Laugh under a veil, my dear!

“I’m very scared,” she whispered softly.

“Don’t be,” he reassured calmly.

They had just recovered from a hearty laughter.

“But, I’m not used to so much joy.”

“Every time they catch me laughing out loud, they send one of theirs to restore balance… I hate to cry.”

“Oh! Then laugh under a veil, my dear!”

Your age is your discount!

Happy 38This April the 4th I turned 38. It may not be a big deal, in fact it is just a number, but it is a significant one nevertheless. From a size ‘M’, I’ve grown to a size ‘L’ if comfort is what I’m looking for. I need to stub out a few beard hairs every week, else risk looking like ‘she-man’. I carry around a tyre like a stationary hula-hoop around my waist. I’ve begun to eat more than I need, exercise less than I must, talk more than I should, listen less than what is good for me.

My thought processes have chosen their absolute paths around my cranium and the connected nervous system. Everything there is to learn in life to sustain a decent livelihood has been done with, and my grey cells have gone into hibernation. I feel a terrifying vaccum inside me is sucking in everything from my insides, forming a lump of non-renewable mass to be never transformed into energy or set anything into motion again in life.

Apparently, this is what is termed as mid-life crisis, or the perceived notion of reaching a ‘dead end’ in one’s journey, because everybody (read society) says so!

The so-called ‘People of the Society’ now have a fair understanding about me, and by that qualification, they can now advise me on what exactly I should be doing in the 38th year of my life.

A coincidence off-late made me mull over my age. It so happened that I was seated at a popular Chinese takeaway, waiting for my parcel, when right adjacent to me was a standee, displaying loudly: “Your Age is your Discount”. A beauty salon was looking to boost its haircut sales.

I wondered, “Can my age be discounted in real life?

38 tells me how much grey has begun to set in; how fatigued is my body; it nudges me to go for a health check up so I could wring any hereditary or lifestyle diseases right away while the nasty things are still in stealth mode. 38 tells me I’m closer to 40!

38 defines where I am in life with respect to where I should’ve been in life as per my life goals. It tells my government to put me in the next demographic. It tells the people around me that I have now arrived at a ‘big’ juncture in my life, that I should now take life seriously, that I need to now worry about my aging body and not flush my eggs down the toilet bowl – and here is where it all ends, sadly!

38 also throws up some very vital questions: Am I sporting an age-appropriate waistline? Should I colour my greys? Have I under-achieved compared to my peers? Do my friends and family miss me? Does my age bother my other half? Can I still reach the finishing line? Am I a failure?

Wait…these don’t look like vital questions, in fact, these aren’t even questions!

These are fears implanted over the generations, in you and me; like a wheel it goes on and on in a never ending cyclic path, consuming every fresh idea that comes its way.

These are fears implanted over the generations, in you and me; like a wheel it goes on and on in a never ending cyclic path, consuming every fresh idea that comes its way. Satan’s other name is Fear!

Age can be discounted had we been told how many years we would exist. Let’s suppose a human life was designed to live fully till 100 years, and then the aging process would set in. In this imaginary world, I could avail a 38% discount the whole of this year, and really look forward to turning 39.

But, we are mortal beings with no number attached to the lives that die every second. They could be 3 or 8 or 38, and still mean so much to the people in their lives.

The only way to keep going on is to ‘unlearn’ everything they tell you to. Stay in the ‘now’ and not worry about the future and certainly not about age, because as someone wise once sang, “Que sera, sera.”

Cheers to all of us who are 38 years ‘young’ this year!

A train journey to the spiritual capital of India

It was just last month, one exhaustive weekday that the Mister and me figured the only way out to give our brains a detox is to go on a vacation. The last time we went on a vacation was four years ago: our honeymoon to Coorg, the Scotland of India. Our British rulers preferred exotic western equivalents to the scenic beauty that was India…sigh! Before British, Coorg was known as ‘Kodava Nadu’ but for the stiff British tongues, we have a city name that’s quicker to pronounce than to visit!

Before I deviate further, let’s go back to the brain detox, the vacation we both deserved but hadn’t earned until now. Then we took a call – a unanimous call to take out a little from the savings for bad times. (Startup life is unpredictable that way)

But, where do we go? They say, “The journey is the reward,” so it does not really matter whether you choose to visit one of the “50 places to see before I die” or not. The Mister suggested Varanasi; I was lazy, exhausted, and too mind-toxicated to suggest otherwise.

We were able to reserve our seats too; Divine Providence was at work, otherwise getting reserved seats 20 days prior is next to impossible. Varanasi, also called Banaras, ancient name Kashi (It’s strange how a cute, short city name evolved to a longer one in this digital age).

So, that’s where we are headed to – in the Varanasi Express starting from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Kurla, Mumbai and going straight to Varanasi Junction – a 27-hour journey across the two states of Maharashta and Uttar Pradesh, not very friendly states, yet the two share a symbiotic relationship with each other both in economics and state politics.

The wait for it to arrive. #varanasi #indianrailways #traveldiaries2015

A photo posted by Prasant Naidu (@prasantnaidu) on

The train journey started after midnight, 12:35 am to be precise. And let us all join to clap our hands for the Indian Railways. Our Varanasi Express engines began rolling at sharp 12:35 am. It was way past my bedtime but the excitement kept me awake. We were finally on a holiday!

Varanasi is a temple town. Hindus visit the city at least once in their lifetime, the river Ganga – the most sacred of all rivers in India – flows through the city. An annual trip to Kashi to bathe in the Ganga was the “one must thing to do before I die” for many Hindus. Today it’s a tourist destination – the ghats teem with more foreigners than Indians but that’s a great sign.

The week before, Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe was at Varanasi – news being he had come to sign the deal to make India’s first bullet train – Modi’s most ambitious project after becoming PM. While Abe and Modi were at the city and the ghats to experience the Ganga Aarti, the entire area was cleaned up of its mess. (read relocation of beggars and hawkers).

Abe, in all probability, has studied the city’s structure and plans on building a mini-Banaras back in Japan. That will save a lot of Yen and shift tourists to Japan. Japan also has signed an MoU with India in 2014, to clean the Ganga.

Our Varanasi Express crossed many important places, I’ll remember them by the food we had there. Wada, samosa, bhajiya, idli-wada, jalebi, kachori and more. And how can one forget the assortment of teas, Indian Railways is never short of tea. The rail network – the world’s largest – carries trains across the length and breadth of India to 7112 stations, but there is a cup of tea for everyone!

Shaam ka nasta #instatravel #instafood #indianrailways #traveldiaries2015 A photo posted by Prasant Naidu (@prasantnaidu) on

How food changes with every Indian state. The best part of travelling with #indianrailways #instafood #traveldiaries2015

A photo posted by Prasant Naidu (@prasantnaidu) on

My co-passengers have been keeping themselves busy; eating seems to be India’s national pastime. We eat almost everything that’s coming our way in the train, and also not letting go of any speciality at the stations we halted at. Whether we are hungry or not, isn’t the question. Every age-group sports a pot belly!

But, what’s a journey without food, and what’s a country without its politics – my co-passengers are reading newspapers, magazines, news apps, while discussing food, state politics and new business ideas. After Modi’s clarion call to ‘Make in India’, nearly every corner street is making plans to make something in India.

While urban India is keen on starting up new app-driven marketplaces, the larger agri-based India is looking at making what else – new snack food ideas! One elderly man was advising a man, a few years younger than him, to get into the manufacturing of rice puffs; all it takes is a handful of rice to make many packets of puff snacks, little costs and lots of profit.

And when there’s food, there will be guests, uninvited of course! I’m talking about cockroaches, but they weren’t there, thanks to the housekeeping staff. The teams did regular rounds of the entire train, back and forth, mopping and cleaning no matter how many times you drop tea or visit the loo, the berth’s were clean and also smelt fresh. After sunset, mosquito repellents were sprayed at the corners. Everybody slept most of the time.

Ready for a quick afternoon nap #indianrailways #traveldiaries2015 #traveldiaries A photo posted by Prasant Naidu (@prasantnaidu) on

Morning Varanasi #varanasi #traveldiaries2015 #instatravel #instapic #varanasidiaries #varanasilife

A photo posted by Prasant Naidu (@prasantnaidu) on

By 4:00 am the day after, we reached Varanasi Junction. The temperature was 10 degrees Celsius – super cold for Puneites like me where even winter months have the mercury levels at not less than 16 degrees Celcius. I borrowed the Mister’s jacket and prayed for a miracle – like the Sun God blessing me with some warm sunshine – but hard luck!

The pest repellents had become ineffective by now. Baby cockroaches had invaded my berth – they were all over the place now. The seats were a mess too. White bedsheets and brown woolen blankets, empty mineral water bottles and cranky kids. My mind was too frozen to mind.

The train emptied at the junction. Strangely, there was discipline. Passengers alighted one after the other, no soul was in a hurry, their bodies were equally frozen. Besides, there was no gold medal to be won.

After whiling away two hours in the waiting room, we dragged our frozen bodies out at 6:00 am to the 10 degree cold city. We managed to get a decent bargain with the auto-rickshaw guy to our guest house – the Yoga House near Assi Ghat, facing the Ganga.

Our Banaras travel begins now, though the train journey had come to an end. Like all train journeys we’ve made so far, it will remain in our memories.

All images courtesy the Mister…do follow @prasantnaidu on Instagram for more pictures capturing our Varanasi journey.

Blogging isn’t dead, it’s only transformed into a new and multi-faced avatar

An old time blogger just quit blogging. She blogged about it. That’s how I came to know. The last blog post ever in that beautiful online and very much public diary she maintained began with ‘Bloggers are a narcissistic lot’, which got me wondering. Is it really true?

Am I a narcissist? I’ve been into blogging for close to 7 years now and I’ve never called it quits. Is it that I love blogging so much or is it myself that I love so much? A personality analyst would read this paragraph and easily conclude that I am indeed a narcissist. Look at the number of ‘I’s I have used in it!

To be fair I’ve not been a regular blogger unlike her. She was a prolific blogger; one superb blog post was churned out daily from her writing stable. She is a journalist whose articles made it to the Dawn quite often. Reading through them only made me know her better and begin a long-distance relationship with her in a way only fellow bloggers would relate to.But now everything has changed…

The world is not the same. The very world of ‘blogging’ as we knew it has ceased to exist a long time ago. Old time bloggers have migrated to other virtual lands in search of readers. A lot many are now on ‘Medium‘ with its varied community of readers who are a serious lot. You can know from the kind of interactions and comments left – even at each paragraph level – on the writer’s thoughts. The readers read, recommend, comment, and sometimes help the writer create a mini-history on the social web. Highly viral articles are picked up by mainstream publications.

There’s another type and a majority of bloggers fall into this category. This chunk was formed when Facebook became very popular in 2008, and it claimed everyone from Orkut, Yahoo groups and blogging platforms. This new category of bloggers chose to blog on Facebook. Likes, shares and comments became the best adrenaline rush to them. They began feeling superior to the ones who only shared party, cats and holiday pictures on Facebook. This category has now permanently settled on Facebook, quite happy with the online adulation.

Something happened at the same time. There was a seismic shift in virtual space then. A new species of bloggers had evolved and they began infesting the space in large numbers. They blogged too often – sometimes even several times in a day; they are called the micro-bloggers who weave magic in 140-characters, on a little-known platform called Twitter. The ones who ‘cracked the medium’ found a massive number of followers, and have now been crowned as ‘social media influencers’ or like someone tweeted the other day – ‘Twitter jockeys’!

Others who are only into photo blogs or video blogs went into either Tumblr, Instagram or YouTube. Now they too have evolved and become influencers or stars on the platform.

My teenage niece asked me whether I’m on ‘Wattpad‘ but realized a while later – when she had to spell it out – that I hadn’t even heard about it. Wattpad is not a fad; it claims to be the world’s largest community of readers and writers. At least, I know an entire school that swears by Wattpad, and the volumes of teen fiction they can get on it.

So you see, ‘blogging’ did not die. Blogging just took many other forms of self-expression in different virtual platforms. Yes, I choose to call ‘blogging’ as a means to expressing your ideas, thoughts, random meanderings and whatnot; it is definitely not a ‘narcissistic’ journey because bloggers also read other bloggers and about their mundane thoughts. Narcissists cannot think beyond themselves!

Ultimately, there’s a force of nature that transforms everything and that holds true for virtual spaces too. Eventually snow caps melt into oceans, oceans become deserts, desserts become fertile and living beings just migrate from here to there.

P.S: I wonder how many will read this here, even as I proceed to the publish button 🙂

Just another day in my life…

It was a beautiful morning two weeks back. Despite being awakened by the rooster on my mobile phone alarm, I lay on my bed wondering about the mystery of life. Why are we born? This led to more meanderings of an idle mind – Who are we? Where do we come from? Where do we go to? Is there any meaning to our collective existence? Would the world be any different if any of us just vanished into thin air? This was followed by deeper mulling on whether mankind can ever find its collective soul and live in harmony with nature and so on.

Just then a stray thought entered and I realised it was my birthday; the shock of mid-life crisis had set in. Suddenly I did not want to wake up and face the day or do anything at all. What if I could just vanish into neverland and come back another day as if the birthday had never really come. What if I could turn back the clock and return to middle age when I was more equipped to handle it?

Talking about handles, I had tyres now, also laugh lines, a greying mane, a stretch of beard and a double chin to boot!

Goodbye teddy

Whoa! I am something to reckon with. But then, I remembered the mister and me having celebrated my brave entry into the terrible mid-ages, with a chocolate cake at midnight. It hadn’t seemed that terrifying then.

Why was it so scary now? I began to think – what if I live another three decades at the most and still feel the same? I couldn’t risk feeling this way forever. One has to somehow face the moment of truth and take it as it comes. And so, I make it out of bed and into the balcony to look at my plants. They are so freshly green and as happy as the morning. They only asked me for water, knowing fully well they had to prepare their own food using the water and sunlight.

I watered the plants realising that I have to prepare my own food for my own soul. Life will provide the ingredients but I was responsible for making something nutritious for my soul.

I listened to the many birds atop the trees. They were excited about the day, and chirping about as if there was no tomorrow. They seemed to be living for the moment – no mid-life crisis for them.

I looked at some birthday wishes on WhatsApp. These were the mandatory ones aided by smartphones; birthday reminders set up by friends from over the globe. It’s just that it happened to be my birthday too with many others. The day will move along and it will be like just any other spring day. The cake pictures on Instagram brought a few more wishes by virtual friends. A blogger uncle’s egreeting cheered me up – a dancing elephant clutching flowers in his trunk. That was it.

It was a working Friday and I had a dozen chores to do and age had nothing to do with it. I knew the day was going to be a good one, because age did not matter any more. It was my soul I needed to nourish.

The ‘D’ factor no marriage wants to face

 broken-broken-heart-i-loved-you-ps.-sad-Favim.com-54036

Happy wedding anniversary… you guys rock!!!”, I had pinged my long time best friend, on his third wedding anniversary three months ago. Although the green icon meant that he was online, there was no response. And I thought to myself, ”He’s probably missing her.” My friend of twenty years was sitting miles away in the US of A, with his wife waiting for him in Bombay, being apart for only sixty days. The situation called for a sad romantic filmy number, but it was far from it.

Had I known what he was sledding towards that day, I would have been ready for it. The shocking truth struck like a bunch of sharp knives, when he finally broke the silence now, “B & me are going for a divorce,” he shared in quiet a matter-of-fact manner. Ironically, that evening, he had been watching a Gujarati play based on a cheating wife with a good enough reason to do so!

Being married for two years myself, the ‘D’ word sounded scary.

I was numbed for a few moments. Half-hoping that this is some kind of joke he’s pulling on as usual, I asked him whether he knew the meaning of divorce. What followed then was a long telephonic conversation of his three-year marriage ordeal, including mostly about his wife’s clandestine affairs and sly drinking habits. And the worst being her quick, sharp tongue towards his parents, the most community-oriented and genteel beings that I’ve ever known.

The ‘D’ thing has come as a rescue!“ he concluded with a sigh of relief.

It took me a week to get hold of reality; this was to happen anyways…she had started a new affair a couple of months right after the wedding! The mind games she played with him belied the girl I knew of.

She lost her mother when she was 14, and has to tag around her over-possessive father everywhere she goes. She has a degree in psychology of all things. She works as a Human Resources manager, and recently had earned a Masters in HR, hoping to step-up the corporate ladder. Every year sees a grand birthday party for her.  A very strong-headed, ambitious girl, who was always on the lookout for outdoor adventure and learning something new. She had taught me a little of acupuncture when they visited us last year.

I couldn’t digest such extreme variations in one individual. How can one be so positive on the outside, while living out such fanciful extremes on the inside?! It beats me completely.

Meanwhile the divorce is in progress. Right now, as he is battling the emotional void within, she has been harassing him with alimony demands. While this could be a long-drawn affair, as my poor friend fights for justice and freedom, at the same time, it also lays bare the fragility of marriage in this age of Whatsapp, Facebook and other easily available access tools to have quick affairs on the go.

Of course, the fault is not with these tools but the minds handling them.

But, it sure leaves you scared when you have seen quite a few infidelity-led divorces happen to the loved ones in your life. The emotional rupture tearing apart both and if god forbid, there are kids involved, the ‘D’ thing gets all messy and painful, not to mention the harrowing around  for alimony and maintenance of them. Besides, marriages everywhere in the world also involve both sides of the family. And these guys usually suffer the most, as they are mostly parents seeing their children’s lives come apart with their dreams of a happy and secure future shattered.

It is good to be adventurous in life but what good is this kind of a risky behavior, when you were not denied anything at all. I pray that my friend finds the strength to face this and a good companion to make this journey worthwhile.

Image courtesy: fitwallpapers

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.

The real beauty called Annie

Courtesy: Desicomments.com

Annie lay still, as still as a corpse. But she was alive, more alive than any of us. For she had to fight; she had to win over little battles that made up her life.

Her room was not a room at the working womens’ hostel I stayed in. Rather it was the space that joined two rooms with the main passageway. She occupied one of the two aluminium beds that lined the sides of the space, and had a medium-sized suitcase underneath the bed, to call of her own. She used the common bathrooms, and hung her wet towel and worn clothes on the metal railing that roofed the bed. She did not own a locker as in all probability, she did not need one!

Very few of the girls were aware of her existence. She worked nights while we slept inside our comfort zones. On Sundays, while we lazed around the common mess and consumed the ‘news-sance’ blaring from the mounted television, one part of the mind hovered around Annie. What would she be doing right now? The girl who occupies the side bed and owns only a suitcase that lay in gay abandon, what kind of a girl was she?

Was she simple living and high thinking or careless and wanton? The latter was an easy assumption while the former got us nosy, and in good spirit too!

A girls’ hostel is crazily busy on a Sunday. Girls are running around beautifying themselves – exfoliation, deep pore cleansing, herbal hair oil massage, pedicures, manicures and facials made from all kinds of ingredients from the kitchen. Basically, just about everything that society has burdened them with eons ago.

But, a chosen set like me, stayed at the rooms and indulged in small talk. While we flipped through our news dailies or women’s magazines, and spoilt ourselves with extra Sunday coffee, we got talking and somehow the conversation drifted towards that girl who occupies the side bed. This is how I came to know so much about her.

But, one day I stumbled upon much more of her story. Being an immigrant, I wasn’t much welcome by my then room mates.  It so happened that they locked me out of my room, as part of their torture tactics to drive me away. Banished from my room, I set up a temporary base on the unoccupied bed, adjacent to Annie’s. I took a day off from the job and stared at the motionless body in the next bed.

There she lay – the girl with a suitcase and no room of her own. Having no willpower to reclaim my room, I continued to wonder about Annie. She had no room to reclaim!

Annie, eventually awakened from her light dream world, and I smiled at her at once. She was frail with dark circles under her alert eyes. She might have travelled a hundred life years but her body belied that – she looked like a partially malnourished adolescent girl with no dreams shining in her eyes. I wanted to know her story.

Annie took a liking to me as I was exiled just as her, even though for a frivolous reason. And she lightened her heart to me – Annie was a single mother of a six-year old girl and worked at an outsourcing venture, mostly in the graveyard shifts. Very harmful for the human body cycle but a great boon for people who study or work in the day, just like Annie.

Annie’s mother had passed away after a long illness during her school days and later she got a step mother. Her step mother didn’t bother much with little Annie and the family grew to include two more step brothers.  Her dad gave her all the love in the world; he even took her on foreign trips. But, as destiny played out, Annie’s dad passed away from illness too, eventually leaving Annie to fend for herself. All the property and belongings were taken by her step family.

Annie then worked as a teacher and found moral support from her paternal aunts. But, this too did not last long as love invaded in the form of a man who said he cannot live without her. She married him and soon found out he had no stable income nor the will to give her a good life. He was a loser looking out for someone to fend for him.

Then there was trouble with the in-laws so much so that a small gathering of all his relatives accused Annie of being a loose woman. She left to never return but to her horror found out she was carrying a baby in her womb. Since then she has been working hard to make ends meet, however, the poor soul missed out on the joys of life with her daughter. She had to be at work the whole day so the little girl stayed with Annie’s aunt.

Her story was getting brighter. Annie had by then managed to save enough to bring her daughter – who was turning six – to stay along with her. But, destiny had more in store. Her daughter’s headaches were diagnosed to be caused from a tumour developing in her brain. Annie took help from the church and the community, who all roped in enough money for an operation to remove the tumour. This chain of events had taken a toll on Annie for the last seven years, without her ever realising it since the time she had left her own home.

Annie said she cannot cry. She knows no pain for she had surrendered to God above. But, I had tears in my eyes and they just wouldn’t stop!

Annie left the hostel soon thereafter as she was able to rent a decent flat near a school for her daughter. And I know she will be very happy in there always.