Monday, June 26

Naked Illusions - A Short Story

It was just another of those several uneventful nights. But, the same couldn´t be said for the secretive lives people led and the tragic choices they made. One unfortunate victim of such a tragic choice was a tiny baby, left to wither and putrify naturally to her death, among the trash cans in Mumbai city.

The baby´s no fault - Chromosomes XX? Or was she a bastard child? Or perhaps a kidnapped victim? No one would ever know the truth!

For now, she was yet another trash bin baby left to her own fate. She had to pay a heavy price either ways - Death or Life. In fact, the odds were stacked up more against her if she were to leave unscathed without a brain injury from being flung mercilessly or left disfigured after being gnawed by filthy, ravenous stray dogs, rats or flies.

They say time heals wounds. But some of us remain scarred for life. Physical scars are easily visible,calling for sympathy and compassion. What about the emotional scars that come with being abandoned by your own…..father?… and mother perhaps as well?…..Society? …God?

As afternoon approached the next day, Munni, the rag picker went about her usual business, looking for her day´s treasure at every trash bin she could find en route. She found Society´s trash, peering at her with the most divine and beautiful eyes as she gave out a little gurgle. As she came nearer to have a closer look, the baby held a tight grip on her little finger and something about that touched the deepest core of Munni´s heart.

Indeed, one man´s trash is another´s treasure!

Munni took her little treasure home and spontaneously named her Rosie. For she was of the rosiest pink hue in complexion and soft to touch and cuddle! The next ten years of Rosie´s life were spent in the Mumbai shawls. Munni, however, was as straight-forward as one could be, making it clear to Rosie how she was found among the city´s leftovers.

Rosie was exposed to the dirty secrets of Mumbai´s underbelly. There was nothing unapologetic about her adopted mother, Munni. She earned her money and made her livelihood by working hard and sincerely. Munni was a rag picker by the day and a bar dancer cum prostitute at night. Every evening, she would come home and get dressed for her business at night, hoping to make a quick moolah by satisfying her customers. She would go dressed in her most brightest and shiniest sarees which left nothing to imagination. Her blouses were seductive displaying an ample amount of cleavage and her underskirt rested at the ´lowest of the low´ part of her waist, showing off the maximum area of her midriff and navel. She decorated her hair with jasmine flowers and confidently strutted out in her brightest red pout.

For Rosie, Munni was a huge source of inspiration as she had never met anyone as yet so kind, so gregarious and unpretentious. She was aware of Munni´s reputation in the neighbourhood early on. Initially, it disturbed her when they called her mother all sorts of names ranging from ´Randi´ (whore), Kutiya (bitch) and more. But, seeing Munni indifferent to such cat calls and names slowly made Rosie understand that there was no place for emotions in this world. As for her, she admired Munni for her grit and courage for holding her own in a world filled with big, bad wolves in sheep´s clothing.

´Yes, I am a prostitute!  This is my fate. But, it is also my choice as much as it is some of the men who want me for the night.´

´Then, why are you the only target of hatred and judgement by Society? Doesn´t it take to two to tango?´, Rosie asked earnestly.

´Hmm! I leave that answer to your own discovery, interpretation and judgment of life itself as you grow and learn along the way.´, smiled Munni.

At that instance, when Rosie thought she couldn´t love her Mum more, she fell in love a whole lot more with her Munni. She found Munni´s trust and confidence in her to find her own answer to this perplexing question highly reassuring of her own self-worth and value. She learnt that day sometimes the most wise and evolved minds came from the most unlikely people and places.

But, Rosie´s happiness was short-lived. One day, Munni came up to her with the most shocking news.

Ít is time for you to leave, Rosie!’, said Munni one day, matter-of-factly.

´But Why, Amma? You promised me we would be together always.’

´Well, Rosie! There is no such thing as always. Someday, we have to part. This time, it is sooner than expected.´

´But why? Am I a burden?´

´No, Rosie! You are no one´s burden. But, let me put it this way. I am no saint and I am way more flawed than you can imagine me to be. I got a very lucrative offer that is hard to deny. I have a choice to keep you with me always and letting you never fly away on your own or to give us both a better life.’

Á better life? For whom? Not for me, Amma! I cannot imagine a life without you.´

´See Rosie! I have been honest from you from day one. And, it is because I wanted you to understand that there are no obligations between us. Whatever I did in the past, I did it on my own will and choice. I decided to bring you home and give you the best I could offer at that time. But, the time has come for us to part. At the end of the day, opportunities like these don´t come knocking on our humble doors everyday. It is hard to say no when there is so much money at stake here. But, I leave it to you now to go or stay here with me.’

This came as a rude shock to Rosie. But, it was true that Munni was clear from day one about Rosie´s origins. Whatever said and done, it was Munni who rescued her and gave her a home, some food and a place in her heart. She even took the place of a mother and father in her life. Albeit, for a while! If Munni wanted her to go now, how could Rosie hang around?

´You have rescued a bright gem of a piece, I mean girl, I see.´, gleamed Aunty.

It didn´t take much for Rosie to figure out that she was in a brothel and that her mother had pimped her for a secure future for herself. While she felt the cores of her stomach churn in disgust and sadness, Rosie mustered the courage to hug Munni one last time and give her flickering peck on her cheek.

´Rosie! You will have a big family now. Another mother in the form of Aunty and many sisters to live with. I understand how you feel betrayed by my decision. And, I hope you do forgive me. Poverty is hard, my child. And we are all victims of our own circumstances. But, I know you will survive like you did as a baby. I know that nothing can break you however bad the situation might be. You will somehow find the light at the end of this dark tunnel. I will keep you in my prayers always.´, said Munni regretfully before the final parting.

As Rosie watched Munni´s silhouette gradually disappear into nothingness, she realized the sad truth that she was all alone in this world again.

However, the shock was nothing compared to what lay in store for her that night. Before she knew it, there was an old burly man in her room, who couldn´t contain his excitement on seeing her.

´This Maal is perfect. I will have her for the night.´, as he informed Aunty of his decision.

´She has just started puberty last month and it is her first night here. This Maal is as fresh as fresh can be, Saheb! He-he!´

The lusty old man couldn´t be any more pleased. By the looks of it, he seemed easily around 65 years at least.

´You better be good and obey his orders. Saheb is a very great and kind man.´ warned Aunty to Rosie on her way out the door.

It was her worst night ever. She had no where to escape and there was no one coming to rescue her from this hellhole. When she tried resisting the old man´s advances, she was pinned down onto the floor even more violently. There was no way she could match the towering six footer. His age belied his manly strength. She gave up after a desperate fight and let him feast on her till his satisfaction. While he snored to glory after having sex with this girl who was younger in age than his own grand-daughter, Rosie didn´t catch a wink of sleep trying to make sense of what just happened to her. She felt violated and wronged. Before she even knew what rape meant in theory, she fell a hapless victim to it.

The next morning, as the old man buttoned up his shirt, he found traces of blood on the bedsheets to his delight.

´Ahhhh! The bliss of making love to a virgin. Here is an extra Rs.500, Sweetie´ Saheb muttered as he tucked a bunch of notes between her budding bosom.

Rosie looked away in disgust as the old man planted one last slurpy wet kiss on her lips. Aunty walked in very pleased to find a handsome amount stashed with Rosie.

´I will give you your share at the end of the month. You are under probation for now. Learn the tricks of the trade as much as you can. It will help you tremendously in the future´

The rape left Rosie in a state of chronic depression over the next couple of months. She attempted suicide not once but several times but each and every time, she was rescued in time. She felt like she was in a bottomless pit where there was no way up. She just kept falling and crumbling emotionally with every sexual encounter with a random stranger.

She felt dead for the longest period of time. Until one day, she decided to gather all the strength that she could muster and face life . However, cruel and lonely it was!

Rosie realised that there was no escape from the brothel at least for now and that she had no family other than its inmates. She decided to come face-to-face with reality and soon started forging bonds with other girls caught in a similar situations like hers. She realised that some of them had been through worse situations than her. Some of them were molested by their own uncles even before puberty. Some were physically beaten by own father and made to work as child labourers or beg on the railway platforms. Some of them were sold by their own father and mother to rich old Arabs and ultimately found themselves in this dingy brothel.

It was an unfair and mean world. Sometimes, Rosie wondered if would have been better off if she was left to die in those trash bins than to face this living horror day in and day out.

But, whenever she felt disillusioned with life, Munni´s parting words always came to the rescue

´But, I know you will survive like you did as a baby. I know that nothing can break you however bad the situation might be. You will somehow find the light at the end of this dark tunnel. ´

And Rosie would immediately realize that she had come this far and she couldn´t lose hope despite her situation. On the brighter side, she had more company than she had ever had. All the girls were her sisters now and they confided all their thoughts and fears with each other.They would all laugh at the various stories that they had to share with each other - from their poverty ridden past to some of their most funniest clients to the monstrous Aunty! They managed to find humour and maintain their sanity even in the most darkest place. There was this beauty of sisterhood and friendship that she had missed out while living with Munni. She felt like a child all over again in their company.

Of course, it was business as usual at night. Her clients ranged from businessmen to lorry drivers to adolescent boys to politicians to cops to lawyers. Everyone wanted a piece of her meat for the night. Very soon, she became the most sought after whore in the red light area. It wasn´t just her physical beauty, immense charm and her flexible moves that made her famous, but also her innate ability to make every man who slept with her, feel loved and most special. For Rosie, all this was not an act but an earnest need to bond, empathise and please even these brutes! She had the natural gifts of empathy and intuition.

In many ways, she saw life in its myriad forms through her male clients and their stories. She listened intently to their fears, conflicting thoughts and masked words.

´Are you crazy? My wife and kids think the world of me. I am their Parmeshwar.’

‘My wife doesn't need to know. Sex is something that we just don´t discuss.´

´I have no sexual desire at all. Is something wrong with me? Help me.´

Í just like older women.´

Í like younger women.´

Í get bored of the same type. I need some fun and variety in my life.´

Óf what use is money when one cannot enjoy.´

Through them, she learnt about the unbelievable ways of the Society. She realized everyone around wore masks to conceal their true thoughts and feelings. Feelings of extreme lust, shame, lies and guilt! What was more unbelievable was the hypocrisy that was ingrained in Society and was actively perpetrated to be the absolute norm.

She never understood the hypocrisy that surrounded the whole basic act of sex. Everyone thought about it, desired it, looked for it, indulged in it and yet, talking about it openly was strictly taboo. Uncultured!

What was the most painful was the fact that women were targeted and judged harshly in any sexual encounter, be it out of consent or otherwise as in rape. Even in a strictly commercial business transaction like prostitution which was like any other trade, where there was mutual consent involved, it was she who was perpetually the bad woman who Society looked down and frowned upon.

Yet, they were blind and unashamed of the baby who was discarded as trash, or killed in the womb owing to either its gender or being born out of wedlock. They were unashamed if she was raped by her own family or anyone for that matter. They were unashamed if she was sold off to a brothel..she lived or died. Who gave a damn!

They were highly ashamed and judgemental of her existence though. For them, she was the Randi. The ultimate evil bad woman who corrupted and polluted the innocent minds of the morally cultured and traditional society.  The great ancient moral culture that needed constant policing from lusty temptresses like her!

Isn´t it ironic that the men who slept with her, ranging from politicians to godmen to business tycoons and more were considered to be highly respectable and honourable people by the very same moralistic Society. Forget Society and its naysayers, the very men that she had slept with had no respect for her even though both of them were involved in the same amorous act. Falling in love was not an option for women like her. Men only loved her body and nothing more. However, genuine was her love or concern for them, she failed to earn their respect or love simply owing to the profession that she was in or the fact she chose (or did´n´t did´t matter either ways) to get laid.

She was just an object to be used and thrown. Objects were not supposed to have feelings or emotions. This objectification was perfectly convenient for the men and less painful for the women involved.

´Then, why are you the only target of hatred and judgement by Society? Doesn´t it take to two to tango?´

´I leave that answer to your own discovery, interpretation and judgment of life itself as you grow and learn along the way.´

She finally found the answer to her question when she became pregnant with one of her well-connected client´s child. He refused to acknowledge it was his baby after all, owing to his social, economical, political and marital status. He offered her an exorbitant fee to abort the baby. Even though, Rosie had undergone abortions earlier in the past, this time her natural urge to be a mother were much stronger than any money proposition. She decided to go ahead and have the baby with or without a father.

After she came out her shower, she looked at her naked reflection in the mirror in deep admiration and gratitude.

´How beautiful nakedness was!, ´she thought. We come into the world naked, procreate and bring forth another life in our naked being and we leave this world behind in our nakedness. Yet, we all live in our grandeur naked illusions!

Society would rather appear to be spotlessly clothed with their reputations intact in their illusionary virginity of body, mind as soul. Their skewed sense of morality reflected the deep sense of shame and honour that they attached to the naked body. If only they attached honour to the soul and mind instead of the mere body alone....!

In many ways, women like her reminded them of their own weakness that they found hard to resist. The world would rather be comforted with hypocrisy and lies rather than the stark naked truth. The truth was like a bitter pill to them that they did not want to gulp. It reflected the Society´s cowardice to face the naked reality. Women like her reminded them of their own disease of casting and shunning out many innocent lives to die, get raped and prostituted only to uphold their honour and cover their naked shame. Women like her were called all sorts of horrid and unmentionable names only to save them of their own embarrassment and judgement.

As she lovingly caressed her growing baby bump, she smiled wondering how could anyone fall in love even before first sight. Did her own biological mother feel the same way she did? She was curious but flashes of her abandonment into the filthy bins came to mind. She shut her eyes tight enough not to let the warm tears escape her lids.

But, she decided to bury her demons once and for all.

No matter, how life treated her in the past, she was glad to have been rescued, being able to live and experience every flavour that Life had. Sweet, bitter, dark, salty!

Rosie had decided that her child would learn her naked truth. Indeed, she was an honest, dignified, brave and a proud woman. Damn the world and their pitiable honour!

This was her opportunity to change over a new leaf. To make new beginnings and to let go off her past. At last, she was going to have her own family. She would be the mother that she never had. While she would not dictate or impose her values on her child, she would teach one important lesson on leading the most authentic life. To always have the courage to walk in the path of Truth and Truth alone! Even if it meant standing up lone against the whole world!


The doctor walked in and smiled at the new-born nestled cozily in his mother´s arms.

´Congratulations, Rosie! We need to take your baby´s name for the record. So, take some time and think of a nice name.´

´Thank You, Doctor! I have already thought about it. Please note my son´s name. First Name - Rajan. Surname - Rosie. His name is Rajan Rosie.´

´That´s an unusual but nonetheless a lovely name. You will make the most wonderful mother..and father…and grandparents, indeed!´,the doctor smiled.

It surely was an eventful day when one immensely brave and revolutionary woman decided to make a conscious choice and own up to its responsibility despite the fact that all the odds were stacked up against her. But, again when were the odds ever in her favour.

It did´t matter.

Rosie was beyond the shackles of society´s naked illusions, cowardice and masked lies.She was not afraid hiding anymore from the world because she had the powerful weapon of the naked truth on her side.

Oh Yes! She was more than prepared to face and take on the world singlehandedly and RISE from her past ashes! 

Wednesday, June 7

How Ebook carnival has changed me and my life´ #BlogchatterEbook

I take on the baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival from Mayuri (hyperlinked to ) whose Ebook " 26 Favourite Foods and A Little Bit of Me " is also a part of the mix.

About Mayuri's Ebook"There is no sincerer love than the love of food, said George Bernard Shaw and I couldn’t agree more! Food is a nourisher, food is a celebration and food is a memory that connects us to people and to our past. Everybody has a list of food they love and so do I. Come along with me as I share my 26 Favourite Foods and A Little Bit of Me, and attempt to recreate the flavours my palate has tasted, through my words for you, as I walk you down memory lane sharing my moments associated with each."


Now, let me share some of my thoughts and experiences about ´How Ebook carnival has changed me and my life´.

Firstly, a big shout to Team Blogchatter for making this long time dream possible. Publishing any kind of book this year was not on the agenda this year. Mainly, due to the ignorance on my part about the whole Ebook Carnival.

It was only at the start of this year when I decided to go on full gear when it came to my writings. The fact that the relatively inactive blog of mine made it to the Top 5 finalist at the first Orange flower awards conducted by Women´s Web gave me some serious fodder for thought. While I was tad disappointed that I didn´t win this time, I was still quite happy that despite the long gap in blogging, I still made it to the top 5 amongst nearly thousands of entries. So, that was purely by the merit of my writing alone. This was definitely a huge encouraging sign for me to actively pursue writing.

I realised today writing is so unlike it was in the olden days. No longer, can a writer be cocooned away from the rest of the world and just write endlessly. Today, a writer is definitely still all that, but needs to really step up and be out there for the world to recognise and read. I realised the need for social networking and being active on various social media platforms. I also realised the importance of being part of an active blogging community. And, I started to make my first baby steps in that direction.

So, I logged into my old rusted Twitter account which I abandoned many, many years back because I really detested it back then. And, started to get active around the months of Feb-March 2017. It was during this time, that I saw the #AtoZChallenge  related posts by Blogchatter. What got my attention was the opportunity to have your own E-Book published. That proposition got me sold right there. And so, I jumped onto the bandwagon without really knowing what to expect or do.

Like a novice thrown into the ocean and asked to swim, I found my way through the whole #AtoZChallenge with Team Blogchatter as my life-saving float and support. The challenge got me to think fast and spontaneously and everyday I learnt something new and surprised myself altogether. Another wonderful outcome was the chance to engage with like-minded people with a common passion for writing. I met so many varied men and women from diverse fields and thought processes and yet we felt connected with our common passion.

Finally, the icing on the cake, my first Ebook ´Soul Sojourn´. What can I say? This would not have been possible with you guys, Team Blogchatter. Their passion, patience and commitment to get the best out of their writers is remarkable and encouraging.


"I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival to Sneha Saikumar whose Ebook "Potpourri of Emotions & Moods"  is also a part of the mix.

About Sneha's Ebook: "Every living creature goes through a roller coster of emotions in their lifetime, some that lift up your mood, some that make you happy, some that makes you sulk and feel bad about yourself. From being affectionate to happy, from being in rage to simply feel nothing there is at least twenty six emotions that we human beings for sure experience. Potpourri of Emotions & Moods is one such book which makes you experience these emotions as you travel through the pages one by one. Experience emotions through stories and experiences and many more such surprises.".

Monday, May 1

Z is for Zap #AtoZChallenge

Zap is to destroy. It is a powerful thing to destroy someone….or something. Crush it!

´Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.´

There is an apt saying about how one can gauge the character of a person by the power they possess. It is not trying times or setbacks that test the character of a person as much as the power that they hold. In fact as Lincoln holds the view, most people have the sufficient resilience to get by adversity.

But Power is lethal…it´s intoxicating. It gives any person a high…a false high…a false heightened sense of importance over another person.

Men feel more powerful than women owing to the gender attribution of physical strength and place in society. Elders feel more powerful than children owing to their age and experience. One country feels more powerful than the rest owing to their economic and military strength. A boss feels more powerful than his employees owing to his hierarchal position. A rich person feels more powerful than the poor owing to his bank balance and assets.

A person´s real strength and character is tested when they have power. Most people are blinded by  power to see their real selves anymore. They misuse their position of power to zap other people of their energy and strength.

Even in today´s times, there is a certain section in the society that believes domestic violence is perfectly okay and an integral part of the certain cultures. Nothing to make a big fuss out of it. Like a parents hits a child to correct...likewise the husband hits his wife to keep her in check.

Any sort of violence (physical or emotional) and crafty manipulation is a gross abuse or misuse of power.

Yes, at the end of the day, we are all human beings and we commit mistakes. But ultimately, we have to learn coming terms with our inner demons. We have to be aware of our position of power to make or break another person, life or thing. And despite how much power we hold, when we choose to zap someone else, it speaks a lot more about our character flaws rather than the one we zapped with our physical or emotional blows.

The power we hold comes with an added responsibility to inspire through words or action and build someone else's life. And definitely not to zap them of their powers.


Y is for Yonder #AtoZChallenge

I love to yonder both literally and figuratively. Yonder is the far distance. I love going to faraway destinations and discovering something new. It could be as simple as a new dish or new sights or something as complex as learning a whole new philosophical bent of mind.

Figurately, I love to yonder using the power of my imagination. If there is one single powerful thing God has blessed us with, it has to be our imaginations. If we can imagine it, we can do it.

Through Yonder, we tap into our subconscious state and unleash our inner power. We stay attuned to our intuition and dream the impossible. We imagine, we dream and we create something extraordinary.

To me, when I think of the word Ýonder´, I visualise the dark night skies with sparking twinkling stars in the backdrop. Our aspirations are like that far night skies…..its endless and its gorgeous. We aspire to reach there someday..somehow. And that´s what keep us going and moving.

It is wonderful to dream big. Because that´s where all great things begin. What we imagine, we become..we achieve. Even if we don´t go the yonder, we will reach way much farther than where we currently stand.

We will not be stuck in one mode…one way of thinking. When we have to go the yonder, we have to keep moving to reach our destination. All that movement translates into wonderful mistakes made, life-altering failures, crucial lessons learnt, startling achievements won, glorious memories made and a constant evolution of our whole self.

So, tonight just take a walk outside before you hop onto your bed. Watch and gaze endlessly into the night sky. See what patterns of constellations you can spot. What aspirations you can find up there in those endless, countless faraway stars?

Once you find your Yonder…your faraway aspiration, keep and treasure these wonderful words by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a proponent of the power of Positive Thinking, ingrained in your heart as you set on your grand journey -

´Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you´ll land among the stars´

Always always aim high. There is nothing to lose really and all to gain!


Saturday, April 29

X is for Xenophobia Everywhere! #AtoZChallenge

I hate Muslims.

I hate Christians.

I hate all non-vegetarians who kill innocent animals.

I hate all beef eaters.

I hate Hindus.

I hate idol-worshippers.

I hate Trump.

I hate Obama.

I hate immigrants.

I hate patriots.

I hate Pakistan.

I hate India.

I hate Americans.

I hate black people.

I hate white people.

I hate fat people.

I hate feminists.

I hate women who have no spine.

I hate that new co-worker.

I hate Biryani.

I hate Sonia Gandhi

I hate Narendra Modi.

I hate ....I hate....I hate....this thing or that person....I hate ...I hate

The dictionary meaning of Xenophobia is dislike or prejudice against people from other countries.

Politicians use it to fan the fires of the sheeple against the enemy - The Foreign One.

Whether it is the Hindus or Indians perceived as the enemy in Pakistan.

Or the Middle East terrorists or Indian techies or Mexican workers or Russian spies perceived as the enemy in United States.

Or the British or Italian or Christian or Muslims perceived as the enemy in India.

Or the American or all whites or all infidels perceived as the enemy in the Muslim countries.

The real life cases of Xenophobia is sadly everywhere. In fact, it exists even in our own homes, work places, class-rooms etc.

A daughter-in-law is perceived as a foreign element in her husband´s home. A revolutionary person is considered foreign at a workplace. That odd student who is so different from the rest of the class is considered foreign in the classroom. A transgender is foreign to the society. Family or group politics are the outcome of Xenophobia - foreign ideas, thoughts, tastes and distastes.

Xenophobia is everywhere and we are all knowingly or unknowingly participants of it. I firmly believe all of us are racists in varying degrees, including me.

Someone foreign is our enemy.

And we are the foreign enemy of someone.

Saturday, April 22

W is for Writer Impressions #AtoZChallenge

‘Why do smile so much in the pictures?’, my girlfriend remarked.

What´s wrong?, I said.

´Well, you don't look like a writer from your pictures?´, she said.

´Really! What is a writer supposed to look like?´, I enquired with a hawk-like interest.

´Well, you know…Messy hair, lousy clothes, geeky glasses,…a look and expression that screams .that they don't give a damn to the world and what it thinks. They don't even give a damn about themselves. And, they are serious….dead serious…like they mean business…to change the world or something on those lines. Not, smiling happily and contented like you and looking all pretty and nice in some great outfits.´, she said.

´But a writer is real right. I am not faking happiness and this is me. I like to dress and express myself through my outfits too. Fashion and style is not always frivolous you know.´, I enlightened her.

´´Well! You and I know that! But try telling that to strangers who read your articles. Fashion and style is frivolous to writers. They just don't give a damn.´ she argued. ´Let me show you.´

And she took me to her room and opened her laptop. She browsed through google images and showed me several pictures of Arundhati Roy.

´Look at her! She doesn't care about her messy unkempt hair…the silver strands in them or her wrinkled up saree with mismatched blouse. That´s the look of a writer. Bingo!´, she screamed in euphoria.

So, we went around discussing and arguing more. Well! She was a very good friends and so we both had the liberty to disagree with each other´s views.

My argument was do I have to mould myself to fit a certain impression of the profession that I am in. Whatever happened to bring Ýou´ to the table wherever you go.

The fact is I write well. Nothing can change that fact whether I look or don't like a writer.

Recently, Sania Mirza came to the ´Koffee with Karan´show. Karan Johar asked her whether it doesn't bother her that her dressing style might alter people´s impressions about her as a serious tennis athlete and clothes send a message of frivolousness unlike other sports stars.

She justified her stance that this is who she really is. She loves fashion, glamour and style. And she is also a Tennis sports champion having won many world titles. She agreed that most sportsperson were simple but that was their personality. And this is hers. She wasn't unapologetic about it and she said people´s perceptions didnt bother her because she was focussed on doing what she needs to.

Isn´t there a saying on the lines of ´you make the outfit and not the other way around´? So, is seriousness ascribed to only professions such as medicine, teaching, writings and the likes and frivolousness attributed to the fashion and glamour industry?

Aren´t there glamorous doctors just as plain jane actors?

What about the popular adage - ´Don´t judge a book by its cover´´?


V is for Vacations #AtoZChallenge

“What we want out of a vacation changes as we age. It changes from vacation to vacation. There was a time when it was all about culture for me. My idea of a real break was to stay in museums until my legs ached and then go stand in line to get tickets for an opera or a play. Later I became a disciple of relaxation and looked for words like beach and massage when making my plans. I found those little paper umbrellas that balanced on the side of rum drinks to be deeply charming then. Now I strive for transcendent invisibility and the chance to accomplish the things I can’t get done at home. But as I pack up my room at the Hotel Bel-Air, I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again.”

Ann Patchett, “Do Not Disturb,” in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

This quote, by far, is my most favourite quote on Vacations. Nothing bonds people more than a vacation. I remember my childhood days were filled with family vacations and those memories are timeless. The hangover of those vacations, some of them decades back, still remains.

The childhood memories of Kerala remains a strong memory. The fresh lush evergreen beauty of it doesn't fail to charm me every time I go there. I love going on a slow boat ride in the backwaters and gorging on the super delicious cuisine it offers.

My husband is an adventurous soul. He loves the great outdoors and ever since our marriage, I have travelled like never before. That is one of the wonderful things about marrying someone who has completely opposite interests and tastes as your. We do share the same value and belief systems though.

I remember our first vacation together to his hometown, Goa. I fell in love instantly with the place. It was similar to my town, Kerala yet there were stark differences. I wished how I could have spent my childhood years studying and growing up there. The colourful Portuguese style houses, the food, the culture, the beaches and the lifestyle stole a big part of my heart.

Anyway, for me I love my vacations to be amid mountains. Even better, if they are snow capped! I absolute love the huge mountains in California. It always felt like the mighty arms of God himself. Every time I was there, I actually felt hugged in a big warm embrace by God. Everywhere you look in any direction, you see mountains. I cannot explain the feeling of love, warmth and security I experienced by just being in the midst of the mighty mountains. I remember the beauty of the silence in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I absolutely adored those red mountains at Sedona in Arizona. The snow capped mountains with innumerable pine trees at Lake Tahoe took my breath away. And the best thing I loved about Vegas was the road that took us there. The mountain landscape looked straight like a scene out ´The Wild Wild West´ genre of movies.

What are your happy memories of a vacations?

U for Understatedness #AtoZChallenge

The dictionary definition of understatedness is the quality of being restrained and unpretentious.

I have always admired people who exhibited understatedness in all aspects of their lives. Without feeling the need to be popular or show off their worth to others explicably and who were just happy in their own skin.

There is nothing more appealing than the quiet confidence that comes with understatedness. That true understanding of one´s own worth among others is quietly powerful. There are so many who fall in that category. A few of them who come to my mind are A.R.Rahman, Amala Akkineni, Ratan Tata amongst many others.

While their work speaks for themselves, they are naturally understated in their dressing, bearing and manner. Their subtle intelligence and elegance is inspiring. Like the calmness of an ocean in a mood of stillness. They are mighty and powerful and yet so understated without blowing their own trumpet.

The same goes for Modesty. I genuinely think Modesty is often under-appreciated or understated in today´s times. It is so closely with understatedness, elegance and class.There is something very appealing about anyone who chooses to be restrained by choice when they could be otherwise. They don´t want to hijack the attention with their presence and manner. When it comes to their dressing, it is almost always something that is timeless and pleasing to everyone.

The quality of being unpretentious is also highly attractive. It shows that they don´t take themselves too seriously. I think it is a wonderful quality to have.

T is for Talent #AtoZChallenge

´God has not given me any extraordinary talent of creativity or writing like you. I have no other option but to work in a job and lead an ordinary life. ´

I met an old friend of mine in college a few months back. I was meeting her after 8 years and we were discussing our future, family and careers. So, as I was sharing with her my plans, she tried to reason with me to forget the normal pursuits of working in a job and just follow my heart and dreams. One because I could afford to take that risk with my current circumstances and second, because according to her, I was talented and creative. Which she claimed she was not.

I disagreed with her statement that she had no great talent. As kids, we were taught ´The Parable of Talents´ in our Sunday Catechism classes. If you are familiar with the story, you would know that God blessed every one with talents and it is upto us to multiply those talents in this lifetime. That is the message of the parable basically.

Doesn't everyone have a talent if we really introspect and look inside? Maybe, some did not have the chance to explore their talents as children and haven’t yet discovered it? Isn't it true that talent doesn't come in one form alone? There are so many kinds of talent and some undiscovered to the world as yet.

Yes, Talent is God-given! However, I´d like to believe that we have an equanimous God who has blessed everyone with just the right amount of talent. I never knew I had the talent to write until I actually got down to it. I never knew I had the talent to dance until I actually got down to breaking into a jig. There are probably so many more talents of mine that I am probably unaware of as yet.

Imagine a guy at the gates of Pearly Heaven before St. Peter when a ray of sunshine spotlights on me and the voice of God thunders -

´Hello Skylar! So, What happened to the talent of eating 2000 lemons in less than 2 mins that I had blessed you with? You just missed being in the Guiness Book of World Records due to your ignorance. Now, what punishment should I give you for this blunder?´

Éerrr God! Make some lemonade???????????´

S is for Silence #AtoZChallenge

I have always wondered why is Silence considered golden. As a child, I was quiet and kept to myself most of the time. I read a lot of books and my friends were a select few. Surprisingly, this worked in my favour as I stayed out of a lot of trouble, was liked by everyone and was always a popular choice amongst my school mates for the house or class leader. I was also favoured by  the teachers as I was good in both studies as well as extra-curricular activities.

A lot has changed ever since. Today, I love being among people just as much as I love my own company. I like making small silly talk with no real purpose as well as deep thought-provoking conversations. I loved my stay in America mainly due to the chance to interact with different nationalities and races. It was fascinating to see how similar we all were covertly despite the overt differences.

I have also taken a step further from reading to write on social media platforms now. And when one is a writer, one cannot afford to be silent. So, how is Silence exactly golden from a writer´s point of perspective? I guess the answer lies in the rumination of ideas, stories and concepts. One needs Silence to observe, ideate and even, actually write. As a writer, you play the dual roles of a listener or observer before you get to the point of putting down your thoughts on paper and then the role of a fearless loud speaker when you actually write.

Yes, the classic case of the ´Silence before the Storm´as they say!

I have learnt over the years how Silence can be both beautiful as well as ugly depending on the situation.

I love the silence that comes accompanying the night, the insides of a church or temple, white winter days, true lovers and more.

And, there are times when Silence can be defeaning. Like being ignored by know being given the ´Silent Treatment´can be brutally painful for even the strongest of souls. When keeping dumb while undergoing abuse and violence out of fear. When staying quiet against injustice around. Then, the Silence is ugly.

Of course, there are times when I have discovered that some battles and arguments are worth fighting for, while some are not. I wished at times I was not dragged into an ugly argument by an angry person and instead of retaliating back in the same coin, I had stayed silent and just walked away. Some people are just not worth your words and presence.

Silence is a language in itself. Perhaps the loudest and most beautiful of them all out there!


Friday, April 21

R is for Resilience #AtoZChallenge

One of the qualities that I admire and love about my mother-in-law is her amazing resilience. I have seen up close her tryst with Facial Paralysis and how quickly she bounced back from that episode. I really doubt if I am half as resilient as her. Honestly, at this point of time, my answer would be a firm ´No´.

I remember how normal she seemed during the paralysis. She went about her business as usual. In fact, she couldn't wait to get up and start resuming normal activity. I remember wondering if this ever took an emotional toll on her. Because, as her daughter-in-law living under the same roof, I did not see any signs of depression, stress or panic attack in her. She seemed as strong as the rock of Gibraltar. And seeing her unnatural conduct would make anyone wonder if one had to be pitiful or inspired.

I can never forget the impact she left on me during that episode. It gave me an insight into what resilience truly means. Yes, like the elastic rubber band, to bounce back stronger from a serious setback in life is an enviable skill.

My mother-in-law was so persistent in getting back to normalcy. She did not indulge in any self-pity.  Instead, I saw her offering her support and strength to my visibly shaken father-in-law. Seeing her so optimistic and strong was consoling to all of us around her. I don't remember being more in awe and admiration of my mother-in-law than then.

Setbacks in life can take a serious toll on anyone. It can shake up your entire work upside down. Some have been insulted, rejected, heart broken, cheated, suspended, laid off, struck with a terminal illness, had a major road accident, left handicapped for life etc. The list of setbacks could be endless.

My mother-in-law was no stranger to setbacks. She often remarks how tough life has been for her. Mainly in the areas of her health. She had an early onset of diabetes and has been successfully managing the illness for more than 35 years effortlessly. With her chronic health condition, she has been successfully teacher nursery students for so many years. Teaching such young children is a highly physically challenging job. But she manages more than 60 of these tiny tots, looking into every personal detail, so beautifully. She is highly organised and disciplined in body, mind and soul. She doesn't let her heart cloud and attach her brain during a crisis. She had a major heart attack a few years ago and again, bounced back like a true warrior.

Yes, she had her low points but she quickly chose to steer the direction towards hope and persistence and it paid her immensely. She is truly the living example of this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher and now made popular by Kelly Clarkson´s song which goes by the same name.

´What doesn't kill you makes you stronger´

I learnt from my mother-in-law that to be strongly resilient we have to surrender to the reality. We cannot fight against the present situation. There is nothing we can do to change the reality. Yes, that girl cheated on me with another guy and left me for him. Yes, the death of a close loved one can leave anyone emotionally shattered. Yes! It´s very lonely at the top and affect anyone even someone as well-noted as Deepika Padukone and leave them feeling all empty and worthless inside. It can lead some people who made us laugh like Robin Williams to commit suicide.

Very recently, I had an emotional setback and what I´d like to call a ´stab in the back´. It took me a week to get over it. I couldn't even get out of my bed for days. And it was such a struggle to act all normal around my child. My husband perfectly understood what I was going through. But, it was a really emotionally trying time for me. I has never felt as vulnerable as this before.

But, you know how as the saying goes, setbacks lead you to become stronger a little more, every time. If it doesn´t kill that is!

I am glad today for that setback. It was actually a true blessing in disguise. I emerged out the experience wiser, feeling more personal strength, spiritually more connected with my Father, having a better understanding and connection with my own true self, feeling emotionally more bonded with family and friends, feeling a lot of gratitude for this life that I have and seeing newer opportunities unfold.

I remember the last Sunday when I walked into the church and saw the cross, I knew I got the answer. No matter the cross you have to carry and undertake in your life, surrender to the suffering and RISE.


Thursday, April 20

Q is for Quest #AtoZChallenge

If Life is a lesson, then learning never ceases! Our quest for learning should never ever end. Life is the biggest gift God has given us. And learning is such an integral part of it, at every step of our lives.

The beauty about this quest for learning about life is that it never ends as long as we breathe. Who can forget Albert Einstein´s iconic words - “The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know.”

For me, learning is the true essence of living. The day we stop learning is the day we cease to live. That is when we start questioning the purpose of our lives and wonder why we are here in the first place. There is so much to learn around us.

There is absolutely no dearth in our possibilities of learning. And no! I don't mean formal education alone. That is great but learning lifelong is a different ball game altogether. This lifelong learning has no strings attached to it. Unlike formal education, learning lifelong is undertaken for the pure joy of living and loving Life in itself. Learning life is akin to unconditional love for Life.

Pablo Picasso, the ingenious artist once remarked, “ I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

It takes a different kind of a man or woman to attempt something that they don't have a clue about. It is heroic and adventurous to embark on an unknown territory in order to learn all about it. It is like  walking on an unknown path to reach home. You learn a new route. Even if you fail, you learn that is not the path that leads to your home. Essentially, you learn either ways - whether you succeed or fail. In fact, quite often Failure leads to Success.

The quest for learning is fun and adventurous just like Life itself. As long as we are here, we might as well learn something new and have some fun in life.


Wednesday, April 19

P is for Practice #AtoZChallenge

As a mother of an 8 year old who is grappling with surmounting pressure of academics at school, I have these small pep talks with my little one. I try my best to explain to her the crucial importance of practise if one wants to excel in any field.

One of the earliest lessons that I have taught my little girl is that all of us are born with equally amazing capabilities. It is for us to discover those talents. That can be possible only when we are willing to give it a go..a try. Only when we are willing to explore and stretch our capabilities through the practise.

I told her that a child who practises, naturally goes on to perform well and is considered the most intelligent. And the one who doesn't practise is termed dull by the teacher and the peers. The key differentiator lies in the willingness to put in those practice hours everyday and it has nothing to do with actual intelligence per se.

For that matter, any goal can pursued easily with the humble beginnings of practise. Whether it is that Salsa dance one wants to learn and master or write like a pro!

When there is a subject or task that you just don´t like but it ought to be done because it is crucial, practise comes to handy. It makes the job at task or lesson to be learnt, seem relatively easier one step at a time. Yes, one day at a time principle!

Like the tiny droplets of water make the huge ocean! Similarly, little daily doses of practise will take you to greater glories.

When any goal seems unsurmountable, always remember that ´Tiny is Mighty!´ 


Tuesday, April 18

O is for Opportunity #AtoZChallenge

´Opportunity is lost by deliberation.´—Publilius Syrus

This age-old wise quote from a 1st century BC Latin writer is a great reminder for us to be present in the ´NOW´.

It is while we stop to think, that we often miss our opportunity. To grab the opportunity that comes knocking on your door requires one to act more by instinct and less by thought. You instinctively know in your gut if something is going to be fruitful and lucrative or not. To make the most out of a striking opportunity that comes knocking on your doorstep requires one to be highly vigilant and completely absorbed in the present.

What is it that makes few people seem so lucky almost as if they seem to ´have it all´? Are they fortunate than the rest to find opportunity? Or are they more mindful of the ´Now´ and the opportunities that it presents before them?

The truth is that there is opportunity right now in your present day. Every day offers its own set of golden opportunities.And it does´nt have to be just grand business deals, fortune making propositions or any of that sort. It could be wholly altruistic in nature as well. Like the opportunity to tell your  your parents how much you love them today. Before it gets too late to say how you truly feel. The opportunity to join that hobby class because you find it so gratifying. The opportunity to steal those few minutes in your lunch break to do a brisk walk in order to stay in shape and boost productivity.

A missed opportunity is actually a lot worse than defeat. Because even in defeat, you actually learn what works and what does not. So, it really is not a loss even though it is incorrectly perceived so. There is a lot of learning in failure and defeat.

Every opportunity is your chance to achieve success. And you can´t win it if you don´t play or show up. Remember the sportsmanship spirit? Playing to your best ability and how participating is far more important that the actual win itself. We need to ask ourselves if we are passive spectators in life as we watch it simply go by or are we ready to grab the bull by its horns and join in the action.

Opportunity has less to do with luck and more to do with how productive or fruitful can you make the present. If you pay close attention right now, you will see clearly all the opportunities knocking on your door right now.
  • Where there any opportunities in the past that you regret losing out on? Why didn't you grab them when they appeared? What are you going to do differently in the future?
  • What are some of the opportunities or doors that you can create for yourself given your current situation? How do you plan to make them a reality?

Monday, April 17

N is for Naughty or Nice #AtoZChallenge

I have never been able to give a convincing answer to my daughter till date as to why naughty is bad.

Like all children who are naturally inquisitive, she wanted me to clear her confusion on the whole Santa Claus philosophy of brandishing young children as ´Naughty´or ´Nice´ and being selective and discriminatory in the charitable act of gifting.

Now that I stop to think of it, she does have a point. Children are so fragile. Their bodies, minds and spirits are still evolving. How we perceive and think of them will largely make or break their self-esteem!

Forget Santa Claus! He is a pure figment of our imagination. But, doesn't he represent all of us in some sneaky way or the other? And how we perceive children in general?

Children are a ´work-in-progress´ just like us. I´m sure you will agree, wayyyyyyy more than us! I don't think children even know the meaning and consequences of being naughty. They just do what they feel they should be doing. Exploring and making sense of the world around them in their own perceived interpretations. And to label such explorations and mishaps or the children themselves as ´Naughty´ is inhuman.

Yes, I agree that children need to be disciplined and taught to be nice. But, I am against the notion of segregating children into ´nice´and ´naughty´ brackets. Even more, the notion that ´naughty´is bad and abominable.

Labelling children as a ´naughty´only damages their self-worth and makes them continue the bad behaviour, often as a sign of rebellion.

Forget children! I was scandalised by the lack of emotional literacy in most teachers at college level while I was a teacher. I agree there were a few and far in-between mature and emotionally literate teachers but the utter lack of maturity in most of them was shocking. There were classes and students who were brandished as ´naughty´and had to be corrected (read suspended) in order for them to be ´nice´. Did it work? Absolutely not! It was a such colossal bloody waste of time and exercise in what could have been a golden opportunity to tread a path less explored but way more effective.

I completely believe in the saying that Ít is nice to be important but it is more important to be nice´. And, I am all for niceties. But, I love and appreciate a healthy dose of naughtiness in everything I do and everywhere I go as well. You need some sweet sugar as well as some total nuts to make your life a real party. Nice is sweet. Naughty is fun. And I want them both. What do you say?

M is for Motivation #AtoZChallenge

We all want motivation in our lives. Subconsciously, we are looking for it everywhere we go. In people, in books, in things around us, within ourselves etc.

Some of us have it. Some of us don´t. As for me, I have my good days when I stay highly motivated and some crappy days, when my motivation levels are nil.

So, what is motivation? We all know it and we all want it. But, how do we define it?

For me, motivation is something that generates interest and a deep desire within me. I remember watching a young man in his early twenties who went from ´fat to fit´ knocking more than 17 kgs. And, I happened to watch him eat so mindfully and consciously every bite that he had for lunch one day. He caught my interest and I wondered who or what was behind his inspiration. What was his motivation to stay off temptations and sacrifice so much? I asked him directly but didn't get an answer. His motivation surely couldn't go unnoticed though.

It struck me then that motivation is when you have this overwhelmingly powerful desire to change the status quo. You would rather undergo the pain and torture than stay the same.  In fact, staying the same is far more unbearable and tortuous than the sacrifices that one undertakes to make that uncomfortable shift.

So, how does one stay motivated? Even on days, when one doesn't feel any real burst of positive energy or motivation?

Going by the memoirs and books of various successful people, the secret lies in having a plan and  schedule  in place. Once you have a plan and routine in place, the motivation to complete the task at hand automatically kicks in. The trick is to keep moving and stop thinking about feeling motivated. Very often, the state of being bored and not being motivated has a lot to do with inaction or not doing anything challenging. Again, find something challenging enough to pique your interest and motivation levels. If it is too easy, you won´t be motivated and if it is too difficult, you may be demotivated. Find an ´achievable within your limits´ goal and challenge. Make a plan, have a schedule in place and stick with it religiously. You should have no problems and complaints about fluctuating or waning motivation levels anymore.

Maybe that was the young man´s secret to staying so motivated in his mission to keep fit.

What´s your secret to staying motivated?


Saturday, April 15

L is for Love #AtoZChallenge

As we fast approach our tenth wedding anniversary towards the end of the year, I am more than convinced ever that true love is a choice.

I still remember the first time I laid my eyes on this extremely handsome and good-looking man,now my husband. Little did I know then, we would come this far.

Back then, I remember exactly feeling what they call ´Love at first sight´. The rush and the high were real. And, I was already imagining walking down the aisle with him by my side on our very first meet. For real! Did I know he was ´The One´? Instinctively, Yes!

But, it was far more than just his physical good looks that swept me off my feet. It was his sharp mind and soft tender heart as well. I fell in love with him as a complete package.

And so, I married the handsomest man I ever laid my eyes on. And, we lived happily ever after.

Not quite so in those fairy-tale terms. Fairy tales end at the wedding affair and don´t dwell on life after marriage.

Marriage is a different ball-game altogether. It is the ultimate test or proof of your love for each other.

Living under the same roof is drastically different from dating one another. While dating, you are on your best attire and behaviour. You compliment and say wonderful things to one another. You buy gifts and plan romantic things to do together. Everything is so rosy, dreamy and pretty.

Marriage,on the other hand, is the proverbial ´the proof is in the pudding´. You can never truly claim you have loved someone until you have held on, sailed through the worst times and come out of it triumphantly together.

I remember one of our fights in our marriage. I was sobbing and accusing my husband of not supporting or understanding me at all. And he said something that took my breath away.

´You only have to tell me what you want and I will fight for it. I will die for you. ´

And, I was completely speechless with those words of ardent passion.

Today, however we both don't seek love and solace in words anymore. Words mean nothing and actions everything. The understanding of Love as we knew it, changes with every passing year as we grow older. What we perceived as Love in the beginning days of our courtship seems superficial today. Yes, I still find certain things we did together in our earlier days extremely cute. But, we would look retarded if we did the same things today.

I sometimes fail to understand why we don't have movies made on true love. Yes, there are movies galore on the chase and hunt for love, all that courtship drama and syrupy songs. But, when will we ever get to see movies about true love? Picturised on actually old imperfect couples in the 70´s and 80´s who have been through all the ´highs and lows´of life together and still more in love today than ever before.

I remember seeing a really old couple in Lake Tahoe while boarding the hotel shuttle. There was something endearingly sweet about their love for another. They both still had a zest for living and both seemed to be extremely happy in each other´s company. It was such a treat to watch them. Closer home, I find it extremely adorable when my FIL still addresses my MIL as ´baby´, with both of them in their late sixties. My own father doesn't start any meal without my mother. Over time, looks or appearance hardly matters to those truly in love.

There is a saying about Love that I totally believe in -

´Love is like fine wine. It matures and tastes better over time.´

But, for Love to mature and grown on you, we need to have patience and give it time. Lots of time….till death does us apart. Till then, we will have to endure and hold on to each other despite the storms, temptations, doubts, crisis and hurdles.

I told my husband back then in the day -

´There might be better guys than you but I want only you. My search for Love ends with you.´

That was the choice I made ten years ago when we decided to get married.

Today, to love each other unconditionally and stay committed as we grow older is another choice we both continue to make firmly with every passing day.

With Easter just a day away, the crucifixion of Christ is the ultimate act of Love. It is a reminder that love, forgiveness and sacrifice all go hand in hand. And it is our choice to undertake the pain and suffering and forgive our partner´s faults while loving unconditionally. Till death do us apart!

Love is a choice and not just a fleeing feeling.


Thursday, April 13

K is for Kaleidoscope #AtoZChallenge

I remember as a child, I was not fascinated by toys and dolls. However, there are some toys that appeal to everyone, irrespective of the age and gender.

If there is one toy in my daughter´s collection that I stealthily steal and play with, it is the Kaleidoscope. I have to admit sheepishly that I still find it wondrous and fascinating. There is something very magical and soothing about the Kaleidoscope.

Yes, Life seems colourful and beautiful again after my playtime with this underrated gem. And, there is so much to learn from this toy.
  1. Surround yourself with Lighters - Just like the Kaleidoscope, your Life will dazzle only when you surround yourself with Light. There are people who work as Extinguishers and people who work as Lighters in your life. The former will only bring darkness and misery in your life. They are not your well-wishers or friends even if they belong to your family. All they do is extinguish your joy, spark and all the nice things that make you, ýou´. No matter what do or don´t do, all they will do find fault with you. All they see is flaws and they will make no stone unturned to let you know them. Worse still, remind you all over again your flaws, like a stuck broken tape-recorder.  And there are people who simply light up your life with their sheer presence, warmth, words, comfort, support and love. Go where the Light and Love is! Surround yourself with Lighters who bring you alive and sparkling again. Especially when your chips are down and nothing is going your way, you need them more than ever before. Just talking to them will make your spirit alive. Note down and save all the compliments and positive words that your Lighters tell you. Let that be your brag list. Read them when you start to doubt yourself. Very recently, I had compliments from students that I have save for future read. Why not! Who doesn't need some sparkle and glitter in their lives to feel alive again? Also, be a Lighter yourself. If you have the power to make someone else happy, by all means, do so.
  2. Indulge in Slow Living - The beauty of the Kaleidoscope can be enjoyed only when you turn it slowly and gently. You have to wait patiently for all the pieces to fall under the light and come together to make one breathtakingly beautiful striking pattern. Much like Life itself! If you think Life is to gulped in hasten existence bogged down in mindless existence and routine, you are missing out on the very essence of it. Life is to savoured and relished - the good, the bad and the ugly. You have to fall down if you want to rise up. And you have to rise up, if you want to go down on a thrilling free fall. While it is important to reach your desired destination, it is equally important to enjoy the sights of trail journey as well as the pitstops. Who wants to miss out on ´Life´ and its tiny, real, precious treasures such as smelling the roses, waking up to the strong whiff of Coffee and a tiny, soft squishy bum on your face.
  3. The more the merrier - I remember this quaint toy store in Cedarburg, Wisconsin where we bought one Kaleidoscope. But, the beauty about that Kaleidoscope was that you can create your own design. You decide what components go into your Kaleidoscope. My daughter and I had a great time deciding which little knick-knacks need to go into ours. What we discovered in this fun process was that the more, the merrier. Truly! Similarly, in life, you more people you meet and have in your life, Life becomes merrier and interesting.
  4. Embrace Diversity - Following the same story as above, it is not just the quantity but also the diversity of the components that matter. Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Pink, Purple, Black. Sequins, Beads, Buttons, Threads, Glitter. When they all fall and roll in together, they make one stunning pattern. Each and every single time! Life is a lot like that. Imagine a world where everyone looked the same, spoke the same, ate the same and had one single belief system. Boring right? What makes this world colorful, interesting and fun is the diversity!
  5. Live ´Carpe Diem´ - There is no point in just being a spectator. Jump, participate, roll in the madness. Mix with people. Shake up that routine in your life once in a while. Stir it up with some randomness, weirdness and change. Take each day as it comes. Make the most of it. Live life to its fullest.
  6. Reflect Beauty - What we see in the Kaleidoscope is a reflection of the components. Let our thoughts and words reflect on our face. Beauty is skin deep. What you are inside, shows on the outside. Reflect positivity and true beauty. Make this world a better place to live in.

J is for Jump #AtoZChallenge

There are two kinds of people in this world - The ambitious and the non-ambitious. The ambitious category of people believe that Life is a marathon race that needs to be won at all costs. For the non-ambitious lot, Life is an exciting journey that needs to be enjoyed. 

Irrespective of one´s perspective on Life as a race or journey, it is not going to easy. There are going to be lots of hurdles along the way. You may run out of steam, motivation, energy or there might be lots of disruptions in your plans. Or, there may be no plan in place in the first place. 

The landscapes are going to change. The people in your life are going to change. You are going to change. Like the changing seasons in the Sun. But, Life moves on. And so must you. 

And if you have to move on and catch up with Life and its changing seasons, you must jump. There are no two ways about it. If you´re ambitious, you do realise the value of time and how there is not much to waste if you want to make your way. It could be anything from making that risqué move or decision to dare big! You have to make that jump to see it to fruition. And if you´re non-ambitious, you do realise that there is only so much you can learn from staying in one place or condition. And so, you have to keep moving and make those vital jumps from time to time. 

As for me, I am afraid to stay stuck in one spot or place. I have to keep moving no matter where I am. Moving in personal growth, maturity, confidence. Or moving places to gain a newer, fresher perspective of the world and life.  I cannot afford to be stuck in the past.

You realise that while you have a strong support system of your roots, i.e. your family, you also have wings to fly around and see the world.

In Life, you have to keep moving and jumping like a wanderlust nomad.  Only then, can you make  make great strides and progress and make the most out of Life.

Whether it is the transition from one phase of life to another - from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to youth, from youth to middle age, from middle age to old age. From bachelorhood to marriage. From India to America. From ABC to XYZ! 

Life keeps moving on…..! With or without you!

So, Are you ready to Jump?

Wednesday, April 12

I is for Identity #AtoZChallenge

Yesterday was my daughter´s birthday. And she grows bigger with every passing year, I see a new facet of her. Stronger traits emerging slowly but surely!

I still remember the tiny bony baby, looking all blue with curled up feet and arms, after struggling through a long labour along with her Mummy. Yes, that´s me! Little did I know then, what she is really all about. You know, somehow all babies come crying into this world looking the exactly same. Yes, there are some basic differences between American babies, African babies, Chinese babies and Indian babies. But, within each race, all the babies almost look alike in features. And, irrespective of the race, all babies have the same mannerisms and ways. Quite identical, I would say!

It is only gradually that their identities start to show up a little by little. And it is still shaping. I am in the same boat like her and many others.

So, What is MY identity?

Is it my name?

Tina? Or Tina Jacob? Or Tina Sequeira? 

Is it my lineage?

I am a Malayali by roots. But, I was born and brought up outside Kerala. Lived in certain parts of India and America. Married to a Goan man. 

Is it my gender?

I am a woman.

Is it my religion?

I am a devout Christian.

Is it my nationality?

I am an Indian.

Well, America has rubbed its influence on me as well.

Is it defined by my clique - people you interact?

I am quite similar to my mother and father yet so drastically different from them. 

My spouse and I are one being and yet so opposite. 

I have friends from another religions and nationalities.

I have friends who are much older than me and much younger than me as well.

Is it defined by my hobbies?

I read a lot of books, write, watch TV, surf the internet, doodle a bit, sing and dance.

Is it defined by the food I eat?

I am a savage non-vegetarian.

Is it defined by my skin colour?

Black....White...Brown...Yellow....Ivory...Gray...Rainbow???? I´m confused

Is it defined by my profession or title?

I am an HR Professional. I am a writer. I am a teacher. I am a student. 

Is it defined by the role I play?

I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, friend, guide, mentor. 

Am I more than all of the above?

I remember when I was a stay-at-home mother, I was quite comfortable in my skin. Yes, I wanted to work and keep myself intellectually occupied and be financially independent. But, the lack of a professional title strangely didn´t have any effect on my self-identity or confidence. In fact, I grew an innate finer sense of who I truly was. Away from the pressures of the world, it gave me the opportunity to find peace and contentment inwards.

On the other hand, I found women who questioned their self-identity once they had no professional title attached to their name. They had a tough time recouping their self-confidence. They were essentially restless until they started working again.

I find Indians who undergo a huge identity crisis when on foreign soil. Their nationality and race becomes a huge part of who they are. For some, solace can only be found when they return to their home soil. I remember a conversation with an old Indian lady who had no choice but to spend her last days in America with her daughter and her family. In her last week of life, all she spoke to me about was how she longed to go back to India and breathe her last there. Unfortunately, her wish did not come true. Her identity was so strongly connected to her place of birth that it was simply inseparable.

On another note, I have always found self-introductions highly baffling. I truly don't know how to define myself to a stranger. How do I identify myself to strangers and make them understand who I am in a few minutes?

Sometimes, I wonder .....

Are we all as identical on our way out of the Earth…like the way we all came into it? 

If so, at what point do all our identities merge into a final whole?

Are we all nameless and blank at point Infinity? 

Who are you? How would you define yourself? Let me know below in the comments. 

Monday, April 10

H is for Hero #AtoZChallenge

Last night, I just finished reading the book ´Finding Juliet´ by Toffee. Obviously, that´s the author´s pseudonym.

Arjun is …the Romeo…the Hero. He wants it all - a successful professional life, a macho hot body, a cool personality that attracts girls to him like a moth to a flame etc.

This is the populist notion of a Hero. A tall, macho looking stud who is akin to ´God on Earth´ who can do no wrong. Even the wrongs seem perfectly legitimate because well, you know, he is a Hero.

So whether it is James Bond, Don, Batman or Khiladi No.1, the populist notion of a Hero is always this ´larger than life´ figure. The female protagonists in movies and literature have been portrayed as being saved by the Hero, their Prince Charming.

Arjun is a geek who undergoes a transformation to become a Hero, in that same populist sense. Bulging biceps, being charming and innocently cunning (as the book puts it), getting several women laid, having a cool success story to flaunt in the social media etc.

If you are not physically endowed with great physical and mental attributes, the quest to be imitate  follow in our Hero´s path is a real aspiration for many of us. We all have our personal heroes. From Salman Khan to Narendra Modi to Benedict Cumberbatch to Oprah Winfrey to Dr.A.P.J.Kalam to Indira Gandhi to Mother Teresa to Joan of Arc etc, the definition of Hero changes from individual to individual. The relative who battled and won over Cancer, the single mother who fought hard against the norms of the Society to raise her children, the bus driver who laid down his life to save the young children from a major mishap, the numerous freedom fighters who fought against the British to give us an independent life, the woman who lost more than 200 pounds and battled against obesity, etc. Heroes comes in all shapes and sizes and they are all around us.

But, as we worship and idolise the several heroes around us, we need to discover and acknowledge that a Hero lies within us! We are oblivious of our own inner strength and courage until we encounter a rock bottom situation. And, there will come a time in everyone´s life when there is no one to save us except own selves. Perhaps even others caught in a similar situation as ours! You wake up one day and realise that your struggles and battles are your own and no one else´s. And there is no one more capable to fight all the odds and enemies except you and you alone!

Here´s something that I am doing for some reflection today! And, I urge you to join me as I do some soul-searching today.

  • What is my definition of a Hero? What are the qualities that I seek in a Hero?
  • When and where can I display my heroism? Is it only in a threatening crisis like a terrorist attack or in my everyday lives?
  • Who is my personal Hero and Why?
  • Does a Hero necessarily have to be a success? Are failed heroes to be glorified as much as their successful counterparts?
  • Am I aware of the personal attributes that make me a Hero? What are some of them?

Friday, April 7

G is for Gratitude #AtoZChallenge

Gratitude means saying a prayer, ´Thank You´, giving gifts and doing actions of love and endearment!

And those are the varied of expressions of Gratitude. But, it is the intention behind those acts which holds a greater significance and meaning.

Gratitude is acknowledging and truly understanding the value of even the most minute blessing in our life and seeing hope and opportunity in them. It is like looking at that proverbial glass and seeing it as ´half-full´. And, being genuinely thankful for that as well as the wonderful opportunity to fill the glass to its full capacity.

I have so many inspiring real-life instances of gratitude around me that not only touch me but also serves as reminder to stay humble and thankful always.

It is my privilege to share with you my most recent tryst with Gratitude.

Last year, I taught in a graduation college for one semester. I was the class teacher of the supposedly ´most notorious class´ in the college. The subject I taught that particular class was ´Personality Development and Managerial Skills´. It was an interesting subject to teach and it was a fun, learning stint as a teacher.

Before the end of the semester, the students had to write one last internal exam. And in my generous mood, I corrected the papers quite liberally overlooking minor flaws like grammar, spelling mistakes etc. As long as they understood the practical concept, I overlooked the rest.

But, you know, how it is with us, Indians! We are born in a notoriously competitive environment where we are taught to fight for every thing. In the educational context, every single mark or half truly matters. We are taught not to give up without a fight.

And so, after the answer-sheets distribution, I was flooded by a surge of students who kept hankering for the maximum marks possible. Including the one who got the highest at 29 wanted a half mark more to make it a full 3-0. I congratulated him for what I thought was a really well-written paper with some innovative answers but I had to turn down his request. Because, you cannot give full marks for theoretical papers. Anyway, I cannot blame them. That is how we have trained them up to become. ´Dog eat dog´ competition!

There was one student, however, who was not fighting to be first in line and haggle like the rest. He was patiently watching and observing the ongoing proceedings with his answer sheet in his hand. After a long wait, it was his turn. Needless, to add, he was the last in the line. But, that was his choice.

As he brought forth his answer paper, I asked him how I could help him. And he simply replied, ´Maam! I didn´t come to add more marks. I just came to show you my paper and tell you that you gave me more marks than I actually deserved. Thank You!´

I was speechless.This was a rare happening.

That incident will never be erased from my memory and will always pop up as sweet reminder to show Gratitude when you ought to. And, I have to thank that wonderful student for teaching me a lesson or two in that department.

Gratitude is so important in our lives but it should be not confused for what it is not. Which is this...

Very often, I see people who take great efforts in going to great lengths to express their Gratitude. But, only to people who hold high positions and titles. People who will be beneficial to them. That is not Gratitude. That is being opportunistic.

To each their own and I am not judging there! But, there is that subtle but very big difference between being grateful and being opportunistic. The former doesn't expect anything back in return but the latter does. It´s like being a real girlfriend or boyfriend  vs being a ´Friend with Benefits´!

We have to really sit and think over the true blessings in our lives. And we need to cherish them! From our parents to our siblings to our spouse to our children to our teachers to our friends to our maids and caretakers etc, we have a lot to be grateful for.

Gratitude doesn't come in one form alone. That particular student though was not the only one to express his love and gratitude during my brief teaching tenure. There were so many others and each had their own style of expressing gratitude. Some through words, some with gifts, some through their thoughtful actions.

Even if you are not surrounded with loving parents, siblings, spouse, children etc, there will still be that one strong reason to be grateful.

It could be that you have a fully functional body as opposed to a handicapped person. It could be anything really.

If you wake up alive this morning, it is good enough reason to thank God that you have another shot at Life.

Whether it is well-known people like the limbless motivational speaker Nick Vujicic or regular good people that we encounter in our everyday life like this particular student, in my case, we can all learn a lesson on being grateful for what we have and finding love, hope, meaning and opportunity in them.

F is for Fuck Mantra #AtoZChallenge

Let me tell you at the very outset, I hate this particular four word. In fact, I abhor it! Every time, I hear someone say the F-word, I cringe inside. Like literally, every cell and organ of my body curls up inside in disgust!

But, you know, Life sometimes teaches you the hard way that every bad has a good side to it. Whoever that wise quack was who quoted that, none of us are all black or all white but shades of gray! What do you know! The quack was indeed right!

So now, I absolutely love and appreciate the philosophy behind a good Fuck! And I would highly recommend you to chant the Fuck Mantra to bring the back the good into your life every single time that Life fucks you up.

No, I am dead serious.

All you have to do is chant several times (a minimum of three less) a day -


You may sound like a crazed chicken while chanting this unholy mantra! But, I promise you, the peace and confidence that this mantra will bring into your life is simply priceless.

Let me also remind you that how you choose to say it will vary according to the situation you land yourself in!

What are some of the situations in your life when you can use this mantra?

1. Toxic People - You know you will come across several ones of these in your life.And you have to have a defence strategy. The Fuck Mantra comes to your rescue here. It could be the overbearing relative within the confines of your home or outside, that cheeky coworker, that two-faced superior etc. who think they have the license to treat you like shit, walk all over you, say anything about you. Or for that matter, any judgemental prick who has the nerve to judge you when they have no fucking clue themselves what they are all about! Tell them to go


For the most dangerously toxic ones, kick them in the nuts, fling them outside and tell them to literally ´Fuck Off´ before slamming the door on their face.

Good riddance! Problem solved!

2. Toxic Emotions - Here, you are fighting against no one except the inner demons within you. Whether it is guilt, anger, ego, pride, bitterness, jealousy, lust etc, these negative emotions have no place in your life. And they seriously need to go out of your life just like the toxic people if you ever hope to have a peaceful happy life. To get rid of these negative emotions, find a quiet spot in your home or the natural outdoors, close your eyes, focus and meditate upon the negative emotions that is eating you up internally, and chant determinedly -


….Till you feel all the negative emotions flow through and out of your body, into the Universe.

3. When God has a sense of Humour - Now, this one is seriously dangerous, my friend! No one can mess with The God. Like Really! Who stands a minuscule chance against the mighty creator? None, Right? So, what other option do you have in life other than to chant the Fuck Mantra. So, When God has a little fun and humour at your expense,  Fret not! All you have to do is play along - let all those tears flow freely while you cry into a river and break into a melodramatic tune of the Fuck mantra. Look up into the skies and sing

Why did you have to Fucku-Fucku-Fucku-Fucku-Fucku-Fucku-Fucku-Fucku-Fucku-Fucku
Tell me, why all this Kolaveri? 

Trust me, even the mighty God will have no option but to be merciful and kind and bring your life back into order! Whodathunk that The Fuck Mantra would let God set your life back in order? Now, you know better!

4. Romance - The Fuck Mantra can greatly boost your love life and also help save mankind from extinction. Don't trust me! You can really use the Fuck Mantra as a powerful tool of Seduction. Girls, turn on your femininity, bat your eyelids, fluttering it several times as you softly pout and murmur,


Trust me, this mantra will do wonders and is best used in-between the sheets for maximum fun.

On a concludary note, Always remember -

´When Life give you lemons, make Lemonade!
And When Life fucks with you, chant the Fuck Mantra!´

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