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.

Keeping up with the Dhorkandes!

The Dhorkandes were my ex-landlord plus neighbours, and as with all ex’s, I find it impossible to forget them. Its been a peaceful two months in our new rented flat but the Dhorkande nightmare still does not cease to haunt me.

Once our LIC agent had come home visiting for his duty-bound premium collections. It was around ten-ish on a Monday. While in deep discussion about some insurance plans with the agent, I did not realise that the door hadn’t been locked. All of a sudden Lady Dhorkande just kicked open the door and barged into our living room. Her face fell ten inches to the ground, when she didn’t see what she had imagined.

I thought she would get epileptic any moment then.

The lady has an extra-sensory power of imagination, fuelled by her 24×7 watch outside her verandah and windows. Seeing a young and dashing man visit me on a weekday, especially at the time when my man has left for work, erupted the best of the wildest crap from her head. She was so certain to catch us live in action that she didn’t bother to ring the bell or give it a second thought before stomping right in.

And to top it, she was at her un-satsangly best – electrocuted hair, clumsily-clad saree, barefoot, clutching a piece of clothing in her hand. I assume she was folding this piece while at the verandah when the golden idea struck her.

My man hadn’t left for office till then. He leaves a good half an hour later but her window-watching schedule went wrong on that fateful day. The agent, my husband and me were into serious analysis about annuities, better yielding retirement plans and most importantly whether we have the means to invest in a plan now. When Lady Dhorkande kicked in like Inspector Dhoble on a raid mission, all three of us looked up, shocked, amused and slightly annoyed.

True to the Dhorkandes’ she did not apologise. I asked her if anything’s wrong but she couldn’t utter a single word with that open mouth. In fact, it was so wide open that she could swallow a hippopotamus if she were hungry. Highly dejected at not seeing a twosome, she eventually blabbered something inane, before leaving. That could have also been Inspector Dhoble leaving saddened from a massage parlour raid, while carrying a huge lump in his throat because he couldn’t save the rotting world.

But what about the lump in the brain? Lady Dhorkande has two children and three grand children, sadly she has transferred or would be transferring this lump into them. I have more about the Dhorkandes but let’s park them for some other day.

Sculpture time with M-seal!

As I begin to write this, I can see my M-seal creation winking at me. The online resource said M-seal dries in an hour but this blob defied all laws of epoxy resin and dried up in 40 minutes. The 20 minutes denied to me were the most tormenting 20 minutes of my life. It would have been an ideal drying time had I used it for concealing leakages. But I was moulding it into a mother-child shape! Here it is for your grand wonderment, my first M-seal assignment and also hopefully my most amatuerish!

When you buy M-seal from the hardware shop, you will get two oblong rectangles of a soft moldable substance packed separately. It is basically epoxy resin and I am not its friend yet. You can learn more on the internet like I did but remember it dries up within 40 minutes. One is dark gray and the other is pale olive green, but when you mix the two, the mixture starts getting a darker tone and eventually turns into a warm black mass.

While you are kneading the two blobs, you have to be quick with your design judgement. As soon as the dough turns black, it also turns very soft and malleable. Begin moulding right away if you intend to make a one-piece structure. But if you want to create seperate little design elements to be then joined together or stuck/hung/beaded into something, then I would suggest to mix only that much as is required.

My orignially intended sculpture was very different from what has shaped up but I’m happy I ended up wiser on this learning curve. In half an hour, I had managed to knead that black blob and create the required shape. Just then I got worried my sculpture won’t stand without a tough base. So I created a flat cylindrical base and tried to attach it with a metal nail to the main body. The nail got stuck midway through the body since it had solidified at the core by then. I gave up pushing further and decided to pull out the nail. But the base had solidified by then. The next 10 most precious minutes were spent in pulling the nail out and patching up the hole it had created.

That was about it. My M-seal project came to an end as I struggled to give it a smoother finishing. The mother-child formation, very obstinately to my liking, chose their shape and stuck to it. No matter how much I pushed or carved, it didn’t change a square millimeter. Perhaps I have to start being friends with this epoxy resin creature, to really get a hang of its likes and dislikes and get myself thoroughly acquainted with its mood swings if I were to ever create an awesome shape with it.

‘Me’ reloaded!

Image courtesy: Yay images
I wanted to rename my blog as Satyameva Jayathe, but I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. Firstly, I do not have the means to tackle the legal notice by the biggest Khan and secondly I find the phrase quite ambiguous. It looked better in the Upanishad itself; certainly not meant for these times where the champion of the TV show translated as ‘Truth Alone Prevails’, takes a whopping sum to do so! Besides, the outrage from blogosphere for associating the phrase with a wily ‘oldfox’ surrounded by barely clad pin-up models, is absolutely beyond my tolerance threshold.

So, here I am, back again to my good old friend, philosopher and guide – my dear diary, my personal blog – oldfox004 not Satyameva Jayathe. This is the one place where I’m sure to find a listening ear and some occasional eavesdroppers too. It’s been nearly four months after the chicken pox woes and fortunately for me, the scars have faded except for a few stubborn ones that have actually darkened. The problem however, is that I can’t seem to overcome this pain of having lost my brother all of a sudden. But I am ready to talk about it now.

I wasn’t ready for this just three months after my wedding. And we had plans – he wanted to do a complete Vaastushastra study of the house we had rented, wanted to see how he could help in our business venture and so on. But Final Calls’ do not come with a reminder, do they? It’s the tenth month now that I’ve been trying all the tricks in the book. I kind of joke about him but it backstabs every time. I have inherited his Macbook, his Blackberry and all the art and design materials and I’m really happy about that. But at times, it gets to choke me up, especially when I’m whiling away. I have stopped whiling away. I try to find something to do, anything that does not involve Illustrator or pencils and colours. I learnt this technique from my mother. You see mums are always right!

Coming to the blog, I had started this with the intention to pen down my life after marriage. I did manage a few posts even with the new and alien environs. But it had started to get really difficult. And when blogging was no longer fun, I decided to quit. I tried fooling myself with micro-blogging. But Twitter is a chaotic fish market and I had nothing to sell. I even had a couple of posts typed in notepad that got deleted accidentally. And so, I became lonely again. This year, post the chicken pox, I gave it a shot once again and it was fun, in fact it was healing. But finding the time to blog as well as read other blogs became tough. I couln’t juggle around with two blogs.

As I had said earlier, my hubby and I maintain a professional blog and this takes up all my time, along with other chores. Even when I’m absolutely done with everything, the most I can do is sleep with a book, yes a book is man’s best friend after all! I just can’t relax to blog personally and whenever I had found the time, we had no internet. My internet woes could take up another post

Well, you may wonder why I’m attempting to blog again. For starters, I have organised and set up my home-office schedule. It’s been a year of learning, de-cluttering, organising and surprisingly, finding some ‘me’ time. Also, its been a year of plans getting busted and mortality getting tested! I am now very hopeful about this blog and this time around I have my nieces on blogger too!

My chicken pox woes and related stories


It was an innocent looking Sunday. What started off as a little red bump on my forehead and glanced at me like a regular heat boil would, turned out to be much more surreptitious than that.  I actually saw it wink at me or maybe I was hallucinating with the fever. Yeah, I woke up with a slight fever and joint pain, both of whom are cousins who come visiting me together ever so often. I planned to have something to chill my system like maybe some coconut water or a glass of lassi and perhaps a paracetamol for the fever germs.  But the divine providence had a lot in store for me.

It must have been sevenish when I saw the clock and little did I know what the number signified then. Not talking about numerology here but just the magnitude of its impact to be seen later. My hunch was that something was devastatingly wrong with me but none of my eyes were twitching. You see my eyes are hard coded to twitch whenever something weird is in the cards. But this time they deceived me. A Hindu proverb translated as ‘In bad times, even the best of minds falter’ can be described for my eyes that kept mum that day.

I decided to skip my morning exercise or rather skip my daily excuse to avoid it – I was sick. Period.  After a little nap, I woke up to see if I had rejuvenated. But hell no! The bump winked back, now even bigger in size. Remember someone wise had said that ‘sleep is the best healer after laughter’ but that someone didn’t know that party poopers are stubborn little things. They are wired into your karma.

After a little while of time, I gave up trying to feel better and resigned much like Gulliver letting himself be tied up by the Lilliputians. Only my Lilliputians were teeny-weeny and invisible. The Mister promptly took me to the doctor, who with just a cursory glance announced the verdict ‘Its Chicken pox!’ I thought my days were numbered since I hadn’t heard about chicken pox for the longest time now. So I mistook it for H1N1 or maybe some strange rapidly growing contagious things implanted by aliens. Remember I was out the previous day and felt for certain that a UFO was trailing me.

But then I recollected – my mum used to always say that I am the only child who didn’t get chicken pox. Like that was a health introduction to the listener and in some ways a proud moment for my little mind. As I grew up, I had almost forgotten about it until this – the doctor inquired whether I had chicken pox as a kid. So I proudly said ‘NO!’ And he said ‘So, it’s confirmed!’ and happily prescribed medicines that would last a fortnight and upset my household budget. He said it will take seven days and I remembered my Chinese clock struck at seven. If this was not enough, he also said that the medicines will not heal the chicken pox; they were just meant to be taken to keep away other infections that the pox might cause!

We returned  in pin-drop silence. Then life took up a new routine – pill at 8 – breakfast – pill at 10 – sleep – lunch – pill at 2 – sleep – pill at 8 – dinner – pill at 10 – sleep…  The bumps grew right in front of my eyes; every time I saw the mirror I swear I could see them put on weight joyfully. The Mister obviously couldn’t see what I could so he locked me up in the bedroom with water and a warm cozy blanket, with no mirrors anywhere nearby.

It must have been seven days or so, I can’t really say – the itching and the burning was all I felt. The Mister’s neem sponge bath was a real saviour and I would definitely recommend it to anybody even without the pox. In fact, you should drink a glass of neem juice every time you go for that convenient coconut water or lassi.

Another seven days later, the bumps were off leaving their dirty footprints all over me. And my mum can proudly say that I’m not the odd one out. Chicken pox has been kind enough to visit me too!

Of Candle light dinners and the dark ages

Courtesy : toonpool

I can distinctly recall that one memorable day from our courtship days. Mr. Right went all out of his slothful way, to make me a dinner that I’ll always remember. The ‘tried-to’ barbeque chicken, the fried ‘hilsa‘, the sautéed tiger prawns all with a splash of Maggi hot-n-sour sauce. I’m not so sure whether he has bartended before but the Smirnoff-Tropicana lychee cocktail was a killer. The yummy masala cheese cubes and the strawberry with cream still linger in the memory of my taste buds. I could cross seven Antarcticas for him!

I had shut off the lights and lit some candles left over from Diwali. We had the most beautiful romantic dinner anybody anywhere could ever have had.

Someone wise had said that ‘With great power comes greater responsibility’. He or she was not wise enough to include the lesser souls like me, who have ‘no power’ at all. Which means that I cannot start the washing machine, I cannot open my inbox nor can I play pop-in, pop-out with my toaster.

Every morning the Mister and I make a list of to-do’s and as soon as he’s out to office, the power takes a cue and goes for a nap. The to-do’s listed under my name have piled up so high, that if we were to do a see-saw with our list of to-do’s, the Mister will be seen smiling and waving cheerfully from the ‘up’ side.

Although he calls me a perfectionist, deep in my heart I know what he really means to say. He is actually fed up with me taking forever and ever and ever and the frequent power cuts do not help my cause either. I’m not a sucker for the idiot box and reality shows bore me to the peak. More so, I haven’t even re-subscribed to our DTH. God knows I’m even contemplating a mini-Nirvana every time the power goes off. But who is to tell the Mister that? He has a picture of me sitting delighted, relaxing my butts on the ‘down’ side of the see-saw and fanning myself with the exotic hand fan I had bought during our honeymoon with one hand and my list of to-do’s in the other.

I have no intention of celebrating ‘Earth Hour’ every hour of my daytime nor do I relish smelling my armpits. At most I wish to end the Dark Ages with a peaceful candle light dinner. I have four boxes of plain white candles, a box of scented candles, a teddy bear candle from my recent birthday and a red glass candle stand that slouches rather passionately beside the bed. I wish someone out there ‘plucks out’ that memorable day and waves it in front of the Mister.

He gives one glance at the meter box and it winks back ‘I’m on work strike mate!’. The Mister then promptly takes me out for a quick fix dinner at any one of our neighbourhood restaurants. I’m certain that the owners of these restaurants are bribing my meter box. Corruption is everywhere!

But with the frequent power cuts, we both have come to the same conclusion which is a rarity in our case – ‘with no power comes no responsibility’. Adios Antarctica!

Of Coffee Connoisseurs and Chai Shaukeens…

I still remember the day vividly. That was the day I had told my mother that I have found my Mr. Right at last. In my heart, I always believed that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But she confirmed it nearly thrice a la Big B style and eventually locked it after a few days of resigned contemplation. The question mark on her face was too evident so neither did she smile nor heave a sigh of relief for her ignorant daughter.

For those who are unaccustomed to my very basic wishes in Mr. Right, please read an earlier post written with all the mighty stupidity I’ve been bestowed with. I’ll unravel them layer by layer as I have nothing better to do now.

A few glimpses of Mr. Right begin to show from the honeymoon onwards. Although the risk of sounding like a nagger looms large over my head, I promise to put down only pure facts and nothing more here.

The coffee is breathtaking at Coorg. Mind you I said Breathtaking alone which means it takes my breath away when its brewing. Where on Earth or the other planets have I claimed to love coffee or even know how to brew a decent one?

I was a  ‘Complan Girl’ right from my kindergarten who retaliated in her adolosence to become a diehard ‘chai-shaukeen’, especially with an essence of ginger – a most exotic and cute sounding spice. But who is to explain this to the Mister. Yeah, my Mr. Right is the Mister now and I know now that the light at the end of the tunnel was just another lost soul with a torch in his hand.

The Mister sipped loads of black coffee in an aura of divinity while I watched in daze. I was after all a cutting-chai types. Cut to present when we are as good as an old couple with all ‘Niceties’ of speech and manner nearly vanished, we have become what we were to begin with.

The Mister will not shut the toilet seat; I can see my mum smiling now. She was smiling when I had told her how he cleans and scrubs every inch of the bathroom and the toilet bowl, every time i came visiting. Little did I know that it was just a quick fix before the arrival of the school inspector. It so happened that yesterday he came in early and asked for coffee which is very rare. I was delighted and nearly jumped up in glee, that a lowly ‘chai-shaukeen’ was offered the task of preparing the royal beverage – coffee!

In my divine glee, I not only boiled the filtered coffee powder but also watched in horror as it spilt out in all its Vesuvius fury. Before I could wipe out all evidence, I realised the Mister had witnessed the entire ‘open-and-shut’ case with a rather wide open mouth. He couldn’t bring himself to speak for a few seconds.

After some life-changing moments had passed by, he started blabbering something what now seems to be just my mum smiling away in all her glory. Your Mr. Right, huh?

What can a ginger-tea lover possibly know about brewing exotic roasted and powdered and refined coffee beans? Well, nothing really. The Mister has realised that and now handles all the delicate coffee management devices in our kitchen. It is not so often that ‘realisation’ hits so hard. For someone who promised to try the lowly ‘adrak-chai’ in the name of love, now protects his royal coffee from chai pollution.

I can see my mum’s smirky smile, flash back to that mushy day and cut back to this dreadful day and my mum smiles all the way.

Life 2.0

It is not often that you sit back and wonder, thanks to the paucity of time or I’d rather put it as disrespect of time. But then, some days you got to slow down. You got to ceasefire the fury of the moment and just be. Today was one such day. I asked myself ‘Where are you going?’ I’m afraid to admit though that I had no answer to that. Then I remembered a little story of two streams and found my answer.

Once upon a time, there were two streams that were flowing towards the edge of the valley. Said one stream to the other, ‘Friend, I’m afraid of the falls ahead. Why should we keep flowing like this?’ To which the other stream replied, ‘What are you afraid of? The falls should be exciting!’ The first stream said, ‘Exciting? There may be sharp boulders or slippery moss or strange creatures ahead.’ The second stream had a hearty laugh. Then as they were nearing the edge, the first stream stopped to turn his flow.

Years had passed and they say that the first stream is now a muddy mess of water infested with strange creatures. The second stream who joyfully took the plunge, faced sharp boulders, brushed through slippery moss and made friends with strange creatures, has now grown into a clear pond!

Well! Although it may seem easy, you can imagine the pain the second stream had to go through. But such is life – you got to flow to be able to grow. In this second phase of my life, which I lovingly will refer to as ‘Life 2.0’, I wish to write a little more, read a little more, be kind a little more and flow a little more.

Keep flowing. . .