The Avian Invasion of 2013!

The Mayans were wrong. The world had not ended after all and the happy new year was peeping in all its false glory. But, my world had certainly reached a dead end and good thing was I didn’t know it then. Struck by a back injury, I could barely sit or stand, let alone shoo away that pair of pigeons whose 2013 resolution was to spend some ‘cozy’ time in our kitchen attic.

If any of you ever happen to be in my city and walk past a bus depot near Kothrud, don’t forget to ask for the smelly house. You will be led to our apartment unfailingly. That’s how bad the scene was back then.

The mister was already juggling with cleaning, cooking, laundry, and keeping a check on me all round the clock, lest I make superheroic stunts like jump on a trampoline or something. The doctor had advised for a complete bed rest, but I managed to keep my ears open. My hunch was right – we were going to be invaded soon and how!

cozy pigeonsOne day sometime on a cold February afternoon, we heard the flapping of many wings and were quite taken aback to find two dusky grey pigeons making themselves at home, in our kitchen attic. The mister tried shooing them away but his pleas fell on deaf ears. These two smart fellows had also built a nice little nest complete with dried twigs and a chocolate brown rope. At once I realised the handles of my designer paper bag were not really stolen after all. What a relief!

These guys had long been following a modus operandi of sorts. They had been sneaking in twigs one at a time, when it was ‘all-clear’ in our kitchen – the long interval between breakfast and lunch and the few hours before tea time. The braver of the two made his/her way in through the window and stayed vigilant for some time. With a bunch of little twigs in his/her beak, he/she ensured we were where they wanted us to be, and nodded to the other one waiting at the window sill.

This guy would set the twig and fly out while the other got in and set his/her twig. The twigs that fell off their beaks and onto our floor was promptly picked up and set in place. Their operations were so smooth, little did we get an inkling of what’s happening in our kitchen. In this way, perhaps a thousand tos and fros later, their nest had been built on the sly, while I was sleeping…quite literally!

But, I swear I did hear some sounds, some very low frequency squeaks like pigeon whispers or something. But then I imagined these sounds as part of my wild imagination and let it go. However, I also did smell a faint poultry-like odour in the house, and blamed it on my strong sense of imagination.

By mid-March, I was able to walk around. Despite our pleading and shooing and then pleading again, this duo did not bother to move an inch, giving rise to our deepest fears – what if they have laid eggs? How long will the eggs take to hatch? What if the eggs fall down before hatching? In case, the baby pigeons do hatch, what if they fall down and we are held responsible. And worse, the place will get even more smelly. These stupid stupid pigeons!

Then came a day when they were gone. Yes, vanished before one could say ‘Shoo!’ after having a good time in our home for nearly two months. I managed to climb on top of the kitchen platform and investigate upon the smelly mess they had left behind.

But, what I saw was a couple of tiny little pale white eggs lying cuddled beside each other. “These two would surely hatch a very close-knit sibling love,” I thought to myself with a melting heart. All disgust vanished; I named them changu-mangu and immediately called out to the mister to supply me with some maize for the new parents.

pigeon eggs

Ever since then, our home was full of smiles and happiness, all four of us waited anxiously for the new members. The eggs hatched and what came out of them was ‘not so cute’ to look at, but an amazing act of nature, nevertheless. Never before had we been so happy with an invasion on our territory.

These dark ash balls covered with pale yellow hair and really long beaks were breathing away quite rapidly, while sleeping most of the time. It was a fascinating sight; one that deserved to be captured forever. Here is a video I managed to shoot of changu-mangu, balancing myself atop the kitchen platform, with one hand holding the attic base and the other holding a nearly-SLR Olympus camera recording from a safe distance.

The babies grew up so fast and flew away, leaving us with smelly memories and this smiley video.

P.S: This is my entry for Ambipur’s ‘From smelly to smiley“. When I took these pictures and the video, little did I know they would play a vital role one day.

Of gardening lessons and life…

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We had almost given up on this one and even tried consulting the nursery we bought this from. “Only shade, no watering every day,” an experienced advice came our way. We did that but no luck. The poor beauty was dying away and that was sad news for another reason too.

I had bought this red beauty on our second marriage anniversary this May; I wanted something that would mark the miraculous milestone. Me and the Mister had survived two years of marriage or lets just say we had tolerated each other successfully for 730 days! Now that was something, wasn’t it?  So, I went to the neighboring nursery in the peak summer heat, with the intention to buy a marigold plant.

You see marigolds are bright, cheerful and resembling the sun; these flowers can really brighten up your day. In fact, a little search on the internet tells me – Marigolds are known as the “Herb of the Sun” and are symbolic of passion and creativity. The Welsh believed that if marigolds were not open early in the morning, then a storm was on the way. Marigolds have been used as love charms and incorporated into wedding garlands. Yes, we had many marigolds adorn our wedding garlands two years back. In fact, marigolds also dominated our wedding ‘mandap‘ decorations with an assortment of other flowers including red roses. So, it was these culprit marigolds that saved us, but let me not digress.

I visited the nursery dreaming of the bright saffron marigolds that would soon grace my balcony garden and brighten up our life. But, my eyes fell on these red blossoms instead. A little shrub with many branches that ended up with a flaming red flower each. It was love at first sight. Then I examined the flowers quite closely and was delighted to find the velvety texture. I touched the petals to confirm. Yes, they were soft and velvety to the core and I was now truly, madly, deeply in love. I bought it in a jiffy.

A week passed by and the flaming red flowers stayed on. Another week passed by and the new buds began to harden instead of opening up; the existing flowers shriveled slowly and then fell off eventually. I got it diagnosed by the nursery guy – he may be semi-literate but he knows his plants in and out. ‘Only shade, no watering every day,’ he said with an all-knowing smile. He even taught me the ‘finger-test’ where one presses the index finger against the soil to judge its moisture level. Then there was a practical training session where I had to press the soil in the various pots at the nursery, while he explained the significance of moisture in each of the plant’s life.

However, two weeks later the plant was all leaves, barely resembling its former glory and the sad part was that some of the branches had paled at the bottom. My love was dying and I stood watching helplessly. The finger test had failed. I tried changing places so that the sun does not catch it, but in vain. Finally, I surrendered to the almighty, in an almost hopeless situation.

A miracle happened…and it happened in the form of rain!

The first drops of rains coincided with the beginning of the new month on the 1st of June. Monsoons had banished the sun and the weather was a pleasant cool. My love started breathing again – quite literally. A few days later the leaves and branches grew with renewed vigor. Next came the buds and this time they blossomed. The soft, red, velvety petals are a delight to experience. And, if you look closely, you can actually feel them talking to you.

Nature teaches you so much about life and the spiritual pillars on which it stands. Man cannot heal everything, no matter however scientific his methods may be. Nature knows what each of her beings need, indeed!

Deep down we are all a little selfish but…

It was a good half an hour past 9 pm yesterday. Our table was all set after an adventurous bike journey to the far end of Pune. While we waited patiently for our rather sumptuous dinner, I decided the time was just right to pop up a question that was bugging me ever since the Mister had interviewed a food blogger.

Every time the Mister had talked about the passionate Bengali blogger’s story and his constant struggle to maintain a delicious food blog along with a demanding day job, he had also made a passing reference to his Parsi wife being a foodie. The reference that came again and again felt like a constant jab to my wifely duties. Was the Mister making an indirect hint? Was he trying to tell me that his not being a food blogger despite being a foodie has got anything to do with me?

I confess I am not a foodie. I did mention this on our very first telephone call itself. He said food was not at all a vital factor for a successful marriage. I had given up non-veg (read eating animals) many years ago. He said it is perfectly ok with him. But, today after a year of being engaged and 2 years of being married, I was being rebuked for not being a foodie and a non-veggie at that!

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So how would it be if you had married a non-veg foodie just like you?” I asked the Mister while we waited for our dinner at Tawaah!, a restaurant located at the wee end of Sus  Road in Pune. Tawaah! specialises in North Indian cuisine with luscious chicken and lamb delicacies. The instant reaction was of amazement at my logical reasoning. He had quickly realised where this question was coming from.

The first round of piping hot chicken gravy arrived with lachcha parathas for the two of us.

I began serving myself anxiously waiting for his response. The gravy also called ‘tandoori murg tikka masala’ looked and smelt the same as the others that go by the name ‘tandoori murg makkhani‘, ‘tandoori murg handi‘ and other tandoori chicken and mutton dishes. But, these are in fact very very different like distant cousins or like chalk and cheese if you may. Only a diehard foodie can make it out. For me it was just a spicy gravy that I could finish my lachcha parathas with!

He had decided to buy time so he could think artfully before giving a ‘politically correct’ answer. So, while the Mister continued with serving himself, carefully taking the right proportion of gravy and chicken pieces and a portion of the onion-cabbage-carrot combo gratings, I became a little impatient. As always, he then squeezed the quarter lemon that accompanies such dishes though I do not understand the significance. Does the citric acid add to the flavour of the chicken? I always use the lemon quarters to wash off my greasy fingers 😛

The Mister realised that he had bought an enormous amount of time, so it was now soon approaching the Moment of Truth. Noticing the rising impatience in me, he took a deep breath just before he blurted out that many a times he did think about it – “How would my life be if I had married a crazy non-veggie like me? Both of us would be on the lookout for a foodie adventure every weekend and married life would be so much foodie…err fun. But then what if she did not like to read or take my tantrums or worse still watch those dreaded TV soaps?!”

I was already feeling better 🙂

After weighing the pros and cons of having a non-veg foodie wife, the Mister had realised that my con (read being a non-foodie) carried no weight when compared to her one pro (read being a non-veg foodie) and my multiple pros – only I can handle his extreme mood swings, temper tantrums, pamper demands and above all eating animals for him!

And, we had dinner in contented silence, not the one associated with unasked queries. The ‘mutton kheema pulao‘ became tolerable. Perhaps, we are a little selfish deep down but there is something called ‘love’ that makes us behave better.

Things only a mother can teach

mother and daughter

Every morning I wake up to a sudden rush of consciousness and take a good amount of time to configure myself to reality. A reality that I am now married and do not have the privilege to be awakened lovingly by my mother. Or to be near her. “Wake up, kitty,” she would coo softly at first before picking me up in her arms till about I was nine years old. She also fed me with her hands till I was ten; I wouldn’t eat otherwise!

Today is Mother’s Day, a day when mothers over the world would be serenaded for their infinite love. I am taking the effort to remember everything she did for me as a daughter and which I took for granted. Perhaps, this is an escape route for my guilty conscience but strangely she has never expected me to be grateful. Today we will talk on the telephone as is usual on weekends and share about everyday woes regarding house chores. And we will argue again that I am not taking required care of my health along with work and family.

Anyway, let me share some incidents I remember. One day while we kids were playing in the society grounds, a brilliant idea struck us. We decided to climb a very gigantic and old tree and spend the day there. It was our summer holidays and adventure was all we had on our little minds. But, most mothers got a whiff of our plans and found it too risky for our inexperienced little limbs. Except for my mother –

Mum said it’s a genius idea, that we would always cherish its memories, only this tree is too big for us. We were all under three to four feet in height and the first branch of that tree was at least at three times our height. We searched for younger trees in the grounds but found nothing suitable for us. Finally, we climbed a water tank and stayed there with some tiffin boxes and water bottles with us. A little less adventurous than a day on a tree but fun nevertheless!

Many years later I realised the importance of what mum had taught me that day and indeed these are very practical words of advice to a growing up daughter!

Do not fear to take risks but also calculate before you do that, so that you know what is at stake.

Another memorable incident was when the first showers of rain had hit Mumbai bringing on the severe monsoons when I was in senior college. The day had just started with a pleasant cool weather that belied the hot summer just exiting around the corner. And then it began pouring large coin-sized drops of rain. Thick grey clouds formed a sheet around the sky hiding the sun behind them. There were intermittent bouts of lightning followed by thunder, with a heavy shower of rain just falling nonstop.

The academic year had not yet begun and I began to dread the thought of heavy rains, flooded roads, painfully slow traffic and all the muck through which I will have to wade through to college. In my mind I’ve always maintained Mumbai to be the worst city during monsoons and always wished to get out of there. Moreover, a patch of road between my home and college would get severely flooded even with half a day of nonstop rain. But, very soon all of that changed for me.

Mum said, “Let’s go to the terrace”. “What!” I exclaimed and she managed to drag me along up three floors to our building terrace. There she and I got wet in the rains, holding hands at first and then letting go to enjoy pure bliss on our one. I was reluctant at first and also began to shiver but then the magic of rain drops on my skin had worked. It was the most beautiful experience I had ever had.

Feeling drops of rain falling free from the sky right onto your skin is the most enriching shower one can get. It cleanses your soul most of all. Rain was fun and Mumbai became tolerable. This piece of learning has served me quite well over the years, where I look at Mumbai rains as a metaphor for life’s challenges.

No matter how many hurdles are there on your path, you need to accept them, enjoy them so that you can learn something from them.

There are many more stories that have spotted my entire life like pearls of wisdom. Yet mum never takes credit for all that. She believes it to be her duty to shape up her children’s character, make them strong from within, just like all mothers do. The next time I talk to her, I’ll not argue when she says I’m not taking care of myself. Instead, I’ll take care of myself, as that is the only gift I can give her.

Yes, God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers!

Image source: Carla’s Sculptures

And they lived happily ever after…

Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you,” a very wise observation indeed by the American actress Loretta Young. But, what exactly is love and how does it find you? History has been replete with grand stories of love – Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnu, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz and many more stories of unconditional love.

The literary world has brought a wealth of beautiful meaning to love in the form of poems, essays, interpretations and research. Scientists have found chemical changes in a brain that is in love; at the touch of love, Plato said, one becomes a poet; love has immense potential to move mountains they say, yet no one has been able to decipher it!

We can pretend to hack it, but it remains elusive. This cupid once struck, bounds two individuals to reconfigure themselves completely for the other. So, we say that love is blind. Yes, it is because what the eyes cannot see, the heart can.

It is our second wedding anniversary today and the mere thought of it sends shudders through me. It is unbelievable! We made it through two years of serious infighting, work conflicts, unequal distribution of labour with large helpings of chaos, clashes and ego thrown in. We have swum against the currents while arguing nonstop about which way to head next. We would pull out our hair in horrifying frustration even when the heart wanted to say, “If it were not for you, darling, I would have never known true love!”

Love made us strong, love made us vulnerable, love made us love each other and do things we would have never done otherwise. We had diametrically opposite views on how stuff needs to be done yet we did all of this together.

So, at this juncture I am utterly at a loss of words. I too, like the many greats cannot describe love.  Perhaps, love is a matrix which engulfs you. Once you are in, its wonderland all the way. Your sense of logic and reasoning delude you into believing new rules of survival. But, you definitely come out richer.

If you were to ask me whether love has certain rules or does it take care of itself, I wouldn’t know what to say. Maybe the couples who have celebrated a platinum anniversary would know better, but I have my doubts. In all these two years I have realised that love needs to be nurtured much like a seedling, yet there is no guarantee that it will grow sky high and strong. Some divine calculations are on every moment up there. But, what I can confirm is that love is not a zero-sum game. We win some, we lose some but there is winning in the losing too!

  • ‘Be truthful’ yet not so much as to hurt the other’s heart. “What are you doing about those tyres around your waist, honey?” can be easily rephrased, isn’t it?
  • ‘Be honest’ and divulge your attractions for someone you have taken a liking for, but do not – I repeat do not – ever cross the line of no return. Affairs on the sly are a complete no-no.
  • ‘Be open’ to new ways of doing things. There may be a thousand ways of changing a light bulb, while you have been changing it in a particular way all your life!
  • ‘Be polite’ and don’t forget your manners. A little sorry here, a little thank you there, a little please in between is not such a tough ask, you know!
  • ‘Surprise’ is something that adds a spark anytime, even after we’ve quarrelled like cats and dogs. This is one element that is inexpensive and gives joy to the one who surprises as well.
  • And, most importantly, ‘express’ your undying love anytime and everytime; do not wait for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Life is unpredictable and do make the most if it every moment that you breathe.

We do not know what lies in the future, but together we think we can make it. How many more years, you ask…Well, maybe forever and even longer…

We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. Even longer,’ Pooh answered.

Love your hair and it will always love you back!

For someone who has been flaunting a boy cut till her late teens, my life has come a full circle after three decades of ‘hairfree’ existence. I am now blissfully aware that thick wavy hair can also be tied up beautifully or played around with to look just as feminine as the ones with naturally straight, silky hair. All thanks to the internet, my hair is well maintained due to the regular hair care regime I began to follow only a few years back. A hot oil champi followed by shampooing and conditioning after two hours coupled with a happy heart, can do wonders for your hair and skin. Trust me!

As a little girl, the boy cut was convenient though I wanted long, beautiful, Rapunzel-type hair just as all the little girls of my age did. But, the boy cut was a big time-saver enabling my mum to get me ready for school on time. And, that was all that mattered when compared to running around the school playgrounds thrice for getting late!

But, sadly, what started off as a favour to my mum, stayed on till junior college as I was just too lazy. I was one of the boys. I was free from bad hair days. Dandruff, split-ends, dry frizzles, nothing of all this bothered me.  So while others found boyfriends, I joined a gang of boys and that started bothering me!

I grew my hair long and faced the issues that come with hair, but without much of an effective breakthrough until the moment I began to love my hair. Yes, the defining moment came when I received an email from a former male colleague of mine, who confessed to being attracted to my thick, wavy hair calling it an ‘asset’ I had, and that changed the perspective towards my hair completely. I fell in love with it, it was my identity to being attractive; it was what made me feel like a ‘woman’. The tomboy in me wanted to explore her feminine side finally!

Being old school, I relate to yesteryear actresses like Audrey Hepburn with those bun hairstyles of hers. A little search on the internet led me to various tutorials that demonstrate step-by-step instructions just as the ones you see in the TRESemmé YouTube channel.

So here I am…yes, that’s my first twisted hair bun…something I got inspired by while going through the interactive channel. I have been exploring more about better hair care products and hairstyles that go well with my kinda hair, ever since I learnt that salon-style treatment is possible in the convenience of my home. Do check out the various do-it-yourself videos they have in there; you might just make something as lovely as this 😉

My first twisted hair bun

At the cost of sounding immodest, I would like to state that I’m really proud of this achievement. I just love this twisted bun look, moreover it took me roughly 5-7 minutes only, though I would have loved to decorate it with an accessory like a flower or a butterfly or maybe little shiny sequins. Remember, girls just wanna have fun!

The mister, also the photographer was quite amused with what I was able to do, both of us were unaware that such hairstyles could be self created at home. Anyways, let me share the steps in my own words: tie up a ponytail wherever you want your bun to be made. I tied mine a little high though you could try sideways too, to create a side bun. Divide the hair into two equal portions and begin twisting one of the strands while also circling it around the ponytail. Keep twisting till the end and finally secure it with a hairpin. Do the same with the other strand but twist it in the opposite direction, while circling it in the opposite direction. After twisting till the end, secure it with a hairpin and voila, you are done!

It only gets better with practice. This is the second time I tried this and it was easier than the first time. Next time I will pin up a nice hair accessory and use some hair spray to give it a more professional look 🙂

Meanwhile, I have found this beautiful ‘Ballerina rope braid hair bun updo hairstyle’ tutorial by Bebexo, and plan to save some time to learn this. Thanks to TRESemmé, my love for my hair has only grown. And, don’t forget – the deeper you love your hair, the stronger are its roots and your confidence too!

P.S. Post idea triggered by the TRESemmé blogging contest at Indiblogger.

Your choices are half chance!

Today as my Sunday coffee regime was happening on one side while I was mulling away on the other side, the words ‘Sunscreen’ lit up in my mind. Somehow I could recollect the title ‘Everybody needs sunscreen’ but Google corrected me out and also led me to the source of this song – ‘Everybody is free to wear sunscreen.It is actually an essay by Mary Schmich that was published as a column in the Chicago Tribune in 1997. Her essay was written as a commencement speech to graduating students, in case she ever got a chance to deliver one! Now this was news to me as I had connected with this particular song during my college days.

I can remember being swayed by it’s distinct style of musical wisdom, even faintly recollect being inspired and awed by its depth. Adoloscence has its own charm of belief and uncertainty, so a naive me related to only some of the parts in it. Then years morphed into decades and once again I found myself at the alter of this timeless classic today. And I was swayed again…

This time some more lines hit me. But the one that had me shaken all over the most is this –
“What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either, your choices are half chance, so are everybody elses.”

How true! This one came almost like a tight slap of loving advice. Since a month, I’ve been recuperating from a lower back sprain and this has opened up new opportunities to re-think my life. The stress I underwent in the past year either bawling away or jumping on cloud nine with every little step for the startup, had taken its toll.Had I been dispassionately passionate with everything, the  stress wouldn’t have built up. Had I enjoyed the journey without a care for the destination, even complex tasks would have been simplified. Had I believed that my choices are all half chances, I wouldn’t have worried about the money not flowing in. I would have given a damn to our performance dashboard, goals, content plans, and all that jazz.

Anyways, better late than never! This year I have embarked on a new path where I will strive to find a balance – To be anchored with my destination yet free to stand and stare. To believe in the divine plan and let go of all my worries. To surrender to the Infinite and find answers intuitively.

As 2012 draws to a close…

The year has drawn to a close and what a year it has been – we survived the ‘End of the World’!

I’m neither ecstatic nor gloomy though. The internal and the external have all collided into one big mass of chaos within me. I’m quite numb with what’s happening in my country right now. I’m scared I’m a woman. And then again, its also required a whole defragmentation process for me this year. It’s been 15 days that I’ve been lying unruffled… well, almost!

As I was getting ready to pick up tasks on my to-do list, I heard a faint tear like a tectonic shift in the middle of the Arabian Sea, but only it felt like it was within me. The next thing I know is that pain erupted like a volcano from my lower back and I fell down unconscious before which I had managed a feeble shout out to the hubby.

Probably 5 minutes later, I came back into consciousness to sense tremendous amount of pain shooting out from my lower back to all the neurons in my body.

Oversoul by Alex Grey

It was 9 hours of excrutiating pain as I lay on the floor motionless, having ended all attempts to fight back. But, those 9 hours were a God send. I don’t really believe in the idols or religions but a bright ray of hope hidden in the human spirit has to be God. It was this hope that served as my crutches – I began to crawl and finally walk with the hubby’s support and somehow managed to make it to the hospital. The verdict was clear – I had stretched myself too far this time!

I’m on medication and rest for a month now but I’ve realised that the duration depends totally on me. Every moment that I feel hope, I’m able to walk but the very moment I give up, the pain returns. It is like the Satan is just waiting around the corner for Hope to leave. I was so traumatised by the shock waves passing through my body that sleeping at night was a task in itself, but hope has opened a new door.

Incidentally, I’ve begun to read ‘Man’s search for meaning‘ by Viktor Frankl, which is a rather painful account of his stay at a concentration camp and how his search for meaning ultimately saw him survive unspeakable cruelty.

We, as a species, have survived for so long that sometimes it builds a complex and I don’t know whether I feel superior or inferior. But, every living moment has a meaning so I guess ‘Time’ – being the biggest teacher  – will tell!

2012 started off into the unknown. Me and hubby had decided to bootstrap our venture with a little savings and no viable business model. Today, at the end of the year, I can’t believe we made it through 12 months without a salary and heaps of multi-tasking. It is true I broke my back, but it is also true that I could manage to keep a little of my 2012 resolution of inculcating a strong sense of discipline in me. 2012 also saw our first marriage anniversary as well as the second one for the startup, so the year sums up as one of juggling between two unknowns – a marriage and a bootstrapped startup!

As I bid adieu to 2012, I look forward to the new year and hope to listen more and talk less, to stop running and start walking, to just be in the moment and feel the meaning. And 2013 will hopefully ring in a miracle because that’s just what the world needs now!

Happy 2013 to all my readers!

The laughing club lessons and more

Every morning I’m awakened by an orchestra of sorts – a myriad of laughter sounds in various sizes and shapes emanating from the neighbouring ground. When we shifted home in the middle of this year, all we were in search of was a place with a good broadband connection. But, as luck would have it, we were blessed with much more.

I love the lush greens surrounding my compound walls and the colourful birds nestled amongst the branches. I love the hollering boys playing cricket in the grounds, while a few serious ones practise their yogasanas in the shade. I love the karate class kids too, especially the really little girls and boys. But, what I love most about the ground is the lessons I have learnt just by observing the laughing club members.

This group mainly consists of bright senior citizens – the politically correct term for elderly people – with a sex ratio of 1:1 and I find them really adorable. These guys start coming one by one to the ground beginning 6 am. Only when the entire group is present do they start and that happens in half an hour around 6:30 am.

Members of the Gateway to India Laughter Club in Mumbai

They quickly assemble in a circle with women and men forming half the circumference each. After the initial introductions and the calling out of consequent numbers by each member, the motley group is all energised for a session of laughter and joy.

The session begins slowly with soft giggles and then catches pace with a laughter barakhadi (ha-haa-he-hee-hu-huu-hey-heey-ho-hoo-houu-humm-hahahahaha) followed by bouts of weird body movements and sounds. Sometimes, they scare each other with a simple ‘boo’ or sometimes its a little startling roar by sticking their tongues out. Its adorable to watch the old men and women claw the air and play animal-animal. The session that started with frail laughter and gestures, then reaches a crescendo of sorts, to finally end in a full-bodied laughter, by which time the onlookers have also had a laugh or two.

But, it was never a cacophony of laughter. It had rhythm, it had style!

I remember in the beginning during my morning jogs, I was way too embarrassed to be crossing them. There they were, the wise old group laughing away to glory without a care in the world. And here was me with my extra tensed neurons and all, so conscious about my rising weight and striving to burn it out frantically as if that is the cure to all my ills.

Gradually, as the days turned into months, I developed an attachment towards them, so much so that if I did not wake up to their laughter, the day would feel incomplete. Come rain or chill, the group was always out there on the grounds, but it was only me who woke up late and missed them. I saw a month of summer followed by four months of monsoons with heavy showers welcoming the early mornings. Now, it is winter and really chilly. I don’t venture out in the morning; just a little verandah watching suffices me. But, the laughing club goes on!

As I sit beside my work table, adjacent to my large window, trying to concentrate on the smaller things in life, the things outside creep into my thoughts. More precisely from the laughing club. The discipline, the dedication, the sheer energy and will power of the group amazes me. Their approach towards laughter, the motivation they share with each other, the laughter sounds reverberating in the air is all so inspiring, that I’m all charged up and raring to go.

Yes, were it not for laughter, we would all go insane!

About being the wife and little else…

It was the deciding moment in my life four years back. I had rehashed the most useful template in my entire professional life of 8 years – the resignation template and presented it to the manager. I was freed the very next moment and remember walking away crooning Queen’s ‘I want to break free’. The manager, who should be severely reclassified in the ‘Invertebrata’ family, did however butt in with free gyaan but somewhere we both realised it was late – just too late.

It wasn’t about the analyst function anymore nor was it about glass ceilings, favouritism or other office shenanigans. I just wanted to feed my heart, listen to my own song; I wanted to explore me!

I had to start early in life – started at seventeen as a field researcher with a marketing and research group, then followed pretty much anything that came my way from writing certificates in calligraphy to painting t-shirts to writing term assignments for classmates. Then took the roller coaster ride on my way to career and self fulfilment.

Alas! A series of roles  – faculty, database administrator, data analyst, quality analyst, trainer, etc. etc. but nothing that touched within, nothing at all that I would carry a piece of when I transcend. And that’s how I found myself at the edge of the cliff four years ago.

looking beyond
Image courtesy: modernlifeblogs

Today even after four years of exploration, I’ve barely scratched the surface but I do know that I can design handicrafts, logos, brochures and wedding cards. It was an unknown path but the deeper I walked in, the familiar it became and the more I wanted to waltz around. Now it is the most delightful road to be on – one that smells of familiar flowers, one where I soak in the rich journey, without a care to where I’m headed!

Though it’s strange how I travelled in search of me and found happiness instead. A good measure of true happiness for me is the ones who are happy because of you. And we can only spread happiness when we are happy inside. And we are happy when we find ourselves. So I guess its a vicious pursuit every life we lead.

But then there is an external world – a society that attaches happiness to degrees, cars and promotions. A society that is constantly wanting to make you feel small and insignificant. A society that is defined by clout and gender inequalities. Perhaps, this is going towards the scale of melodrama now, but this is how it is.

These days I hardly get to design. But I’m filling up my days with blogging and reading up every little thing to keep myself updated. Remember I write a blog along with my hubby and this keeps us occupied 24×7. There’s never a dull moment for me as I love writing and to juggle it with cleaning, cooking, sorting and other chores in a regular day, is actually testing my multitasking abilities to the core.

It’s beyond my comprehension how the human brain reconfigures itself to learning new tasks and creating new patterns of thought for a specific task. It’s like you get into something that looks uncomfortable and soon it becomes your second skin. It’s almost magical. Thinking was never so much fun!

But…I’m the wife at the end of it all and not the co-founder – at least that’s how the majority thinks! I do a fair amount of brainstorming to generate new ideas. I think as our readers do and help improve upon the design aspect. I do a lot of research as one cannot create content unless stimulated enough, unless passionate enough or better still unless she is on the wings of fire!

But when I write an article, the hubby gets all the accolades for it – he is the face of the blog after all. Though he goes out all the way to clarify but one cannot blame the world for thinking it’s a one-man show. There is a certain lady – a sharp, intelligent, business-savvy one, who is very impressed with our content and confesses to spending a few hours reading us at a stretch. She knows about the two of us. But interestingly, I do not exist for her. All her feedback and suggestions are always addressed to the Founder.

I used to attend events along with him but I’ve stopped those now. It’s like daddy has brought his little darling to office and everyone in the department wants to greet her. Of course! I’m to be blamed. I had introduced myself as ‘Wife’ and then ‘Co-Founder’, because in my mind I was only playing the supporting actor role to help my hubby – the Hero! The blog is his dream; he has spent the whole of last year writing articles every day along with his day job. I’ve come to terms with this and strangely am finding my place in his dream. When I look back to connect the dots, I see everything that I ever learned to do is now finding its rightful purpose. Much like the random, meaningless pieces of a puzzle that align themselves to finally give meaning to it. So never mind the external identity crisis as long as I am in search of ‘me’!

“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” ~ Denis Waitley.