Do Visit my very own 'Food' Blog' for delicious meals

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Conducted a workshop for teachers on “Creative Teaching for Special Children’

It's been such a long time since I last taught the classroom of kids, so when the principal of ‘Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan’ suggested that I hold a workshop for her teachers on ‘Creative Teaching for Special Children’, I was hesitant in taking up such a task, fearful that I would make a fool of moi…but refusing this request would also make me a fool, so I opted to go ahead and plunge into this challenge.

The research was necessary to brush up my knowledge and study the latest trends, times have changed and the methods of teaching that were used during my days (15 years ago) are now outdated. I prepared a lesson plan, made some print-outs of the latest trends in teaching and on the day of the workshop, I faced the group of 12 teachers, highly charged to share my wee bit of knowledge.

On the topic of ‘Day of Christmas’ I involved the teachers from first sentence itself, asking them what ideas came to their mind when they thought of Christmas, how they would exploit it and how they would put across their message to the kids who had limited understanding and may not be able to grasp the point, like every other normal child.

The mental age of the student and their capacity to function physically and mentally are very important while planning activities for such children. Every idea has to be explained clearly and in details, nothing should be taken for granted. The lesson plan always follow the procedure from known to unknown as KWL (K-what I know, W-what I want to know, L-What I learnt). Each idea has to be explained from different angles, to arrive at the same point. If possible, all the sense organs should be used to send across your message. Recap is important to understand the grasping power of the child. Your lesson plan is a success, if he answers your query, three times in a row, correctly. Planning the activities related to the lesson is also very important and it enhances your lesson plan.

Next, I divided twelve teachers into four groups and gave them two hours to prepare a lesson plan giving them one object each. Group one had a large ‘toy truck’; group two had a ‘telephone’; group three had an ‘apple’ and group four had a set of ‘pant and shirt’.

Two hours later, we met again, teachers armed with a new lesson plan.

I was pleasantly surprised with the ideas they came up with. We had lots of discussion and debates on their lesson plan, suggesting pros and cons of the methods used and everybody was willing to share their experience.

The group with ‘toy truck’ made a lesson plan on an action word called ‘Push’ using toy truck to push. In her activities, she would include children (asking them to push) to send across her message.

The group two decided to teach the children to dial the correct number. They made a teaching aid with the help of sponge and big- numbers on the cardboard and would teach the children to press the collect number.

Group three wanted to cut the apple and make the children eat and then give them the activities of coloring or matching the different fruits and how they differ from apple.

Group four would teach the children how to fold the clothes.

Although all of them came back with bright ideas, I was surprised that none of them had thought of using computer as a teaching medium. Computer is such an important teaching medium in these times and its capacity of sight, sound and action can be used to show so many things. The last session of the workshop was spent in showing them how computers can be used as the medium of instruction even for the children with mental handicap.

It was day well spend and my greatest reward was when one of the teachers came silently to me and shook my hand, thanking me and asked if I could conduct such workshops more often.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Festive Fads

Christmas is here, just round the corner and there are reminders of arrival of the festival everywhere. It is good news for retailers, there will be sales, it is precious time that retailers look forward to. Sometimes the sales are so good that yearly back payments can be cleared during this season.

People are in festive moods and everyone is seen with a shopping bag, shopping for Christmas and New Year, buy gifts and chocolates and clothes, shoes and bags….the list is endless….

But what is really exciting is to visit the malls and see the decorations. In one mall the stage is set up for Santa with lights and balloon and a pretty iron seat….

While others have stuffed Santa beneath the large Christmas trees that amuse the kids…..

There are large Christmas trees in almost every mall with a big box in one corner where you drop your demand for a gift.

Parents and children do the Christmas shopping and deposit the gift with Santa to surprise the kids….

When I was little, I would wish Santa was Hindu and brought some gifts for me too……..

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Food Camp...comic strip

Whenever there is some festival, food is a must or else people may not come.

Yeah..true..I have seen very poor attendence when there is no prasad.

What one may call 'Langar', food is cooked in large quantities and people have wait  long queue, they start pushing and fidgeting, even before the food is served.

There is enough food cooked for all but still, people have this phobia of not reaching food stall in time and are always afraid of going hungry.(what if food finishes??) They are too lazy to cook after this disappointment and are not willing to order the food from a restuarant, specially when their taste buds are drooling over the chosen menu.

But the food is very delicious and has a special taste which cannot be replicated at home. There is always a sweet dish in the plate.

During Guru Nanak festival, there is always Sindhi Curry, Rice, sweet bhoondi and mixed vegetables, puris, papads and pickle. soooo very yummy,,, and during Durga Mata festival there is this khichri (look I m drooling too), roshgolla, bhajiyas, puri, pickle and fried papad...

No surprise then , that there is so much dhakam dhukki.......

Friday, 4 December 2009

Book Launch’“Marwari Vegetarian Cooking’ by Sanjeev Kapoor

Serving the snacks and drink at the book launch is quite rare but not so rare if the launch is for a cookery book. Yes, that is what is so special about attending just that. I was delighted to eat 'Mawa Gujiya' and 'kanji 'drink and the recipes were right there in the book, although while we sipped the drink, the recipes was also read out. The ingredients that made this drink so tasty were crushed musturd powder, red chillie powder, salt and water, very delicious, I am drooling yet again.

Attended the book launch of’ Marwari Vegetarian Cooking’ by Sanjeev Kapoor at Crossword at Linking road.

When asked what had inspired him to write such a book, he said that even if five people enquired him about the recipe of a particular region of cooking, he is inspired enough to write, since he is then sure that there is demand for such recipes. Being a graduate in a culinary art, difficult dishes, he said, come easy to him, it was the simple dishes that are difficult to cook and he is known to try every dish before he writes the recipe, tasting each dish and writing in a very simple language so that even a beginner can try their hands on cooking and be successful in this art. In this book he has a punch line after every recipe and that is what makes it so interesting.

At the end of the session I bought 2 copies autographed by him hoping (secretedly) that some day, I will be signing my own published book on cookery perhaps…..

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Planning a trip to America - part 8 - Interview.

When I had fixed the appointment time for the interview at 10am, I didn’t know that there would be more than fifty people seeking the appointment at the same time. I didn’t realize that the interview for Visa was not only for Mumbai folks, it also included people from all the consular district surrounding Mumbai from west of India. I had paid Rs250 and had the comfort of waiting in the air-conditioned ‘Stars and Strips Lounge’ at Tirupati Apartments and there was bus facility to transport me to the venue at my appointment time, but those who did not want to pay that amount would be standing in a queue, on the road, outside the consulate. Therefore, when I alighted from my 'Stars n stripes' bus, I was surprised to see hundreds of people standing in a queue that was as long as one kilometer, all standing under no shade, in the hot sun, leaning against the wall for comfort. It pained me to cut that queue and walk in as a privileged client.

I walked into the building, through the glass doors and through security point. Here, they checked my documents again, leaf by leaf, looking desperately for some clues to boycott me, finding none; they let me in after a brief body massage with that metal detector. There was a bigger surprise inside the waiting hall. There were more than hundred people waiting before me. The room was packed with people, all staring at the non-function able indicator on the wall and straining their ears to hear the roll of call. I was directed toward a desk, who again checked my documents, then arranged and returned my passport, appointment letter and large envelop (that would be used for posting the passport if I was approved for the visa) and a token number. There was now another big queue to wait before I could sit down and wait for my turn. This queue was for tracing the ten finger prints.

At 12 noon, I waited for my turn. The number indicator was out of order; people depended on correct pronunciation of the number for their turn. Sometimes there was announcement of one number, and sometimes in groups, they were announced in three languages according to the selection of the people, in Hindi, English or Gujarati, surprisingly they did not announce any numbers in Marathi (Consulate in Maharashtra and no announcement in Marathi? Somebody should protest. hahaaa).

Surprise, can you imagine? Nobody chatted! Everybody was in deep thoughts, looking listlessly, some smiling, some staring and some just praying, but there was no conversation amongst people. Maybe they were equally exhausted like me.

Finally at 1pm I heard my token number announced and I walked inside a cubicle to talk to the officer, seated on a high chair behind a huge glass, talking to me over a mike.

10am was my appointment time; my turn comes at 1pm.

She has already decided that I do not qualify for US Visa because I am single, unemployed (according to them), have no ties attached and is visiting a relative who has a retail business. Chances are that I might make US my permanent home and never return, thus stealing a job that truly belongs to US citizen. My intention of just visiting America as a tourist is not very entertaining to her. I need a handsome bank account and powerful salary slips to show her that I can support myself. She is not even interested in seeing any documents that I had so neatly compiled and was waiting to show her. She has made up her mind. Probably there are certain quotas of refusals per day and it will be easy to include me in that list. I want to tell her that America is outsourcing its jobs in India, why would I want to go to their country to seek jobs? People who live in India have comfortable lifestyles, with live-in maids, and warm loving people. I, for one, have traveled around the world and have never been refused visa before in any country. I have already made up my mind to make Mumbai my permenent home and will never opt to live anywhere else in this world. The only reason one should be refused visa is if it a security threat to their country. I am the most harmless person. I like traveling and like to explore new places. I have also visited America before. During my last trip, I was able to explore only New York, Boston, South Carolina and Albany. This trip I was looking forward to visiting Chicago, Texas and maybe a road trip up to Mexico border.

My mouth is parched. I am hungry and am waiting to end these formalities. I am exhausted and I have no energy to argue.

Moreover, I am not too desperate to make this trip.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Planning a Trip to America ~ Part 7- at Stars and Strips lounge

The day of interview finally arrived. It was scheduled at 10am. I had to go with valid proof of my journey, valid documents, and appointment letter (downloaded from the net.)

I got up early (it said very clearly on the rules page, that if I missed the appointment then I would spell trouble). The first fear that gripped me was what if the alarm did not go on. I know, I know, 10am is not early. But for me it is because I am a late riser. And I had to go to the other side of the city. That means I need to leave two hours early and one hour I would need to get dressed, so the perfect time would be to get up at 7am. I set all the clocks in my house at 7am, plus my mobile phone and also told my two friends to call me to wake me and nobody betrayed me. Morning, at 7am, I was mobbed with too many wake-up calls.

Got dressed up and headed towards south Mumbai. The traffic was too much. Why do they have so many signals on Mumbai road? Or rather, why do they have so many cross-road junctions everywhere? On the days when you wish to hurry, your transport is likely to halt at every signal on the road and you are destined to be caught up in traffic jams. Braving all this hassle, I reached the embassy building at 9:45am, just fifteen minutes before my appointment time. I approached the attendant outside the Visa Application Centre (Tirupati Apartments) and I was directed towards ‘Stars and Strips Lounge’. Two fierce-looking men sat at the desk outside the lounge that checked my receipt of Rs250 and gave me coupons for entry, drink and snack. I was then directed towards the locker room. (As I mentioned earlier they did have a locker room for their distinguished guest, and they had wasted my one full day when I was carrying a camera the other day and nobody would help me) I deposited my handbag, mobile phone and all my belongings into the locker room. I was allowed to carry my wallet and my documents. These formalities took so much time that the bus that was supposed to take me to the other venue (at American embassy) for interview had already left. I was feeling guilty at arriving so late.

I was asked to wait in ‘Stars and Strips lounge’ I looked at my watch, it was 10am. I approached those fierce-looking men, informing them that it was past my appointment time and I was getting late and could he arrange to reach me at the venue that was about ten minutes away. He informed me that I had missed my 10am bus and would have to wait for the next bus. Cursing myself, I entered the lounge and headed towards a small kiosk in the room. There were soft drinks, tea, coffee, cakes, croissants, sandwiches, etc. I had no appetite for eating anything in the morning; I used my drinks-coupon to buy coffee. There were more than fifty people in the lounge, all the aspiring visa seekers, killing time by watching the cricket match on TV. Cricket does not interest me, so I just sat there, staring into the space or at people surrounding me. Young girls praying silently, young men fidgeting with their folders and documents, old men, women, some of them in deep meditation, all hoping that they would not be refused their visa. The atmosphere is very tense and vibrations no good. The time ticks slowly, and at 10;30am the bus finally arrives to transport the next batch of people to the other venue at American Embassy.

To be continued….

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Planning a trip to America -- part 6- Submitting Visa application papers

Breach Candy (also known as Bhulabhai Desai Road) is a place closer to famous religious monuments like Haji Ali Mosque and Mahalaxmi temple. It also has a Breach Candy hospital, an elite Breach Candy Club, and eateries which are quite popular with the expats.

Breach Candy is a hip place and shoppers’ paradise. This is the place where American embassy chooses to have its two venues, one for submitting visa papers and other for holding their ‘interviews’. The venue for submitting the papers is surrounded by the row of shops selling trendy clothes, watches, sunglasses and has some elite supermarkets that sell exotic foods that may not be available in other parts of the city. On any other day, I would enjoy walking down this street, window shopping but on the day of submitting my visa papers; I was in no mood to do anything else.

I returned to this venue the next day again, this time sans camera. (as I mentioned earlier that I had to waste one day because I had camera in my bag the previous day) the security guard checked my bag, silenced my cell phone and satisfied that I was an innocent citizen just seeking visa, I was granted entry to go through a narrow gate, down the steps into a heavily guarded office. I looked around noticing that there was no piece of art that would have attracted my attention enough to click the pictures even if I had camera on me.

There were five windows and enough seats to wait for your turn. I was the only person entering this office and I submitted my papers. The woman behind the window scrutinized my papers and was not happy with my photograph. They are very particular about the photograph. Photo format should be exactly as it is required. In my photograph some strands of hair were falling on my ears. She asked me to go to the photography cabin and click my picture in accordance to the requirement.

The girl in the photography cabin had a digital camera mounted on a tripod, a computer and a small printer on her side table. She clicked my photograph and then checked the picture in her computer, not satisfied, clicked one more picture and removed the ugliest photograph of me with a full charge of Rs100 for her labor. I must tell you that she was no good photographer With all my hair strung back behind my ears, droopy eyes and no smile to add the rosy-ness to the face, I resembled a terrorist and I was sure anybody would be refused visa with such expressions. Not even a second thought would ever change their mind. Silly!!!

Anyways, I returned to the window to deposit my photograph and the girl had enough time to go through my papers.

‘What do you do?” she asked me when I returned.

“I am a coordinator with a special school, I collect funds for the school, maintain two blogs for the school ( from my six blogs that I update regularly), counsel the parents of the special children, hold workshops for special teachers and am also a committee member” I said.

“That’s not a job” she said, handing me my papers she said, “Write here that I am ‘unemployed presently”

I looked at her from the corner of my eyes; wondering if it is necessary to show salary slips to confirm that I am not idle? I wanted to ask her but I was in no mood to argue. I took the application form from her and wrote ‘presently unemployed’ signing my name beneath those words.

Fully satisfied, she asked me if I would want to wait in comfort and without stress at ‘Stars and Strips lounge’ on the day of my interview. I was asked to pay Rs250 cash (no credit card is honored for this service) and to come just thirty minutes prior to my interview time.

To be continued……

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Planning a trip to America - part 5- No camera please!

After organizing all my papers, fixing a date for interview online, and getting all the proofs to show the validity of the informations on the application form, I headed to the office to submit my papers.

Just submitting the papers should not be a problem. Right? But since problems follow me everywhere, they accompanied me to this office too.

The office rules states that following items are not allowed:

*All battery operated or electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, digital diaries, pagers, cameras, audio/video cassettes, compact discs , MP3’s, floppies ,lap tops, palm tops or portable music players.
*All ladies hand bags/purses. Only a small ladies pouch in hand will be permitted.
*All bags such as travel bags, back packs, brief cases, suit cases, leather, jute or cloth bags and zip folders. Only a plastic bag containing your application related papers will be permitted.
*Any food item.
*Sealed envelopes or packages
*Cigarettes / cigars / match boxes / lighters
*Any sharp object such as a pair of scissors, pen knives or nail filers

Okay, I did read the rules that following items are not allowed at the embassy for security reasons, but shouldn’t they have some lockers, somewhere at the entrance where people can keep their stuff if they have it on them?

Being a blogger, I normally carry camera with me everywhere and thoughtlessly, I was carrying one on that day too. The security guard refused to let me in and wanted me to deposit my camera else where. Where could I deposit my camera? I knew nobody in that area and going home/retuning back to the office would take me more that three hours. I was desperately asking for help, but nobody could help me, security guards said that they were helpless, ‘rules are rules’ they said and they had strict instructions to follow. damn!

This office is in a busy area and there are line of stores adjoing this office. Just next to the office was a supermarket that had facility of depositing the extra shopping bags of the people who entered the store for buying grocery. I dumped my camera into the plastic bag and approached the supermarket, depositing my bag at the entrance. I told him to hold on, I would be back and then I would shop at his store. But he refused to keep my plastic bag informing me that he had permission to keep the shopping bags of the people who were inside the store and not for the people who were seeking Visa next door. I tried several stores but none were helpful. I didn’t know what to do? Submitting the papers should not take more than ten minutes but I could find neither a friendly neighboring store nor any helpful security guards to hold on to my camera for ten minutes.

A young man standing at the corner of the street saw my desperation and wanted to help me. He volunteered to hold my camera till I was back. Should I trust him? How could I? He had no fixed stand. It was an expensive camera, what if he took it and walked off while I was inside the office submitting the papers. Where would I find him? I was weighing my options. He seemed sincere and kind (no doubt about that) but it was the risky to trust a stranger. Sulk* sulk*

I took a taxi home, I decided to return back the next day, without a camera.
I had wasted one more day……..

Ps: few days later I learnt that they did have facility of lockers for distinguished guests who waited in  'Stars and Strips lounge’.

More of that later……

Monday, 23 November 2009

Planning a trip to America - Part 4- Application form

This is the continuation of my previous entry.....
So, here I was, poorer by US131 dollars, applying for US Visa after obtaining the bar code.

Since I was applying for tourist visa, I needed to fill the forms DS156 and DS157 which, besides entering all the necessary data, like name, address and other details of my existences, also had some queries that required digging my grave for the lost skeletons.

For example I had to list all the countries I have visited in last ten years (Hello! I have visited so many places in last ten years that there was not enough space to list them all in that small dotted line. Over the last ten years I have traveled every year, some place or the other, Asia, Africa, Europe, and no embassy has asked me so many queries, neither at the embassy nor at the immigration)

And the next question: List all the countries that have issued me passport in last ten years (my last passport was issued in Madrid and my new passport is issued in Mumbai, now any stranger would wonder why my passport was issued in Madrid and what am I doing in India? Americans might think that I have no home that I might be a gipsy.)

Another question: Not including your current employer, list your last two employees… now this is tough to answer…I have never worked under somebody…ever, always been my own boss. When I started my career as a special educator, I was the head teacher, worked for two years and went traveling to Surinam, came back to Mumbai after four years and worked in the same school for another four years, again migrated to Spain and worked in my own retail store for another ten years, now back in Mumbai since last five years and I do blogging and social work….I have worked all my life but I have no proof, no paper work, no proper salary slip to show. What do I do?

Another question: List of all the charitable or social organizations that I belong to, or contribute or work with…..(Yes, I do work as a NGO with charitable institution for mentally challenged and do help the school in raising funds. There are many other things I do besides that like: blogging for that school,  holding workshops on teaching method for teachers, counseling the parents,and I am also the committee member and do take active part in decision making at the school, I normaly do all my work, keeping a low profile, don't like too much publicity, must I really brag???)

But, why do I have to write so many details in this application form when all I want to do is take one month holiday to Chicago and go for a road trip with my group of cousins?????

To be continued………

Friday, 20 November 2009

Planning a trip to America – part 3 - Pay before you apply

While visiting other countries in the world, all we need is valid passport, a booked ticket and photographs, but visiting America needs lots of planning and no agent can do it for you. You have to self-apply for the visa and that too online.

First things first…you have to pay before you apply for a visa. Yeah right! Did I hear some one asking ‘What if they don’t give you visa?’ Hahahaa…!!! Your money is gone down the drain, and it is not a small amount, mind you, it is rupees seven thousand plus….I am told that they refuse many applicants per day and swallow up their hard earned money to pay the salary of those insensitive people at the consulate.

Well. I went to HDFC bank to pay for the visa, no, not any HDFC branch, (there are so many HDFC branches in Bandra area, but none were authorized to accept the payments for the visa) the nearest HDFC bank was more than 10 kms away and during rush hour, it takes more than forty minutes to reach that bank.

In hot sun, I took auto and reached the bank. I was directed to a desk that was manned by two people stationed for this purpose (yawning away). I showed them the photocopy of my passport and they made a ‘USA MRV VISA FEE DEPOSIT SLIP’ (three copies) that had barcode sticker.

This is the barcode number that we are suppose to use to book our appointment online

Three hours wasted for just paying for the visa. (For someone who opts to use public transport in Mumbai city, the time wasted will be more than that)

to be continued……

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Planning a trip to America - part 2 - The hassle

“You will get American visa easily” said my cousin, “You own a property, you have visited USA before and you have clean record. You shall have no trouble.”

“They normally don’t issue visa to person who is single,” said my other cousin “You might have problem there. They are very strict”

So, how come there are so many illegal immigrants in America??

I fail to understand why there is such a fuss about acquiring American visa (in India). What is the counsulate officer thinking while issuing visa?

America is the land of immigrants, According to the statistics, the United States accepts more immigrants than any other country; in 2007, its population included 38.1 million foreign-born persons (that is appr. 12.6 % of the total population.) and yet, there is so much hue and cry over this visa. People eagerly ask you the questions that are asked during the interview.

Some months ago, my friend had applied for tourist visa and she had received Visa for ten years. There was celebration in the house, there were smiling visitors, non stop phone calls, all eager to congratulate and learn the details of the interview that was held behind the closed doors.

Everybody who has applied for this visa has a story to tell, be it of acceptance or of refusal. There is a mourning period if there is refusal, and a day to celebrate on acceptance.

No other country in the world makes such a fuss over issuing a tourist visa like America (consulate in India). Not that I know of.

Planning a trip to America – Part 1- The party

My cousins and I have made plans to make a road trip from Chicago to Texas to Mexico border. We plan to rent out a caravan and drive through different cities, exploring each town, tasting the local cuisine, visiting the places of interest and above all, to spend some quality time together in a foreign land.

Now, the next part is to apply for US visa. While my cousins, who stay in different parts of the world, have no difficulty in getting visa, in India, it is a long and painful experience. I have previously applied twice from Surinam (when I lived there) and then from Spain (another home) and have already visited America without any discomfort. But now, since I am back in India, I need to apply for Visa from here but I have come to realize that the visa issued in other countries is much easier than getting one from India.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Tea Party for Seniors Only

My friends and I organized and hosted a ‘tea party’ for senior members of my society today.

Every evening, I see few senior ladies of my building sit in the compound chit chatting. They discuss TV programs, news and all the gossip in the building. On the days when I am too lazy to go for my evening walk to a park near Linking Road or by the sea-shore at promenades, I opt for a casual walk around my building, but within ten minutes of my walking, these women start inviting me to sit down with them and join into their discussions. Their topics are interesting, no doubt, but nothing creative. During one of those meanderings, I decided to do my bit of adding some spice to their evening meeting and thus the idea of tea party popped into my mind.

I discussed it with other members of my society and younger group seemed interested to go by my plan. Together, we planned menu and games and the guest list.

They arrived, sharp at 6pm, smartly dressed.

We played two games, housie and passing the parcel and I must say, they were quite cooperative and sporty. The most entertaining part was the punishments like reciting two times table, ranting complains, talking about their anecdotes in their 20’s, and we were surprised to hear their stories. They talked animatedly, relating in details the stories of their youth and were very happy to find such enthusiastic listeners. They danced, sang old songs and were so very cheerful when they received gifts. Their eyes brightened up, thanking us for making them feel so special and wanted such parties planned regularly, some even suggested a picnic to some park.

The party was a great success with home cooked snacks like patties, sandwiches, cakes, dhoklas and vadis. There was cold drinks and tea. There was no pressure/obligations on who contributes what, everybody volunteered freely and there was even a take-away-gift for everyone.

And the happiness overflowed, such is the joy I received today in my building compound

Friday, 6 November 2009

Slow coach

Traveling by a public bus in the city of Mumbai is always amusing but injurious to the health, especially if you are suffering from BP. It takes lot of tolerance and patience to combat Mumbai traffic and frequent signals.

But, I always prefer bus to taxi for two reasons, one, that taxi is sheer waste of money if you are traveling alone for a longer distance and two, you get to see all kinds of people in the bus and some of them are really interesting.

Today I decided to take a bus from Bandra to Breach Candy, which should not take me more than twenty minutes to reach my destination if there is no traffic congestion on the road. The bus was empty and I got a window seat. After buying a ticket of Rs10 only (I was saving Rs120- taxi fare) I sat by the window reading a magazine.

In twenty minutes, the bus had reached Dadar, which is half way distance to breach Candy. A Senior Person (SP) in the bus was getting impatient and kept looking at his watch. Finally, he got up and started abusing the driver.

SP said, “You drivers are very inefficient, even when there is no traffic, you drive so slow, can’t you drive faster?”

Driver says “This is the speed I normally drive,”

SP-“You need a good driving practice, there is no traffic today and the roads are empty, why are you driving so slow, stop the bus, get up from that seat and let me teach you how to drive.”

And the argument went on and on with SP abusing him all the time, but the driver kept his cool and continued to drive at his own speed. Finally SP realized that he was wasting his time, he alighted the bus when he could take this slow speed no more.

I realized then that the bus was going too slow indeed. Well, what do we expect, for Rs10? Speed at Rs10? Not possible! I looked at my watch. Forty five minutes and only two-third of the distance covered.

Now I was getting impatient too. At the speed that he was driving, it would take me more than one hour to reach my destination.

Feeling helpless, I alight from the bus and take taxi for the rest of the distance.

Tranquility restored with little bit of extra cash for taxi fare.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

On the subject of Spirituality

This excerpt caught my attention today

“The subject of spirituality is far too complex for a worldly man to comprehend without the intervention and assistance of a perfect Master, just as no one has ever qualified as a doctor or engineer by simply reading books, the subject of spirituality is extremely difficult and one that can only be understood gradually over a period  of time.” Spiritual Links

And yet, every second person I meet has long lecture to give me on spirituality.

Agreed, I don’t really know what I do at the temple or at any religious structure (for that matter) except to admire the architecture. I see people shut their eyes and murmur, talking to God and I wonder how they pray. Sing His praises? Ask for favors? I was told that we should never ask God of anything and let Him decide what is best for us because if we force Him to give us something that we didn’t really deserve, then it may be granted but it becomes the object of suffering in our life.

And there are people who tell me how they wished they had not forced God by going on hunger strike, fasting for days on end, visiting every temple, bathing in holy waters, and doing everything that pundit suggested for the miracle to happen. And the miracle did happen but now, they wished they could be liberated from that bondage. My friend once told me “I have stopped begging God for anything because whatever I asked, has been the cause of my suffering”

For me, spirituality has different meaning. Showing compassion and respect to every human being, irrespective of his status, size or color. If we hurt a single person, then we are unsuccessful in life. If we cannot give happiness to people then it better to keep out and be on our own. Yes, there are days when I forget my obligations towards society, hello, I am not perfect, I know, and sometimes I do get carried away and make jokes which may hurt people (which of course I didn’t mean to). but I am grateful to my loved ones who remind me when I err. I have given them that much leverage. If I don’t allow them to guide me then who will?

But, being good is to do the best we can to make other’s life comfortable. Walk an extra mile to bring a smile on a weaker face. What is the use of lying, cheating and pretending what we are not, whom do we fool? Is getting love on those grounds so important? Is it really important to impress others? Why do we care so much about other people’s opinion to shape our lives? Why do we get upset if people don’t recognize us or agree with us? Why do we feel so happy winning some meaningless contest. These are momentary happiness and they may boost our ego, but just for a while. Shouldn’t we merge with our own conscience and be true to our self?

Doing what is right and being true to oneself is religion. That is spirituality for me.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Old age Blues

Off late, I have been highly disturbed by the plight of old people and I keep worrying about my own old age. Will I age gracefully or will I be a vegetable? Every palm reader has informed me of ripe old age, but would I like to live too long?? I believe they are cursing me. What else should I say? If I were to live to be very, very old, will I be as healthy as I am today? Not that I am perfectly healthy today, but I have got so used to living with continuous pain all my life that I cease to care.

But the pain I see in the senior people's life puts me into a depression mode. The other day, I was talking to this 65 year old woman. In her youth she worked as a lecturer of History and then graduated as an accountant in her brother's export house. Five years ago, she retired and has been depressed since then. With her deteriorating eye sight, she cannot read, her frail health (arthritis) has stalled her day-to-day activities. The only healthy organ in her body is her tongue, which is the source of sorrow to her happiness and to others too. She complains that nobody ever spends much time with her and she finds her days, way too long. I suggested old age home to her, where she could find company with her like-minded people but her family members were aghast by such suggestion.

In India, old people require too much attention and only a dedicated volunteer is able to give that kind of attention. But in times like these, there is scarcity of dedicated volunteers too. In Indian society, it is a disgrace to sent away your aging parents to an old-age home as a result the personal life of family members suffers. One of my close friends had to resign from her steady and secure job (of teaching special children in Dubai) to take care of her ailing mother who is suffering from Parkinson's disease and her father, who cannot see clearly. Her life revolves around her parents; her dedication towards them is amazing. It requires lot of sacrifices, she has neither any social life, nor movies, nor late nights, nor long walks alone by the sea-shore, nor does she have time to read a book! Many times, I see her highly depressed and I suggest her to do some short term course so that she can keep herself up-to-date, but she has no time to learn or attend any workshop.

In Europe it is different. During my regular visits to Spain, I find old people happy and enjoying every moment of their lives. I meet them at the beaches, at the clubs, and even at beauty parlors. They take good care of themselves, live on their own and are fashionably dressed. Some of them even have a novio(boyfriend) The state looks after their needs and they are treated like royalty. They have active senior citizen groups who go regularly on state sponsored trips. Even the sick and weak one is well cared for. The family members don't have to sacrifice their personal lives to volunteer their help. Last year, when I was admitted in the hospital for my broken arm, I was sharing a room with an old woman. Her laughter was so contagious that it had nurses and care takers in splits.

I am not saying that all old people in Europe are cheerful and all old people in India are depressed. It's just the attitude of the people. There were some sad ones there too who sat by their window, gazing at the empty street but those were very few. They are not like Indians, whose second nature is to worry and take unnecessary stress of things they cannot control and whine in self-pity over their incapability. European are more open and receptive. Maybe, it's the clean air, good food and quality of life style which keep them cheerful, the acceptance of living independently and not taking unnecessary stress of the family who are grown-ups now, or/and, of letting go of the responsibility of the household and a desire to enjoy the rest of the life in peace.

I don't wish to live in Europe, I like living in India, but that is the attitude I wish to maintain when I come of age. But can we live with that kind of attitude in India? Can we really live a stress free life?

Do you think old age is a curse???? What would you do to make your own old age interesting????

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Open-Mike Poetry Performance

Every fourth Tuesday of the month, Prithvi theatre café is not just a meeting place to romance over a cup of coffee, it is a special venue for poets to perform their poetry.

Yes, I do like to write poems but performance for me is light years away.

When I reached at Prithvi today, my friend asked me to recite a poem. Now, a shy person like me, who hates to be stared at, can I ever perform my poems in front of strangers?

Nah! I just cannot.

I like to sit there and listen to other poets, while sipping coffee. Most of the poems today were in Hindi and I find Hindi poems very different from English. I mean to say that English poems have meter and form and they are more chiseled, where as Hindi poems are very free flowing and quite dramatic. Well, that’s performance, I guess. People enjoyed and hooted at shayaris but during English poems, they just nodded their heads.

Maybe I should write something in Hindi too.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

What is the moral of this story??

I got this humorous email that says: “If Columbus had been married, he might never have discovered America because of the following: Where are you going? With whom? Why? How are you going? To discover what? Why you? What do I do, when you are not here? Can I come with you ? Coming back when? Dinner ghar par hi khaoge? Mere liye kya laoge? It seems you deliberately made this ....Hain na... Why? Dont lie.... Why r u making such programs You seem to be making a lot of such programs….Why? I want to go to my parents place I want you to come and leave me I don’t want to come back.... I will never come back.... Why are u not stopping me.... I don’t understand what is this discovery chakker? You always do like this..... Last time also u did like this.... Now a day’s u always seem to do like this.... I still don’t understand what else is balance to be discovered... Itne sab questions ke baad..... America kya, he may not have reached the front porch of his house.” Hahaahaha and Ha!!! What this person doesn’t know is that today, it’s the men who ask too many questions… and then…like babies they whine…all the time… Women have learnt to take everything in their stride They have learnt to live in this world with grace and pride Managing their workplace and also thier home Leaving fragrance of fresh flowers in thier comfort zone If men choose to have a woman by his side And still if he wishes to travel for extra dime She can wait till dawn and never ever yawn She is happy to relax in her social networks lawns.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Diwali is just round the corner

To enjoy the true essence of Diwali festival, one should be in India. Last year I was in Spain, and I tried to create the atmosphere of the festival so that my brother’s kids, who have never visited India during this time, could experience this festival. I made rangoli, prepared sweets at home, performed Laxmi pooja at our shop and then went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, but that was all that we could do. No fire crackers, no lighting of Diyas in the house, no meeting people and no wishing every second person ‘Happy Diwali’ Ah nothing….. But this year, I hope, it is going to be different; I hope it to be the way I like it. The kids in my building are quite excited. I see them every evening with a big basket of fire crackers, having competitions of being the loudest joker. They pretend they are brave but take full five minutes to burst a tiny cracker, cowards! The only brave thing they can do is to burn fooljari. (sparklers). During my growing up days, there was great variety of firecrackers available in the market, like those triangular and circular fountains that sprinkled sparklers in the air, then there was a whistle that would go whizzing up in the air, sometimes in wrong direction chasing a frightened person. Then there were rockets, which we would keep in sleeping position at the end of the lane and see it flying parallel to the ground. We had snakes emerging from a small black tablet, there were chaklis that would go round and round, throwing sparklers in all directions. I don’t see these kids with such simple firecrackers any more, (I am sure they must be available but these kids don’t seem to like it) they just like those loud bombs, which me thinks, gives them thrills, you see them blinking their eyes, covering their ears and waiting for it to explode and then jumping and laughing, like tiny terrorists. I don’t even see any adults with these kids, except the watchman or a maid. Parents, aunts, uncles and relatives are too busy with their own lives to bother accompanying their kids. The streets are decorated with lights and lanterns, retail shops are eagerly waiting for shoppers, but everything is so damn expensive that sitting at home and networking seems like a better option.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Are There Two Indias In One Bus Route? - Will “1 thru 10 for India” help?

I am seated in an AC bus, comfortably settled, with a book and digital camera on my lap, on my right is this young man, surfing the net. Yeah, there is socket in this bus for people to use their laptop. Some have closed their eyes and are already in deep meditation while others are humming the song. The Bollywood music is playing in the background and it is calming the nerves of all the passengers. How much better can the life get? “India is shining” and I grin shyly. The bus stops momentarily at a signal and I look out on the streets. A five-year-old child smiles at me, raising her hand to wave at me, another child, six-year-old cradles one-year-old in his arms. I am thinking if somebody could guide them to the nearest pre-school where they could discover the magic world of words. They shouldn’t be here on these dirty streets at such a tender age. Ouch! "India is NOT shining" on other side of my window. Should I de-sensitize myself and not look in the direction of “other India”? The “Other India” is as much a reality as the “India Shining”? Is that fair? Is that right? Can we lend a helping hand? Do you care? Will you make your 3 days count? Can you go do something good for your country? Will you do something for the “Other India”? More on the topic including the "Africa in Peril" presentation that influenced/inspired 1 to 10

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Needle work helps me on my blue days

Today is one of those days when I feel terribly blue. I feel nothing is right. What am I doing in this world? I feel useless and incapable of doing anything perfect.I am envious of those to whom everything comes so easy, almost on a gold platter and yet they find reason to complain. I wonder I am the only one feeling this way. May be it’s the weather which is so gloomy, no rain but so damn cloudy, even the birds are confused. I can only hear crows crowing (but then they always do to add to the noise pollution) I am trying to write but cannot. I want to visit somebody but I am too lazy to go out. Should I make a phone call..but ...what to say??? Maybe I should watch TV, if only there was something very, very interesting. Diwali is round the corner, maybe I should help my maid with the cleaning but she is more lazy than I am and she is always in hurry, I can feel that she is bored too because she is doing diwali cleaning in all the five houses where she does the same routine work everyday. I am bored. On the days like these, I think, my art work helps. Sewing requires lots of concentration and with failing eyesight, even this activity can be done only during daytime…I do it while watching TV. I finished this needle work last week and I shall gift it to a friend. Maybe giving something may ease me from this boredon, I so badly want to feel useful again.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A Day at 'Times Bandra Festival' - A photo Essay..

This saturday, decided to go for this 'Times Bandra Festival. Actually there are lots of things happening in Mumbai, had planned earlier to go for the grand opening of Palledium, a mall at Parel, also since it is ashtami, went for lunch at the pandal and then wanted to see more of Devi idols in different parts of the city, but too confused, we finally went for this one instead. The entrance to this festival There were different stalls selling various things such as electronics, house-hold articles, food and also handicraft. At the entrance there was a display of art work After walking for over two hours, we rested our feet in an enclosed AC theatre that was showing some play. The play on story telling was a play- a must watch, based on Dastan toi, a story is forever. The board outside the theatre shows different plays on different days and all looked good, would have liked to attend them all. if only I could.... Then attended the live show of Hariharan Hariharan's show was amazing!!!! The only problem was getting the transport back home, we were lucky, we got a ride.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Dil Kya Bole????

Imagine how wonderful it would be if women and men, played in same cricket team. Equality between sexes is catching up and women are getting stronger, maybe India might win the world cup this way. One never knows. Well that’s the first thought that entered my mind as I sat watching the film Dil bole Harippa!...... My friend booked tickets and asked me to meet her at the theatre and I didn’t know which movie I was watching till I read the title of the film on the big screen.(serves me right for blindly trusting my friend and following her) Yeah, now-a-days I go for a film because somebody wants me to accompany them. Personally I am losing interest in film bee-cause I have not seen a good film for a very, very long time. But this film was well…er..…I wonder if my opinion counts, (my friend writes that this is the copy of English film ‘She’s a Man’, well who cares, its nothing new, this copying biz when they get exhausted of original ideas, what do you expect? Huh? ) Well, anyways, this movie is very noisy with loud bhangra-type-of-music played through out the film. (Thank Gawd I didn’t oil my ears that day) Rani Mukerji looks cute dressed as Sardarji chicco, though over-acting was the theme, cleverly played. Shahid kapoor has lost his baby charm but acting-wise-he-was-okay. Rakhi Sawant has no role to play except few belly dances, although she does look slim and good (that is if you don’t look at her face and forget those horror days at reality show some weeks ago.) It’s a kind of movie to just watch and forget the story (???) the very next day. Out of curiosity you may watch, but what was that? Say it again? You are still waiting for good movies and therefore you decide that you might as well watch this one since there is none other for a movie buff like you? Well, right-oh!. Go watch if you have nothing else to do. BTW: went for shopping and heard two youngsters bragging about Rani’s outfit in this movie…they were looking for those vibrant colorful dresses similar to one Rani had worn in this film. I wanted to tell them those colors blind Mumbaikars…..and cause traffic jams!!!!...but then, nobody ever listens to me…..

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Al Pitcher came to my town to disappoint me…..

Everybody told me it is hilarious and that I would laugh, Ha, Ha, and maybe roll on the floor, really? So, naturally I was curious. Now, when I go for a play, I don’t compromise on comfort, I need best seats and less distractions and I am willing to spend the money, so here I was paying Rs500 per ticket, to enjoy the show of Al Pitcher. And I was disappointed. What I did not anticipate was that this is a stand-up comedy and it is made on the spot so I risk it because every show is different and most of the jokes can be repeats that I must have heard them several times during the SMS rounds. This guy goes around the city, during the day and clicks the shots of whatever he fancies and during the show he has his wisecracks. His mind is seeing the distorted images and he has an opinion on everything which is also lopsided but maybe not be funny. He showed few shots of watchmen of different buildings and he had an opinion, saw a car covered with a sheet parked in front of gate that showed ‘no parking’ sign, he had a comment to make, saw people at a beach, some ads, some graffiti, made a comments and the comments were not even funny and it were similar to ones I hear the young kids in my building making all the time….. Then he had some stupid jokes to make on anatomy of male parts. He answered some questions that were asked by audience, but they were not funny too. People in audience came for the show with the expectation of being entertained and they did laugh and I tried so hard to laugh too.(tickle, tickle) Wasn’t he supposed to be freewheeling genius and had Midas-like ability to make the most jaundiced audiences see their world anew as it was expressed in Sydney Morning Herald? Am I losing my sense of humor? Paying Rs500 per head for the party of five people to watch this stupid show almost made me cry! sniff! sniff!! img source: googled

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Random Thoughts on Survival

Do we really need too much money??? we have only two feet to wear one pair of shoes, we need just two pairs of clothes, one car, one job, one house and enough to eat and share. So why should we earn too much money??? Why should we snatch money from others when we don’t really need the excess? Well I believe that it is certainly not right to snatch money for extra comfort. We are not living in a safe world. Today we do find in each and every newspapers, TV channels, this murder, that murder, rape, snatching, bribery and so many ways people adopt to snatch others money. But can we change other people’s action? WHat we can do is to only mend our own ways and try to live our own life in the best way that we can. We should try to concentrate on what we can change and if plastic money can be used to stop the criminals from functioning, then we have a strong tool. But personally thinking Money is important. Many people do take lot of energy to earn money in a mad race so that they are able to make a difference.. And make this place a better place to live in. Money can buy happiness if used in correct way. Because we need money for everything. Because to lead a respectable life and to be able to do what we really want to do. Okay I will tell you about the discomfort we have when we don’t have enough money to make a difference in somebody else’s life. Somebody comes asking for monetary help and you have to refuse it because you don’t have enough for yourself. If we have talent then we are blessed and if we can make money using that talent then we can start buying comfort. When we have exhausted our own needs then we need to look outside. There is so much pain in this world, so much suffering and many of them suffer because they have neither strength nor talent to make money to make their life better. That is where the rich people come in. Rich people with big hearts reach out to people to help those who are not so fortunate. And the rewards you get for that work cannot be described. Get a poor girl married and see the look on her face, it will bring joy. Get a child educated and he grows up to be successful and when he brings a box of chocolates out of gratitude for you, you get that different kind of happiness. Everybody has a purpose in life. Even a plant does not just grow and die. During its presence on earth, it gives shade, fruits and greenery to the world. It gives inspiration to poets and writers. Even after its death, it leaves behind its woody usefulness. Similarly, our presence in is world is there for some purpose. We are in this world to do something and we only need to find out what it is to make our life meaning full World is not just paper notes, plastic money and also some minerals like gold, diamond etc.. It is something more than that……. Moreover, don’t expect anything in return. Don’t sit and crib that people are enjoying your money but they are ungrateful. We must do our duty and not expect fruits in return. For every action there is a reaction. If you wish to live selfishly, then you really don’t need to accumulate wealth, if you are concerned only about your own comfort, then stop working when you feel that you have enough and don’t need anymore money and start enjoying the world, travel, see places and finish off your wealth. Don’t share your wealth if you don’t want and miss the opportunity of seeing the real wealth surrounding you..

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Reading a book during my bus trips...

I am reading this book called ‘The Diary of a Social Butterfly by Moni Mohsin, which is quite hilarious and keeps me entertained. The author is a Pakistani and she has used lot of Hindi words (Uff! Itni main exhaust ho gayee hoon, na.) in the book to make it interesting with phrases such as ‘three-tiara cake’ ‘business typhoons’ or ‘slip into a comma….’ Excerpt from page 136: Imagine! The guts! And you know what he looked like? Like one of those clerks, all thin and reedy, who used to quietly, uncomplainingly work for hours and hours in Daddy’s outer office where there used to be only punkhas and no ACs. And now they’ve got cars! And tongues! As daddy says, “Bhutto has a lot to answer for!” Recently some one commented on my thread on a forum of writer's group: He writes - “I've noticed that these days, there are a lot of Indian authors trying their hand at writing, and unfortunately, many of them are really really bad...I only buy their books because I want to encourage Indian authors to write more and more, but their writing is so pathetic...” and now, he might even hold the similar opinion about Pakistani authors. But the fact is that everyday new styles have to be established and people will write what sells and this book is selling. People like to read ‘light stuff’ sometimes and we cannot call them ‘pathetic’ just because they write differently. It is good book to read in a bus trip, when the rush hours drive you crazy and the humor helps keep our sanity.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Caught in a Jam

If you have done a bad deed in your life and wish to be punished, then you must travel in Mumbai on festival days. The torture that you go through is worse than getting stranded in a Sahara dessert under a hot sun without water to quench your thirst, actually even worse than that. But I don’t think I have done any bad deed lately, I lead a very moral life, tell no lies and hurt no soul, nor carry any tales not even gossip, acting so goodie-goodie that it irritates my naughty friends, in fact, I am presently participating in ‘No Complaining Pledge’ for 21 days!! I am all the time distributing happiness like they distribute sweets at the end of prayers in a temple, (Sometimes, I even distribute free smiles, virtual gifts and hugs on facebook too) still, why do I go through this torture I fail to understand. And all the time I believed that life was fair, it functions according to the laws of Karma I had a change of opinion today when I sat in the bus for four hours (while returning from my otherwise two hour trip from my school at Belapur) wasting my time by just watching the traffic crawl through the crowded streets. I am sure Ganpati must not be happy with the noise that is blaring on the streets that is lighted with million bulbs and people dancing their shaky-whaky dances with their limbs going loose and crazy and changing directions in hip hop way, challenging the laws of gravity. Come on.!!!! Gimme a break!! Whoever has taught them such dances? Do these people just pick up random dance steps from Bollywood flick and make a fusion dance of their own?? I was sitting there in that bus, helplessly, looking out of window (what else can one do?) when all of sudden a dirty stench entered my bus suffocating me and the other passengers in the bus. The lady in front of my seat took her dupatta and wrapped it around her face, covering her nose so tight that her life saving organ might say goodbye to its last breath. I started scrolling through all the emergency numbers on my mobile, she coughed a little, then loosened her duppatta and decided to inhale the bad smell instead. I investigated the source of this discomfort, and lo behold, just parallel to my bus was that garbage van, crawling at the same speed. My attention was now drifted from bad traffic to this stench that was following me. My bus halts, garbage van stops, my bus moves a little and garbage van moves too, disturbing the fresh air, polluting it and pushing it straight through my nostrils. I was now afraid. All this time I was dodging swine flu, I had even started those tiny white pills, twice a day, to prevent the tini-mini-germs from entering my system and here I was, dodging the garbage van…and wondering what disease I might finally die from and whether there would be zero attendance at my funeral or any of my friends would start a fan page for me for condolence on my facebook. I turned my head, away from stench, trying to find empty window seat on the other side, when, all of a sudden, my glance filtered out, through the window, on to the idol of Ganpati across the street. The beautiful face of idol momentarily distracted me and I was filled with affection and gratitude for all the blessing that I felt it sprinkling around me. I smiled at the idol, asking him if he feels good at all the attention that he was getting for eleven days, hijacking the busy city of Mumbai. And I actually saw the idol shrug. What could he do? If only idols could talk, they would put some sense in this human world. Alas! Nobody can!!!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Random thoughts ~ Complaining

Mumbai is celebrating Ganesha at every street……and I am introspecting…. If your intention is to worry then you are likely to touch slippery ground. It is your mind that makes you win your battles. Battle is between positive and negative qualities within us. The mind keeps changing everyday it is how we expose our self to that knowledge that we can find peace. It is possible to create a new habit in 21 days. And new habit we must, to change our bad habit and be a better person. The habits that cause us pain should be eradicated from our system. I never have found complaining the best option. It makes the things even worse. And to whom should I complain? People are so pre-occupied with their own problems that they would hardly care if you were uncomfortable. In the company of hundred people there will be one person who will truly care, but to reach that person, we miss so many turn, that most of the time we are left with solving our own problems. And if we can really solve our own problems then what is the use of complaining and telling others our problems?? It is hard lesson I have learnt but I have learnt to deal with it. And its feels good that people find me happy-go-lucky. They don’t hear me complaining and I am not about to seek their pity. The root cause of all our problems is the attachment. Whenever I have got attached to people, they have been the cause of my misery and conflict. My intentions have always been good but how do I understand other people’s intentions? People have crazy minds and they form their own opinions. Even though my attachment is pure and not selfish at all, they will make nasty comments and give it a name. Why? I fail to understand. World is mixture of opposites and to remain happy we have to adjust because world is not likely to change. It is no use fighting and trying to change anything. We have to decide what is good for us and put our foot down to what is not necessary. In every experience there is a lesson to be learnt.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Voluntary work done Involuntarily

My FB friend posts a link that says….. Mozilla Service - Want to Help Source: If we can make a browser that makes the Web better, just imagine what we can do for our local communities. Equipped with a group of committed, energized, service-minded individuals and a belief in the open web, there's no limit on how far we can reach! It states that Mozilla for coming up with this idea. From the site: "During the week of September 14-21, you can make a serious difference in your local community. Here are just a few ideas of ways you can help: * Teach senior citizens how to use the Web. * Show a non-profit how to use social networking to grow its base of supporters. * Help install a wireless network at a school. * Create Web how-to materials for a library's computer cluster. * Refurbish hardware for a local computer center. * Update a non-profit organization's website. * Teach the values of the open Web to other public benefit organizations." Thinking back, I can proudly say that I have done all of the above services in my free time. My free time is my time away from my reading, writing, handicraft, art, painitng, entertaining my family and friends and travelling. People often ask me what do I do and I often say ‘Nothing in particular’. The problem with me is that I cannot sit idle, not even for a minute. Am I bragging if I discussed what I actually do with my time? Well, I have taught seniors, children, maids and housewife the use of net, how to operate it, how to surf for information and how to send e-mails and they have been quite grateful to me and the payment I get in return for this service is the beautiful smile they give me, when ever they see me passing by and I am grateful for that. I regularly go to school (at Belapur, CBD) for mentally challenged, which is two hours away from my house (I live in Bandra), I click their pictures and update their blog, and maintaining this blog has been very useful to school. Many people are willingly to be associated with this school because they are sure it is real and not a fictional institution. On festival days, food is sponsored for these children, sometimes, from as far away as Spain, the proof that their money was spent on children for food only, is shown in pictures on the blog and this encourages people to donate more help. The children are always enjoying the feast and are happy to come to school. I maintain two blogs: is the blog of the school where I blog about the activities at school keeping the parents and the well wishers updated with the school. This has been of great help to the school, because people want to be associated with the school that shows so much progress. The other blog is mainly for teachers and parents to help them understand the problems of dealing with mentally challenged. I write about the various diseases, methods of dealing with them, and the facilities provided for mentally challenged. I prefer to stay focused on just one institution so that I am able to help out just one particular group of people. I seek neither recognition nor any awards for this voluntary work (I am camera shy so I never give interviews) and do it just for my own interest. It gives me immense pleasure to extend my time and support in this little contribution that I am able to make. Actually speaking, the rewards are very satisfying because I would otherwise be bored, doing just nothing in my free time.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Three weeks of 'No Complaining'

Okay I have made the pledge of ‘no complaining for 21 days’ and I have nothing to complain about. Personally I think that people who expect something from others and don’t get it then they find the reason to complain, if that is the case then it should be easy for me because I never expect anything from anybody. And what can anybody give to person who has everything? Love, care and affection come from giving. These are reciprocal. If people have no time for us, its because they have their own priorities that have to be sorted out first. what to complain about this? The truth is that if we learn to accept the things as they are and try not to change anything, then there is little reason to complain. Quite easily said! For people who live in large family, it is natural to accommodate each other to live peacefully. To avoid unpleasantness, we try to curb our discomfort, but are not always successful. Because the resistances to accept thing that are against our principles do boil us over, and without complaining, it builds up and eventually harms our health.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Wall of Canvas

It is important to build a wall to separate the street from railway lines, especially if the railway line and street run parallel to each other. It has its advantages; it safeguards the security of people and help them walk in straight line, parallel to the wall without getting distracted by moving train that passes on the other side of the wall, It serves as a shield for naughty children, who may escape the strong grip of their parents and run on the railway track out of curiosity and is also a great boundary of obstacle for those stingy commuters who get special pleasure in travelling without a ticket. But the wall has its disadvantages too when it is used by street dwellers as a back-drop for their temporary-about-to-become-permanent home and some times used by people who have never learnt their bowel-control-habits and peeing on the wall is an instant relief and sometimes, it is even used by hawkers to put up their temporary stall. Unless, it is seen as a canvas by an artistic eye, which will change the wall’s status from a poor, old, rust-colored, dingy wall into a beautiful work of art that the travelers will admire while driving down those colorful lanes. When people start to care, the results are astonishing…. On 15th August, while the whole country celebrated Independence Day, I walked down the Tulsi Pipe Road to watch the children and adult dabble paint on the wall producing amazing art work. Even the children as young as five year old, were happy to hold the paint brush, one size bigger than their size of the palm, giving colored strokes on that dingy wall. “Move a bit, let her click few pictures” said someone in the crowd, letting me capture the event into my lens. Freedom for me, on this day, was to watch the artists doodle freely and let the images appear out of nowhere……..Freedom to express one self in vibrant colors.

Thursday, 13 August 2009


Life has not been the same since I lost my mom, about three years ago. I miss my mom terribly, especially on festive days when my mom would spread the happiness to each and every member of the house, without expecting anything in return. Today was the big festival of our Sindhis. It is called THADRI The mother goddess is worshipped in various forms, Sittala, is worshipped by Sindhis. She is the eldest of several sisters, The annual festival observed in honor of this goddess is called "Thadri", or the cooling festival. It falls on the 7th day of the waning in the month of Savan (July-August) every year. Ladies prepare Lolas and curd on the previous day of the festival , They sing, go to the local shrine and the cold meals (thados). On this day, fire is not lit at home. On this day, mom would be too excited because she loved cooking and it gave her the reason to cook, Her cooking would start, a day prior to the festival. There would be dry vegetable, lentil chappatis, sweet pancakes, sour rice-curd, fried bahjiyas and many more delicacies (I would marvel at her stamina, she never complained about work, never ever) . On the festive day, She would invite everybody for cold lunch. There would be card session after lunch and so much laughter in the house. My family had a great sense of humor; specially my aunts (dad’s sisters) and they would be laughing and quarrelling at the same time…how much I would enjoy seeing so much commotion. Me and my cousins would receive lots of gifts in cash and kind. It would be a great day to celebrate. All my aunts were very jovial and their jokes were always laced with metaphors which made their conversation wittier. With time, most of my family is gone and the traditions are also gradually dying. I don’t make any such things, nor do I enjoy this kind of food anymore. Being weight conscious, I don’t eat fried stuff, or too much sweet or anything with too much masala. I like simple stir fries, or simple home cooked food. I just eat to ease my hunger. My sister called me for lunch today, but I ate quietly and remembered my mom and missed my family and their laughter even more….

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Mumbai is not afraid.

Early morning my sistah calls me and warns me not to step out of house. I want to know the reason, and she says, because flu is in air, (but that I already know,) media has pounded me with an overdose of this news, and if I have work to do, it cannot wait. So I leave for school on this dangerous morning But the streets are full, aren’t all the people supposed to sit indoors? Nah! The spirit in Mumbai is that it never sleeps and when they can dare floods and riots then who is afraid of this silly disease? Just a flu (never mind if it has got a horror name-swine flu) People in Mumbai always believe that nothing can hamper their spirit and streets are crowded like they always are. Did you say that Children are vulnerable to swine flu? Well, this kid must be not more than 5 years and he is here on the street without any cloth covering his mouth,(I did see many people with their mouth covered) but not this kid, he doing his odd jobs of begging….I saw him run with a packet of Vada Pav, (which somebody had given him) and was back to the same place (without eating his share) to continue his begging And what about this dabawallah…he takes a breather on his inverted stack, smoking his beedi and then taking a short nap. But I play safe. I decide to go to school in AC bus. When I reach school after two full hours of travel, there is a sinister look in school….school is closed…..

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Power is Within Me

After many lazy Tuesday, I went today to attend Jaya Row’s spiritual class. I like going for her class to wear the spiritual blanket and think under my bonnet. It gives me insight of who I am. It reminds me of my duty towards leading a good life, more over, I like the interactive session, where people ask question about the subjects that they already know but act ignorant and I start thinking about it. I am wondering if people ask question just to get attention to them selves or do they really not know the answer? Many of the questions I hear them repeated class after class. Do they really suffer from amnesia or is their mind wandering in another fantasy world when their questions are being answered? Anyways, today this lady was asking the difference between disciple and Guru. Now as far as I can remember, she must be attending this class for more than ten years already and she quite regular, does she really not know the answer? Is she really searching for answers? I can’t believe this, why cant people ask something that they don’t know….. Well, Jaya Row has patience, because she also must be aware of this lady’s presence in her class for more than ten years, but still she went on to answer her question and explained patiently the difference between Guru and Disciple. Patiently, she explained that Guru is one who is at a higher level and he is able to guide us in overcoming hurdles in life. He helps us to keep the balance between devotion and knowledge, Disciple is the seeker while guru is the guide. Disciple should know what to ask from a guru, but many people are misguided and they will ask such stupid question such as what they should name their child or what property will be useful to them. Is it sensible to ask your guru for materialistic gain? Shouldn’t they be asking their Guru the spiritual guidance to reach the salvation? And what is the right path to follow, how they can lead a better life and be a good human being? A Guru is one who has power of communicating with his disciple and showing him the real path, he should be knowledgeable himself so that he has power to guide his disciple. He should have capacity to teach and the disciple should have sincerity to learn and have desire for liberation. My mom would often say that I don’t have to go to seek my Guru; I just have to strive to be a good human being and lead a good and clean life, follow the rules of our society and live within my means. When the time for spiritual enlighten will come, my Guru will find me And I will know that He has come…..…..because I will know that I am ready, when I will understand the powers within me….…..

Monday, 10 August 2009

All that you wanted to know about me but were afraid to ask...

but I do have friends who will tag me so that I can tell the truth...and of course, I do like to talk about meself,(who doesn't?) if only people would allow me...many times, when I am talking about meself, people cut me and say, 'rehne do..stop showing off, we already like you too much'...and I feel blessed that people like me even when they dont know much about me...but when I get chance to brag about myself.(which I finally got) can I ever miss???? so, here I go answering all the questions as truthfully as I can..... 1. What time did you get up this morning? 9:00 am 2. How do you like your steak? I like it when it smiles 3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? New York (and that too, without US visa!) 4. What is your favorite TV show? CNN _IBN- Cyrus with his phunny news, kya baat hai!! 5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Mumbai of course, and in this same house...muje kahi nahi janna! 6. What did you have for breakfast? A glass of fresh vegetable juice (laoki, carrots, cucumber) 7. What is your favorite cuisine? Stir fries, fast and easy..... 8. What foods do you dislike? One that has too much Indian masalas and I am burping continuously after eating….buuurb! See…there I go again!! 9. Favorite Place to Eat? In my balcony, enjoy the westerly winds ruffling my hair and I go Chomp! Chomp! 10. Favorite dressing? a mixture of honey, vinegar, musturd oil, salt and black pepper 11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Why should I drive? I am not a driver… 12. What are your favorite clothes? cool beige, pale blues or light pink, t-shirts with round necks 13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Phew! I am done with travelling, been all over the globe, not taking any more chances--bas ho gaya..... 14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? ½ empty of my stamina 15. Where would you want to retire? In an old age home with all the comforts of TV, Computer, AC room and library, spa, massage parlors and playing cards room with all the young volunteers being at my command with snap of my finger. 16. Favorite time of day? 11pm to 2am, everything is so quiet and I can think better…. 17. Where were you born? Jaipur, Rajasthan 18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Watching the married couple arguing over minor things, blaming each other, cribbing….snapping...bahut mazza aata hai...!!! 19. Who do you think will not tag you back? Some one who hates me… or my guts 20. Person you expect to tag you back first? one, who never ignores me.... 21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? Someone whom I have been stalking for days.. hehhee 22. Bird watcher? Arrey, where are the birds in this concrete jungle?? doorbhini se bhi nahi dikhte hai....! 23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Depends on my moods 24. Do you have any pets? No way, I love my freedom 25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Pssss! Rakhi Sawant is coming back on TV, (I will buy ear buds this time so that I don't hear about it even from my neghbor's TV) 26. What did you want to be when you were little? Wanted to own toys industry (hey, I had actually won prize for most innovative toy when I was little, (tsk! tsk! India lost me to bad writing) 27. What is your best childhood memory? No good memories, only bad. I had a bad childhood, was abused, punished, threatened by my school teachers everyday….. They all hated the sight of me… 28. Are you a cat or dog person? I am pushee cat 29. Are you married? huh? 30. Always wear your seat belt? never, but I hold it in such a way that traffic policemen are fooled 31. Been in a car accident? Yes, but I was blessed, (not a scratch) 32. Any pet peeves? Dishonesty. Unpunctuality. Wrong message carriers. 33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? hmmn! Cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, onions, broccolis and eggplant 34. Favorite Flower? Sunflower 35. Favorite ice cream? Vanilla, tender coconut 36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Subway 37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? Well, I never like failing in any test, so I never try one which will give negative results…. 38. From whom did you get your last email? From my fellow blogger who wants to swap-blogging post with me 39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I do only cash buying, never credit cards…. 40. Do anything spontaneous lately? Nah! I am a deeeeeeeeep thinker….I don’t react immediately 41. Like your job? Of course, if I had one…… 42. Broccoli? Pretty. Healthy. me like it very much. 43. What was your favorite vacation? The one where I traveled across the whole of North India that included Haridwar, Badrinaryan, Rhishikesh, Jammu, Kashmir, Delhi (with my family of 25 members ,,Wow! That was unforgettable) 44. Last person you went out to dinner with? My favorite cousins from Caribbean Islands 45. What are you listening to right now? some distant traffic sounds on the linking road 46. What is your favorite color? Blue 47. How many tattoos do you have? What! Do you really think I would do that??? 48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? Depends 49. What time did you finish this quiz? 12 midnight 50. Coffee Drinker? Nah!

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