Lockdown and Flatbread ( Roti)

A title that will intrigue you. What has lock down and roti have to do with each other? For those who are not familiar, roti is a round flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent made from stone-ground wholemeal flour. Most households have this as part of their meals with vegetables, meat, or yogurt.

I, am a working woman living in the bustling city of Mumbai, India. The days here are hectic and managing house, work, and family at home is a challenge for most working women with kids. Days, weeks, months, and years go by at lightning speed until one realizes that decades have gone by with a routine that remains unchanged. Having gone through this routine in the past, today happy to call it a day with more time in hand. A son, married and settled abroad gives me enough time to indulge in hobbies and other interests that were on the back burner for a long time.

In India we have the privilege of the house helps and having them around is a blessing, which in most countries will cost a fortune. Cleaning the house to doing dishes and even cooking. Chopping vegetables making the rotis is a help someone like me considered more than a blessing. I am among those who hated the chore of chopping and roti making. For one the dough would never be the right consistency and even if it did ( rarely) the shapes would be like maps of different countries around the world. She , my house help was there every evening doing the needful and ensuring my casserole was well stocked with the perfectly round rotis that would last for at least two meals for the family – which now is only me and my hubby.

Around early 2020, the world was hit by a virus that jumped the wall from the land of the dragon. It found its way around the world without a visa or an air ticket. Its power to reach places is amazing and the fear of death it brings along has brought the entire world to a standstill, ensuring a lock-down that brought the entire economic machinery to a grinding halt. My country too is grappling with the pandemic and its ongoing effects. Stay at home to be safe applied to everyone and my house help has no choice but to stay at her home to keep her safe and others around safe. This meant me and many like me had to handle the home chores on our own, whether we liked it or not. So here I was doing the cleaning, washing, cooking and yes …….you guessed right – making the rotis.

Day one was disastrous and with every new day, things started to improve. The dough emerged with the right consistency and my fingers now understood the feel of a perfect dough mix. Tiny balls on my marble rolling board patted with dry dough and a wooden rolling pin to help flatten the ball to make the roti ……oh yes nothing less than an adventure. The process did not seem very tough, and the circular shape started happening after a couple of days. The oval now takes the shape of a near-perfect circle. So much so, I enjoy the process of making rotis and with every attempt, I learn from it a new facet of life – thanks to a simple roti.

The wheat is ground to a very fine powder in mechanized stone roller and the fine powder is then sieved to get rid of the tiniest unwanted residue. Life has to go thru a sieve every once in a while for a cleanse to extract the unwanted stuff both on the inside and outside. The dough by itself is useless unless mixed with salt, water, and oil in the right proportion. Proportions are important here, otherwise, it can get mushy and no good to serve any purpose. In life, the additions of emotions, virtues, honesty, relationships, and self-worth are important as without them life is as good as being dead. Once the dough has the perfect consistency it has to be flattened and brought to a shape that is a joy to the eye and feels good to eat. Similarly, life has to be battered and flattened with struggles, tears and challenges to be called “life” worth living, for without either of these what good is life? One the desired circular or triangular shape is reached the real test takes place. The raw flat-rolled roti has to be cooked in a pan on every side until it gets the golden brown texture because a raw roti will harm the tummy. Life term is a tenure between birth and death. Experiencing the heat of a tough life and getting roasted from all sides makes one strong and able to handle the rest of the journey. After handling this chore for a few weeks, I decided to add some spice and bring in a change. I started adding spices, vegetable, cheese, herbs etc to make the roti different and give it a healthier texture. When life gets boring and mundane its OK to bring in a bit of fun and spice it up to bring back the zing so that boredom does not find a way to seep into your heart and mind.

Today mealtimes are extra special for me because that round blue casserole has Rotis stacked up for good health and happiness of those on the table. Life has to be made special and each person that it touches has to remember you for your goodness and the virtues you bring to the table. Food may get digested but the goodness one spreads in life never leaves the universe. It has its way of going around in some form or the other long after you have said your final goodbye. We call it KARMA. Do good and you can be rest assured that this will come back ……may not be to you but certainly to someone you love and cherish.

So that’s my lesson from the lockdown and the kitchen counter. Tomorrow will be a new day and with a new sunrise comes the promise of a great day. Some day soon we too will be free from the scare of the virus and life will come back to being normal – or a new normal, which we will wait and see how it unfolds. However, as we turn chapters to the new normal let us not forget the simple lesson that humble roti taught us.

Cheers to freedom from stuff more than that deadly virus!

Write your hurt, and let the ink heal you!

Most time a trigger is all that is needed for thought to manifest into a write-up. This time my trigger was the above post, I happened to see on Instagram.

Each one of us has our own unique way to handle the tears and fears that come with just being alive. If you have life it comes with emotions in plenty. The good ones and the bad ones. It’s not something you can choose, it comes as internal baggage when you are born. Apparently, this baggage tilts to either side ( good or bad) as you move phases – infancy to adulthood.

Creative minds are blessed to tackle both the good and bad emotions through the medium they are most comfortable with. It could be a brush, pen, sand, soil, stone, wax, metal, thread, paper, wire, etc, etc. The list is endless. Just as each one of us is wired differently, each one of us has also been blessed with an innate quality that evolves between birth and death. We call it by many names – a hobby, talent, passion, interests, gift, flair, etc. Whatever it is, it’s just a spark within us that explodes and helps spill out emotions or thoughts, leaving the mind and body in peace. With challenges at every nook and corner in today’s fast paced the world the AQ ( attitude quotient) is most prime.

I am so glad and feel blessed to have the ability to spill out my emotions through words and poems. Process of putting words together, creating verses, and the verses when placed one after another – birth happens. Birth of a poem that conveys my deepest thoughts and at times hidden thoughts that most times are invisible. They are between the lines and can be interpreted differently, person to person. Imaginations and seeing beyond a picture or thought, jotting them down effortlessly, ensuring the right words are used at the right place, and eventually conveying a message that touches the heart and soul is when my canvas is completed all ready to share. Writing poems for happy occasions, celebrations for family and friends is a gift that is cherished and treasured for life. A gift that’s priceless and never gets out of fashion and that stays for life.

Life is so much like a trampoline where the highs and lows go hand in hand. The day you land on the center of the trampoline is when you are born. After that its a game of bouncing up and landing on the ground only to go up again. In the process trying to adjust your flight downward and learning the strings with each one of those ups and downs. Along this route, you meet people, some stay with you and hold you when you slide down, some help you reach higher and are happy when you are able to achieve your goals. At the same time, there are few who are happy to laugh at you as you fall and at times hurt yourself. This bouncing game does not spare anyone, its also like a roulette table where some win, some lose, some stay, some leave and some just watch.

Having an outlet when and down and low infuses you with energy to face the waves that are higher, mightier, rougher, and fiercer. So if you have an interest just plunge in and do what makes you happy with no care for the world. Paint with all the colors in your palette, write as words flow from a bottomless barrel, sing and imagine the world is listening, dance till your feet ache, chisel and bring a stone to life……the bottom line us “just do it” Wait not for a day which is perfect, because there is no such a day. It’s up to you to make it perfect and mould it like you wish it to be.

Hurt, both physical and emotional leave bruises. Tears help vent it out to an extent. It’s your internal spark that helps you vent out the rest. So while I write when I am hurt, I am rest assured the ink will most certainly heal me. Heal and hold my hand to write another chapter or another verse and help me turn a new page along the journey of life.


Mother’s day & wishes

Its the day of the year when we celebrate “Mother’s Day”( May 10). I personally feel its special, not because I am a woman and a mother but simply because a mother is the origin of every other relationship in the universe. Without that womb, and the ( umbilical) cord there would not be any other connect that grows the ‘family tree”. I am personally very happy and proud to be a born woman and would never change that for anything.

Having said that, yes I do doubt my self every once in a while on whether I really am a good Mom. I guess its a feeling that every mother goes through. In hindsight, she feels she could have done better and handled or reacted to situations in the past in a more mature mother-like manner.

I sure am one, married at the age of 25 and mother at age 26. I understandably was nervous, scared, and confused about how I would ever manage a child from day zero onward. Little arms, limbs, a fragile neck, and a delicate human infant who needed to be handled with utmost care and mistakes here can be serious. It is amazing to say ” I am a mother” but another story to say ” I am a perfectly good mother”. Yes, there is always a guardian angel hanging around who understands your dilemma and feels your pain, she puts forth herself in totality to be with you – Your own mother. I was lucky to have her around and guide me, lift me when I went through the common postpartum “baby blues” phase, and be the mother to my child when I thought it was beyond me. Every day is a learning experience and every moment is a lesson. With every new day, I became confident and with every new faux pas, I did it right thing next time around. Time flies and that little fragile infant is now grown, big enough to be handled effortlessly. With every new year, the pleasure of watching the child do stuff truly amazes and stay cherished in a mother’s memory forever. Her memory has a capacity of unlimited GB and what is stored in there can put any supercomputer to shame.

Infancy to toddler-hood followed by early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood are not stages of human growth. For a mother, it is chapters filled with information, memories, experiences, mistakes, challenges, laughter, tears, and much more.
My story is no different, one fine day the child, now an adult leaves the nest, leaving a vacuum within the four walls of the house and the hearts of parents. An anxious heartbeat that feels like its racing, pounding, fluttering, and at times skipping a beat is not signs of a heart attack but a feeling most mothers go through for their kids. Be it examination, health issues, interviews, or them taking a flight overseas to make a life for themselves. A new country, new people, running a house on their own and managing to balance life as a student and then as a member of an organisation who has to prove himself to survive and make a mark.

I am a mediocre mother who just got lucky to have been blessed with amazing parents and a son who I must say made it on his own. Today blessed to have a daughter who is rightly called his better half in every way has completed my family. Yes, the palpitations and anxiety are still there but with a difference. Its abundance blessings for children and today I stand on a space that was occupied by my mother. I only hope I will be able to support and be there for my children just like the way she did.

A full circle that meets and ends at the same point. Life is a full circle and so are relationships. As long as one fills the space within this circle with love, affection, tolerance, patience, and support this bubble that reflects rainbow colors will bounce to the end of life and beyond!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TODAY AND EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR !

I waited and waited, HOPE stood beside me ………

Waiting is an act none of us are spared from. Beginning of life – nine months for an expecting Mom and the fertilized egg to reach full term all ready to leave the womb into the real world. A gestation period for all and everything. Rich -poor, sick-healthy, white-brown, tall-short, thin-fat no one is spared. Waiting infuses hope, and hope is what life is all about.

An Indian summer morning with the humidity levels hitting the roof, I wondered staring into space watching the squirrels and birds outside my window. Thirst can be grueling especially on crazy summer days. How about attempting at making a small change and helping quench the thirst of at least one bird? All set, put some clean water in a flat wide container, and placed it on my kitchen window. Care taken that the container is not too deep, just right for a little bird to nibble or turn into a birdbath with no effort. Day one, day two, and day three no movement what so ever. I waited for a little feathery thirsty soul to come and take a sip or may drench itself in the water to ward off the heat, but no luck. Is it that they have preferences on which window to choose for a meal or a thirst quencher? Was my window not tempting enough or are they still figuring my intention of placing that bowl? I am still waiting with hope, every morning while ensuring the water is changed with a clean refill. I hope it is that eggs me to do it every day until a bird decides to take a sip and bring her family along. I shall wait for that tweet that hopefully will be at my widow soon someday.

Spending a lot of time on the table by the window overlooking huge trees on the periphery of the apartment, busy on my laptop has given me a new insight into the world outside my window. Lockdown days, thanks to a virus to say the least. The time spent on the laptop by the window is substantial during the day. Watching the noon sun slowly get a little less fierce and subsequently, the evening sun very gently fades away bringing in the sunset’s awesome color, texture, and feel. Watching the different kinds of birds dart across the sky or hop on to the branches of the trees, the squirrels climbing up and down with no care in the world or the dusty leaves eagerly awaiting the monsoon shower. The Moon and stars that light up the sky at night. Silent is the street and at times deafening is the silence.

I decide to hang a wind chime on this window hoping to hear its musical chime whilst I sit there during the day. I watch the gentle breeze tease the branches and the pink, orange, and golden blooms that have managed to climb to the top of the tree. I watch, I wait and I hope that the breeze finds its way to my window to touch the wind chime so that the musical tone resonates breaking the Covid silence. Every day I am on watch and the breeze too seems to have its preferences which do not include my window. I am hopeful that it will find its way and lovingly stroke the metal balls that will cling to created the most endearing sounds that mingle with the sounds of nature.

The birdbath bowl and the wind chimes may seem to be such a tiny issue in the scheme of world issues today, however its the hope that each one of us has within us that helps us wake up every morning, watch the sunrise, praise the Lord and thank him for that extra day he has given us to enjoy the gift of life. The world is huge and so are its problems. Somebody’s tiny problems may be a life and death situation for another. When life is infused by that unknown entity at conception, he loads us with vials of emotions and hope, ingredients that help us traverse the road he puts us on to. There are no milestones, signals, or hoarding – each one of us has to find our way through the maze. We fall and hurt ourselves both physically and emotionally along this journey, however, its the power within us that helps us get up and cope pushing us to reach the next crossing and the next and the next.

Lessons are taught to us by our parents and elders and yes the teachers at school. However, some lessons are taught by life, circumstances, nature, challenges, and downfalls. A lesson is hidden in every chapter, sentence, and verse. It’s vital that we absorb at least small portions from these lessons as these very notes will someday help us hold our forte in the journey of life.

So while I wait for the bird to locate my humble offering or the breeze to kiss my wind chime, I go along with the day, watch the sunset and the birds go home to be with their little ones. Hitting the bed to wake up with a promise of a better day and hope for the world to move over, turn a new page and get better with every new sunrise

Today, a virus has messed up our schedules and cornered us in such a way that we fear its attack may cost us our lives. Those nine months that we waited for our turn to come into the world, we were not given a timeline. We were given life and hope. Today, when we are at crossroads where life itself is threatened let’s hold on to hope to take us past this hurdle for HOPE will never let us down!

AMOR FATI – Love for fate

Amor Fati a new word for me as would be for many. Its a Latin word and means Love for one’s fate. I heard a video from WisdomShots (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox9NFWhyc-I) narrated by Sreejith Krishnan. Beautiful lessons at the end of each story in each one of those episodes. Amor Fati just sounded so good and when I heard his story and subsequently with the help of master guide Google, understood it a bit deeper.

Accepting one’s fate is not in any way sign of a loser as one would believe. Yes, giving up and not even trying can certainly be categorized as a loser. Hardwork, focus, and motivation take us towards a goal that we aspire for, however, something called fate has a big role to play as would luck. Luck is that spark that embraces us when fate allows it to do so.

Two siblings in the same house have opposite fates despite an equal platform whilst growing up. Circumstances and to a certain extent planetary forces pave the way for one to move towards a certain direction and the other towards another direction. Any amount of interference from parents, elders, or teachers will not deter what is fated for them – be it good or bad. We all hope for good, however, the world comprises of all colors – black, white and grey. No two people or two situations are the same. Every newborn comes with their share of baggage that they have to lug around as long as there is life. A mother gives birth, the umbilical cord is cut, and then each one is on his/her own to live life to the best of their ability as after all the gift of life is not something we should take for granted.

Accepting your fate with a positive approach is what we have been taught. Take the positives from a negative situation and turn it around are the lessons we learned. The farmer in the story takes fate as it comes which he believes could be for the good or for the bad. After a few instances when the outcomes were not as expected, the world saw it in a negative light. Our protagonist ( the farmer) went with the flow and kept his thoughts neutral all along. As time passed by and events were viewed in hindsight, it dawned on all that indeed what happened was for the good even if the occurrence seemed bad at that point in time.

Today we battle a war against a virus that has turned our lives topsy turvy all over the world. The situation demands all activities come to a grinding halt and each one of us stays indoors. With the economy kept on pause, cities are no more bustling chambers, roads are free of traffic pollution, the air is clear and clean, the sky seems to open its arms and the environment is breathing on its own – the ventilator is finally off.

The virus that has caused so many deaths world over, with many more sick and many others who can contract the disease because of their lack of immunity or other health ailments is indeed sad. We are living in fear and moving away from each other physically more than ever. Now given a fancy name ” social distancing”. Yes, that was the bad and awful part but its only one side of the coin, turn it around and see the positives. It’s given us a reason to slow down and change gear, make amends in our lifestyle, and the way we treat the environment and has given back nature its due. We had reached such fast speeds that we would crash, leaving only a heap of rubble where no one or nothing can be salvaged. With this slowdown phase, we sit, understand, introspect, and take stock with a promise to make positive amends.

Change is always difficult and the roadblocks are many, however, hopping over them together is the only way to secure the future for our children and generations that follow.

Lessons that have come our way need to be remembered and not binned as soon as those locks are unlocked and life comes back on track. Amor Fati – our love for our fate is great if it gives us an opportunity to see the good in bad, the positive in negative, and above all belief in Karma – do good to receive good.

Memories Alcove !

Each one of us has somewhere in the corner of our hearts a little chamber that is filled with memories. As one grows older, this chamber gets bigger and bigger as obviously, it has to stack all the memories that we have gathered over the years.

My childhood home and memories associated with growing up occupy a special place in this chamber. Me, today at the age of 57, holds memories that at times overflow from this chamber. Let’s call this space the “memories alcove” or MA for ease of reading.

Today, this MA of mine overflowed with memories, thanks to the photographs my sister in law shared of the garden she has so beautifully nurtured. This amazing family of three and their pets indeed make a beautiful family portrait.

As long as parents are alive the visits to meet up with them are frequent and many. In my case, my mother lived for almost two decades after the demise of my father. In those years she was the reason for many of our visits, at times for that lovely meal, at times for wishing her on birthdays or festivals or at times just to feel her warm touch. With her health going south, the visits became more to check on her well-being. Her fragile personality and teary eyes looked out for these visits.

A very ordinary middle-class upbringing, values in place and a family where the father was the breadwinner and mother the simple homemaker. He had his ways that had a mix of authority and a caring side, which in hindsight we kids took for granted. A provider who ensured no corners were cut. Education and grades were important and I must confess, I may have disappointed him on many occasions. Every nook and corner of the house and the little garden outside is pasted beautifully in my MA and every once in awhile overflows only to bring a smile or shed a tear. He was very fond of gardening and spend a lot of time planting new saplings, watering them and sharing the joy with all those who came visiting. He had tomatoes, ladyfingers, a spicy (black) chilly variant, coconuts, drumsticks, mangoes, herbs and yes some wonderful blooms with colors vibrant and fragrance (Queen of the Night) that filled the air at dusk. Creepers that climb ground up and then nurtured to drop down to form a green drape that kept the harsh sunlight at bay. The hosepipe, the tap opened and the gush of water that touched every plant root and spread the awesomeness that comes from only the redolence of wet mud. So similar to the smell of the first rains!

As I was browsing through the photographs, I tried to guess which corner of the garden this was and virtually took my mind there to touch those beautiful blooms, blow the water droplets on leaves and yes smell the wet earth. The five steps with two seats on either side, leads to the front door, the exterior walls of the house painted white, the square wooden windows and the back entrance, with few stairs and just two seats led to the long ancient wooden door that opened from the center, took me on a journey down memory lane. Many evenings, getting a breather sitting on those seats with friends or family and the dog fetching the ball thrown at a distance, watching the clouds or the sunset bringing with it a closure to the day, just as the moon peeps from behind the clouds, most elegant in silver. The birds chatting away as they head home. They are probably exchanging notes of the day before they head back to their nests where the young ones await – hungry and scared. Stars who twinkle away amidst the sounds typical of the night. We kids got back home from play and were on our study desks completing school homework and assignments. The summers were warm, winters non-existent and the rains were another story altogether. The frogs croaking as the raindrops make a rhythmic sound on the window panes and the metal shade over them, the winds swaying the tall Ashoka trees (Polyalthia longifolia) – a ballet of sorts in its own way. Sitting on that window, watching the rains kiss every branch and leaf of these pyramidal trees was a moment among many embedded in my very own MA. Not to forget the many earthworms that emerged from under the ground to crawl all over the place elegantly moving with no care in the world.

We ought to be glad we have this wonderful memory bank and we are able to literally travel across spaces, time zones and into the past. So much of our past has shaped our identity and every emotion experienced adds to the strength within to face the future that thankfully is a mystery. Emotions and experiences may be good, bad or awful, however, they remain with us and when our MA overflows it brings smiles, laughter, tears, and anxiety, as life is a bouquet with a dash of all of these making it beautiful and worth living.

Social distancing booms !

Lockdown, a word, I personally never knew or experienced. I have heard of being grounded, as seen in the movies but something like this, my first time. I am not alone here I guess.

As a kid during the Indo-Pak war of 1972, I remember a blackout and siren indicating danger, sounds of planes in the sky and me a little girl’s tummy churning and heart pounding. A big consolation was the entire family sat together till the all-clear siren was heard. Unaware of the challenges the elders faced during the day to bring us a decent meal on the table.

Today, nearly five decades ( 48 years) later, the prominent feeling of seclusion is in the air. Today called quarantine, social distancing, isolation, etc. I am no more a kid, and my fears today are so different from what they were back then.

Corona decided to make its red carpet entry, sometime towards the end of 2019 in China and today ( April 2020) has nearly the entire world on its knees. “Corona rules” been put up for all to adhere to or be penalized with punishments, fines or maybe a few hard punches from the cops for the stubborn ones.

The country I live in ( India), as the world knows is a country that is battling a population war. With a population density of as of February 2020 at around 454.94 inhabitants per square kilometer, it is common to find a crowd in most places, be it religious, business, malls, entertainment hubs, sports clubs/ stadiums, railway or metro stations and trains, the roads overflowing with traffic, airports super busy, and metro cities bursting from the seams. A lonely picturesque street is hard to come by, even in distant villages. Besides, culturally India is known for its vibrant diversity. Celebrations of festivals are a big event all through the year around the country. Reasons for people to meet, greet, share traditional gourmet food, lots of music, color and dance is the ways life is. We just don’t know it any other way!


Today when technology has advanced to such an extent, shrinking the world connecting its every corner, however tiny it may seem. No place is unreachable and remote. Children from a very young age are masters in using the mobile / iPad and laptops. It is very common to see mothers keeping kids engrossed with their favorite cartoon stories on digital platforms to have them fed or kept out of trouble. From infancy, the screen becomes their best friend and as they grow they learn the nuances of putting it to the best possible use. In a way shutting themselves in a corner or a room with this inanimate yet a powerful friend who takes them around the world in a matter of seconds. Sound, speech, news, entertainment, games, puzzles, chatting with other (human) friends, gaining information/ misinformation, etc. The positives are many if used well, the negatives are many more if not.

In a way, social distancing was always around and gaining momentum, it’s just that thanks to Corona the term is today common and imposed by the state, effectively getting people away from each other through policy. Today it is welcome as a tool that will break the chain of the virus spreading among communities. However, fear is that once the virus is tackled and conquered the norm of maintaining distance will become the new normal. Vibes will be no more like it used to be, mental screening of individuals especially in confined spaces is apparent. Social gatherings will have its invisible screen that ensures distances, office spaces will follow protocol, elevator rides would mean holding a sneeze, cough or even breath, a long lost friend will be greeted from few feet away, rubbing shoulders with strangers in restaurants, transport hubs will be remote and wearing a face mask will ensure you stay anonymous even in a familiar space. A calm pleasant good morning greeting with a warm smile from a stranger cannot be reciprocated as the all-important “mask” ensures smiles and pleasantries never escape this veil.

The friendly family-like neighbor stays at arms distance, the warmth with which we greet our house help or those who help us with chores around the house or garden will lose its genuineness and the friendly vibes and work culture that till today had a sense of togetherness will vanish into thin air.

Let’s hope the virus exits just like the way it appeared and gives us back the normalcy we are used to. However, having said that the lessons it has taught us viz a viz taking care of our planet and not pushing her to the corner environmentally need to be jotted down and adhered to from the heart for every human whose lungs breathe fresh air at no cost. Also, the realization that we are not God and above everything. We are still human and need to behave like one fully well aware our lives can turn turtle overnight.

Be on guard but do not let it take you away from your loved ones and let not the world get covered with a blanket of suspicion that brings with it distances and with these distances generate cracks that emerge between relationships were “being humane” is forgotten by us, humans. Let’s not get the feeling that we are intelligent to conquer the world outside our planet and the powers that work at keeping our world peaceful and calm. Its high time we realized not to rock the boat and rub outside forces the wrong way, that it ends up endangering our species.

Off the ventilator!

Being imprisoned for no fault of ours. We have an attacker lurking in the corner. We are told in order to protect ourselves, we have to just stay indoors. No moving out, no meeting people, never shaking hands and a loving hug is just not permitted. You are right, the jail happens to be our own homes, and the attacker is the now all famous Corona!

Birthplace not too far, land the Chowmien noodles and Schezwan sauce – China. Even the Great wall of China could not contain its flight. It sure does not have that uniquely shaped ( tiny) eyes, straight hair or flawless skin. Under the microscope, it possesses spikes around its rounded figure, much like a crunchy ball with thorns. At least that’s what we have been shown and that’s the image we have put to the name Corona alias Covid19.

Having taken a flight from China, it was not sure where to land. He found multiple parking spaces, decided to procreate quickly and park itself in all these parking slots around the world. Since falling in love, and spreading its love was a weakness, he went around the world at a speed, we humans underestimated, bringing the whole world on its knees. The world is now looking for a solution to the virus that seems to have fallen in love with us humans in a big way. It practices spreading its love in the literal sense. When love turns possessive it can get suffocating, ending up killing the recipient of this “love”.

While scientists and researchers are finding an antidote for this kind of possessive love, each one of us is bound to do our bit by not being in line, anywhere that this virus lurks. A lockdown announced in most cities, leaving the roads empty, airports deserted, bus stations desolate, railway platforms no more screeching sounds and the air sporting a deafening silence. Since stepping out is prohibited the restaurants no more blasting trending music, the gyms have only dumbells looking back at them, the offices locked wherein the desks and chairs seem to be wondering about what’s really wrong. The streetlights humming a sad number, and traffic signals playing a blinking game – red, yellow or green – who blinks first loses. The curvy overpass bridges look like a board game with no players, the metro stations more like underground bunkers, the footpaths and zebra crossings yearning for the smell of shoes and sounds of footfalls. The malls in darkness, something out of a horror movie, the cinema halls with seats fed up of watching the blank screen, the rats in their holes have no place to have a picnic and the parking spaces with standstill wheels. The alarm clocks around the world on a long snooze, the kid’s playgrounds have slides and swings mourning, the jogging tracks are wondering where they went wrong and the mosquitoes finding it hard to find a drink ( Bloody Mary)

However, some of those who have found freedom are on seventh heaven. Having been suffocated and not seen the good light of the day, they are after a long time seeing the world in shades, that they had almost forgotten existed. The birds have new tunes to sing, the forests and trees have no fear of being murdered to make way for roads and tunnels, the flowers bloom and giggle as they open their eyes every morning, the worms get a feel of peace, the insects realize, something has changed and animals smell a sense of wellness both in the city and those in the jungle. The sky explodes with blue and crimson hues, the moon’s silver brilliance lets even the tiniest pebble glow, the stars look down at the oceans only to fall in love all over again, life beneath the oceans shed tears of joy and happiness, the sun brings positive energy and hope as always, the clouds play card games, the mountains are at its happiest peak and yes the earth is finally off the ventilator.

As she, our Earth breaths freely and her lungs are healthier, her brain is stress-free, her heartbeat is normal, her blood pressure under control she prays silently. She prays that this lesson and punishment imposed on us humans is not wasted. She prays we have learned and will remember the pains and aches of the last few weeks, and not repeat past blunders taking her back to the ICU only to be plugged on to the ventilator again. She is fed up with having needles pricked into her body, radiating signals harming her cells, medicines, and steroids pumped into her to improve her performance and on the whole, being taken for granted. She has made a resolution – she will revolt if not treated with love, affection, respect as the umbilical cord, that fuels life into the smallest living being alive. She demands and will ensure she gets her due – even if it means punishing her children and warning them of dire consequences.

Corona will be in our control sooner than later, but let not the lessons he taught us go waste in a haste to catch up on time lost in this race with no “finish line”

Home is where the heart is!

Google maps, itinerary charts flight options and hotel choices – today these are the typical planning stages for vacations, not just adults but also kids. The 21st century it is!

When I was growing up in the early 70s it was different. Having grown up in a middle-class family, living in a city that was called Bombay ( today Mumbai) things were not like it is today. Our vacations were always a trip back to the village (paternal and maternal) located in South India – Kerala. These trips were well planned. Train tickets were booked and even school travel concessions were sought. Bags packed, snacks and eats in plenty besides the rolled up bedding with sheets and pillows for the train journey would all occupy a corner place in the house a few days before the actual travel. As children the level of excitement was amazing. As a child, the thought of traveling two nights in a train was the high point. No mobile phone games or movies to download, just plain fun among siblings or co-passenger kids. Sleeping all snuggled up in the upper berth, vendors at stations and some that ferry their wares inside the train making it a point to attract kids, who would urge their parents to purchase stuff like toys, comics, cold drinks, snacks or just about anything. They practiced the best marketing strategy back then.

A few years later those train journeys changed and it was a road trip every year. The car all loaded with food, water, luggage, etc . Cruising along the coastal roads and national highways. Sunset, was time to check into a hotel, only to get an early start the next day. Two and a half days of adventure. The two and a half days would stretch to longer depending on if the car breaks down. My father would love his annual visit to his hometown, it kind of made him childlike in a unique way.

Air travel had to subsequently happen when finances got better and time in hand was scarce. The fun that the train and road journeys give, air travel can never match up. The excitement of taking flights the first few times weans off before you realize it.

Once we entered the village which looked familiar, we kids knew home was round the corner. We had two homes – one the ancestral home of my Dad ( Nallepilly) and one where my Mother ( Ellapully) grew up. Both were approximately half an hour’s drive from each other. We as a family would spend time between the two houses. Though, I clearly remembered my father loved his home and my mother loved hers ……understandably so!

Nallepilly was a newer construction as compared to Ellapully. The house named “Prema Jyothi” (Light of Love) located almost at the entrance to the village. A pure white exterior with red Mangalore tiles on the roof was and is a beauty not to be missed. The aura in both these houses was totally different – having their own unique personalities. Nallepilly as I describe it is entirely from the viewpoint of a little girl ( me) . Nallepilly is a beautiful house. Tall iron gates, one right in front of the porch which was the entry for people to walk in and a bigger gate on the left side, exclusively for vehicles to enter. The concrete walkway, with a garden on either side with beautiful blooms, is most welcoming. Flowers most fragrant and colors vibrant. The sit-out at the front of the house had a lovely red stone seating area with pillars that supported it on all sides. There were little aisles on either side that had wooden chics hanging to protect from the sunlight. I, as a child, would love to hear the conversations of the elders, which most times did not make any sense. A little hall on the inside with four rooms, as far as I can remember and a storeroom. A beautiful altar in the center of the hall , always had an oil lamp burning most of the day. The fragrance of the incense sticks gave the space a spiritual aura. As kids that locked dark storeroom was the one that was our favorite. The elders would lock the room, as letting the kids footloose in the storeroom was asking for trouble. The room had these wooden containers and shelves, brass pots and hanging baskets.
The smell of mangoes, jackfruits, grains and a whole lot of goodies truly makes me nostalgic to this day. The door would creak when it was being opened and if we were nearby, it was time to head right there to sneak in. The dining area and kitchen on the right side was the space where aunts and moms made the meals on stone furnaces fueled by wood. Thinking back, it must have been tough as blowing into the furnace, eyes watering and the room dark and hot is not easy. A well next to the kitchen, provided water to drink and cook. The washrooms were located outside the house – a fancy for us kids coming from the city.

A wooden stairway led you to the upper half of the house. The rooms upstairs were used by us and other members of the family who came in from other parts of the country. A bright airy comfortable living room, that opens into a balcony. The tall glass doors were something out of storybook. The square glass panels on the doors seemed as if they had a story to tell on their own. The cabinets had beautiful chinaware and lots of picture frames ( couples) on the walls. Frames were a big thing and black and white pictures adorned most walls in every house. I personally have a very vivid memory of a small room on the left side, that had another stairway leading you to an attic. I faintly remember what was in the attic, but yes it had stuff that was probably there for decades. That woody earthy smell was very prominent even up there.

Another part of the house that I was fond of, and am sure other members of the family too favored was a little verandah on the backside of the house on the ground floor. It was the space where elders would sit chatting well into the night when the Frog croaked, the sounds of Katydids and Crickets echoed through the skies, the trees swayed with the winds and the moonlight’s contributions was to make ordinary shadows looks scary. Sitting among elders in that space on such nights was very comforting indeed. Oh the innocence and imaginations that spin in a child’s mind! There was a stretch of woods ahead of this varandah, actually the backyard to the house. Coconut palms, mango trees , jackfruit trees and just all kind of vegetation were prominent in this patch. There was a well, that had a concrete tub that I guess was for watering the plants. However, my father would fill that tub with water from the well, through a gushing broad pipe and we kids hurdled into the tub for some fun. Just being in that water tub, beneath the trees, under the blue sky, among the birds was something else. Somehow, almost five decades later, I can still feel the chill of the water, the drenched bodies rubbing against each other, the sounds of the gushing water the excited screams of us kids and the smell of wet mud around. Some kind of a water park it was.

A walk down the village, green carpets of green fields, took you to an ancestral temple. Close to the temple was a pond that was used by the members of the village to bathe. The exhilaration of bundling your clothes and toiletries, not in a bag but just a towel, walking through the narrow paths between lush green fields and jumping into the pond, having a blast until we were summoned to get back to dry ourselves and head back home. The village aunts and grandaunts showered special attention on us kids as we had come in from the city and the adulation was more than welcome. Today as a 57-year-old, I feel those who lived in the villages would have had a better life than us who lived in crowded cities jostling for work, housing and just about surviving.

The food that was cooked on that kitchen somehow tasted so different and delicious. It was probably the methods of cooking, the water and the patience that went into making not just regular food but awesome goodies for us the kids who forever had a demanding tummy.
Neighbors who always left their door and gates open and were thrilled to have us home, indulge us and genuinely be nice truly touched a chord even then as a child and today rekindling that memory reiterates the fact that the way relationship were handled back then was indeed the right way. Today technology has taken over and so have relationships that have moved over to the “fast lane”. One is not allowed to stop, pause or waste time when one chooses to be in this so-called “fast lane” The world has no control over its speed and a crash somewhere in the future is obvious!

Vacations over, time to pack bags and head back to the city where routines take over and life goes back to that sphere – large roller coaster ride. When the body and mind are tired, it would be time to take a vacation to recharge batteries only to have the circle spin for decades with no end in sight.

This house has seen many good times, sickness and deaths when generation of siblings lived under this roof in pure harmony . Supporting and being the caregivers for each other till the end . Indeed a lesson to learn from the way they conducted their simple yet happy and fruitful life.

My father never got a chance to hang up his working boots and live a “retired life” back in his home town. Work had to be done, commitments had to be met and he had no choice but keep the charka spinning for if it would stop, life would be tough. Somewhere up there he for sure will be watching over his favorite place and people who were closest to his heart!

Every period on one’s life has lessons entwined , most times invisible but nevertheless always there. As one grows old, those lessons, memories, fears, affection, intimidation and innocence come back to touch your heart and soul. A smile just happens , or a tear drops unawares and at times the heart skips a beat with just the memories that cascade . Smells linger, warmth never leaves and aura of a person or place stays beside you as long as there is life.

Positives of a Break up

THANKFULLY !

An overnight change. Glow gone for a toss, hair gone dry, waist visibly shrinking, eyes moist forever, body language – un-apologetically slack. No, she is not sick or dodging the incoming flu or the dreaded Coronavirus, that has created havoc around the world today.

A relationship gone sour, a breakup inevitable and the aftereffect at least for her, definitely not a pleasing sight. I can’t speak for his side of the story but as a woman certainly will stand by my friend in every way. Counseling her on realities of life and pepping her up to move on and indicating …….whatever happens, happens for the good. A few days for it to sink in, a few sleepless nights, under-eye dark circles and appetite dead, she rises like the titan.

A nice sunny morning, the glow comes back and she walks in almost as before. A little bit more of this transition to traverse, but she is getting there slow and steady. A chat – girl to girl and the wriggly worm within her is extracted and flushed down the drain. Once this is complete the outcome is worth writing about. So here I go and put the positives of a breakup for you to not judge but read, maybe smile and ensure you help another in similar circumstances.

Freedom that’s liberating, no questions on how, why and when, your choices are yours only with regards to your clothes, accessories, friends, movies, restaurants, holidays ……….the list never ends, your evenings are free to chill with other friends with not questions, you stay out for as long as you wish, idiosyncrasies to tolerate is almost nil and with all this, you end up looking sweet sixteen again.

Is it worth getting into a bond, a bond that is fruitless and futile? Certainly not. Open the mind and those strong wings and fly to another branch of your choice, pick the fruit that suits your palate, breath the air that now will have a fragrance with a difference and above all realize it is your only life – do not (****) it up for another human being for its your birthright. At birth the umbilical cord is cut – there is a reason – its supposed to say live free and freedom is yours from then on. Why then get into a situation where your heart and mind are hurt, broken, fractured and bruised? No amount of medication works on these wounds, however, there is one Doctor who can treat you – YOUR MIND

So get up or take a stance – walk, fly, sail or do whatever that gets you your much-needed freedom!