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Wednesday, 27 December 2017


Few weeks ago I received my personal copy of “A Hundred little flames” autographed by Preeti Shenoy. It’s a fast paced book and quite enjoyable too (specially the second half of the book where you learn about the life of grandpa through his diary entries). A book on relationship, sacrifices, courage, pure love and comfort. Story of young Ayan who comes to live with his Grandfather, Gopal, to take care of him in a small village in Kerala. Preeti Shenoy has touched the chords of all kinds of relationship and as the story unfolds, true loves shines on.

Some relations we take for granted, specially those who live close to us. Our family. 

Parents, siblings, relatives, they are around us all the time, whether we need them or not. Sometimes we have family disputes, we part ways and cousins grow up as strangers. We have discussions, sometime heated arguments, but many times we are back together at the end of the day. Whenever there is celebrations, festivals or an occasion to meet, we get opportunity to rebuild the friendship. Sometimes the bond is created and some times not. But family remains there until lifetime.

With free Watsapp video and phone calls, the bond has become even stronger. The distances don’t separate us any more. Whom ever we remember, they are just a phone call away. I feel blessed to be connected to my family- aunts, uncles, niece, nephews, cousins. We have family groups, cousins groups, close friends groups, it keeps the conversations going, and the news is updated regularly in-between 'Goodmorning' , 'greetings' and forward messages. Since my family is scattered all around the world, its fun travelling and visiting them. We have our favourites, we plan vacations together and meet regularly in some or other part of the world.

Friends on other hand, last only as long as the bond is strong. 

A mild misunderstanding, or temporary separation and the relationship fades away.  I have been fortunate to develop close relationship with many friends. Some have lasted lifetime, many have parted ways. When I meet them after many years, I cannot remember their name. Its very embarrassing. I am short of conversation. Where do I begin the dialogue? How freely can I ask about their private life. I don’t wish to be nosy but still I want to know the details of the missing years. Where does that love disappear? How have their priorities changed?  Where do we draw a line? I have short memory, what is past is best forgotten. I only enjoy the present moment. 

The same kind of relationship cannot be built with same person after a gap of many years. Or can they??

You can never control whom you fall in love with. Be it man or woman, love just happens. We don’t fall in love with people because they are fun, pretty, influential,  it just happens.

Relationship that is based on give-and-take is always short lived. Expectations are large and disappointments even larger. We can give love but cannot expect the people to love us back. love can only be earned, it cannot be forced. I have realised that I don't have to change to make people like me. Love is built on respect, adjustment and selflessness, where the comfort level is high. I just have to be myself and people must love the real me. Silence and anger is never a solution, ego built up , ruins relationship. Communication is important. If we have spirit of understanding everything in positive way, there will never be any level of pressure.

Greatest pain is when death do us apart -be it a close friend or a family member. You feel the void, the emptiness. We try to evaluate whether we could have been a little bit more kind, more adjusting, more caring, but then its too late.

As we age, we will see more separations from our loved ones. The older we get, the more lonely we will get. We can built relationship with younger people half our age, but it will never be the same.

Life will go on. Time does not stop for anybody. Tomorrow will be another day….

#AHundredLittleFlames story!


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows- Book Review

Bali Kaur Jaswal has done an excellent job of engaging the reader’s attention with a story that involves Punjabi widows.

Nikki, a young law-student drop-out, takes up the job of English tutor at the Indian Community Centre at Southhall gurudwara, where widows enroll. The women don’t know to read or write but they have bold fantasies and stories beneath their white garment. The English workshop turns into erotic story-telling club.

Nikki encourages women to share their dark secrets of longings and womanhood, The widow have great fun. Only one woman writes the stories while others relate.  The thrill begins when the stories leak out of the classroom, and are passed through emails and photocopies to the whole of Indian community in London.

At first, I was stunned to read about the erotic detail of the older women of Indian community. Such topics are taboo in our culture and we hardly hear such intimate stories. (not even amongst our close friends). I even hid the book, when I had visitors at home, fearing judgement for a single person like me seeking pleasures on a sly. 

But as the story progressed, I found Ms Jaswal cleverly weave the story of sex, murder and mystery into most interesting plot that captivated me till the last page.

A hilarious book, enjoyed reading it.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Yugpurush- A must-see-play-you-are-sure-to-enjoy

This week, I was invited to watch the play Yugpurush (in Hindi) at Nehru Centre. Until now (forgive my ignorance) I was not aware that our great leader Mahatama Gandhi also had mentor who played a pivotical role in shaping up his strong character of peace through non-violence.

This is the best play I have watched in a long time. I was very impressed by the dialogue delivery, the expressions (that were so realistic) and the way the play was handled. It transported me to another century where Mahatma tells the story of his mentor, Shripad Rajchandra, a  poet, philosopher, spiritual guru and one of the Mahatama’s closest friend, and how he was responsible for shaping up his personality and his belief in non-violence and his peaceful solution to grave problems.

The props kept changing with great efficiency, relating the story during different times and I sat mesmerised as I watched the scene and the situation move from one location to another.  At one point, you are in his humble home, where he is sitting by his loom weaving cloth, at another moment he is in Bombay, as a young Lawyer looking for a job, where he meets his mentor,  At another instant he is at the ship yard with tourist on route to his trip to Africa and at another instant, he is in Jail with his freedom fighters behind the bars. The play scores the most in creating realistic and visually stunning scenarios throughout its duration.The story moves from present to past to present again and the inert positions of the actors  transports you to that era.

At one scene, Mahatma is caught up between two religions, Muslim and Christianity and he is in dilema as to which religion should he follow, Muslim or Christian or should he continue to uphold his own values as a Hindu. He is advised to look within him to find answers.

After Gandhi moved to South Africa, the duo corresponded through thousand of letters. It is through this correspondence that Mahatma understands the value of non-violence, the fearlessness and his tranforming character and consciousness.

Directed by Rajesh Joshi and written by Uttam Gada, the play features Parthsarthi Vaidya, Pulkit Solanki and Babul Bhavsar in important roles. The credit goes to the director for handling difficult scenes and to the lighting and the props used as well.

It is worth a watch. There is no moment of boredom. I would love to watch it again and again.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Visit to Tea Gardens At Kerala

Dear Rohit

I have not seen you on the Facebook since a long time.  Each day I go to check your timeline I do not see any fresh status on your block under  "Whats on your mind".  I had posted some pictures lately of my trip to Kerala but there were no  likes nor any comments from you. Did you do that on purpose? Did you ignore my post or have you been away from  Facebook lately? Hope all is well with you.

 Last week I spent few days at the tea estate at Peermade, four hours drive away from Cochin. I was with my women companions...friends who are beautiful inside out..ones who I love most dearly..ones who add sunshine to my life, the combination of their presence with the beautiful stretch of greenery spread over miles and miles of open space transported me to another world..of happiness and bliss...a pure personal delight.  My virtual friends  on social media, who saw the pictures of my trip thought that I was at the most boring place to be, since they could not see any other people besides us. They wondered as to what fun could we have in such a lonely place.

But believe me Rohit, it was a wonderful experience. I wish you had also come along with us, I am sure you would have liked it. I know, I know, its my fault. But then, I couldn't have invited you since we were a group of only five women. 

Early mornings were the best. The crisp air had lovely fragrance, perfect time to practise Ramdev's pranayams. We would spend the time on cane furniture, out at the porch, soaking in the sun, sipping warm jeera flavored water, chit chatting in our night clothes, our hands clutching the shawl wrapped tightly over our shoulder. So many stories to share..of family, of friends,  of good times, of bad times, knitting the canvas of past memories together, bridging the moments with laughter and fun. Each day was so precious, that I would wish it could last forever.    Not that there was no moment of silence, there were. Sometimes I sought an empty corner of the house to be check my thoughts..but it lasted just a while. The murmurs of group chat always distracted me...I didn't want to miss on those conversations.

Days were spent exploring the area, driving through the uneven dirt tracks in between long stretches of small neatly arranged shrubs of tea plantation., some of roads were too narrow and bumpy, so dangerous that we slipped off our seats. Since seat belt is not an Indian culture...we held on tightly to seats or to the friends arm for support....eyes popping off sockets with instant fear. Diverting our attention to a game of Antakshree was the best option.

Rohit, I am sure you would have enjoyed the South Indian cuisine.  When in Kerala, eat what locals south Indian food was our regular diet. We had three cooks in the kitchen who pampered us with their delicious cuisine. Fish  made regular appearance at our dining table so much so that our vegetarian friends wondered how we could enjoy the fish everyday. But we did. It may seem like same fish everyday to my vegetarian friends, what do they know the difference in taste between Rawas, Tuna or Sardines? For them fish means fish, with tail, head, fins. One afternoon I even spend some time in the kitchen watching the cooks churn out a  tasty fish curry. I have made a note of the recipe and clicked pictures too and I plan to cook for you sometime. Coconut rice was another dish that I enjoyed a would have loved the delicious coconut bits with dash of mustard seeds and curry leaves...You missed it, I am telling you, you really missed it. For my vegetarian friends there were dosas and appam with stew or sambar...and spicy coconut chutney. 

We were not totally cut off from reality. Although it was difficult to get telephone range, we were lucky. We had wifi. It was easy to stay connected on line. I was able to post pictures on Instagram and also tweeted some interesting moments. We heard music on U-tube. Lazy hours were dotted with music and game of cards. We played with only plastic chips, winning a game brought so much pleasure. I also cheated in game of cards, (like I always do) but then it was not with real money, so its okay to cheat and be caught in that act.  I captured many candid shots on my camera to share on Facebook and Watsapp hoping that you would see. But you didn't. People who saw the pictures were not very impressed. They felt impossible to believe that I could enjoy in such wilderness...there is not a soul...just greenery...But we did.... 

On our third day, we went into the city at Tekkady..We walked down a busy street, shopping for silver jewellery, ate freshly fried hot banana chips. In the south, they fry banana chip on the road like they fry batatawadas in Mumbai. The air smelt strongly of burnt oil. 

I even sneaked into a beauty parlour for instant kerala spa. I wanted to try the Shirodhara massage, an Ayurvedic treatment that consists on dripping oil on the forehead, exactly in the place where the traditional Indian culture says the third eye is located, I was told that we could find the gate to our inner realms, in a randomised, controlled protocol involving regular movements. But then, I would have to wait for two more hours at the place and then go out with oily body. (Friend tells me that after such massage you are in daze, you walk like zomby with irregular gait). Time was short, so I went for just head massage.

We went to see Kathakali dance. Have you see this beautiful cultural performance? This dance focussed on facial expressions. The performers are dressed in huge stiff colorful dress, their face painted with thick different color mask. The colors reflect certain categories of emotions and gunas (attributes). For example Green goes with godliness, white with spirituality, red with ambition and violence, yellow with passivity and black with evil. Rohit, did you know that?

Their eyes rolled to the rhythm of mridangam from left to right, up and down like marble chips on a billiard board, their face expressions narrating a mythological story without words. You have to see this performance Rohit, this is so amazing. 

Later, we walked down the spice garden, plucking out the bark of cinnamon off the tree, or nibbling on fresh, soft cardamom seeds. There were bay leaves, and cloves, and edible leaves and herbs,  spice fragrance was so strong that I had an urge to cook a Briyani. We did some spice shopping at the end of spice trail. Unnecessary expenses, you would say, if you would see the number of bags I bought back home.

The days passed too soon. There is so much more I could tell you about this trip but I am saving the interesting part to share with you when I meet you personally. I have to go back to Kerala again and this time it will be with you.


PS: I have posted a video of my trip on Utube, do watch when you have time. Here is thelink 

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