Monday, March 30, 2015

Are you aware you are consuming GMOs everday?

I woke up in a confused state of mind today. How you start your mornings defines to a large extent how the day will go by. Mine seems to be going tough. The reason - I don't know if what I am eating and feeding my family is healthy. The reason for not knowing is the unethical approval and non-branding of products containing GMO, edible and otherwise that I use everyday.

Living in a developed country makes you feel that what you are eating is edible and approved by the FDA to maintain the health standards of the country. But it is not the case. Food contamination is occurring in newer forms these days, with the appearance of genetically modified products in the market.

I was naive to think that foods and other products that contain GMO (genetically modified organisms) are labelled for the consumer so that s/he can make an informed choice. But sadly, the proponents of biotechnology have successfully lobbied against the labeling. As a result, we do not know whether we are consuming something that is 'natural' or something that is 'genetically engineered'.

Did you buy GMOs today?

The other day, while watching the Dr. Oz show, I found out that the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) has approved the production of Arctic Apples - the first genetically modified apple that will not turn brown when sliced. I wondered why this was needed. Is aesthetics more important than health? Is it worth to trade health for beauty? Those who claim that no harm is done to the consumer should question themselves again. Our entire nature is being polluted.

GMOs are all about manipulation. When the gene of a living organism is artificially modified and when such living organism is used to further mutate the genetic structure of the plant, it causes an unnatural balance. Use of GMOs also increases the utilization of harmful herbicides and insecticides which further create herbicide-resistant 'super weeds' and 'super bugs'. When I read all this, I wonder how the brain of scientists functions. First, with their experiments, they play with nature. Then, they produce things that are 'engineered' and pose health hazards as well as threats to nature. Then, they get busy in finding solutions to these hazards that they made with their own hands. It is like running in a circle of absurdity, surreal and treacherous.

I was surprised to learn that 80% of the things we eat and use everyday have been genetically modified. And it is not mandatory in US to label products if they have GMO. So, most of the cooking oils that we use have GMO. The crops that have most commercial usage, like corn and soybean, fruits like papaya, vegetables like squash and zucchini have all been genetically engineered. Processed foods containing ascorbic acid, citric acid, food flavorings, vitamins, xanthan gum, high fructose corn syrup, yeast products - they all contain GMOs.

I am stunned. I thought that being a vegetarian, and filling my platter with fruits and vegetables made be less prone to disease. But I have to dig deeper and find out a non-GMO alternative to whatever I eat. I feel happy if food does not spoil easily and has a longer shelf-life. But if that is because of some genetic manipulation, I would rather discard it. I am ready to take multiple trips to the market to buy fresh fruit and vegetable everyday rather than stock up my refrigerator with 'artificial' foods.

The easiest, though expensive, solution to this big problem is to go organic. I had debated long over the 'nutritional' benefits of organic products. Even the kids' pediatrician was double-minded over this one. But after doing my own reading, I feel that I should start afresh.

GMOs have to be countered by another GMO - Get More Organic.
Also google for the Non-GMO products and brands and start making gradual changes.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

My Bucket List feels Funny.....Do you think so too....?

This post is written for Indiblogger IndiSpire #58

AHH......I sigh a big sigh. How do I compile a list of just 10 things I want to do before I die. I smile, I fidget on my chair. I pick up a pen and jot down some points. I strike off some, then add another. And finally I have this list for you. You will find some things funny, some things silly....But then each person has a mind and taste of his/her own. So bear with me and my list and in the end, just smile.....

10) Invent a Flawless Teether for Babies - I want to make a teether that babies will actually chew upon and leave alone the poor corners of tables and cushions and germy keys and remotes. I have not seen a single baby (two of mine included) satisfied with the best teether that is out there in the market. Maybe one day I will be The Lady who Invented The Best Teether in the Whole World....not just Best.....The Best Working Teether......

9) Read Midnight's Children again - I want to read honorable Mr. Rushdie's Midnight Children again and see if I can make sense out of it. I love magic, Sir and I am fond of realism in literature as well. But when the two combine, Good Lord, my brain goes bananas. But this time, one more time, I will dwell into in really deeply and try to remember what happens when and why....

8) Watch a Broadway show in New York - What's the big deal with that? Ask me. As they say, nearer to Rome, farther than the Church. I live in the vicinity of NY and I have been here nine long years, BUT, and a BIG BUT, I have not been to a single Broadway show. My soul screams....CRIME.....

7) Learn to play The Flight of the Bumblebee on piano - I love the piece, absolutely love it. The peppiness, the liveliness always make me feel like a bumblebee searching for nectar, fluttering my tiny wings and hovering from one flower to another. If you have not heard the piece, google it, and tune into the magic.

6) Visit the home of the Bard - London - Who knows I might meet the soul of the great playwright, Shakespeare as I recite lines from Hamlet, Anthony and Cleopatra and Othello. me the creeps....Oxford University waits to see me too...!

5) Write a post that goes hugely viral - Have you seen a baby who has just learnt to walk. The baby leaps with wobbly stride and seems to conquer the world all at once. Picture me there. A newbie on the blogging screen wanting to go viral all at once. HELP ME PLEASE....!!! Just a few thousand likes and votes!

4) Make the perfect egg-less whole wheat cookies - Well, I did try a few recipes. All failed. Nothing can beat those market-bought packets of atta biscuits that I used to devour. Have you ever tasted the absolutely heavenly tea-dipped exquisite atta-cookies I mention? What, you don't drink tea? What a pity...!!! You must, believe me. Be it cold wintry days or soporific sunny summers, they will delight you. And my search for the perfect recipe continues. Or maybe, recipe is perfect but the cook fails every time....!

3) Teach again - I was a teacher, once. In a college, for a very brief time. Motherhood has made me a teacher 24/7. But I want to go back to the profession again. This time, with kids. Kids are so full of ideas, so full of optimism. They can never fail you. You teach them, and they teach you the lessons of life in return.

2) Write a book on my mom - My mom is my strength. She is an epitome of courage. Her life has been full of bumps. But she stands strong. Her childhood was almost like a fairy tale. All that I write will be in vain if I don't utilize my skills toward writing a memoir on her. I owe my everything to her. I have to do this.

1) Grow old holding my husband's wrinkled hands in my own wasted ones - Yes, I really want this one. When he stoops and I bend, when our bodies dwindle, but our love grows, when our grandchildren come to him to hear the worldly-wise anecdotes from him (he is full of them and I always fall in love with him every time he speaks a beautiful analogy) and when I feed those little tummies with laddoos I learnt from my grandma, life will feel complete.

So you see, this is my bucket list. Life's simple things that will make me great forever. Live life such so that you live forever in the heart of your loved ones. Love to all..!!!

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We will eat Ice-cream.....

Fresh, crisp grass shone everywhere. Spring showers had rejuvenated life again. Winter slumber scurried away as scents from spring flowers loomed in the air sending waves of fresh delight. Nature stood smiling, ready to embrace the little kids coming out of their houses. After all, she too had missed the chirpy companionship of her buddies. 

But one of her companion stood there with no smily curve on his face. He fidgeted and walked uneasily, turning and looking in one direction. It seemed like he was waiting for someone or something. His friends kept calling him, reminding that they did not have a long time to play as they all had to go to work. But he ignored their calls and stood there or just kept pacing to and fro restlessly. 

He was a nine year old boy wearing a tattered blue t-shirt and a dusty shorts. His appearance was far from clean. He might have been working the whole day carrying heavy loads to the truck and back again. It was not his age to work. No, not at all. But it was better to labor and earn bread on a daily basis than die of hunger pangs. He had felt his stomach churn and ache terribly when he had not eaten anything for three days. It had not been easy. He did not have any family. He had to look after himself. 

Summers brought him the sole delight of his life. At least for the past two years, this had been the trend. A chance meeting with baba - the old man who came to the park to sell ice-cream. Baba used to tell him stories. There was always a little boy in all the stories. Baba weaved yarns of fantasy as well as tales of inspiration. He had also taught him to read and write a little. Every single day of summer had been spent with baba. And every single night was spent in the dreams that the mind created out of the stories he heard from him. 

But two days had passed and baba had not turned up this year. Baba used to go away as winters came. He said that he had a family and he would go visit them in winters. It was warm there where his family lived at that time. But baba had been punctual in warm days. Why was he not here? Was he ill? Had something happened to him?

In his anxiety, the little boy headed toward the shanty where baba lived in summers. But baba was not there. Disappointed, the boy retreated to the park. From a distance, he could hear kids hollering for ice-cream. But instead of baba's vending machine, there stood a truck - a food truck selling ice-cream and other snacks. Friends yelled out his name but he was not in the mood to eat anything. Then a voice called out his name, "Vishnu.....kahaani sunega...."(Vishnu...will you hear a story?).

Vishnu's heart skipped a beat. 

It was Baba's voice!
It was baba's truck!!
Baba had come!!! 

There would be summer again in his cold life. There would be warmth again in his frigid heart. He rushed towards him. He tripped and fell down. His knees were bruised as they scraped against the pebbly road. But he did not care. His wounds needed no healing. His heart was repaired and that was all that mattered.

"This time I will tell you a story of an old man who bought a truck for his little son so that he would never have to part from him again, be it summer or be it winter," baba said.

"Every time I went away from you, my heart bled, Vishnu. So this time, I decided we are never going to part. I have worked hard all these years. I have no family but you. When I saw you two years back, it seemed that sun shining above had given me a reason to live. The first time I met you, I saw that you were my life. I don't know why. I might have died without you, I was so utterly wasted at that time. But when I saw you slaving your life away, I decided I would live for you. You will not work now. I will send you to school. Your early childhood is sadly lost. But in the coming years, I will do what I can to keep the sun smiling in your life. If it rains, we will shelter each other. If it is hot, we will eat ice-cream...."

Vishnu smiled. Tears kept flowing. Baba scooped out his favorite mango flavor. Then he sat him down beside him to spin another story.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

All that she wanted was.....

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She was fascinated by the world of words. She wondered how people write so nicely. A poem was enough to mesmerize her, a word was sometimes enough to melt her. A good thought, a good book left her enchanted. For many years she sat, she read, she wondered....

One day, as she took a trip down the memory lane, she felt a sharp urge to pen down what she thought. And some magic happened. No, she did not turn into a prodigy. She just discovered a great sense of satisfaction. She shared her thoughts with some friends who congratulated her on the new journey she had undertaken.

She was happy. She kept committing herself to The passion to write was followed by a deep necessity of an audience. Of course, there were friends. But how does she reach out to a bigger circle?

She hunted other blogs. She saw almost everyone having a whopping following, varying within the range of anywhere between 100 and 500, and in some cases, even more...!!!!!

There were bloggers flaunting awards and badges, blogs teeming with comments which proved they were being revered....

PHEW! I need followers on my blog, she thought.  So, she requested friends to 'follow' her, to 'share' her posts. They all promised. A handful actually did what she had requested. She did not ask why. Everyone sure would have a good reason, she thought.

Then there was a long spell of inaction - no, not from her side. It was from the side of her audience. She was confused.

She needed, really...., badly needed something very cardinal, very essential. She needed a good number of ....well......EARS!

Anybody there....?

She wanted people to hear her. She wanted them to hear her so that she could talk to them. She wanted them to hear her in order to get the conversation started.

She looked around. She started hunting again. She held a thorough inquiry, an intense rummaging of random blogs.

The forage led her to a blog where she read....Find me here at and here at

Mouth wide open, eyes popped out,  fingers typed hurriedly and she registered at both the sites. The first one responded promptly. The second one took longer than a week which made her send a query mail. The reply came with blog approval.

Once registered, she started posting. Within a week, she found lots and lots of

She is happy now.

She wants to thank and sincerely.

She thanks in earnest the bloggers who have added her to their network. She is grateful to the fellow-writers who have spared the time to hear her. She is thankful to all those who will add her, read her, hear her in future.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

I am an Indian - What is my Culture?

This post is written for Indiblogger IndiSpire #57

Religion? Tradition? God? Language? Scripture? Food? Attire???????????

What is Indian Culture…..?

What is Indian culture? I brood and brood and brood. I cannot find a conclusive answer.

I remember my mom narrating stories about the time she was in Europe. She was a child then. My grandfather worked in Indian Foreign Service. My grandmother was an epitome of beauty and grace. She was also the carrier of 'culture' from India to Europe. My mom used to show me pictures of my grandmother wearing the most beautiful Indian sarees and she always wore a big red bindi on her forehead. She was an expert in exquisite Indian dishes. That made me think of culture as the clothes we wear and the foods we eat. 

Then I was reminded of the religious rituals we followed every year. There were certain festivals we celebrated in our own peculiar ways. So, maybe culture is the religion we follow, I thought. But then, it was my culture. I thought about the people who had different belief-systems and celebrated different rituals and festivals while living in India. It was their religion, their culture. Maybe, the fact that we co-existed, and were tolerant as well as respectful to others' faith made us Indian. That was Indian culture.

The question kept on prodding and poking my brain. My mind went on a roller-coaster ride from mythological stories to the good as well as the infamous practices of our ancestors. Everything had been assimilated as Indian culture. If there was sati, there was reform. If there was casteism, there was a Gandhi. At different times, at different places, traditions and practices had defined the values of the society and that had become part of a mega-term which came to be called Indian culture. The notion of 'Indian' came only after the aftermath of colonialism, I guess, when the concept of nationhood emerged. 

So culture was a conglomeration of the many and myriad sub-cultures of the varied section of society. It became a matter of pride and definition when my grandmother donned the traditional Indian attire in front of her European counterparts and made them drool over the mouth-watering 'Indian' delicacies she prepared. But then my grandfather wore 'western' clothes, and that did not make him a non-Indian. In fact, he too was carrying the idea of a welcoming 'Indian' abroad. They both were doing their bit of carrying forward the idea of being an Indian. One stood for assimilation and the other for differentiation. 

I thought about the many languages we speak. I thought of  the scriptures we have read. I thought of the Brahmavadinis who had defined ancient India and the hidden muted women behind the veil in the Mughal era. I thought of the journeys that our ancestors had made at different points in history. These journeys had caused a further mishmash of practices. I pondered over the recent news I had read about Asian men carrying the DNA of the Mongolian ruler Ghenghis Khan.

History abounded in stories of creation, disruption, recreation, rebellion and redefinition. Past narrated stories of change, stories of regression and progress. There was so much that was part of the Indian history that had defined what we are today.

Then, there was the architecture. The caves of Ajanta and Ellora, that monument of love - Taj Mahal, those great centers of learning - the ancient universities of Nalanda and Takshila, the havelis of Rajasthan, the great temples of South, the Sanchi Stupa of Buddha, the great Ashoka pillar of the Mauryan emperor who preached that 'Contact (between religions) is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions.'(Source - Wikipedia, Edicts of Asoka)

I could not find a single, all-encompassing definition for the term 'Indian Culture'. What this investigation did to me however was very uplifting. It made me dig deep into who we are. It made me feel that the people who create divisions in our society in the name of 'Indian Culture' are actually the one who lack the knowledge of what constitutes Indian identity. These are the people who taint the 'culture' by malicious thought. They are not the receptacles of  culture. They are not the custodians of our past. The more they harp on restrictive ideologies, the more our identity will shine. Because we have resilience. Because we can fight back. After all, as Iqbal says

'कुछ बात है कि हस्ती मिटती नहीं हमारी' 

There is something in us that fights back and does not let us die.

I am a flow….I am a process….I keep defining myself….I am what you were and what you will be…..I am your culture.

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It hits on me....

It lures me, it beckons me
It is the edge of the world
No, it does not promise me a pot of gold
Or eternal youth or unspeckled beauty
No, it does not warrant long-lasting riches or enduring health....
It hits on me with something else....
It creates images of faces I want to see
Of my Dad and my brother holding hands
It makes me hear sounds I want to hear 
Of their cheerful laughter and their hearty voices
It tempts me with the touch I want to feel
Of their warm hands and comforting clasps
It gives me a glimpse of the glee that is lost....
Should I reach out and touch those hands?
I wonder.....
I can't.....
Bells chime in the room
Sending waves of familiar sounds to my ears...
Mom waits for my call, 
Yearns to see me, hear me, hug me....
How can I go to the edge of the world
when I have so many things left undone here?
So many songs unsung?
So many smiles to spread?
So many tears to wipe?
So many little hands to hold and guide
to the path of life?
So many words of encouragement to write?
So many books of wisdom to read?
How can I go to the edge of the world
that sends visions of mirth and joy
when so many weeping hearts on this earth
are waiting to hear some strains of hope
I have work to do, loads of work to do
The edge of the world will have to wait....
For some other day, some other time.....
But it will be in me as long as I am,
In lonely thoughts
In solitary rooms
To give me a shoulder to lean on
To give me hope
To let me dream
Of those who can't be here anymore.....

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Another WOW badge....!

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Shopping for a Saree


The other day, all the ladies in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma decide to go shopping for a saree. for a saree. Sitting in US, my mind roller-coasted back to India, way back in time when I was little and when I used to accompany my mom for saree-shopping. It was way before the CTC plaza era....way before the now-poplar designers had made their presence felt.

We used to haunt a very sought-after saree shop of those times in the center of a crowded market in Gurgaon. It was a market minus the mushrooming malls of today. Small shops hugged each other in friendly cuddle along with rickshaws, autos, bicycles, pedestrians, cows, dogs, and humans. The name of the shop was Suman Vastralaya. I have to ask my mom if the shop is still there. I have been in US for the past nine years so I have no clue to the shop's existence or otherwise.

The shop boasted of a trendy and exclusive collection that suited the taste of both the conservative and the contemporary shoppers. Aunties would throng the shop along with other aunties and little children. The shopkeeper knew almost everyone. It was an era of familiarity between the shopper and shop-owner. Uncle, I mean the owner, would treat all the little kids and aunties with cold drinks and tea. He would ask about all family-members' well-being. Then he would offer a good discount to his regular customers without asking for it. There was no need to bargain. My mom would just smile and make the payment which he only reluctantly took while saying, I will take it from bhaiya (bhaiya referred to my dad). Mom never believed in deferring payments. She would promptly reply, 'Udhaar pe nai khareedna pasand mujhe bhai-sahab. (I don't like to buy on credit, brother...). We would return home to show all our purchases to my grandmother who herself was a fashion diva. There was an understanding between the shopkeeper uncle and us (I guess it went with all his customers) that if for some reason we wanted to return the items we had bought, he would take them back. There was no window of return date. There was no deadline hanging around our neck.

Shopping culture has changed with buyers moving to bigger stores and brands. There is a shift from small shops to big showrooms, from bazaars to malls. The shift has brought with a distance, a dissociation between the buyer and the owner. Transactions now happen in a matter-of-fact dry manner, with little or no guarantee from the latter. No doubt there is a plethora of options available as far as fashion, style or fabric is concerned. But that agreeableness to shop, that friendliness of markets - that sadly has been lost.

I never shopped for Indian clothes in US. NJ has a vast array of Indian shops on Oak Tree in Edison. But a look at the dummies wearing ethnic wear reveal unattractive styles. I do not know how well-priced they are. My first year in US, I once went to a saree-shop to ask how much they would charge for stitching a blouse. As I waited for my turn, I saw another lady looking at some sarees which were modestly priced for $10 each. While the lady went gaga over the price and quickly chose one, I recoiled at the plainness, and the absence of aesthetic appeal in them. They were just pure nylon or other synthetic stuff with such dull colors that I felt stifled at the very thought of looking at them. But then, everyone has his/her own taste and requirement. Sometimes, a plain fabric can be worked upon to create a masterpiece. My granny would do that often, with her embroidery skills.

These days, to help those who do not have the skill and patience to tie a saree elegantly, designers have come up with pre-stitched sarees. That seems like a breeze. May be one day I will buy one for myself as I am hopeless when it comes to tying a saree properly.

Half-saree is another term added to my dictionary of sarees. It is not half as the name says. It is just that the color of the pleats is in contrast to the rest of the saree. They look stunning and make bold statements.

And saree shopping online! Have you done that? I am still not confident about this. Maybe one day I will give it a try. After all, websites like and offer such desirable and enticing catalogs that it is hard to turn a blind eye.

So, when was the last time you shopped for a saree? Oh wait, there is a new ad on TV. Nalli sarees. Hmm....just in time for Ugadi....Drench yourself in silky splendor as the new year ushers in, my friends!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

बेटी की शादी

माँ बेटी घर से निकले, शॉपिंग करने कपड़ों की 
माँ की चिंता दूर हुई, बेटी की बात हुई पक्की 
साधारण सा परिवार है मेरा, बेटी ही मेरा धन है 
पर बेटी की शादी पर मेरा अब सब कुछ अर्पण है 
माँ सोचे बेटी की हर आशा पूरी हो जाए आज 
कपडे, गहने, घर की हर वस्तु है मुझको लेनी आज 

स्थिति आर्थिक नहीं है अच्छी, पर बेटी को ब्याहना है 
लेन-देन के व्यवहारों को माँ को आज निभाना है 
रिश्तेदारों की मांग नहीं, रिश्ता तो अच्छा आया है 
पर सभ्य समाज की रीत है ऐसी माँ ने सर्वस्व लुटाया है 

कदम बढाती माँ चलती अपनी बेटी के हाथ को थाम 
थमे कदम जब सुनी कहीं से एक चीख उसने उस शाम 
क्या देखे कुछ लड़के रोके इक लड़की का रस्ता हैं 
लड़की के हाथ मैं है लाठी और मुंह पे काला चश्मा है 

लड़के कुछ यूँ उस लड़की के अंधेपन का उपहास उड़ाते हैं 
लड़की जिस तरफ मुड़े उस ओर कुछ पत्थर वो वहां बिछाते हैं 
जब लड़खड़ाये वो तो उसको छूते हैं, हाथ लगाते हैं 
कभी बैग और कभी दुपटटा उससे वो खींचे जाते हैं 

लड़की जाने क्या मसला है, वो लड़ती ही जाती है 
लाठी से भी न माने जब, तो मदद को वो चिल्लाती है 
सड़क पे चलने वाले देख के भी अनदेखा करते हैं 
माँ बेटी इस बेशर्मी पे बहुत अचम्भा करते हैं 

माँ थामे बेटी का हाथ कदम बढ़ाती है उस ओर 
जहाँ निकम्मे करते मनमानी और मचाते गन्दा शोर 
तीनों की हिम्मत देखें लोग फिर फौरन पुलिस बुलाते हैं 
लड़कों को सौंप पुलिस को फिर सब अपने रस्ते जाते हैं 

पर माँ अंधी लड़की को शाबाशी देने रुकती है 
और लड़की भी माँ के आँचल को छू फिर फूट-फूट कर रोती है 
माँ  पौंछे आंसू कहती है, तुझे नहीं अब रोना है 
ये लड़ाई खुद ही लड़नी है, कभी न खुद को खोना  है 

लड़की बोले बिन आँखों के मैं दुर्बल सी हो जाती हूँ 
कैसे पहचानूं गुंडों को जब देख न उनको पाती हूँ 
लड़ती हूँ लेकिन मैं कैसे उनको जेल तक पहुँचाऊँ 
जो छेड़ के मुझको छिप जाएं और देख न मैं उनको पाऊँ 

माँ सुन के बात उस लड़की की गहरी सोच में कुछ पड़  जाती है 
फिर बैग से अपने रुपए निकाल लड़की के हाथ थमाती है 
चल संग मेरे तू अस्पताल अब इस अन्धकार को दूर करें 
कोई न तुझ पर हावी हो, कोई न तुझे मजबूर करे 

बेटी की शादी तो मैं अब सादे ढंग से करवाउंगी 
अंधे समाज की रीति को मैं पल पल हर पल ठुकराऊँगी 
लड़की कहती कैसे वापस मैं ये रुपये  कर पाऊँगी 
नहीं है मेरी तनख्वाह इतनी मैं ये ना ले पाऊँगी 

बेटी तू जब एक-एक गुंडे को जेल की सैर कराएगी 
तब सोचना ये कि मेरी हर पाई तुझसे चुक जाएगी 
अब चल तुझको घर छोड़ूँ मैं कल एक नयी सुबह होगी 
शक्ति और विश्वास से कल एक नयी ज्योति पैदा होगी......

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Waiting for a new Dawn

Waiting for a new dawn.....

A good start to the day begins with good mornings. Just saying it does not suffice. The events that happen in the morning sometimes tell how the day will go by.

That day as I got up, I switched on the TV and sat down to enjoy the hot ginger tea I had made for myself. The news channel was flashing the news of Sharad Yadav making sexist comments about the 'beauty' and the 'color' of women. It shocked me, needless to add, again. The journalists were digging into the story. I thought about where we were heading. I thought about the controversial documentary. I thought about the disrespect being given to women everyday in a society that boasted of its cultural heritage.

Then my mind pondered for a little while over the weekend prompt by blogadda - Goddess. I did not know what to say. I felt that even in the rupa of Goddess, what we worship is the beauty. Our idols are picture-perfect models bejeweled and bedecked by conservative notions of outward beauty. All idols that one keeps at home are usually models of shapeliness and refinement. Sadly, woman too is viewed accordingly. It is the body that is the focus of the eye. The soul vanishes somewhere.

We revere the goddesses for bringing wealth, knowledge and what not to us. We name our children after them. But then and how extremely unfortunate this is, we victimize the girls who go by those very names. Remember Laxmi who was acid-attacked?

We light candles and diyas in our homes so that we remain untouched by darkness and negativity, but we extinguish so many Jyotis of other houses. We are not even scared to enter schools and rape the motherly nun who imparts wisdom to little children. How perverted are we? 

Should we call ourselves worshipers? NO. We are the epitomes of a big deceitful society. We are cheats, hypocrites, sadists. 

Those who suffer do not expect God or Goddess to come for their help. Because when help was needed, not even a human being came. World has become god-less. World has become goddess-less. God-principle, the principle of goodness had died. 

All this was making me despair. Should I cry over this broken world? No. Should I have a new set of Goddesses created? Yes.
But what will they give? Mankind has eternal greed. 

Well then, these goddesses will give them the much required, need-of-the-hour knowledge of 'respect' to the other body, a schooling in the ideas of equality, irrespective of gender or strength or caste or status. 

Do these goddesses need to have a form? Do we really need a figure to worship? I was reminded of my grandpa who used to sing these beautiful lines...

अजब हैरान हूँ भगवन तुझे क्यूँकर रिझाऊं मैं 

भुजाएँ हैं ना  सीना है ना गर्दन है ना पेशानी 
तू है निर्लेप नारायण कहाँ चन्दन लगाऊं मैं

(I am puzzled O lord, How do I please you....
You have no arms, no chest, no forehead
You have no form, no shape, where do I apply sandalwood paste....)

As I thought how beautifully these lines depict that we do not need the form but should rather believe in the principle of the supreme power and presence of God, I realized that one needs to look beyond the appearance. 

Of course it is not possible for everyone to do so. So let us give form to our goddesses. They will be the ones who have the strength to question the wrongs, those who have the courage to stand against the offenses and the offenders. They will be the ones who teach you that being a victim does not turn you into a sinner. But turning a deaf ear, or a blind eye to crime does make you one. 

They will teach us how not to go astray. They will guide us that evil breeds in a society that ignores or denies its presence. They will teach us that God lives inside each of us. We need to recognize this, and let each one of us live with dignity. 

After all these musings, my mind was filled with hope, another feeling that never dies in the human heart. I hoped for a better future. Then, in an effort to educate my kids on the great women in history, I picked up the book  'भारत की वीरांगनाएँ ' and started reading it.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

This post was selected by blogadda as one of the WOW posts...
My first WOW badge....!!!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Status - Husband working from home

I called my friend twice yesterday but she didn't answer. Today she called back cribbing, "He was working from home again. My life comes to a halt when he does that. I would love it if it was an 'off' day but working from home is such a pain." I smiled. I had been wishing that my husband be at home at least once since he had been super busy for more than a month, even on weekends. I would have stepped forward and embraced 'work from home'. But I could understand what my friend meant when she complained that her life stops when hubby is working from home. Something like this happens:

The phone is hijacked. 
The laptop is kidnapped.
TV shows only news or cricket or sci-fi or action film......Hubby asks you to sit and watch with him. You despise that show but you sit so hubby is happy. Maybe, just for a few minutes.....But oh left the burner on and milk is boiling and is ready to spill over....You rush....Phew...just in time.....If only he had not asked you to sit.....
Kids are supposed to be muted or shoved in the bedroom with poor wifey who will entertain them there as long as the working hubby is on a conference-call. It is difficult because kids somehow sense it and manage to burst into explosive laughter or unmanageable fights resulting in subdued screams of STOP THAT NOISE....PAPA IS TALKING ON THE PHONE.....
The kitchen is always busy. Hubby is hungry or thirsty or wants green tea. He has just a few minutes to spare. You hurry trying to cook food faster than the stove. It is another story that when the food is ready to be served, he gets back to work or is busy on phone. Hunger and thirst go out the window. Things that are supposed to be served hot turn cold and vice versa. 
Wife who is not hungry all the time suddenly starts feeling the pangs of  hunger but she waits. She waits a little longer but then she fumes and starts eating. The moment she sits down, hubby comes and says, 'My plate...' AGHHHHHHHH......Wife gets up, serves food, sits and starts eating. 'Work status' looming large....
Kids want a printout just at the time Papa is working. Mama says that laptop is not free. A little tsunami happens. "Papa is always working on the laptop. And when I want to play games, you say that it's not good for eyes....HUH.....NOT FAIR....." That's my son....
The little one realizes that the fight is over the coveted laptop. She joins in and chimes...'gummy bear song.....papa.....gummy bear.....?' She holds Papa's hands and tries to stop him from doing his work which irks him and he shrugs. He has to give in this time.
Work from home starts much early in the morning and goes on even after the office working hours. Wife gets grumpy, hubby gets even grumpier. 'This is important. It has to be done today itself.' He says. 'But you don't do so much when you go to office. Then why at home, these long extended hours...? Wife asks. 'It is so difficult to work from home with all the noise, and distractions....and kids....Don't you understand....?' He goes on....Wife stomps her feet and grumbles..."HUH....NOT FAIR....."

So, yes I understand why my friend turns grouchy when her husband is home....oops....I mean when her husband is 'working from home'. And next time if your friend does not answer or return your all, you will know why. Happy Working from Home Friends.....

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My First Experience on the Writing Journey by Deb Hockenberry

A few days back, Deb gave me a chance to submit a guest post for her blog. Now she is honoring my blog by being a part of it. She narrates here her childhood adventure with 'writing. Those of you who are parents will enjoy this little bit from Deb's life when she was a child. We live in different times. But we all encourage our children's creativity and help them recognize and achieve their full potential. For Deb, things worked a little differently. Do you want to know what happened when she dared to 'write'? Well, read on. 

Deb Hockenberry

Hello, and thank you for having me to your blog, Sunaina. Today, I’d like to talk about one of my own experiences when I first became interested in writing and the importance of encouragement.

My parents started me on this journey we call writing. They always read and encouraged my siblings and me to read. Thus, started my love affair with books and my journey in writing for children. It really is a journey since it’s always changing. Back to my parents. They always encouraged us to follow our dreams. I always knew I had their support.

When, I was still in elementary school. I wanted to start a school newspaper for my elementary school. That was *ahem* quite some time ago!

Remember those toy typewriters that actually worked? Well, my sisters and I got a red one that year for Christmas. The thought of writing a newspaper for my elementary school popped into my head. The following March, I finally got the nerve to actually do it. One night after supper, I crept up to my bedroom to write my newspaper. It wasn’t going to be a big deal or anything.  I’d just have things that were happening in school, around the school yard, and things about teachers. I particularly remember writing how one of my schoolmates fell in a mud puddle (it rained buckets the night before) and she looked so silly. I also put in little tidbits about who was mad at who or who was being bullied. I typed up several copies of my “newspaper.”

I didn’t sell my masterpiece since it was the first issue. I figured that as it gained in popularity, I could sell it for a nickel.

It seems that the girl who fell in the mud puddle didn’t like my newsletter one bit and took it to the office. I was told to go down to the principal’s office. Naturally, I was shaking in my shoes. Back then, being called to the principal’s office meant one thing: you were in trouble!

The principal really put the fear of writing into me that day. She yelled at me for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only two minutes. She wanted to know if my parents knew about this. I told her yes. She asked if I was selling them. I said no, which was the truth. Then, she talked about my having to go before the school board. This frightened me TO DEATH!

I have no idea if she called my mother. She probably did and both of my parents probably got quite a good laugh out of it! But, they never said anything about it to me. They always encouraged my siblings and I to develop our talents.

Needless to say, this experience frightened the urge to write out of me for quite a few years. When it came back, I started forming a talking animal story in my head and telling it to my siblings and the neighborhood children. I also made up little fairy tales and told them those too.

It really never dawned on me that I wanted to write stories for a couple of more years.

Every summer, my mother would suggest that my siblings and I visit the neighborhood public library. This was one of my favorite things to do, so Mom didn’t have to twist my arm! My wanting to write books dawned on me on the walk to the library. I know this sounds strange but it did. I decided to ask the librarian, who I knew from church, if there were books written that could tell me how to do this. The closer we got to the library, the faster those butterflies flew around in my stomach. Would Miss Austin, the librarian laugh at me? Would she tell people in church and they would scoff and laugh?

Finally, we arrived at the library. At first, I went into the children’s section of the library with my brother and sisters. Then, I told one of them I was going to talk to Miss Austin for a minute. I figured that talking to her in private would help. I didn’t want to take the chance of my brother and sisters laughing at me too! I walked up to her desk.

She asked if she could help me and my mouth went so dry I couldn’t speak. I did manage to gulp. Then, she asked me again and I told her what I wanted. She didn’t laugh. Instead she had the biggest smile on her face I ever saw! She told me to follow her and led me into the adult’s part of the library.  Back then, there was no way kids were allowed in the adult’s section. This was a big deal! She sat me down at a table by myself and asked me to wait there while she got the books I wanted. While she was looking at the bookshelves, I looked at the room. There were many adults sitting at tables like the one I was at reading. Some were looking questioningly at the kid in the room. I looked at all the huge books in that room. It was opposite from what the children’s library was like.

Finally, Miss Austin came back carrying an arm load of books about writing. She placed all of those books on my table. She said there were books there about writing for adults and children. Then she said I could stay as long as I wanted. I still remember some of those titles today. Writer’s Digest Market Book,  
The Writer’s Handbook, and Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Markets.

I forget how long I was in there. It was long enough to make by brother and sister ask where I was, though. But I received a whole new shot of encouragement that day. I realized that this could be done and no-one would laugh.

I’m still on that journey today. Now, I have my siblings support as well. In fact, two of them have tried their hand at writing. But if it weren’t for the encouragement of my parents and that kindly librarian, I wouldn’t be writing today.

A Little bit on who Deb is and what she does....

Deb has always wanted to write for children. She loved making up stories and telling them to her younger brothers, sisters, and neighborhood friends. If no – one was around, she told them to her pets – and she still does!
Finally, she decided the time had come to write these stories down. But she knew that in order to do it properly, she needed to study. So, Deb took two courses in writing for children from the Institute of Children’s Literature. She also belongs to the ongoing children’s literature workshop called The CBI Clubhouse.
Deb was born in Pennsylvania. When she was in her early teens her family moved to Central Pennsylvania. She enjoys living there, there’s always something to see!
She likes watching the mountains wake up after a cold dreary winter. She enjoys watching the pale green leaf buds popping out on the trees and slowly changing into bright green leaves. She especially loves the fall when the trees change their colors. Then the mountains are dotted with the most colorful reds, yellows, and oranges you ever saw! When she’s not writing Deb enjoys reading and reviewing books, watching movies, television and doing crafts. You can learn more about Deb by visiting her website at