Feminine Strength?

Last month has been truly hectic and tiresome. I had to complete a few project and meeting reports, start on a few new projects that required travelling to villages and districts and my daughter had her school exams. It was more stressful to be around a nine-year old unable to sleep at night and constantly reminding herself of revising essays on topics such as International Women’s Day (which I am sure, she doesn’t fully comprehend anyways). I am not sure what our education system has come to, should children be subjected to stressful exams, memorized speeches on topics that are alien to them? A few of my friends have opted for more unconventional schools with novel methods of teaching, more similar to programmes that ran in ancient India, where children were taught more by observing nature instead of chapters to memorize. I have often thought of letting my daughter be in one of those schools instead of the one she is presently at. I have to find the time to do some school research too.

At one point during our tiresome week, we were both too fatigued with work, home and studies. One evening, I just gave up and sat with her doing nothing. We listened to soothing music, danced around with Tina Charles and ate a warm plate of ketchupy, spicy, egg fried rice. We did have a great sleep that night and promised ourselves to do this more often.

I also thought about the women public figures in my life who have lifted my spirits so many times. It’s not just singers like Kaushiki Chakravarty, Tina Charles but my chef heros like Julia Child and Manngchi, authors like Carol Shields, Julia Glass, Mahashweta Devi and Maitreyi Devi, fictional female leads like Ms Phryne Fisher and wonderful directors like Aparna Sen and The Wachowskis. These women have helped me focus on more important and productive things in my life and move on from things that do not require my time and attention. More importantly, like my closest women best friends, the above women have helped me laugh and be calm at times when I did not have much to look forward to.

Along with these women, fortunately, my work has provided me opportunities to observe strong women who are based in some of the poorest communities where most have never experienced necessities like clean water and hygienic sanitation. I have met some of the strongest women in these communities who inspite of everything, relentlessly pursue every avenue to keep their communities healthy and well informed. It is not the meagre salary that these front line health workers get for their job (ASHAs), but the tremendous respect that they obtain from their neighbors, peers and elders that keeps them going.

One of the greatest feminine strength is perhaps the capability to nurture and care. I have seen it amply not only in the women in my family and network, but also in the men in my life. The men in my family have always stood like pillars in support of every member. Many of my male teachers, supervisors and colleagues were extremely supportive to my growth and learning. On March 8th, the Director of the Institute where I work held a special tea meeting in commemoration of women colleagues. We were asked to speak on the moment when we felt empowered to be 21st century women in India. My reflections were that I have never faced a divide between man and woman while growing up, in my adulthood nor in my career up till now. I have never felt that I was denied anything because of my sex. Isn’t that empowering in itself? Maybe I am the fortunate few, but I wish my daughter and every daughter in India has the same experience too with their life.

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking (like everything else in life) you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude. Life itself is the proper binge – Julia Child




I have come to realize that the only regret I will ever have when there is a loss in communication with people whom I had once known in the past, would be the inability to share my happiness or sorrow when I need to, in the present time. Relationships change and distance, death, differences of opinion create gaps, hollow vacuums. New people, new circumstances slowly reinstate the balance. But it is difficult to let go of familiarity, of knowing that someone who is no longer with you could have understood your view, understood you exactly the way you wanted to relay it.

This wall you have built around you,

That which now exiles you,

Does sunshine pass through on its way?

For, the same sunshine has warmed my heart,

Before it passed to you, through your wall

Hence, we are bonded in some way

Sometimes, little thoughts of delight

And sometimes, those that I try and fight

Stop me in my steps, midway

And then I wish I could share

These small things with those gone by

With whom I had traveled once

This road of life, for a short while….


Sribble, Srabble….

Journey Home….

Tiny feet, tiny toes, delicate fingers, dot for a nose

Curly locs, cutest smile, brownest eyes with specks of starlight

While you sleep on my lap, sighing sometimes, without a care,

I wonder if you will find my home, to your liking, worth your share

Would you accept me as your mother, my darling little pixie glow?

For I have always known you are the one, from where I came and where I go

We have woven our dreams together in the past, with threads of hope, with desires to last

And even though I haven’t nourished you with my blood and with my health

I will raise you, as mine, with all my soul and all my strength.

But while you sleep on my lap, sighing sometimes, without a care,

I wonder if you will find my home, to your liking, worth your share….



You are seven

This year you are seven and soon you will touch eleven,

and then a fine woman you will be, with truth in your step and courage in your hair

through all this though, I wish you joy, for a life that matters, a life that cares

and through it all, I wish you love, a love fulfilling, a love with dreams, with hopes to share

and most of all I wish for you, a life without a hint of pain

For all the pain should end with me, all hardships I am ready to gain

May the sadness in my eyes, never touch your sacred space

For you my darling pixie glow, may only laughter and tenderness remain!




Serendipity- life’s little secret!

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Last month I met a friend after 23 years. And surprisingly, we picked ourselves up from where we had left, so many eons ago. We were in touch infrequently though, through these years, maybe once a year wishing ourselves a Happy New Year, and sometimes once in 3 years congratulating over a new job or a new turn in life. It was great to finally meet, and although we did not remember as many details of our past lives together, nor had a lot to discuss about what had happened in between, I felt at peace, from an inner knowing that someone’s there, and will always care. We were happy to be in the present, content both while talking, and the silence in between.

I have met other friends after a long gap and unfortunately did not connect with them in this way. Perhaps, life had taken us too far away from each other. I am not sure if animals have similar social behaviours and raise an eyebrow and go ‘How you doin?’ when they meet each other after a long gap. I am sure dogs can recognize people, mine did, when I was in and out of home during my education and would visit back once a year. I remember one winter morning, when I was several continents away, receiving the dreaded phone call about Pluto being no more. I had been expecting it since he was sick and ailing for some time. But the finality did hurt. Strangely, that night when I was alone in the apartment, tired and asleep, I was awaken by a sensation of something wet over my feet, very similar to when Pluto used to lick my feet at home when he needed me to wake up and attend to him.

As the world shrinks, we keep meeting and re-meeting people. During my stay in New York, I used to often see a person every morning, on my way to work. He would take an opposite route and we would meet at cross roads and smile courteously. To my amazement, when I relocated to India, he was sitting in my new office, as my colleague and with whom I had a good time working for the next few years. I had never imagined we would be in a similar profession and be colleagues in the same office!  What are the odds of that! Serendipity! One of life’s beautiful aspects.

Little things in life bring big surprises. Like when your brain tells you that you have devoured all the chocolates you left in a jar, but never the less, your hopeful fingers contact one final little dark delectable, sticking in one corner, away from the limelight, just so you can pick it up and be happy all over again!

At this time of the year, I wish everyone the same happiness, it is Christmas time after all….of warm glowing lights and hot cup of whatever your favorite beverage is. And in this time of demonetization, I am sure Santa has a debit card from the Bank of the North Pole!

Warm wishes everyone!