Friday, July 18, 2014

Float - Haiku




captured on a random afternoon




old and new
life floats on green
seasons change






Thursday, July 17, 2014

What took you so long




I met love
In its full glory it shined from a distance
It lured me by its looks
But my fingers craved for the touch and feel
Of this endearing "must meet once in life" being

And so i went near it
Tried to wave at it and greet with a smile
I knew I had met him earlier somewhere
Seen it at close quarters
But something had changed

Yes those eyes
Those eyes are not  as clear as they used to be
Their innocence has evaporated in the dunes of time
They are not as dreamy
Realism has taken over

Love that was and love that is

Is it the same person I met twice
Or they are just look alikes
What separates one from another
They are so similar but yet so different

The first time I met love

It was so light on its feet
Always floating and bloating like a balloon
The hot air balloon that sweeped me off the ground
and took me along in its fairy tale world

But the new love is so grounded

Has put on some weight, well at the right places though...
those unkempt hair are now subtle and grey
and those eyes talk more than they speak
and those hands they are much more stronger to hold me tight 
and never let me go

And as I sit and wonder

Trying to make one from the another
A thought crosses my mind
Is it the love that has changed
Or the way I look at it

With the years left behind

and the moments lived and relished
one evolves and gets more real
and while trying to do that
the idea of love also changes

The love I met today

may not blind me with its bright light
but will still light me up
with happy thoughts and warm feelings
and keep me cozy every day

And all the while I was in my thoughts

love came and stood next to me
looked in my eyes 
looked through me
and said ..."What took you so long?"


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Feeling Blocked


Off late we all have been talking a lot about Writer's Block ...or in the blogosphere the better name for it would be Blogger's Block. Specially in the blog community that I am a part of, this word has been doing usual rounds recently. People seem to be catching it like flu. Honestly, I always shy away from using this word as a reason for my infrequent writing. To get into a Bloggers Block, I need to first reach the first symptom of this disease. The first symptom being a regular blogger.

But yes I do get into these blogging swings, and have always wondered the "why" of that phase and also struggled on the "How" of getting out of it. And finally the simple answer came from a chit chat session of two "no-nonsense" ladies of the squad - Corrine and Vidya. The truth stared right in my face when I read that conversation. I agree it is nothing but laziness that keeps us from writing. Yes, the slumber can come due to very many reasons, but to break the vacuum, we need to fight with the God of Slumber. 

(Do read the conversation here..its kind of fun to read) Click Here

So the conversation became a prompt for all the bloggers to write about their "tried and tested" tips around how to fight the Bloggers Block. So here are my nascently cultured pearls of wisdom:

Enjoy the Break - While you are at it..Enjoy it !! I feel the more we think about the block, the more the idea of getting back to writing gets distant and tougher. So I feel one must not think too hard or try too much. Writing should come naturally, because that is when it gets the best of you. If you do not have thoughts or opinions you particularly want to talk about ..so be it. Enjoy the silence till it lasts :)

Blog Surf - Something what always keeps me connected to blogging and the want to come back to it is reading what others bloggers have to say. I generally try not to lose touch with blog surfing and reading. Many times the muse to get back to it lies in some thoughts or posts that just connect to you and you get a feel.."Well ..this should have been my post"

Write for yourself - Do it for yourself. Many times bloggers may get into this self inflicted pressure of being the best every time. The fear for being judged for your thoughts can sometimes gets so heavy that you start rejecting all that you write thinking it doesn't make the cut for being published. While one thought is not to be so harsh on yourself the other is that sometimes writing just for your own self is also fun. I remember Corrine giving me this example once. She said that just like when a pen doesn't work we keep on writing on a rough paper till it gets the flow back...the same thing holds good for writing. And I could'nt agree more with her. So my fellow friends going through a block, do it on a rough page just for your eyes. Soon you will get the flow back.

Save a Date - This works for me. Sometime a self commitment is the biggest motivator. Like last time I had set a date for myself when I will get back on the blog. And from the time I committed to the day I had committed for, all the time in between my mental state auto corrected its lethargy, lack of ideas and inability to put the pen on paper and made me meet my commitment on schedule.

Sorry, but I cant think of a fifth tip. Actually so much has already been written about this and I trust more or less the thought that always works for all is the want to get back. If you love your writing you will always find your way back. And in the meantime, do not sulk. Fill up that time space with more reading, more contemplating and more feeling and observations.

So these were the thoughts of an amateur on the cure for a disease which I suffer a lot. For more ground realities and workable solutions please visit the Write Tribe entries on this prompt.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Home an abode of Hope



It does feel like home, doesn’t it?

Radha got up early that day. It was a big day for her, and the excitement had stolen her want to sleep. The whole night she had been twisting and turning, checking the bag and the admission card now and then.

She kept looking at the passport size photograph of Gopi in that card and kept feeling proud and nervous at the same time.

She dressed up Gopi for her first day to school. This was her lifetime dream. The make shift home in the pipe, which had no furniture which qualified it as a house but all the hope, dreams and love that made it a home. It does feel like home, doesn’t it?







This was written for the 100 words on Saturday on Write Tribe. Well this time I could not manage in exactly 100 words but thats OK!!! .You will still love me the same, won't you??



Friday, June 27, 2014

Silence Breaker

And it has been months ...Months I have not given my blog any time and attention.

Why???

Well those are unnecessary details. What is important is that from here, where do I take it forward. Do I get back to being me, expressing in words, talking to all my readers, putting my thoughts to paper or I let it fizzle?

The question haunted me for quite some time .. an inner voice kept telling me that I wont be able to do justice to writing for some time now, an inertia had cropped up in the days gone by, the words and thoughts that were doing rounds inside me were not the ones I wanted to write and make  permanent.. So I took a break, with a date in mind when I will get back to writing.

And the day is today. I have no prepared post, no agenda in mind. Just one conviction that I shall write. And so here I am talking to my long lost friends hoping that I will connect. (Well I do not even know how many of you I have actually lost forever..but I am sure I will lure you back :D)

Last few months were my "me time" months which I spent talking to myself, calibrating my life force, shifting gears of life and refuel it with new love and hope. I got to see a little more of the country I have been staying since last 2 years, and I must tell it is breathtakingly beautiful. I promise to end this post with some nice pictures that will give you a slight sneak peak.

So as I was giving myself company, one constant thought hovered around me all the time and kept troubling me. And a recent deep discussion with a close friend around the same thought, helped me clear out the mist around it. I have always believed that we are the makers of our destiny, but every time something not so favorable happened to me, invariably i would end up saying.."Well that was destined to be that way, could not have helped." and then the vicious cycle of those not-worth-answering questions like "Why me???" "Where did I go wrong" "Why luck is never on my side" started.

But why ask question when the answer lies within us. No matter what the situation is or where it started, how it will end is completely our wish, our will and our want. My conviction to make it end my way is what will make all the difference. So the power lies within you..the power of want!

And I want to write... I want to express freely .. I want to manifest my life force into words ...and so I write today.

As promised ending the post on some beautiful notes








The pictures are from Bunaken Island and Gili Island in Indonesia.
Signing Off till we see each other again...and this time it will be soon



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Money Money



A big fat Indian Wedding is all about money honey. The more you splurge the more you wish you could.

I am all for traditions and customs, but it hurts me immensely to see loads of money going down the drains for getting a lavish wedding set up. A simple wedding, with some close friends and family, around a sumptuous lunch or dinner would any day make much more sense.

While I also agree that this wedding propoganda actually also supports a whole industry and creates a lot of money making options. But think of a middle class family, who have saved day by day to create a decent bank balance. And here comes a daughter's wedding and the bank balance goes into a depleting spiral.

In North India, the give and take of gifts has also reached an unacceptable limits. All this adds up to the already high budgets needed for planning a wedding.

It is high time that the coming generation starts changing the trend.
















Monday, April 14, 2014

Lazzatdaar Food




Laazzatdaar khana, sumptuous food has always been the soul of an Inidan wedding.

For each guest that goes to a wedding, the memory of the lip smacking food is that lingers long after everything has been forgotten. And more than the good memories, the bad ones stick for eternity. A wedding which has everything right but somehow falters on the taste buds of the guests, stands little chance to be branded as a successful wedding.

People around the world take their food seriously, but we Indians are a little more touchy about it. Our celebrations and anything around happiness starts and ends with good food. So it is but obvious that when we go for a wedding, this is our top agenda. Drinks and Dance comes a close second, but Food ..well that is the sanctum santorum of the whole wedding piece.

Wedding FoodSo what do you always keep in mind when arranging for the food arrangements for a wedding.. Well everything. It starts from the menu, to the cook, to the layout, to the variety to the estimate on how much of what to be made, everything has to be thought out and planned ... and after all that planning all you can do is just pray that everything goes as per your plan and people are full of stomachs and praises as they leave the wedding hall.

I may sound like an exaggerator, but I have never been more close to the truth. All I say here is out of sheer experience (good and bad) So I am sure you wont mind a few tips from the expert. Here they go:

1. Do not try too many news. Always go for a caterer or an agency with whom you have had some good experience already. Even if you haven't arranged for a wedding as yet, I am sure you would have attended a few where you were awestruck by the quality of food. Always go on the tried and tested root .. In this case the road less traveled may not be either exciting or rewarding.

2. Always keep a good mix of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. 

3. Keep kids in mind when deciding the spread. It is very important for the parents that the kids are busy eating so that they have some peace and can relish their plates

4. Focus on desserts. Keep the best for the last. 

5.  Always label your food, so that people know what they are eating

6. Do not mix too many cuisines, a theme is always better. Eg Gujrati or Punjabi or continental. Many times in our race to give too many options, sometimes the caterer is too hard pressed on time and starts taking shortcuts in preparations and that takes a toll on the taste. The key is keep it simple and tasty.

7. Always keep an option of fresh fruits and milk. Many time there are those oldies who fast. If they feel taken care of..you have won the battle.

7. Gol Gappes are a must if it is a north Indian wedding - or any wedding if you plan to invite me.












And one last thing ...You can never make all your guests happy when it comes to food. The litmus test is you yourself. If you like what you have served...chances are you have done fairly OK on the lazzatdar food front.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Condition of Dreams



Adi was her first born. He had brought her joy, pride and attainment the moment, the nurse had put him in her lap. That feeling was one its kind, something she had never felt ever before. The love she had for Adi was selfless and unconditional …or so she thought.

She wanted the best for him; she had dreams for him, dreams that overtook her love for him somewhere.

When Adi confessed her love for Rukhsaar, his eyes reflected the undying trust in her mother’s love for him. He knew she would never ever say no.


But so he thought.




This post is written for the 100 Words on Saturday on Write Tribe. This goes for all those parents who somewhere forgot to draw a line between their dreams and the dreams of their children. Their dreams should not and cannot be a condition for their love. Its true that  mother gives life to his child, but still it is his life. No one owns it ..no one should expect to.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kanyadaan












Kanyadaan is the most important wedding ritual which is a token that seals the deal. This is the moment when the Brides parents finally give away their daughter to the groom and hope and wish that he and his family will take good care of her. The emotional fool in me sheds a tear every time I witness this ritual. It may be as far a relation as my neighbours friends daughter getting married or as close as my new new sister in law. The finality of this moment and the realisation that the daughter has been handed over to her new life, always gives me shiver down the spine. 


Kanyadaan which has been derived from Kanya (Daughter) + Daan (Donation) is said to be the noblest of all donations. It does take a strong and a giving heart to give away the most priced possession of your life, your daughter, in the hands of a stranger and let her go on her life journey without holding your hands. Since, this is considered to be an auspicious milestone of the parents life, in many regions of India, the parents of the bride fast the whole day of wedding. They only have food after the Kanyadaan is over and they have been relieved of their biggest responsibility in life. 

It definitely is a moment of accomplishment for the parents. The day a girl comes to life, her mother starts dreaming of the day she will be a bride. So what if it gives her a pang of pain thinking that her princess will no longer be only hers, but at the same time the desire to see her happy and settled in her married life is the secret dream of every parent.

In a kanyadaan, once the father of the bride gives the hand of his daughter in the grooms hand, their hands are tied together, or they hold each others hand. This is emblematic of the unison of two hearts and souls forever. The relatives give their blessings to the bride's parents by throwing flower petals, congratulating them for the big moment.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Steal the Shoe


 


 
J for Juta Churai


 
Of all the fun customs in a wedding, the one which clearly steals the shoe..errrrr I meant steals the show is Juta Churai. Set at just the right time when the wedding ceremony is happening under the "Mandap", this is a perfect filler item to add a little excitement to the otherwise- starting-to get-tiring night full of "Mantras" and serious wedding  rituals.
 
 
Basically for this custom, the siblings of the bride are entrusted with a serious mission of stealing and hiding the shoes of the groom. The groom is caught vulnerable at the opportune time when he has to sit in the mandap barefooted to start the wedding ceremony. Right at that time, his shoes are taken away from him right under his nose. To get those shoes back, which by now, are not just his shoes but his pride as well, he has to beg, threat or bribe his sister in laws.
 
 
The activity pumps up energy even in the friends of the groom, who are trying to guard the shoes or get them back from the not-so easy-to-fool sisters of the bride. In all my Juta Churai memories I have till now, the best is when I had stolen the shoes in my cousin's wedding. It was a fight to the finish, and the groom's cousins and friends left no stone unturned to reclaim those shoes from us. When nothing worked, as a last resort they stole the footwear of all the bride's sisters, as a barter bargain for the groom's shoes. Ofcourse that didn't work either and finally we did manage to get what we wanted from the groom. Our demand was simple .. we did not take money (which usually is the custom) but instead asked our otherwise shy  "Jijaji" (groom) to sing a song in praise of all his sister in laws.
 
Juta Churai is so famous that even Bollywood has banked on its popularity. Have a look at this sing from Ham Aapke Hain Kaun
 
 
I feel this custom would have started in order to bring the two families closer. Over the time, people have started taking this ritual too seriously, and instead of bringing people closer, it ends up in a tussle. But of-course that is only momentary, and later on people do look back at it with fond memories.











Thursday, April 10, 2014

You are Invited






I for Invitation


After the arrangements for the venue is done, the next most important item in the preparation list for a wedding are the invitations. Anyone who is planning for a wedding must give good thought to the hows and whos of invitations. This is a sensitive matter, and must be handled with caution.  It is much more than a "block your date" information. It reflects the happiness and the excitement of the hosts around the upcoming life event in their family and should make the recipient of the invitation feel important and invited.

Few points one should consider while inviting

1. The invitation card should have a personal touch. It should resonate with the personality of the family sending the invitation. For a vibrant extravagant family, bright coloured invitation cards would suit more than a sober theme. I will site our example here - Our family has an acute love for Hindi and Humor. I have had so many people telling me that they feel happy and warm every time they come to our house, as the air is very informal and welcoming. So when it came to sending out invitation cards, we wanted to have the same feel around the card. That's how we skipped the usual paragraphic invitation, and made it more informal and fun to read. And since we most of our invitees were hindi speaking, the choice of language also came naturally. Have a look at our card:




The best compliment we got for the invite was from close friend of mine. She said while reading the card she was constantly smiling and felt as if she was sitting in our house with all of us and reading it and that compliment made us very happy.

2. It is very critical that the invite reaches all the people who matter and well in time. For that one should start making the list in advance so that you do not miss anybody. Best way is to go on a virtual geographical tour and make sure that all your friends and family from each city have been listed down.

3. The invitations should go at least 1 month in advance and then a personal call or email 10 days before the wedding will make the person feel good and welcomed.

4. Mostly in North India, friends and relatives staying in your city should be invited in person. But if that seems difficult, a phone call is a must.

I have a tip for the invitees as well - Whenever you get an invitation, do acknowledge the receipt by a return call. And if you mention something about the invite itself which struck you, that will make the sender of the invite feel very happy and accomplished.

 Star Post of day 9:
Debbie takes us to Italy today... You must visit her theme posts ... They will " keep you going "



























Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Henna on Hands



                                                              H for Henna


Henna (Mehndi) are the intricate patterns made on the hands and feet of the bride with a past of henna leaves. This is one of the "Solah Sringar" the bride does for her wedding. This signifies the onset of a new life and the deep colours of the henna are a symbol of good luck.






Along with the bride, the female relatives on both bride and the groom side apply henna on their hands. While the mehndi is being applied, folk songs are sung by the ladies of the family, and the cousins and friends of the bride dance to them. This is one of the happy moments in the wedding and a star attraction for all the ladies, as they get an excuse to get their hands coloured and sit for atleast 5-6 hours without doing anything. To get the right colour of Henna, you should not apply water on it for atleast 5 to 6 hours. So what does that mean - Well it means that the men at work and the chores not include work related to wedding, but also helping their spouse in having her food, setting her hair straight and help her in anything she orders him to do.

Now I will let the pictures do the talking:




My Mother getting Henna on her hands
And this is my Killer Drama  father posing to apply Henna on my Mothers Hands


And That's me ...Henna Ready for my brothers wedding

 Coming to the Star post of the day, that goes to Tulika, the obsessive mom. She is obsessive about books too and her series on authors is not to be missed. Today she talks about my all time favorite author Harper Lee. A must read for all of you.






















Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grihapravesh






                                             

G for Grihapravesh


Her first steps
With apprehensive mind
and curious eyes
With the heart full of hope
and brimming with dreams
to her abode,
the place of her dreams
and the dream of her life..

Grihapravesh is the serene and much  awaited moment after the full on dance, drama and hustle bustle of wedding.  This is the Bride's welcome to the place she will call home. Grihapravesh is the time when the newly wed bride enters her new house. Every region in India has a unique and beautiful way to welcome the new member in the house.

Griha PraveshIn some places, the bride enters the house after pushing a kalash (pot) filled with rice, with her right foot. This signifies the arrival of the Goddess of prosperity in form of the new bride. In some cases, the bride pushes the Kalash full of coins, again signifying the arrival of wealth.





 At other places, the bride puts her feet in a tray which has a past of water and vermilion. And, putting the right foot first, the wife enters, making marks of her foot steps. They believe that these footsteps are of Goddess Laxmi, and signify her arrival in form of the bride.





In our house, the bride is welcomed by the mother in law with tilak and "Aarti". But before that she wards of all evils, which is called "Nazar Utaarna" in hindi, by moving a jug full of water infront of the bride 7 times. After this the bride makes the mark of her hands on the wall of the house. This she does by dipping her hands in a paste of water and turmeric. This is like a permanent mark of her arrival, and from that moment on, she becomes a part of the family. Take a look how it happened when my Bhabi was welcomed by Ma.





































This is a very special moment for the bride and the family. It has the warmth and the welcome needed to make it a memory for a lifetime.

Coming to the Star post for Day 7 -- This time it is my very own Richa Singh. She has a knack to enter your hearts and speak to you at a blink of an eye. Her theme in this challenge around what goes inside a girl who is stuck in mid twenties, and today she talks about Getting Hooked on a Hobby. You will love it.









Monday, April 7, 2014

Fishing the ring







Sounds Fishy ???

Sorry to disappoint but it isn't fishy at all, its just a game. Among all the rituals I have seen in weddings, this one is one of my favorites.

Simply put, it is a perfect ice breaker game. Generally it is played just after the bride enters her new house "Sasural" after the wedding ceremony. So what is the game all about ???


Objects: Big flat shallow plate of milk and water, one ring, one coin

Goal:  To be the first to get the ring out of the plate of water and milk

Number of Players:  Only two..Bride and the groom

How to Play : The ring is put in the shallow pot of milk and water. To add difficulty levels, flower petals are also added to the pot. The one who gets the ring first wins

Tips: A wise tip to the groom is to lose this game if he wants to win the smile of his bride. That would be priceless midst the  apprehensions and turmoil of the bride of being at a new place among new people.

Rumor has it that this game determines who will be calling the shots in the matrimony. The winner of this game is said to have the upper hand in all the significant and insignificant decisions in future and gets to dominate the turf of arguments forever.

How naive of people to think that deciding the "one up" in marriage is as simple a game of ring and pot.


OK , now coming for the Star post for Day 6 it is our very own Vidya Sury. She "Did it again" when it comes to Family I do not think anybody can write it better than her.