Year of beginnings, 2016

Same time last year, the reflective last few hours of 2015, I had decided that in 2016 I will take out time to do few things out of routine, out of my general commitments to family and work. I will do this to enrich myself with new knowledge, to gain new experiences and to continue to discover myself even as I am turning boringly old in the 30's club. 

I opened an unused Diary and jotted down three headings in three pages: Five new books, Five new places, Five new things to do. It may seem as a rather simple target to set for few, but once you are on a vicious homemaker-mother-employee cycle, this simple target seems almost impossible to accomplish. So was I able to accomplish what I set to achieve?

Let me start with the books 📖. To be honest, I don't get more than 10 minutes a day to give to a book and I get these 10 minutes when I am at the loo. This has become my secret 'me' time where I can loose myself (pun intended) in a book, in a story, in a character. This isn't necessarily without my daughter waiting for me by the door. Being a working mother, I am never in the habit of losing time, not even these 10 minutes! So the first book that made it through the door in 2016 was "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua gifted to me by my husband. He knows nothing else could please me more than a story of a strong mother. His idea of gifting me this book completely worked as I went on to love the book. I did write a blog post about this book and how it at least seeded a thought in me about parenting outlooks. I couldn't relate a hundred percent to the extreme parenting technique of author Amy but I figured out an imaginary Rigidity Parenting Scale where if Amy's was a 100 then my mom's was a 70. I am probably going to be a 50 on this scale myself! The next book which I picked up was the result of all frustrating home-making moments put together - "The Super Woman's Guide to Super Fulfillment" by Dr. Jaime Kulaga. I never thought it would get to this, because picking up this book almost felt like going to a counselor for urgent mental health help! But yes, life could take you through such moments and I know it is not a bad idea to ask for help. I have just read the first two chapters of this book and somethings got sorted out for me right there. I need more reflective time with this book, so it isn't exactly a perfect loo companion. Will get back to it in 2017. The last one I can mention here apart from the many R.D stories I read around the year is  "The Girl who Chose" by Devdutt Patnaik. An aesthetically conceived book, leaves you thinking about all the choices you've made and how it has affected you thus far. I concluded thinking that our thoughts can wander on "what ifs" but the beauty of a true story is that it is never based on "what ifs", it's always about the choices people end up making. 

3/5 for Five New books!

I knew it would be really hard to visit Five New Places this year. But, unlike few previous years, I am glad we at-least made it to Two! The first one was Ujjani, a village approximately 100 km from Bangalore. It is my uncle's family home and village where they own acres of agricultural land. They grow coconuts, mangoes, ragi and such. The first day of 2016, we woke up in Ujjani to the pleasing call of birds. Fresh cold coconut water replaced our coffee and a brisk walk to the lake and temple were highlights of this family union trip. Our second trip was to Udaipur, a road trip with family, our first after our daughter was born. So quite a milestone really! It was like a breath of fresh air, recharging our bodies and minds. The escape from routines, escape from household chores, escape from everything known. We stayed at the Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel, where apparently the Bond flick Octopussy was shot many years back. Suddenly elevated to royalty, it felt surreal and more so when we visited interiors of the palace imagining how kings and queens must have lived. I totally needed more time to shop in this Udaipuri shopper's stop street called "Haathi Pol". The knick-knacks, dresses,  artifacts, shoes looked way too tempting to let go. In my next trip for sure! Our road trip ended with my husband's 6 hour non-stop driving stint back to home base. 

2/5 for Five New Places! 

The most difficult things to do are those out of your comfort zone. So,  5 new things to do had to be something that I've wanted to do but never done,  something i fear to do or just hate. Like cooking.. I don't like to cook all that much. This year and the number is shamefully low but I tried making just two new dishes. One was Pinepapple Rasam and the other was Mushroom Soup. Both were liked immensely by my family. I never liked mushroom until I made this soup and it was really good. 

Throwing away glass bottles is easy,  making use of them or recycling them is not. I tried my hand at recycling ♻ glass bottles by painting them. Here's one outcome I was happy and proud about.

Last, but not the least I learnt to drive a four-wheeler and got over my fear of driving in India! This has been a major relief and made me lot more independent. I'm loving it. 🎔

Glass Painting on a used honey bottle

Pineapple Rasam in the making

3/5 for New Things To Do! 

Now that my daughter is older and wiser (or is she!), I think 2017 will offer me lot more time to myself and my aspirations. 2017 has already started on a good note,  plan to keep up the mood and challenge myself to go beyond what I taught myself in 2016.😃

Bye-Bye 2016 . Welcome 2017.


Art with a Heart!

Who in this world has the time to make something for you, with their own hands? In the age of assembly line like production for pretty much everything including our daily diet, handicraft stores come as a welcome change. Luckily, I live in Vadodara, Gujarat – a city well known for being a producer and marketer of Gujarat’s handicraft products. Here are some reflections from a recent handicraft exhibition visit.
Kutch embroidery work, popularly known as Kutch work is love at first sight for me. One can find me staring in awe at those intricately sewn thread work patterns replete with mirrors and beads. The colourful patterns hypnotize me of sorts, making it hard to take my eyes off them. When you hold a Kachchi cloth in your hand, you can feel how heavy the thread work has made the underlying fabric, brushing upon you a whiff and some loose threads left by the worker who originally made it. Kutch work is done on a host of items – blouses, skirts, hand bags, pillow covers, bed spreads and even shoes!
My next halt is at the stall that sells fabrics. Here, Salwar kameez fabrics are hand dyed cotton or jute yarns with special block prints. That’s an age old tradition of stamping designs or motifs on dyed cloth. Designs are often inspired by nature and include leaves, mangoes, peacocks as well as human figurines. I would hate leaving the store without picking up such a fabric which smells so old world, rustic and even dusty, almost Earthly.
Thanks to a very loud and jarring announcement of a puppet-musical, the shopping crowd drifts towards the puppet arena. Painted wood and cloth beings depict a human love story while dancing to folk tunes of love and longing. Today, these tunes sound familiar to the urban crowd thanks to Bollywood remixes of the original folk classics. I am myself quite enraptured by the whole setting and village like ambience.
The hut like food stalls blend in perfectly with the milieu. My favourite menu item is always the Pani-poori which one can imagine as wafer like hollow buns filled with potato-onion-chickpeas stuffing and to be eaten immediately after being dipped into spicy-sweet-tamarind water. So an amazing mix of flavours literally explodes in your mouth and while you are just registering what happened there, you are already asking for the next poori! I asked for ten of these before I decided it’s time for another round of handicraft shopping.

I take my time to sift through several other stalls which include pottery, clay work, wood work, 

traditional Warli paintings, and embroidery work. I pick up small nothings like embroidered key 

chains, bird hangings, Kutch-clutch purses and even small clay pots. Each of these items remind me 

that a little bit of time and a whit of art can indeed create a beautiful world around us! I always leave

inspired to contribute a little time to making something with my own hands for people I care about. 

Whatever the outcome, I call it ‘art with a heart’!  

Kick out Negativity


The world is full of people and people are full of thoughts, ideas and feelings. We live in a society and enjoy the company of friends and family. But what happens when these people who share your life, who become a part of it by virtue of relationships or friendships contribute in negative ways to your life. People share negative thoughts, negative ideas, negative emotions and constantly prod you to be party to their "negative" thought process. Infact, things like news and television can also constantly add to your daily dose of negativity.

You, if you are like me, on the inside don't like that they are talking so negatively about say a person but on the outside nod your head or stare as if you are watching Arnab Goswami on Primetime, without basically adding anything to what they are saying. You would think that this was a good way of handling "negative talk" situations. But after repeated exposure to such incidents I have understood that even if you do not REACT to negativity, you are being affected by it and at some point your reactions will surface. You'll be quite surprised when they do.



Take for example how Aamir Khan reacted to the intolerance issue hovering over India like Armageddon. Was he to blame? I guess not. We all react to constant negative banter in some way or the other. The worst is when we take this negative banter to be the truth and start believing in it without making complete sense out of it. We've all done it at some point or the other. Sometimes we've done it just to make conversation, sometimes to keep friendships and relationships from breaking up. And sometimes to dig ourselves out of our morality shell and take a hike.

You can dismiss however much, but ultimately all this negative talk will slowly but surely affect you and your actions. So, how can we tackle this and let our thoughts flow towards positive ones and ones that help you retain your inner sane self? Here are my escape routes. Pick yours!

1. If possible minimize conversations with people who think negative about each and every thing and every person. If maintaining relationships with this negative soul is a must, do the minimum required. At some point, give them the message!

2. Breathe in, breathe out. Meditate. They say this is good for the mind and heart. Utilizing spare time to exercise is definitely a good option.

3. Spend time with children. Notice their pure heart. Their wants are so basic. Their happiness is so viral. Why can't we grow up like this? Where does the innocence vanish? Think about it, take notes and read them once in a while!

4. "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people" - Eleanor Roosevelt. This one needs no explanation and is a mighty useful quote if we can stick to it.



5. This one is difficult but something I have to put in here. "Simply think positive". Just try and think positive about every thing that happens in the world. Think positive about people and their actions. Just think good stuff. Be happy and let other's be happy.

6. Remember this - The world is not conspiring against you. People have better things to do.

7. Have trust in people, their words and their actions. Read No.6 again.

8. Get a hold on how you feel about other people. Try not to harbour jealousy, hatred and other negative emotions.

9. Let go and move on. Do something, anything that brings value to you, your family, your friends, your society and not necessarily in that order!

10. No, I don't want to go on with saint like advice here so I will stop. But you get the drift!

Basically, staying positive and thinking good stuff will make you happy about you are while you are here and who you were when you are not :) Zimple.









Two years of mommy-ness

Yesterday, my daughter turned two. That marked 730 days of awesomeness with her! To be honest, not all the 730 days were exactly awesome, some were terrible and some I marvel that I got through. To note a few of the ups and downs in this mommy journey of mine, I write this self appraisal note and wonder what's my next KRA (key responsibility area in corporate lingo).

The first 10 days: Inexperience, fear, pain and the added pain of responsibility. This sunk me in. I was overwhelmed with emotions I am scared to even think about again. Happiness crept in much, much later. The whole idea that a living thing was dependent on me scared me to tears. Of course, her presence in my arms still kept me going, brought in the fierce mother's courage and told me to do what I need to do.

The first six months: She lived ONLY on my milk for six months! At times when I was away from her for more than two-three hours, I panicked to reach back to her. I think I was addicted to feeding her more than she was to feeding from me. The feeding sessions were very long at first but as she gained more power to suckle, the duration reduced and I was glad for that! I used feeding times to read books, mostly. Initially, I read 'Chicken Soup for the New Mom's Soul' which I am really grateful to for helping me regain some mental balance. Then I read up most of the Mahabharat albeit in comic form by Amar Chitra Katha, secretly hoping to transfer some of the wisdom from this epic to my daughter. I'd rather forget her colic cries which used to ring in itself regularly at evening hours of each day. But happy to be done with it!

7th month to 12th month: I took care of her for around 3 months this time all by myself (working part time from home), as in no support from mom or mom-in-law. I was so proud of myself. Things that helped me get through this was the jhoola in Hindi or jholi in Kannada (in which she slept peacefully multiple times in a day) and lots of toys which kept her busy. This was also an amazing developmental period for my daughter. She learnt to sit up, crawl on fours, walk, sit back on things all in a matter of days. It was simply touching to watch every minute of her growth. I took numerous pictures at this time and completely loved photographing her! We had a lovely mother-daughter time.

12th month to 18th month: I stopped giving her oil massages because it was getting impossible to hold her in one place. This period I spent a lot of time with my parents and in-laws at their places. New people, new environments had their challenges but we knew this is just the beginning, we have lots of new people and places left to see. Enjoyed every bit of time spent with her grandparents. Finally and forcefully stopped feeding her but tremendously satisfied to have given my best!

18th month to 24th month: I see that my daughter is getting very independent. She eats on her own, doesn't like to be fed. She's learning new words and new things all the time. She's wearing clothes by herself. She's familiar with how to use my cell phone which is not a surprise in today's times. She's picked up so many words in so many languages! She has more sense of what's happening around her and I cannot cheat her no more. So the challenges are getting difficult by the day, for me, to keep her occupied and to keep myself sane. 

Definitely feeling good after two years of mommy-ness as I too grew up a whole lot and learnt a great deal. Well done indeed! So, as my daughter turns two, as I see it,  I have in front of me, a life that I can shape, a mind that I can open up and a personality that I can do much to develop. KRAs (responsibilities) just got bigger and better. 

Appraisal done, now there's work to do from two to twenty and then some! 


Grey Grey Grey

Few are White.
Few are Black.
Most are Grey, alright.

It's tough to be White.
It's tough to be Black.
It's easy to be Grey, alright.

White has No Compromise.
Black has Little Conscience.
Grey has No Other Choice! Alright.

White feels good.
Black feels bad.
Grey is life and
Grey is human.

I am grey grey grey, alright.