Friday, February 27, 2015

The Hummingbird Flies Away

Sharing food, friendship and love...

We had dinner together yesterday. One more time we sat together, ate and cracked jokes. One more time before one of us flies away to pursue her career. All of us wanted to say something about the one who leaves but words failed us and a flood of feelings drowned us all. While returning home I thought of  a tree laden with fruits. When one fruit ripens, it falls down and leaves the tree to spread its sweetness somewhere else. The tree feels hurt. New fruits keep growing. But whenever a fruit falls, the tree feels bare.

The more I think of our group, the more it fascinates me. We have come from far and formed an unbreakable bond. I used to think that fast friends were made in schools or colleges. But it happened to me after that too. In fact, it happened after my motherhood. My thoughts kept me awake and my mind pondered on each one of them. I wish to celebrate these charming friends here. But I refrain from using their names. Rather I name them as I see them and you my reader may find one of your friend praised here. After all, we all make everlasting friends and then we dote on each other. So here's to those amigos:

Eat, laugh and be merry - Her life's mantra!

I begin with the Zany, the quipster of our gang. She was the first one to move away, breaking our hearts. The first time she told me, I was shocked into silence. I could not eat, I could not smile. I was angry at her for doing this to me. It has been so long but it seems we met yesterday. She never fails to make you laugh. She has the head-start in making friends. Jokes can never fall flat when she is around since she has the knack of bringing out humor in the drabbest situation. Her heart is like an open book. You read and read and read, and you laugh and laugh and laugh. You can spot her in hairbands often and somebody rightly termed her the hairband girl. She sometimes makes me imagine a female Laughing Buddha minus the rotundness. I wonder why she doesn't gain weight despite being a foodie. If you are cooking a sumptuous meal, or a spicy snack and you are gossiping without offering her anything, she gets fidgety, frowns, and says, 'Let us start eating.'

Playful Mom who always manages to make us laugh!

Next in line is our small wonder. She is the Juicy Lass. She carries with her an invisible bag of jokes. Her repertoire is always fresh and overflowing with double entendres. She somehow tries to keep her sanity intact as she juggles between her son who is a Ninja warrior and her daughter who is a delicate daffodil. I love her expressions when she looks at my son who is gaining height fast and wonders that soon he will be taller than her. She is an exciting combination of a mom and a naughty girl. Her 'fanda' about life is very clear. She is not the one who will dilly-dally over small things. She has a very practical approach to life and will be more than happy if you give her a good thought to think over. Given her practical nature, she surprises me when I see tears in her eyes as she sees a friend leaving. She wonders why this should happen. It would have been better if we never met, she feels. Well, especially for you my lass, I remember the words of the great poet Tennyson

It's better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all...

How in the world can we let go of the countless moments we have shared - in joy and in sorrow. We have been together, healing and humoring each other. So, today too, lets just go with the flow, just like you said to me one day.

Should I admire the mom more or the baby!

I move on to Prada. She is the fashion belle. She is the chic, stylish, upscale girl. She loves to have a good picture clicked of her. And she is lucky to have a patient husband. She is the one who has so many stories to share - about how she celebrated her birthday, her anniversary, her valentine day and so on. She is a perfectionist too. Her beautiful home testifies to this. When my unmindful husband visited her place, even he said to me , 'How do they keep the house so organised? She is your friend, how come you never asked her?' And I just smiled. Well, Prada can do anything and Prada can get anything done. And the list of her skills does not end here. Prada is a bewitching dancer and a superb artist. I still remember the day my daughter was born and she gave me a beautiful card on which had paper-quilled two pink feet, done by her own hands. I can just go on and on about her but I often want to ask her something - Given her drool-worthy wardrobe and shoe-collection, if she has to go somewhere for two days, how does she choose which ones to take and how heavy is her bag!

Yellow and green and beauty in between...!

Now comes the one who is breaking our heart this time - the Humming bird. I don't know why I call her so. Maybe because I read somewhere how strong the hummingbirds are despite their tiny stature. I have read that the hummingbird can take a non-stop journey of 500 miles which takes about 18-22 hours. My friend has the same tenacity, the same perseverance. And she keeps humming too. She is the chirpy chatter-box and complements well with our Juicy Lass cracking jokes. She is the one who can comprehend both the most obscure and the most obvious jests. When I think of her, I think of colors too. She reminds me of both spring and Fall when vibrant colors deck the nature and make the world so captivating. Be it bold pinks or vibrant yellows or spotless whites, she wears them all with unmatched confidence and cheer. No wonder Prada and Humming bird gel so well. Another feather to her cap - her art. It is something I lately discovered. I can picture her mastering her strokes as I gaze on the painting she gifted me that I have put on the wall. I marvel how interesting her persona is.

Best freinds and soul mates!

So much so for this tremendous group I have been a part of. That day when we went down the memory lane, I realized I had been absent so often. But I still remain a part of this group despite being well, so different. I had asked all of them to describe each one of us in one word. I put below the words and praises that each one has for the other

Zany - Prada calls you gregarious, Hummingbird finds you mirthful and Juicy Lass calls you candid.

Juicy Lass - Prada finds you naughty, Hummingbird thinks you are 'love guru' and Zany calls you 'extrovert, practical, one who gives best information and best practical advice and 'yaaron ka yaar'.

Prada - Zany finds you 'bold and full of confidence', one who wants everything perfect, one who will not make many friends but will give her 100% to those whom you befriend. Hummingbird calls you 'bosom buddy'. Juicy Lass finds you 'thoughtful and helpful'.

Hummingbird - Prada calls you her 'soul sister' and finds you 'convivial'. Zany feels you are 'impressive', 'determined' , one with 'bright positive vibes', and 'the best friend to be a friend with'. Juicy Lass thinks you are 'optimistic'.

As for me, you all called me 'altruistic' (Hummingbird), intellectual (Prada), strong-willed and tough(Zany)  and affectionate(Juicy Lass). 

Need I say more before the Hummingbird flies away.....

Another one!

And when all of us were together

Good Times!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The World will be Remade....

The world will be remade. And this is how:

Eve will not be the transgressor. If Adam slips, it will be because his feet have no suckers.

There would be no segregation of pink and blue colors. Sons would be able to play with dolls and they would not be scoffed at. If in certain tribes, boys were taken away from their mothers to be turned into ‘warriors’, then that practice will not be followed anywhere. Boys would remain with their mothers so that they can become sympathetic, affectionate and receptive. The world does not need warriors to sustain itself. It needs empathy, compassion and love.

Pandora will not be the harbinger of evils and sorrows. If Prometheus was the one who brought fire to Earth, Pandora will be the one who sustains that fire with her curiosity. Satiation is death. To keep exploring, to keep probing is life.  

There will be more Amelia Earharts, Harriet Tubmans, Mother Teresas, Marie Curies, Rosa Parkss, Kalpana Chawlas, Sania Mirzas, Mary Koms, Aung San Su Kis, and Malalas. There will be more of the other powerful women I have missed here.

Woman will not be the woe of man - not even in mythology.

Woman will be the wielder - in and out of the house.

Woman will still have the power to give birth. She will forever remain supreme in this regard. It will be she, and only she, who can create. She will imitate the Eternal Creator and man will not be able to surpass him in this.

The world remade would be a safe place for a woman. There will be no need for a chivalrous knight to protect her honor. No, not even the Greek Amazons will be needed. Good sense and wisdom will prevail.

Healthy competitions are a must for any society to progress. Static society is a dead society. But the world remade will be a world not of physical combats. Pen will be ‘mightier’ than sword. And right from the beginning of the beginning, woman will be the benefactress of knowledge. She will embody Saraswati, Isis, Minerva and Athena.

The world remade will be a world full of ‘phenomenal’ women, just as Maya Angelou said.

The world will be remade. And this is how....


 “I am participating in the #TheWorldRemade activityat BlogAdda in association with India Today #Conclave15 “.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Laundry at Uncle Sam's

It struck me yesterday again. Nine years into marriage, nine years in US. Unwillingly I dragged myself to the laundry room with my toddler hanging on one side and a big pile of laundry on the other. Yet another day to drudge, I said to myself. As I entered the laundry room, I saw three more ladies, all Indians. I knew two of them. Each was busy sorting through her mountains of linens. Inadvertently I smiled. I decided to write on this whole experience and joked with one of my friend there. 'See, we are all washing ladies.'

A little bit about those who were there that day. One of them was an MBA. I myself hold an M.Phil and NET. The other two ladies seemed well-educated too. We all were house-wives here. In this land of opportunities, as they say, we were our own domestic helps. There is nothing wrong in doing one's own work. It just simply looked like a mismatch, an incongruity of some sort as each of us waited to take turns, asking at the same time if the machines were working fine. If they were not, it meant spending additional hours on the monotonous task. The machines had been installed for making our work easier. But out of the four washers, one was mostly in a non-working condition. Same with dryers. One of them would leave your clothes damp after one full hour of drying. Tell me I don't miss drying my clothes on a clothesline in India where the warmth of sun turned them crispy fresh and huggable.

I mused how in the past nine years, I have waited and waited as clothes mounted and stacked on each other till the day they would be washed. It was like a ritual you did every few days. It came with its own protocol. There had to be a regularity in the observance of this routine for if you missed it on the allotted day, it would hang around your neck much like Coleridge's albatross. You might land up in the laundry room on an overcrowded day and the trips would become endless with you sandwiched between your own bags. Multiply your woes if it was winter and snow had kissed the ground!

It was different in India. Washing clothes happened everyday or every alternate day. There was an option to wash with hands or use a washing machine. A washer man or a washer woman was always handy. But drying was almost always in the open. The sky would look down at the colorful porch or backyard. Sun was mostly smiling, aiding the drying process. When the weather turned rainy or stormy, I remember my mom running outside to collect the clothes. As I grew up, I enjoyed helping her in this. I can still feel the raindrops trickling down, tickling my face as I rush to remove clothes from the clothesline. Pegs would scatter here and there. How colorful they were too. I remember fiddling with them until they snapped and I would spend a few minutes putting them back together only to break them apart again. It had its own joy.

Pegs in India were the colors of rainbow!

But a journey across the globe, the passage from a developing to a developed country changed it all. Nine years back, I had dreams of becoming a successful professional. But with marriage came the tag 'dependent'. And it was there to stay. When you land up with no work authorization, you often wonder what next. You join the herd of other well-qualified Indian ladies who have remained at home while hubbies go out to chase their dreams. You do the dishes, cook food, clean the toilets, mop the floor, clean the carpet and wash the clothes.

I folded my clothes the moment I brought them back home. (Sometimes I don't get the chance to do that as there are kids and other household chores.) I have seen some people do it there, in the laundry room itself. Some do it so slowly that they almost kill you with their 'speed'. Some take the clothes out from the machine one by one. One cloth after another, as each one is straightened out and carefully put in the basket in order to avoid extra ironing.(Those who are from India will again remember the washer woman who used to take their clothes for ironing and would return in the evening with the carefully organized bundle.) They drown themselves so much in the soporific task at hand that they overlook the fact that somebody is waiting behind them. They are hard to awaken until they are nudged verbally. 'Excuse me. Are you going to use the machine again?' The 'speed' quickens and you become the genie of the washer/dryer for the next hour or so.

Although it seems impolite, but it is something you cannot avoid. Everything is public. Your clothes, your style of washing, the choice of your laundry bags and baskets. Some people surprise you with their aesthetic gear while others just carry the clothes in big Hefty bags. Each according to his/her taste or convenience. Some leave you scorning and sneering because they wash their sports shoes in the machines too. Yikes! I am never going to use this machine again,  you hear yourself cribbing!

Laundry rooms, apart from doing the washing, serve another purpose as well. You are a nanny, you advertise yourself there. You are moving and need to sell everything...even your used but in-good-condition toaster, you put an ad there. You want to start a hobby class, pin a poster of information on the board in the laundry room. I myself have 'sold' my sofa and other stuff through this simple and inexpensive medium when I shifted. You want to learn guitar or take piano lessons at an affordable price, what do you do? Yes you guessed it right - Go to the laundry room!

Laundry at Uncle Sam's misses the sun though. No basking in the brightest star's warmth here. Even sun rays don't permeate the room as it lies in the basement. But it remains a predominant part of your life, much like the sun. Just as the days become gloomy without Mr. Sun smiling, the countenance becomes murky with your clothes piling and you itch for a trip to you know where!

My friends who have laundry machines in their apartments or those who are home-owners often complain about the tediousness of the affair. I cannot restrain my smile thinking about how banal it would be for me if it were not for my kids. My six year old hops like a monkey because he wants to charge the card and start the humming of the machine. And my 20-month daughter chants....Yaundly Yoom!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How the Sulky Town became happy.....

In a far far away land, there was a place called Sulky Town. It is a strange name for a place but so was it called. And do you know why it got this name? Well, because the people living there did not know how to laugh. They were always frowning and pouting and sulking and brooding.

It was only those few little children in the town who knew how to smile. But they were tired of the big folks. They would often wonder what was with these sullen faces. No matter what they did, big people would never smile.

One day, the children decided to call a fairy for help. They had overheard their elders talking about a fairy who was naughty and mischievous and who always created menace wherever she went. She had a strange name too. One of the town man said, " Her name is Giggle Fairy. Ever heard of such a name? I wonder what it means!" All the other elders agreed with this town man. Since nobody in the town had ever laughed, the meaning of giggle remained a mystery too!

"I heard that the Giggle Fairy visits the park every night. And since we are always fast asleep at that time, I wonder how we will meet her and ask her for help." the children of the town thought.

Of all the happiest and chirpiest of kids, there was a pair that stood out. That pair was of two brothers Max and Martin. They were twins. They loved to smile, they loved to joke and they loved to just monkey around the town. So they came up with a plan. They would go to bed early tonight. Max was going to stay awake for the first few hours after which he would wake up Martin. Then Martin would let Max catnap and then both of them would scurry out of their house and wake up their friends. The friends decided to keep their windows open for them that night.

Things went on as they had planned and the flock of merry urchins reached the park. Giggle Fairy arrived on time. Oh what a lovely fairy she was with dimples on her cheeks and with jingles on her lips. The kids squealed at her sight. The little ones did not waste a second and narrated their tale of woe. Giggle Fairy rolled her eyes and gazed at the sky, just wondering at the discovery of such grumpy beings. She whispered something to the kids and disappeared. The kids faces brightened and they went home.

The next morning, kids were late in getting up. They had stayed awake for so long after all. So when they got up, they came out of their houses. There was a lot of hurly-burly in the air. The commotion outside was being caused by something over their heads. All the elders stared at a bunch of somethings that was floating through the sky. It was colorful, and light and it drifted smoothly in the air. The elders mused what it was. They started chasing it. It hovered over a tree here and glided past a tree there. Many tried to grab it but it slipped past their fingers. It became a hunt, a race. The fastest racer ran, the swiftest climber jumped but the thing kept flying beyond them all until it finally became entangled in a branch. 

Nobody had realized it but the whole town was there, watching, holding their breath. The boldest, strongest man of the town came forward.
" I can get it", he bragged.

Hearts beat faster, pulses throbbed quicker and with a silence that was deafening, the mighty man pulled the thing down. He touched it here, and poked it there. Swelling with pride, he gave it another thrust when.....with a bang and a boom, the thing popped flat. The burst was followed by another explosion of laughter. The silent onlookers just cracked up. The startled robust man could not resist too. All the pride was gone. He laughed till his belly hurt. The others laughed till their eyes were wet. The children yelled 'Giggle Fairy' and the sulky town became jolly, jovial and joyful forever.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Beyond Words

Words are deep. Words are poignant, passionate, meaningful. They clarify, they state, they symbolize, they express. But there is a world beyond words - a world so intense and thoughtful that it outreaches the boundaries of language. It is a realm where feelings cannot be stated verbally, where the Maker muted the voices. Who knows if it was a contrivance on His part to let passions flow through a different, purer medium. Hazel had never met this world before, never until she met Scarlet.

Hazel was new in town. She had just moved in. For the past three days she had been busy setting up her things and had hardly left the house. Feeling overwhelmed by the boredom of it all, she decided to go out. The shore was so near that she could hear the ocean. The splashing waves kissed the shore and receded leaving behind wet sand, some pebbles and some sea-shells. Hazel picked up her violin and stepped out. She headed toward the shore joyfully. She looked at the new neighborhood and the house adjacent to hers. The house was quiet. She wondered who lived there. The blinds were open but it seemed that the house was empty.

Hazel reached the shore and immersed herself in music. Violin was her soul-mate. The music that poured out was perfect. It seemed that the waves danced to Hazel's strings. The scene was idyllic in its beauty, blissfully melodious and content. An hour passed. As the sky turned its hue, bidding goodbye to the day, Hazel traced her steps back. She again cast a look at her neighboring house. The lights were on. So there was someone inside. Her talkative self craved to have a word with someone. She decided to knock on the door and say hello. She tapped on the front door. There was no answer. She tapped again. Still no answer. As Hazel retreated, she saw a figure peeping through the window. When the spying figure realized she had been discovered, she hid behind. Hazel waited for a few seconds, intrigued. But there was no movement inside.

The next day Hazel spotted her watcher. She was a tall beautiful girl, almost Hazel's age. Before Hazel could reach her, she disappeared again. It became like a game between the two of them. And it continued for days. The only thing that changed was that the girl would often smile back at Hazel. But she never said a word. She became dauntless enough to follow the violinist to the shore and sit through her performance. Her face would gleam with joy almost akin to ecstasy. But the moment Hazel's music stopped, the listener got up and rushed away. Hazel being of an amiable nature did not mind this at all. The only thing that poked her was that the latter never spoke a word. If only, she said something....just once....just a hello maybe.....!

One day, the bashful admirer wrote something on the sand and left. Hazel hastily read what was written. S-C-A-R-L-E-T! Her name was Scarlet. 'This isn't bad! She seems to have taken the plunge," Hazel said to herself. She felt happy. Very happy.

Scarlet did not come out the next two days. Hazel was worried. She could not play violin. It seemed that she had been playing her music for her lone bystander and without her, there could be no melody. What was wrong? Where was she? Hazel was not sure if Scarlet would open the door if she went there. But she had to find out.

Nervous and anxious, Hazel approached Scarlet's house and knocked. Those few moments seemed like eternity to Hazel. She fidgeted as she waited for Scarlet to answer the door. Then, the door opened. Scarlet stood there. She looked fine.

"Where have you been? Why aren't you coming out? I was so worried? Don't you understand? You never say anything....Do you think I am a fool? What is wrong with you Scarlet?...."

The tirade would have continued but Scarlet motioned Hazel to come inside. Hazel followed her blindly. Then Scarlet pointed at something. Hazel looked around. The room was full of paintings. It seemed like a haven of art, brilliant aesthetic canvasses decorating each and every wall. Each work stood out like a masterpiece, absorbing the onlooker by its beauty and emotional appeal. But amid all the paintings, there was one that excelled beyond measure, one that flooded Hazel's eyes - the silhouette of a girl with a violin in her hand, the azure sky as a fitting backdrop. Yes, it was Hazel playing her violin! Yes, it was she drenched, lost in her music!

Painting by Nitish Sanan

Underneath the painting lay a note. Hazel picked up the note and read it

You violin is my voice. The music you play are my words. When the notes are sad, they speak of my grief. When the notes are happy, they express my delight. They are transmitters of my silent self. Thank you for giving me a voice. You do not know what you have done to me. 


Hazel did not know how to react. For the first time, she felt that she had no words to convey how her heart felt. The painting had touched a hitherto unknown chord inside her. The note left her speechless, with a heart overflowing with love. She hugged Scarlet tightly. Then she picked up the violin and started playing a beautiful composition, just for the two of them. Since words became inadequate  it was only music that could complement the feelings of gratitude and fondness the immaculate canvas had induced.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Silver Love

A few days back while visiting Walmart, I chanced upon a very old couple. They must have been in late eighties. The pair looked elegant, exceptional, extraordinary. What made them seem so unique was their age and their closeness. In the times that we live, life is short and relationships even shorter. Perhaps that is the reason the couple stood out of the crowd. And I was reminded of a saying I had read earlier that " The most romantic love story isn't Romeo and Juliet who died together but Grandma and Grandpa who grew old together". Growing old is truly a privilege and growing old together....with your loved one, a rarity and a blessing. So here is my tribute to that lovely couple and to all those couples who stay together through thick and thin and hang around till their hair turn silver. After all, it is us who retire, and not love.

Outside the parking lot of a grocery store
A car takes rounds, one after the other
before it stops at the perfect parking spot...
I do not notice the make but the color is silver
The doors do not open at once
They take a few minutes...
Perhaps some important talk
Before they come into view
He steps out wearing suede boots
rich brown in color
the jacket is tan too
He does not go towards her side
She comes out on her own
Her feet wear easy pull-on boots
dark chocolate 
Her coat is crimson and her lips ruby red
Slowly she walks toward her man
The two silvery heads nod, the two stooping bodies hold hands
He pats on her shoulder
Slowly, very slowly they walk
He whispers something in her ears
She smiles and replies
He smiles back
Shriveled fingers clasped tightly
As if locked in eternal embrace
A rare picture of love these days
I keep looking at them 
The beauty of their love
the striking intimacy
the incredible living picture of 'till death do us part'
I wonder if there can be a better way to celebrate love
than to be like them
to be old and to be in love still
to be old and be next to each other still
after all those long years
after all the dreams accomplished
after all the goals reached
after all the tears shed
after all the smiles shared
to still be there for the other
living, loving forever.....