens and the twenties, I followed all the (Indian) hipster or arty traits - wore handloom, went for plays, had hot political discussions, read thick life-changing books, studied literature, watched avant garde cinema even carried a jhola but, there are two things that I never did - I never wore a fedora and never drank tea.

I have not worn a fedora till date but, tried on other kinds of hats and caps and though I worked as a journalist for the first part of my career, I didn't have tea till I left journalism, left the city of my birth and my family behind and replanted my self into another place.

I have always believed that I came of age in my very late 20s and early to mid 30s. I was a late bloomer or plain dumb about life till it hit me with a ton of bricks on my face.

Anyway, coming back to tea that has become my best friend somehow in the last decade or so. I never drank tea because I was brought up on milk. I loved milk. I could have milk any time of the day and feel lucky. My friends hated me for that because, I would go to their homes, turn down their mom's offer for a cup of tea and ask for a glass of milk instead - even in college! This not just embarrassed my poor friends but, also got them huge lectures on how they should also drink tea like me - facepalm and sorry everyone I did this to. I was too selfish and too much in love with milk to be any better.

It is almost surreal to think that in my avataar as a cub in the newsroom I was in-charge of 'making tea' for a whole year for the entire team because, I was the youngest. I knew exactly how much sugar or milk each person in the room wanted and if someone wanted none. We used to get a pot of tea with separate sugar and milk with cups and dishes every 3 hours on a silver platter - literally. It was a luxury that stopped at that. The serving had to be done by the people themselves. So, according to some crazy old tradition, the serving had to be done by whoever was the youngest in the room till someone younger than them joined the team. I was stuck with serving for more than a year!

Anyhow, while making tea for everyone even in the coldest of winter evenings in Delhi, I didn't feel like taking a sip myself. It was simply a matter of taste.

In my new avataar in a corporate company in a new city by the sea full of tinsel dreams, I was happy to skip winter altogether. For the first couple of years I didn't care for tea even when I settled into Bomaby. However, I tried out some raw and Darjeeling tea with friends at coffee shops because, coffee is  another drink I don't indulge in - I still don't. By now there was no one I knew who didn't drink tea or coffee. Life had changed by 360 degrees.

I think it was in 2005 that I started having black or raw tea in the  mornings as an experiment. I tried it with sugar, strong, with honey and then, light and without any condiments. I could not have warm milk by then because, I had developed lactose allergy - Sigh! 

With time I started experimenting and found out the various blends, about the aroma and even different flavors and herbs that go well with tea. It has been a great journey is all I can say. In the last several years we (tea and I) have come a long way. I drink it with salt, honey, sugar, nothing and still love it though milky tea is still a big no. 

Now I cannot imagine mornings and evenings without tea or reading a book or watching Netflix or bad TV at my parents' without a cuppa. 

Tea has this endearing quality like water. It makes you feel full and hydrated, it takes away pimples - the villains from teenage years, it gives you warmth in the coldest of days and keeps you from being thirsty on a hot day. You can drink it hot or cold and as a fancyass drink at a high-end cafe.

Since we started our journey together, tea and I have traveled back to Delhi, taken highs with lows and gone through life as best friends. I have written poems and clicked enough pictures of my teacups from across India to stand testimony to our love. I have felt it give me support and warmth in the coldest of situations and let me breathe when the dementors came to suck my happiness. It has been my Patronus and light in the darkest of days - sorry for the Potter references but, somehow there's no other way to explain this better. 

Tea may not be someone's whiskey but, it does better. It gives you courage and strength by letting you regroup your thoughts. It doesn't addle your brain and it does not judge you for being poor. You can still buy your cup of happiness from the local stall for 5 bucks.

Tea may not have made me rethink my life but, it has given me courage to face it without fear on winter mornings when the world is freezing but, you have to drive 35 km one way in the fog to reach work and come back in worse light. One cup before leaving and thinking of another waiting for you when you get to your destination is enough to keep you going. It is like Birbal ki Khichri really. It lets you survive the worst. (If you don't know what I am talking about, please click on the link to read.)

I think Indians should make tea their national drink because it reminds me of Birbal ki Khichri when I see the crowd around a tea stall in winters - people with little hope and kids with almost no warm clothes hold on to their small plastic cups tightly to let heat seep into their hands and let their imagination take over. 

Imagination is such a big champion of the will to continue when reality looks like death on testosterone. Tea lets you dream that you are warm, among friends and at home - the aroma, the warmth and the smile that it brings to your lips on a cold winter evening or when you are completely soaked by Monsoon rains and have bone aching fever. In your imagination tea changes the bleak and the drab to something possible to surmount because there is still love all around you. Tea is magic in a cup. I am glad that I found it when I did because, as a child I never lacked magic in my life but, as an adult I was desperately in need of some that did not make my mind hallucinate chemically.

And no, I wouldn't want to mix tea with politics because look at where it has taken America. They now want a Wall like the Chinese. I believe tea is more of an icebreaker than a wall maker and the country that started its journey with a tea party and the country that introduced tea to the world both threw up politicians that believe in walls for safety. Come on guys where's your heart? Sometimes I worry that with a chaiwallah as a PM, India too maybe heading for a wall - or maybe not.

But, whatever it may be, with wall or without, here's saying cheers to chai!

Friday, 11 January 2019

Seven Ways to Sleep Well

I must have been a vampire in my last lifetime. Yes. I must have been. There is one clear reason why I have often think of that and no it's got nothing to do with my desire to plunge my teeth into your luscious neck and sneak some blood out. No. It is all because I love nighttime and my brain is automatically set at thinking up great thoughts when the rest of the world is busy dreaming.

I know that it's just my grandiose-inspired belief system that wants to think of me as an ageless vampire because, hey, if I was a vampire I would not have to, (a) die and (b) worry about my soul all the time.

But, the crux of the problem is that between the hours of 11 pm and 2 am my brain is at its fertile best and that is when I get a whole lot of thinking done. It's not just me. I several others who have this tendency. We think best post-dinner.

But, all glamour aside, it is a bad habit. Period.

I will not go around glorifying this trait at all because I have realized over the years that the rest of the population does not work like that. School, college and offices work only through the day and most of your family doesn't get your fetish for sitting up like a night owl and burning electricity - a case in example, my father all the years I stayed with my folks.

I have therefore over the years tried several ways to get past this problem. Here are some,

1. Early Dinner

I will start from the bottom and therefore dinner first. Having an early dinner has a whole lot of benefits that have been discussed threadbare across the Internet. I started the practice around a decade back and have realized that it not only keeps me light and attentive but, also makes me fall asleep on time. I think because, by the time 11 pm rolls in, I have been up after dinner for almost 3 or more hours and therefore the mind is probably ready to rest according to its pattern of staying active for 3-4 hours after dinner. There's no scientific proof of it but, it works for me.

2. Put the Phone on Mute

Ever since Facebook and WhatsApp took over my humble phone, it has been ringing all through the day and night because, I have these loads of friends living all over the world. So, they start posting or chatting whenever they wake up - their time. It used to keep me up all night answering them. I have now broken the pattern successfully. Put the phone on mute and face-down when your head hits the pillow for uninterrupted sleep.

3. Thinking Happy Thoughts

One thing that keeps everyone awake through nights is the future. Believe me when I say that I don't worry so much for the present as I do for the future. It's a strange obsession for most living things. What will I have for breakfast tomorrow? What to wear to work in the morning? Should I call the client? Do I take the doctor's appointment tomorrow for my folks? Will it rain? Will I get an A in the exams? The list goes on. While, you cannot do away with worries I have decided to focus on what happened today and to count my blessings. It is hard at times especially after bad days but, becomes easier with practice. Think of all the good things in your life, the people who care for you, the roof over your head, the food in your stomach, books in your personal library, the beautiful prints or paintings on your walls, the chocolate in your fridge, your kids, childhood, generous neighbors... whatever makes you #instahappy. Even if you don't have much to look forward to, you will start feeling lighter and drift off after a while into a dreamless sleep.

4. Set an Alarm and Get Up

The trick is not just in setting the alarm but, in waking up when it rings. I need 8 hours of sleep. Any more including any during the day keeps me up till later at night. So, I count eight hours from the time I go to bad and set the alarm. I wake up within 15 mins before or after the alarm rings. I try avoiding sleeping during the day. That does the trick at night.

5. Walk through the Day

Walk if you don't have the time to exercise otherwise. Walk as much as you can and do physical activities like walking up and down the stairs, doing yoga (even if it is for 20-30 mins in a day). It not only keeps you fit but, also makes you tired enough to fall asleep on time. 

6. Read in Bed

It started when I was in school and used to study late around exams. It ran havoc with my sleep cycle and I could not sleep on time even after the exams got over. That is when one of our teachers suggested "reading the course book you hate the most to fall asleep". She of course meant it as a joke but, I tried that night with Physics and the next with History textbooks. The firsts day, I just took a few minutes to sleep and the second day, I stayed up late into the night. I tried Chemistry the next day and it worked like magic. These days, I am not dependent too much on boredom to put me to sleep but, I do read till I doze off with the phone on my face. Yup! I have succumbed to Kindle. But, reading works. If you are a non-reader, try reading political news on your phone - snoring guaranteed.

7. Wash yourself with Warm Water or take a Shower

This was something I picked up from my father. I always wash my face and feet with warm water before hitting bed. If there is enough time, then I prefer taking a bath before hitting bed. You can only do it if you have your dinner early. If not possible, then washing with warm water works well too.

These were some of my tried and tested ideas for falling asleep. What are yours? Do share with me and I will give it a try.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Anatomy of Depression

Depression, as it becomes more and more acceptable in the modern world, we talk about it more openly and with 'No Reservations'. As I sit typing and watching an episode of CNN's, 'Parts Unknown' featuring Anthony Bourdain and his girlfriend, Asia Argento and her family, filmed in Rome where she lives, I wonder what went wrong? Didn't the man who was on a mission to visit every corner of the world so friendless that he couldn't even make a call in a ditch attempt to save himself?

Bourdain, who must have pulled a whole lot of people out of their stupor - if not depression - and pushed them out of their safe and luxurious couches to go and explore the world, is dead. He hung himself with the belt of a hotel bathrobe in the city of love, Paris - so much irony! He was alone in a hotel room with every luxury at his disposal including the weapon of his own destruction and phones that could have saved him.

We may never know what went wrong ever. The man who started walking the earth at age 42, eating through unknown palates and filming humans and their food across the world, unmasking civilizations - known and unknown - is no more. It's disorienting as well as scary. The man who could meld into any milieu couldn't live with himself.

Read my article here to know more about the incident and the person,

Traveler, chef Anthony Bourdain commits suicide, Obama, Trump mourn untimely death

All the usual theories fall flat on the face of such incidents. Perhaps it is time to start discussing mental health threadbare instead of making jokes and memes about it. It is time to switch on the compassion button, a time to cultivate patience that allows us to listen to others and to speak about our own shortcomings - real or imagery - without fear of being judged.

Perhaps in the long run, it may or may not save your life because the ultimate truth is death but, while we are here on earth, it will let us live in peace knowing that there is someone to talk to, feel safe and loved. When betrayal is more common than friendship, we need to collectively challenge our social makeup and push for a change. Perhaps this is the time. Perhaps we have missed the deadline long back but, it is always good to start somewhere. Better late than never.

Growing up, I was exposed to a whole bunch of negatives that I am sure most kids face. I faced, school bullies who wanted to push and keep me in a corner, biased teachers who only found mistakes and never appreciated any of my efforts, sexual predators, back-stabbing friends and elders and peers who would always try and put me down.

College was oxygen and I still am thankful for landing among great academics who were also compassionate humans, never worried about sharing knowledge of books as well as life. If not for that, I would have never become as resolute as I a today. It also helped greatly that I had a very loving set of parents who were always supportive, involved and loving.

Life is tough and no one teaches you how to deal with it. And I don't blame anyone for that because the permutations and combinations of the people we encounter in our lives are unique and no one knows what we are going to encounter.

But, as I grew up and met the worse periods of my life, I learnt to control my mind and keep it off darkness through hit and trial as do most people.

Though not many would like to talk about depression and any other 'weaknesses' and though I have never taken help from a psychiatric, I want to talk about it. I have practiced listening and supporting friends and family for a long time and have now started taking my own problems outside of the home as my parents grow older and more fragile. Some of the things that I have learnt while taking control of my life are very basic.

Actually, all it takes is recognizing your weakness, accepting it as a problem and talking about it. For example, I have always been a slacker in the mornings - I have also always glorified it, calling myself a wise owl - but, now as a consultant working from home I realized it was a bad thing. I spoke about it with a friend-cum-client who starts her day really early, her simple answer was, "you are not getting enough sleep."

I thought about it and realized that she had hit the nail hard on the head. I accepted the fact that I stay up late just enjoying the silence of the night - have always done so - but, now I needed an early start so that I could wrap up my day fast.

Once I accepted it, I have started staying away from the laptop in the night, switching off the phone Internet and sound and going off to sleep often with my parents because, sleeping with the people I love the most makes me feel comfortable. Thus, I am trying to change my sleep cycle for the first time in life. I sleep early and wake up fresh. You can do this with whoever you feel closest to because, it is really difficult to change a childhood habit like sleep cycle and needs strong resolution to achieve.

Life is like the celestial dance of Kali, the Hindu goddess. When we are frenzied by our own zeal, we forget to really understand our actions till the time, Shiva, our conscience wakes us up from our stupor. The harm is already done but, there is still time. There is always time.

Most of our life is actually a reflection of how we have built it. Here are some of the good practices that have helped keep me out of reach of darkness. Hope it helps whoever is fighting darkness or anyone who is fighting it around them:


Each time we meet with failures - real or fictitious - we need to sit back, take a deep breath and speak about the pain with someone. Talking makes it easier to handle. Don't hit the bottle, meet a friend or call up and ask them to come over. Most will agree to listen. Some might even share some good advice but, that may fall flat at that moment but, their kindness will never go unnoticed by your ravaged heart.

Also, the more you speak about your distress, the easier it will be to handle them. Try and avoid the ones who are fighting problems of their own or those who have a tendency to rat on you or make fun of you. You always know who they are. You don't need any more betrayals at this point.


"Tears are not weakness". Thankfully one of my wise professors had told me this when I was a freshman. In between a lecture on the ancient Greek society and their culture, he had said that it is good to cry. Crying is good for letting go. I can't thank him enough for that advice.

Crying is a great way to let it out. But, don't make it a habit. If you are crying too much, seek help please. It is a sign - not of weakness but, of depression. Tears are also a sign that indicate depression. If everything makes you cry, then seek help from a metal health expert immediately.


I was always a happy child. Even as a youngster I would always smile and laugh which was actively supported by my parents - especially my father. As I joined the adult world, some people labelled me an "airhead" but, somehow that never stopped me from laughing. I am glad that I can laugh and smile. It helps me overcome pressure. Over the years as pressure built up in relationships, work or when my bank balance got depleted, thanks to other people dipping into it to sustain their expensive habits, I almost inevitably would laugh it off after a while.

Sometimes it took me longer to laugh a situation off but, that one natural instinct has been a life savior. Please laugh if you don't often. Don't listen to people who tell you that you are an airhead or silly old woman/ man to do so. Just ignore such people. You NEED endorphins.


As you start practicing compassion,  you will automatically start listening to people. The more you practice listening, the more patient you will become and you will find the answers to your problems in other peoples'. It is a wrong assumption that you pick up negativity when you listen to negative stories. Instead, when you listen to someone else's problems, you start realizing that you are not just the only one in the crowd.

It paints for you, a bigger picture. Like a wise friend once said, "when you stare at the tree constantly, you miss the forest." It takes a while to achieve that patience to just listen and offer nothing but, your ears. But, once you have practiced it, you are one of the rare breed that will always receive love and blessings. Sympathy will lead to empathy and it will enrich your life in more ways than you can imagine. The Dalai Lama had once said, "The only religion I practice is compassion."


It is easier said than done. Not everyone buys into meditation as we are not ready to put our problems on hold for even a few minutes. Meditation is not a complex state of being nor is it an unattainable goal / state of being. If you understand that your smartphone needs daily rebooting to free-up space in its RAM thanks to the multiple apps running simultaneously in it you will catch on to why your mind and body needs meditation. Meditation helps you slow down your breath for a few minutes and regroup your body and reclaim your mind.

It does take a little time to reach the "no thoughts zone" but, it comes with practice and no, you don't really need to sit in Yogic mudra to do it. You can do it sitting comfortably in a silent space anywhere or while listening to soothing music in your drawing room or in a joggers' park. Regular practice will help your mind close down and restart once you open your eyes. It is refreshing like nothing else.

Give up Anger

What we seek, we receive. If we are on a panic mode all the time, we will always be scared and angry. Our worries get transferred on whoever comes in contact with us. Soon, people start avoiding us because of our forever-irritated mood or because we are always on a short fuse. Anger turns you mean and negative. Whatever you say or do under the influence of anger is something you will regret when you wake up. Anger becomes a constant because of your frustrations and fears from outward situations. As the Buddha wisely said, "holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die."

Anger is not easy to handle because, most of the times we justify our anger. The day you realize that you have anger-management issues, acknowledge it and start looking for reasons why and ways you can heal yourself. Give it a shot and see the change in the quality of your life. If you are constantly pressurized, always angry, the chances are that you will hit the darkness button soon.

There are other small ways you can also add to your daily routine to avoid depression. I had written about them earlier. You can read it here,

Stay Healthy to Stay Happy this Winter

And here,

The DIY Managing Life Changes List


Beat Stress without Breaking Sweat

Have a very happy and adventurous life so you can go without regret when you leave this world. Be a little selfish and put, "Me First" because, compassion can only work if you are first of all compassionate towards yourself.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Books that Make Me Want to Pack My Bags

Reading, thinking, going...

"Not all who wander are lost," said JRR Tolkein and who better to say it than someone who had created an entire new world and filled it with magical creatures who inspire you to greatness.  

Since this post is about books that have made me want to go on voyages even if I do them in my dreams, I will get on to it with only a short preamble.

For those who don't know me, I have always lived surrounded by books. It's not a big deal since books have given me so much in return. Apart from stories and knowledge, books have opened my eyes to so many hobbies, cultures and understanding of human mind that I could possibly never have learnt otherwise.

As I adapt my mindset to write more, I keep returning to the books that I have read over the years. It is not such a bad thing to do actually because tried and tested is always a good idea - even when reading.

Here's a list of some of the books that have always fascinated me and called me back from the shelves in my home. But, most of all, they have pushed me to travel, pushed me to explore - even if it was my own city that I walked around in:

City of Djinns by William Dalrymple

Perhaps no one has loved Delhi so much before it became an Instagram phenomenon than William Dalrymple. A Scottish by birth Dalrymple has been living in India for several years now, hosts one of the most famous book gigs in the world, Jaipur Lit Fest and if you read the book then, there's no way that his love for the much-maligned an highly-polluted city will not rub-off on you.

The story of Delhi is very close to my heart and it's just not because I am a Delhi'ite myself. The story of the seven or as some insist, nine cities of Delhi are so full of blood, glory and intrigue that it feels like the life of a real living person like an epic hero.

Dalrymple, an outsider opened a door through this book that has stayed closed thanks to our history being rewritten by the British who had carefully wiped out every glorious narrative to prove the "white man's burden" myth.

City of Djinns is a series of chapters that open up a year of the then-young author's stay in the city that at once delighted and nauseated him. 

It made me long for Delhi for seven years when I was in Bombay and made me want to go walking around gathering stories, myths and mythologies that make Delhi.

Must read if you want to know Delhi beyond the Qutab Minar and Red Fort.   

Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater

Sometimes it takes a great idea to write a great book which makes the reader want to follow your footsteps to pull equally crazy stunts. Frater does it with flair. He starts the book by sharing that he was born on a rainy day on a remote Pacific island. The first line of the book reads, "The first sound I ever heard of was falling rain."

And though I know many who are born on an overflowing rainy day including my own sister, there is only one man that I know of who made chasing the famed Indian Monsoon a successful book project. 

Monsoon does not come in a single strand. It comes from two directions and apart from India, it touches upon a few other neighboring countries. Frater jumps into the fray or should I say, rain, with a gutso, gets drenched in the local cultures on the way, makes friends on the go and does the madcap job of giving the Monsoon a run for its money.

It's pure adventure and unadulterated daring that the author pulls off the torrential rains, open gutters and a thrilling chase. One of the best travelogues I have read and it definitely goaded me into bringing out the umbrella and stepping out to explore every puddle when rains came splashing down in Bombay the year I read it the first time.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Yes I know that I quoted Kipling a few paragraphs back, without naming him, as a White supremacist, but, hey! I am ready to forgive and forget the Nobel Laureate because of this one book that turned me into a road tripper. I can never forget the extraordinary story of a little boy across the Grand Trunk Road that was first published in 1900.

It's pure romance when you are a teenager trapped at home during the scorching summer vacations in Delhi. It's so vivid and well written that it feels like you are a part of the team in search of the mystic river/ spy trail - whichever is your poison.

It's one of the best road trip books that I have ever read and no one does adventure the way Kim and his friends do. If road trip / spiritual journey / spy game is your cup of tea, please pack your bags, get the car ready and don't forget to carry a copy of Kim. Go, conquer the Himalayas.

I think, I will go back to it again after I finish this post. :)

A few for the road.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was not in a very happy phase of my life when I first picked up this amazing, almost magical book about a woman's journey through three countries that change her life. But, reading it made my heart whole and hoping again - not exaggerating. 

Gilbert's story is true and she has given all the proofs needed to support this through her online presence over the years. Yet, the story almost reads like a self help book that could easily be fiction. 

It takes you on a journey through Italy (eat), India (pray) and Bali (love). The author explores each of the culture with particular focus on the aspect she wants to explore in each country. She eats her way through Italy that makes her happy, goes for spiritual upliftment to an ashram in India that leaves her confused and finally finds love in exotic Bali.

I can't think of anyone who after reading Elizabeth's narrative did not want to walk the same route that she had taken. That you will want to go back to it again and again is guaranteed.

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

When I read this book for the first time, it kind of bridged a gap somewhere in my head or heart - I am not sure. I had grown up listening to stories of our village that now lies across the border in Bangladesh and reading of the British who had ruled the country for 200 years and who a they parted split up the country and injured it's heart forever.

Monica Ali's Brick Lane brought me face-to-face with both, the Bangladeshi diaspora - people I have never met in real life - and a post-colonial London that was sitting on a tinderbox which has burst today in so many blasts. 

It was a story that traced my roots to a different world which was at once so familiar and yet not at all because, I am neither Bangladeshi, nor Muslim or British but, while reading this book, it made me believe that there was a link, a very strong link that makes me who I am today. A link that I need to figure out someday. And it made me believe that perhaps that trail leads somewhere in London where I think it will all fall in place. Not in Dhaka from where my family migrated, not Delhi where I was born and live in but, far away in wet and slippery London where everything seems to be hidden in full view. It needs reading and reading to understand the writer's portrayal of the various characters - the Bangladeshi diaspora that has made London its home. It's uncomfortable to read. The book was shortlisted for Man Booker but, panned by Bangladeshis who felt that it painted them as caricatures - as stupid villagers and religious bigots. 

But, for me, it went beyond the characters. It made me want to explore it find out more.

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh is by far one of the best craftsmen of the written narrative. The reason why I have chosen this book is because it again resonates with the stories I grew up with. As a child I had heard and known many families that had moved back from Burma because the regime changed overnight. Many of them were very well-established Bengalis. It was like the partition nightmare all over again.

I didn't understand much except the fact that their ordeal was somewhat like my family's. Exodus and migration is never a happy topic to write on but, Ghosh manages it all very masterfully by crafting history and magnificence of Mandalay and the fall of the ruling dynasty into the narrative. 

It traces an epic journey through several countries and thousands of miles. It's got all the ingredients to keep you occupied, royal coup, history, exotic locations, great storytelling and perfect prose which is a hallmark of any of Ghosh's novels. It made a strong picture in my head and that is one place I want to go to one day soon.

So, these are some of my favorites. I assure you that my shelves have many more because, travel stories were told in caravan sarais and village addas much before printing was invented forget, Instagram. Because most humans probably come preset with the wanderlust gene. Travel is in our blood. 

Happy reading,  happy chasing your world of dreams. 

Image from the Internet

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

From Saving my Ma from Zombies to Losing my Family to Zombiehood

I woke up at 5 am today and with a distinct memory of saving my ma and me from being eaten up by a bunch of zombies pretending to be human. 

I swear we were invited to a posh restaurant with dark interiors and grey walls by a very suave ex-student of my mom's who looked a bit like a Bollywood A-lister last evening. I did hate all my mom's students at one time because she loved them and spent a whole lot of time with them but, didn't remember this guy. Though my ma seemed to remember him well enough to accept his invite. To me, he looked smarmy right from the start. What clinched the deal for me however was the fact that he was willing to drive us both in his luxurious dark-tinted SUV and anyone who knows me knows how I hate to drive.

So, off we went, nicely dressed and happy. I was dreaming of the lovely food that I would get to click for my Instagram account while, ma was busy chatting up with the 40-something 'boy'!

We reached this posh and unlisted looking restaurant whose entrance looked like that of an old fort with grey exposed rocks and accompanying arches. It looked pretty cool with vintage furniture and liveried staff.

I was so busy dreaming of kebabs and biryani by now that I couldn't wait to get inside and start. I however saw that the place had valet parking before we all went in to meet this middle-aged smarmy guy's family - this was a lucky thing to do. 

The inside was a bit of a let down because once you entered, the walls didn't change. They were still grey exposed stones as outside. The furniture was very flimsy and the people looked almost lost in their own world. Most-importantly, there was no aroma of food. But, I chalked it all up to - bad place to eat and walked with my ma to the table where the family of some kids and their mom was waiting for us. I was looking at a very boring evening by now and all dreams of food photography was off because the place hardly had any light.

We sat down. The entire trek from the door to the table laid out at the back of the restaurant took a while because of my ma's bad knee, She shuffled and walked leaning on her cane while the smarmy 'student' held her hand smiling like he was eyeing a trophy. My ma was obviously soaking in all the attention.

We sat down finally, I insisted on sitting next to ma - thank God!

After a while, I realized that there was no food coming in and then a strange feeling hit my spine. I turned around to see a sea of deadened eyes looking at us as if we were a feast served. I looked back at them archly like any Delhi girl used to having people stare at them in public places. But, suddenly as my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I saw a sea of grey faces and some with cracking make-up. 

I knew in a jiffy that we were in the wrong place and in wrong company thanks to all the paranormal romances I have been devouring in the last few years. I knew we were the dinner!

My only worry now was to get ma out of the place quickly which is next to impossible because of her arthritis. I turned back to the table to suddenly see that the kids were eyeing my ma with similar hungry eyes as the others at our back. The smarmy guy was still acting suave and so was his wife though her make-up had started cracking. Ma was oblivious to all and talking 19 to a dozen with the devious duo.

I had to do something and I did. With SFX-defying speed, I stood up dragging ma up from the flimsy chair that broke when it fell. Ma yelped and I said, "grab the cane."

She did it with the speed of a parent who is tired of her defiant-since-teenage rebel-wihout-cause offspring and looked up. I said, "run".

She looked at me as if I had finally lost my mind. With regret on her face, she turned to our hosts who were yet to order dinner and finally saw what I had already seen - the drying make-up that had fallen-off the smarmy guy's cheek showing a row of dirty exposed teeth and rotting gums.

It was perhaps the teacher in her that got really disgusted by the lack of hygiene despite having taught it to all her students that she got wildly angry and suddenly picked up the stick and whacked him on his head. 

I must say, that her action took everyone in the room by surprise and bought us a lot of time. I knew already that zombies are slow on the uptake thanks to the paranormal series I had been devouring and broke into a run pulling ma by her wrist. 

My only fear now was the arthritic knee that might stop us from making the escape. I spied a closed doorway on my left and suddenly remembered all the airline safety drills that insisted on telling you about the doors on the left and right that "open in case of emergency." This was a bloody emergency said my brain and I dragged ma to the door.

And yes, it opened. Because, it WAS an emergency.

We were out in a sunlit lawn and there were shaded deck chairs full of - yes - more zombies!

I knew that we had walked out into the frying pan from the fire but, still we were out in the open and we could see things clearly. I also suddenly realized that ma could keep pace with me. I looked at her and then her knee and up back at her with awe in my eyes pride in my swelling heart and like some Bond girl she shrugged her shoulder delicately and kept running with me.

My heart swelled in gratitude to see her walk without any pain. I loved this moment more than anything but, we had zombies to get rid of before we could rejoice.

So, I shoved her into an alcove in a stoney wall which was covered with moss and flowers and put a finger to my lip to tell her to keep quiet. The zombies on the deck chairs were stirring a little and I could hear a bit of a commotion coming from inside the faux-restaurant - or was it a real one for "zombies only"?

Anyway, I had no time to loose. I ran to the the edge of the parking and spied an old and battered red Maruti 800 and quickly memorized the number off the twisted plate. With that I ran back to ma and took her out of the alcove and walked boldly back to the entry. A swarm of zombies ran past us - apparently looking for us, so we held our breath. No breath means you too are a zombie - thanks to my knowledge of paranormal literature.

We quickly made it to the front door and I gave the number of the red car to the liveried staff who didn't at all look like a zombie - how were they managing to stay alive? There was no time to investigate or even ask because, they could tip us off to the swarm of greys still running around in the garden looking for us. 

Anyhow, the car came in, I took to the wheels, ma got in quicker than me still clutching her walking stick like a talisman or a weapon of mass destruction and I strapped her to the seat. I drove like a manic without sparing any rubber till I remembered that the zombies could follow our tracks and slowing down. When I checked left, ma was fast asleep like my baby niece often is after a day of adventures. 

What woke me up was the fact that the zombies knew where my folks lived. I had to move them quickly to my place.

It was still dark when my eyes popped opened and the phone said it was 5 am. Adrenaline levels were still high in my blood and the zombies had lost us for good.

By 9 am I was already up and around for four hours. So, decided to call ma to see if she was doing good. I must confess that I half expected her to be unwell while the other half wanted her to be rid of the pain like she was in the dream. 

So, she picked up on the nth ring when I was about to hang up and walk down to her place and said, "you are awake?"

I must say that was a low blow but, I managed to carry on saying, "yes and also done with tea, Yoga and breakfast."

Her reply was a very casual, "oh."

I thought something was wrong and asked her if all was well. 

She sounded sad and said, no, Nonie - my niece - was unwell and had been sent to her already for the day because she was not going to school. I tut-tutted and said, "can I talk to her?"

My ma said, "I don't think she'd be interested."

I was aghast. I said, "how can you say that?" 

She totally side-stepped that and said, "Are you coming now?"

I said, "Do you want me to? I can if you need help with the baby."

Her answer was a bored, "not really."

This conversation was getting messier by the minute. Had the zombies attacked my parents' home?

So, I persisted, "what's up with you all?" 

She sounded really bored with the conversation by now and said, "we are watching Masha and the Bear and Masha has made dresses out of all seven of the bear's towels and now he has nothing to dry himself with when he takes a bath..."

My head was reeling. "WHAT?"

I heard my niece's voice suddenly shouting, "didu, didu, the bear's in the shower..."

My ma said, "I have to go now. The bear's in the shower," and disconnected.

Surely, the zombies have won and even my little niece is one of them. So, much for my trying to save my family from the attack of the zombies. 

Realization: As long as there is the television hanging from the drawing room wall. My family will be a part of the zombie tribe however much I try to save their souls. 

Friday, 2 February 2018

The DIY Managing Life Changes List

Change is perhaps the only constant in life and therefore, must be embraced with affection. It may not be a great thing always though and needs to be identified and dealt with as soon as you realize it is not doing you good.

Look at migratory birds that fly thousands of miles to avoid Arctic winters. Fly away from toxic changes as soon as you are able to identify them.

I believe that just like the birds we are all equipped to avoid toxic changes in our lives that hurt our well being. I am not talking about toxic people. Those you need to get rid of first before you press the reset button. These are the people who may have pushed you into the darkness in the first place. Don't worry about losing them. The world is full of amazing people waiting to meet the best you. 

It's difficult to make life-altering changes like getting rid of anger and depression. I can say this because, I have fought both with all my might. The former more than the latter.

Anger is like an all-consuming, red-hot and live piece of coal in that you are holding in your hands. The more you flail your hands, the more it burns and hurts you. Because, oxygen - duh!

Anger makes us lose our wisdom, go crazy for long periods of time when all you see is red. It's toxic. It gives you among other things, health issues. I get blinding headaches whenever I am angry. I hate being angry because, that is not my base nature. I am a happy-go-lucky kinda person (or would like to believe so because, believing is the first step into being) who gets on in life because I don't take things too personally. It's a very womanly trait. In normal life we call it, adjustment - all women are taught to adjust because they are expected to.

But, despite my mother's constant effort to make me a loving and adjusting kind of person, I was plagued by anger for a long time - for good reason too.

It took me a project that I worked on with a group of Buddhist practitioners to realize how anger had turned into my base nature because of circumstances. Thankfully with that realization, I could make a strong decision and get rid of it. It was pretty much easy once I had accepted that anger had taken over my personality.

Similarly, depression. I realized I was unable to do the most basic of things without feeling martyred. I would feel sad and everything, even the smallest of tasks seemed impossible to achieve. I told this to a dear friend during a phone conversation where she asked me why I had stopped meeting people. She was astute enough to point me to the right direction. From there on, it was my job to pull myself out of the hole I was sinking into. Not that others had not pointed it out before but, I had never accepted it until it came from her because, she was battling the demon with medicines and therapy because, it had gone too far already.

Change is difficult. Mood changes even more so. Strangely enough when you are plagued by moods, you end up doing some pretty impressive stuff too. I know because I do. Then, you start believing, "Wow! This is so cool. I think, I like it this way."

That is a bad decision to take because, the more you to stick to it the more difficult it gets to rid it off your system.

The first thing to do however, is acceptance. I think (and I am not a doctor) that acceptance of a problem is the first step towards righting it. Unless you accept that there is a problem, you can never work towards a solution.

Here's my list of getting over mood changes with the hope that someone out there reading this post is able to change the direction of their life like I was not once but, many times:

1) Accept the problem

2) Think of the root cause

3) Look inside yourself to find the solution

4) Be the change you want to see - imagine and achieve

5) Become aware of the catalysts and look them in the eye - don't be afraid of them

6) Make lifestyle and routine changes

7) Talk about it with trusted people

8) Make lists (if needed) and follow your own advice

9) If it is impossible to change the root cause, then stop worrying about it and start planning your life away from it

10) Exercise and keep yourself occupied - Read, write, dance, play with kids, watch happy movies, pursue hobbies - whatever it takes

11) Help others in need - no biggies needed, help an old lady cross the road, a child learn a poem. Anything that gives you instant warmth

12) Be thankful and grateful for all that you have

13) Tell people who are important in your life how much they matter

14) Plan your future - nothing long term but, you can easily have short term goals which when you achieve will give you immense pleasure

15) Do the things that used to make you happy as a kid - lie on a sheet of cloth and count stars or watch clouds, play catch with the kids, drink milkshakes or read comics - whatever picked you up when you were little and easily pleased

16) Laugh a lot, giggle and smile at even the silliest of jokes instead of rolling your eyes

17) Spend time with your family and be constructive at home - volunteer to buy groceries, cook or clean up the cupboards

18) Keep a diary - at least in the beginning

19) Read the diary to see how far you have come

20) Finally and this is my DIY pick-me-up formula when things go on recession mode - eat things you love and photograph the moments for happy memories to fall back on when things look bleak

I know that it may not be a great list from a medical point-of-view but, I never took medical advice. I just went for it with the mindset of a conqueror and developed this template for myself.

Today, when winter is finally turning into Spring - literally, I decided to share my list with others who are finding it difficult to adapt to change.

Have a rocking February!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

From Being Chased by a Washing Machine to making a New Year Resolution

I seldom dream or as most people have told me, care to remember any of them. But, when I do, I try to decipher it because it is usually a once-in-six-months kind of oddity. 

On the last day of the last year (2017), I went off to sleep around 11 pm because I was shit tired. I had worked long days on the 30th and 31st and was in no position to go out or wait for the fireworks to go off. I fell on my bed and literally died till I was woken up by my own voice trying to shout but, sounding like that of a wounded animal in pain. 

I think it was the sound that woke me up. I have never shouted in my sleep ever before or been woken up by my own voice. 

As I opened my eyes to a grey room I recalled the dream vividly. I was being chased by a washing machine inside a home and I was running away from it. 

I also recalled thinking someone was pushing it to follow me and that if I shouted for help, I would be rescued by people - most probably my family - who were in the next room.

I tried shouting but, I was unable to. I tried really hard a few times and that is when I made that garbled noise that woke me up.

As I came to consciousness in my own bedroom in the apartment I live in alone, I was scared for a bit. What did happen? Who was trying to chase me? Why was that person or apparition hiding behind a washing machine of all things to chase me down?
Questions that my mind started forming within minutes of my waking up. By the time my breath returned to normal, I was wondering what message was my mind trying to share with me.

Then suddenly I realized it was the new year and the old one just slipped away while I was sleeping. 

As is human, I started feeling happy about the new and soon forgot about the crazy 'chase scene' and fell back to sleep dreaming of fresh new stuff. After all, who doesn't love the new?

In the next two days, though I did not stop thinking about it and discussed it with my family. My mother found it extremely scary - but, she is my mother. Then, my sister asked me something very interesting, "Are you running away from something?"

That was a good start. So, I started thinking if there was any truth in her query. There was no one to ask but, myself and I spent a lot of time thinking if I was indeed trying to run away from anything in particular. 

A day later - today - I opened up dream interpretation sites and read about chase dreams. Bingo!

She was right. That exactly was how chases were explained. 

I have been running away from a whole lot of decisions from a long time. I have been procrastinating and even avoiding my own counsel. 

It doesn't take a lot of insight to interpret a dream when you are nudged in the right direction. 

The washing machine was probably my own creative imagination that made me make up all the fancy and Surf Excel excuses that help me put off doing things by another day and then another and yet one more. 

So, my super-simple new year resolution would be to worry not and jump into the fray.

There's not much to lose is there. A wise man (may God rest his soul) had once told me many years ago, "there are only two ways a situation can go. Negative or positive. There is no in-between." 

Somewhere in the rat race called life, I had forgotten this absolute gem of an advice and started worrying too much about failing. It's silly in the long run to be scared of not doing something because of the fear of not passing with flying colors.

Life is actually simple because, either we have or we don't have certain things. What we have doesn't come with a guarantee of forever after and what we don't have is always a possibility that we can achieve.

My father, another wise man whose interpretation of life is really very simple always insisted that everything goes away eventually. I have been so burdened with the scare of losing that I had stopped taking the leap of faith. 

This year when it came through, tried to jolt me awake and make me aware of my inactivity. 

It was funny too for the simple reason that probably the universe was irritated by my status quo or maybe it was my inner self. So, something as innocuous as a washing machine was used to chase me out of my stupor by powers that be. 

Once I had uncovered the meaning of the great chase and scream dream sequence that made my life exciting in the pre-dawn hours of the new year, I laughed. I laughed hard at the exasperation of my self that is so tired of me putting things off.

It made it very easy for me to form my resolution - "get moving"!

Have a great and awesome new 2018 and, "get your ass moving people!" Because, it is always better to chase your dreams rather than be chased by them.