Sunday, December 21, 2008

Growing up

What an overwhelming day I have had. Never in my life, have I got so many phone calls, so many wishes and so much of positive vibes on one single day. Today I think I got more phone calls and emails than on the day my children were born :-) Oh—and the text messages too. I think I have managed to reply to each single one. A big heartfelt thanks to all of you who made an effort to call and also to those who wished me by texts, emails &scraps.

What totally took me by surprise was the sheer volume of well wishers. The phone was continuously ringing throughout the day. One call would end and another would come in. I am sure the wishes were genuine and heartfelt—but this birthday was so different from my birthday last year, where it went unnoticed. Only my family members and really close friends called. Then again, last year I really did not know so many people. My book I think has really touched more hearts than I imagined or envisaged.

Satish and the kids gave me some really wonderful gifts. The children made such lovely cards for me—they were making it the whole of previous day. (But more than that I do think the best present of all is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in one another) We also drove to this really picturesque place about 45 kilometers from Pune. It was a Balaji temple that I had always wanted to visit. On the way we stopped off on the highway for an authentic delicious Maharashtrian meal. I love long drives (picture clicked by me from inside the car on the way today) and really enjoy the rural landscape, green fields, trees, Ghats, flowers on the way, the birds—everything delights me. It was 6:30 p.m by the time we got back.

The previous evening the doorbell rang and I got a lovely surprise when the delivery guy gave me a bunch of 12 red roses. Just as I was beginning to smile he gives me a black forest chocolate cake, and as the smile turned into a grin, out comes a pink little teddy bear. I don’t know what it is about Teddy bears and flowers that completely sweep away most women, no matter what their age. A big thank you to Mayank MittalThat was really so darn thoughtful and sweet of you. It’s the nicest thing someone has done for me on my birthday in ages (apart from of course Satish). I think I must have mentioned this to almost every person who called today. And as though sending all that wasn’t enough, he called too at 12:00 a.m sharp to wish me.(He was the first person to call) The roses are still looking lovely. Chocolate cake was demolished at 12:00 a.m sharp :-) [Have linked his FB profile since he doesn't blog]

Mathew of Wetspark also had a surprise for me. He couriered me some absolutely divine chocolate and also sent some stickers for the kids. Thanks a lot Mathew. The kids loved the chocolate.(To be honest all of us did!)

It’s strange everything comes a full circle. When I started blogging it was because of a sense of shock and deep grief. Deep grief as I lost someone who meant the world to me—shock because some people whom I considered my close friends turned away when I needed them. Click here if you want to read it. This was written two years back when I just started blogging.

No wonder that little voice in my head keeps whispering “Success has many friends. Failure is an orphan.”

Funny how I don't feel my age yet how much I have grown up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's on your fridge?

How often have you walked into a friend's kitchen, and casually, as you were talking, and your friend's brewing a nice cup of tea for you, you've remarked about something on their fridge, that led to a whole new conversation?

Fridges do reflect a lot about the person who is using it. I have come across fridges that are so darn neat without a single thing on them, that you wonder if they have been used at all. Then there are others that have lovely magnets collected from different parts of the world. Then there are fridges like mine that just reflect whatever is going in life, at that point in time, or sometimes reflect anything that brings back happy memories.

I clicked a picture of my fridge and this is how it looks at the moment. It's full of memories and current happenings. Right on top are two magnets of a man and a lady that we picked up when we went on our honeymoon, ages back. They have travelled with us through the years and through moving towns, changing jobs, changing homes, becoming parents and continue to be witness to our lives. There are two photos--One is a picture of me and my son when he was a baby.The other is a picture of my brother and my son clinging to his feet.:-)It brings back smiles. Then there are phone numbers of my son's friends. There is a drawing that my son made. There is a list of chores for the household help.There is a daily menu for my children's lunches which the school has specified. (I like it as it means each child will bring the same thing and no junk food is allowed. ) There are two more magnets picked up during travel.

Now I'd love to see what is on your fridges. I am tagging the following to post a pic of their fridge.






Anybody else who wants to do it I'd love to come and have a look! Just post a pic and leave a comment in my comment box.

Do it! It's a snap-shot in time.Frozen moments that tell a story.

What's your story?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

15 things I learnt from my kittens


15. Even if you don’t like somebody you can continue to enjoy watching their antics and even learn a few things from them.

14. It's perfectly possible for a 36 year old to lie flat at a 180 degree angle on a cold, hard marble floor on a chilly winter morning for 3 and half minutes (the time it took to shoot this video)

13. It is also possible to not let out a single whimper even though a full grown adult male has stepped on you inadvertently as he did not expect you to be on the floor.

12. The best things are found in places where you least expect them to be.;-)

11. It is possible to hear 'You’re the greatest' and ‘You’re absolutely crazy’ from a child and an adult respectively and believe both completely.

10. It is great fun to beat your sibling in grabbing that little thing which you didn’t want in the first place but fought for it just because your sibling wanted it.(Just look at those kittens)

9. Family is family even if you fight.

8. Age does not matter what really matters is your attitude.

7. It is really possible to ignore a ringing phone and the tea that you kept on the stove overflowing after it has boiled, because you are so engrossed in capturing kittens in a video.

6. It is also possible to smile and clean up the mess, after you are done, because you’re so pleased with the results.

5. It is possible to mix music from a TV show which your child is watching into a video of kittens playing by sheer chance, and discover that they actually go well together!

4.It is possible to shoot an entire video by sticking a camera lens through a gap in a garden door grill which has iron bars just an inch apart, and yet get good results, without startling the kittens or the other people in your house.(They are used to my crazy ways by now)

3. If you want something worthwhile be prepared to bear a lot of discomfort.

2. If you lie on the floor you’ll get walked over.

1. What really matters is what you think—not what others say or think.
I don’t know about you—but I think this is great! ;-)
[Go ahead—make my day—say you loved my post, video and philosophy too:-)]

  • I am more a dog person than a cat person—but yeah, I find kittens cute.
  • I have a Garden cat and I like her—but that’s only because she’s actually a dog stuck in a cat’s body :-)
  • No kittens were injured in the making of this video.
  • No humans were injured too, although one had frozen elbows and aching muscles at the end of it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why true friends are like mornings

Sometime back I had made a resolution to post at least twice a week. Now when I look back, I discover that I haven’t really written as much as I intended to. These days, besides working on my second book, I am also writing for Times of India and Readers Digest Joy. Apart from that my fitness routine, managing children and daily chores in the home takes up most of my time. Somehow I feel that’s still an excuse. I always say that if someone wants to do something really badly, they will always find the time. Now I am going to test the theory that I advocate and apply the same for myself, and am resolving to post at least 2-3 times a week. If not a post, then at least an image which I have captured and which I would like to share. Good idea? What do you say?

Meira gave me this award which I am supposed to give to my favourite commentators.God! What a difficult task! If she had asked me to pick my least favourite it would have been easy :)[Relax—just kidding] I guess I am really grateful to everybody who comments as they have been kind enough to read what I write. So if you have ever left a comment on my blog—Thanks! This award is for you.[I take the thanks back if I have deleted your comment :P :)]

And now to the post.

This morning I received a text from a close friend.(This is the same friend with whom I had stayed when I had come to Bangalore for my book launch) .It was a forward about friendship.
I loved it. It was so true. I am one of those who reply to every text message I get, even if it’s just a forward. It just means that the person who forwarded it to you, thought of you for that brief moment that it took them to send the text and conveyed something that probably tickled them or made them think. I think messages like these are a nice way to keep in touch, especially when you have nothing to say. According to studies conducted by a UK based organization, (and many more I am sure) reconnecting with friends with whom you have happy associations is one of the most important ways to reduce stress. Just as I was typing this post, I felt an overwhelming urge to call my friend—and that’s just what I did. She was pleasantly surprised—It was just a brief five minute call, and we both felt so good about it. Instant mood elevators! What are you waiting for? Pick up that phone and say hi to a friend who lives in another town—Now! It need not be a long call –just a calling-to-say-I-am-thinking-of-you call. Did you do it? Good!

So here is your reward-- a picture that I want to share with you. I clicked it two days back from my terrace, just after my son left for school.He leaves at 6.30 a.m. which is pure torture for him as well as me.

But capturing moments like this makes it worth it! And it goes so well with the text that my friend sent.

True friends are like mornings. You cannot have them for the whole day, but you can be sure they will be there for you, today, tomorrow and always. Good morning.”

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Friendship and laughter


Humour is the best way to deal with stress, sorrow, depression and difficult times like these. There are many scientific studies which have proven a co-relation between good health and a sense of humour. Humour is a quality that enables us to find joy even in the most adverse of situations. Roberto Benigni’s movie ‘Life is beautiful’ potrays it so well, where it depicts the life of a Jewish man and his young son in a Nazi Death camp. (If you haven’t watched it yet, you are really missing something in life—stop reading and go watch! Click on title to know more)

How do you find humour? Some people are born with it. Some cultivate it till it becomes a habit and some cannot laugh no matter how much they try. (I do know individuals like that. I usually avoid them)

If you aren’t a great TV Buff and find shows like ‘Great Indian laughter challenge’ (I hate it!) particularly unamusing—what do you do?

You seek out people who are radiators—That’s what you do. [If you have read my book, then you know what I am talking about, if not I recommend that you go to the nearest book store :-)] . This post is a tribute to one such radiator, a person with a terrific sense of humour—Nikhil.

Six months back I did not even know he existed. Neither did he.[That I existed I mean ;-)] Now I find myself calling him up whenever I feel I need my humour dose. We met through my blog (where else!?) and soon we were chatting on g-talk. The first time I spoke to him I could almost feel him bouncing right out of the computer screen—there was so much energy, so much restlessness—so much of a go-getting attitude—he was so High Octane. I was kind of surprised and then I asked him directly if he was indeed like that. He admitted he was. I met him at my book launch (yes, that is me and him in the pic--I'm signing his book) and I half expected to see a guy bouncing up and down, jumping around like he had flubber boots in a basket ball match. I was a little surprised to see a calm (well—kind of!) guy with a pleasant smile and a sunny disposition. Fortunately for me I did not see him in the audience while I was giving my talk, else I am certain I would have been distracted.

What I really like about him is that I can be brutally honest with him, and he really does not hold it against me. He had left a comment on my blog (with his typical sense of humour and at that time I did not know him well) and I deleted it—then I pinged him, mailed him and explained why and I demanded that he should leave a comment that I like! (Yeah—I can be obnoxious, I know) He smiled and obliged. I decided right then that I like the guy.

He teases me mercilessly and I tease him right back. (Not that kind of teasing, silly—just verbal repartees) Yesterday I spoke to him on the phone and he asked me what else I was working on apart from my second book. So I told him that I had just submitted an article on Sports accessories for Times of India.

“Wow.” he says and just as I am beginning to feel very great and important he adds

“Do you know anything at all about sports accessories or are you just writing? Is it even your area of interest?”

“Have you forgotten?” I ask him “I used to play basketball at national level.” (Yes—I used to in college and at school)

“Ende amme” he says “Don’t start off. Yes I remember.” (If you understand Mallu, then you know why it’s funny—somehow ‘ende amme’ does not have an equivalent English translation.)

Then he talks about TV and gives me gyaan about TV personalities. I don’t watch Television. The only two channels I watch are music channels—VH1 and 9XM—and Nikhil has not heard of 9XM—but he gives me a long winded explanation of why the channel is called 9X. (yeah—he is like that.The guy knows a lot)

Then he asks me if I have seen NDTV’s Srinivasan Jain (I hadn’t). Nikhil could not believe it.

He says “Which Era are you from? Did TV exist when you were born? Oh—Are you that old?” Then he tries to convince me about how great Srinivasan Jain is and he says I’ll find him charming and a day will come when I will definitely fall for him.

“No way” I retort “ While your Srinivasan may speak well I fall only for men with well toned bodies. Apart from George Clooney who is an exception, I like Saif, Sallu, Shiny Ahuja and relatively unknown Punju guy who I am sure you have not even heard of.”

“Please become a fan of Srinivasan. He may not have 6 packs—but so what. He is intelligent.” says Nikhil.It looks like he has made it his life's mission for me to fall in love with Srinivasan.
“You are bi-sexual!” I tell him “You have the hots for him, right?” then I tease him mercilessly about how he would enjoy a threesome with Barkha Dutt (he hates her) and Srinivasan Jain.

We mostly talk non-sense like this. Usually after a talk with him, I’m in a great mood.

Sometime back he did something for me which really floored me. If you want to know what go here.(I am thrilled with it of course and that's putting it mildly)

He is such an unassuming and down to earth guy with no airs or attitude and he hides his achievements so well with his sense of comic timing. Look at this post he wrote. (It's one of my favourites)
He has also won so many prestigious National level quizzes and he knows such a lot.

I should have known.

I always had a thing for quizzers.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Photo taken by Atul Shenoy at age 10. River Nile. Egypt. (click to enlarge)

Eleven years ago, you came into my life and nothing was the same again.
Ten years ago, you smiled at me and I thought my heart could not hold any more happiness.
Nine years ago, you said “I love you” and I knew my heart could hold more joy.
Eight years ago, you wrote me your first letter and I preserved it with care.
Seven years ago you made a clay sculpture and said it was for me.
Six years ago you gave your first solo stage performance and I cheered like crazy.
Five years ago you started showing great interest in sketching and they turned out real good.
Four years ago I got you a pair of hamsters and you said you adored me for it.
Three years ago you wrote a poem just for me.
Two years ago you started showing an interest in photography and the pictures you captured were brilliant.
A year ago you wanted to give gifts to all the children at the orphanage and we did it together.

Ever since you came into our life you’ve given it a meaning, lit it up brighter than sunshine, and made it warmer than love, and given it more depth than a bottomless pit.

You mean the world to us.
Happy birthday our darling son.

With love
Dad and Mom.

Addendum: My heart bleeds for India. I feel so strongly about it. Have expressed my emotions HERE.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Apologies if you have come here looking for a post to read. This will soon appear in my 3rd book called 'A 2nd Jar of Bubblegums and Candies'. I had to remove it as making it available online would be very unfair to my publishers who have placed so much trust in me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Niall

It was on 14 of November 2006 that I met someone called Niall Young. It was a virtual meeting. I was new to blogging and had been browsing the Internet by clicking ‘next blog’ and suddenly a poetry blog caught my eye. The writing was heart-warming, different and unique. The blog belonged to someone called Tim Young. I found the writing beautiful and so I left a comment.

And the next thing I know, I get a comment from Tim’s brother, Niall. Those days hardly anyone read my blog. I was delighted when Niall left a comment on this post of mine saying “I discovered your Blog after reading your comments on my Brother's site (Forever England).You have such a deep an special heart. You have obviously known pain, and because of that, you feel that of others too. Love yourself, care for yourself and lift your hands to the sky in the mornings rising sun. You are here for a purpose! Keep writing”

Then a few more posts and a few more comments later, we exchanged email ids. We started writing to each other and became great friends.

I am a big fan of Niall’s work and I couldn’t believe the photograph like pictures he churns out. It is hard to believe that some of his pictures are not photos—they are so brilliant. I have written about it in a post called Each dot matters’ (click on it to read it –its worth your time)

Once Niall did not update his blog for four days. There was no mail from him too. I was worried and I called him up.(By now we had exchanged phone numbers too) That was the first time we were speaking on the phone to each other and he sounded ‘oh-so-charming’ with a wonderful deep voice and an English accent to match. He was happy that I had called.

After that we spoke on and off and we continued writing regularly.

Then when I traveled to UK we met in London. It was really memorable for me as well as him. (yes—that’s him and me in the picture you see. I had cut my hair really short in October 2007) I have blogged about the meeting HERE and so has he, HERE.

Niall gifted me an original painting of his —something that very few people have had the privilege of! I really treasure his pictures and count them among the few valuable things I have. He gave me many prints too. I was overwhelmed. The picture you see at the start of this post is one of the pictures which he gifted me, which I really liked.

So why am I telling you all this today, again?

Because it’s Niall’s birthday today.

I am very glad that a random click on the Internet led to an enriching friendship.

I am happy that blogging has widened my world.

I am delighted that I got a chance to meet him and Jan his wife and his daughter Annie.

I am happy that my kids got on so well with Annie.

But most of all I am so glad that I have a truly dependable friend for life.

Happy birthday Niall— May your amazing talent for churning out pictures that are so alive continue to delight thousands more!


Niall’s official site:

Niall’s blog:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A grandmother's wise words

Said a granny to her grand-daughter
Who has just turned sixteen,
Child, this is a story I do not usually share,
So listen well, and listen with care.

Many years ago, I fell in love
With a lonely lost sad soul
Who took away so much from me
That nothing still fills the hole.

It gets covered well
When I laugh for a while, I forget
But it comes back to haunt
The agony, the memories, the regret.

Sad souls are like that
They take, never give and then leave,
They devour, they consume and gobble
And once eaten ,never can you retrieve

What hurts most
Is that the love still remains
It gnaws you silently like a termite
Leaving you empty,broken and in chains

So stay away from the vampirish sad souls
Let them find someone else to eat
Cover your heart, protect it, nourish it
And you’ll know when to give love and when to retreat.

© Preeti Shenoy
Kindly do not reproduce without permission

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday No.8

A long time since I did a Wordless Wednesday. This pic was clicked by me,when I was at my dining table. I interrupted my meal as I just had to capture the moment.

© Preeti Shenoy

Monday, November 10, 2008

Make somebody happy today

Rainbow. Pictures, Images and Photos

When was the last time you used a box of colours? Yes—those little sticks called crayons—either wax or plastic that come in little boxes, meant for little children? Or Sketch pens? Or colourful markers? If you don’t have children, chances are you have used them in your childhood. Most adults have happy memories associated with crayons or colours.

Speaking for myself, I simply love colours. Just looking at them gives me so much joy. As children, we all have the same ability to express ourselves through pictures. Having worked with children for many years, I have noticed that at age 3 or 4, most of their pictures are mostly alike. (Except maybe one or two exceptionally talented ones). By the age of 10-12, there is a marked difference in abilities. As adults, there are ‘Artists’ and ‘I-can’t-even-draw-a straight-line’ kinds. It is sad that our education system takes away so much creativity in an attempt to churn out ‘Achievers’ usually judged by how well you do academically.

Yet in most of us, there is that little child, who still loves colours, and who finds immense joy in creating. A friend of mine, a CEO of a large organization, who has a very high pressure job, that involves a lot of travel, had a fantastic way to de-stress. He would colour pictures in printed colouring books with his six year old daughter. Side by side, they would sit, working on adjacent pages, silently, sharing a bond, sharing love, sharing happiness in a quiet contented way. He loved it. When I went to visit him once, he showed me proudly how well he had coloured, and he told me how good it made him feel as he cannot draw at all, but this gave him a nice chance to dabble with colours.

Years later, when I worked with street children (I had been volunteering with an NGO that works with under-privileged children, teaching them English and Math) I thought of my friend. These children had taught me a wonderful pattern, which was so simple, yet so beautiful. My CEO friend would have loved to make it.

Whenever I feel down, creating something perks me up instantly. This weekend I showed my seven year old daughter how to make that same pattern and stick it on handmade paper, (I love handmade paper—it makes anything look so pretty) and make a wonderful card. Her brother was in a school camp, and her dad is travelling. So she made it for both of them. (Yes ,the card you see was completely made by her) I am going to share it with you, step by step.

Step 1: Use a black marker or sketch pen and make a grid of dots--8X8 (Use a scale if you want to space them perfectly.We did not bother to)

Step 2: Make crosses as shown above.

Step 3. Complete the pattern as shown below

Step 4: (This is the best part) Add colour!! Stick it on handmade paper (which you have cut and folded to make a card) and trim the edges with a craft scissors if you like...and Voila--you have your own hand made card! :-)

Tempting, right? Buy yourself a packet of sketch-pens or marker pens and let your creativity go wild .You can fill the pattern in any way you can think of—with hearts, dots, squiggles or even glitter, if you like to jazz it up. You can even cut and paste photos in the little squares in the centre or around it. Just add imagination and see how it takes shape. Write a personalized message inside. Give it to that special someone and tell them that you made it for them. It will make them really happy and put a big smile on your face. (For those who don't have a special someone give it to your parents or anyone who means a lot to you. They will be delighted.)

Oh yes—and don’t forget to thank me for sharing.:-)

It will put a big smile on my face too :-)

Monday, November 03, 2008

What’s your indulgence?

A couple of years ago, I was spring cleaning my wardrobe, when my good friend and next door neighbour rang my bell. I had emptied the entire contents of my cupboard-- clothes, makeup, jewellery, jackets, handbags and many other things on my bed and was sorting and re arranging them. Since we are really close, I didn’t mind her seeing the contents of my wardrobe or my mess and so invited her right into my bedroom.

She sat cross-legged on my bed while I put away my stuff neatly. It reminded me a bit of my college days—I don’t think I have shared the contents of my wardrobe with anyone since those days.

As I was putting away each one, she was looking at them and we were talking about clothes like only two women can.

“So where are the rest of your pairs of jeans?” she asked

“These are it” I said. I had only two—blue and black.

She could not believe it.

“You have ONLY two pairs?” she asked , incredulous.

I had only two. "How can a woman live with just two pairs of Jeans?!" She asked

“How many do you have?” I asked her

I could not believe when she said she has seventeen!

Seventeen!! I don’t think I have ever had seventeen even if you counted the ones I have worn and outgrown my entire life starting from the time I was a little girl!

Then we compared notes about our clothes and make up and other stuff.

I had just four skirts (Two knee length, two short ones) two trousers, three formal shirts, twelve casual tees, two lipsticks (yes, I still have ONLY two) and ONE eye liner, no belts and no scarves.(I don’t use both) I had lots of sarees. (very expensive ones gifted to me at the time of my wedding--all packed away neatly in a suitcase on top of my wardrobe as these are all heavy silk that cannot be worn on a daily basis.I wear them only for special occasions)

She simply could not believe it. She found my wardrobe bordering on the frugal. She, I think must have had more than 20 of each item. Except the eye-liner. She had about seven of those. :-)

One thing I hate shopping for, is clothes. This same friend LOVED shopping for clothes and would drag me on her shopping sprees. I would be totally bored while she looked at clothes. I shop for clothes only when it’s absolutely necessary. I hate browsing through racks and racks of clothes. I’m extremely choosy when it comes to buying clothes. I am very hard to please. I also buy quickly as I know exactly what I want.[and I usually don’t find it :-) ]

Maybe my hatred for clothes shopping stems back to those days when all I could afford was cheap imitations of top of the end brands, bought off fashion street in Mumbai—they looked good—but a fake is a fake. I hated it and swore that when I could afford, I’d buy only the real thing.

Today almost all my clothes are branded ones--really nice higher end brands. I value them because it reminds me of those days when I could not afford them. And it’s rarely that I really like something in clothes—when I do, I buy two or three in the same style in different colours. (Most of my women friends say that in clothes, I shop like a guy—why buy three of the same style in different colours, they ask. It saves me the trouble of shopping for at least a year, I answer.)

But there are some things that I completely indulge in –Books (we have a collection of more than 400 books and it keeps growing), Long distance phone calls (to good friends), Art material and Expensive perfumes and not in that order necessarily. [So there, now you know what to gift me on my birthday--heh heh] I can spend hours in a book store or browsing through stationery section even in a super market. I simply love looking at different kinds of paper---water colour paper, handmade paper, quilling paper, craft paper origami paper, oil-paints, acrylic tubes, poster colours, brushes, craft material, erasers, tools, palettes, easels –all of it interests me.

But ask me to spend time looking at clothes and to be honest, I’d rather run on a treadmill for half an hour.(which is exactly what I am going to do just now--all this clothes talk itself makes me want to run) :-)

To each their own, I guess. That’s what makes each one of us unique. We all have our eccentricities, indulgences, fancies, whims, likes and dislikes.

So what is your indulgence? What do you spend on?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Rainbows,Fairies and being a Mom.

rainbow Pictures, Images and Photos

Children are great philosophers. It comes naturally to them I think, as their world view is original, often unique, not yet tainted by hard realities, failures, apathy, insensitivity, prejudice or worse, indifference that characterizes the world view of most adults.

Observing children and really listening to them and thinking about why they said certain things (Instead of just laughing and dismissing it as cute which is typically what we adults do) gives us a fresh different perspective to things. I am fortunate in that aspect as I have worked with children for many years and now I also have my own laboratory open 24 hours, seven days a week to study two children aged 10 and 7. :-) They accompany me everywhere I go, except to the loo. There too, if I am not out in five minutes I’ll have a voice pounding on the door impatiently, asking me “ Maaa—Are you in there ? When will you finish maaa? ” :-)

Both wanted to be a part of both my book launches and really enjoyed seeing a new avatar of their mom. Before the Bangalore book launch, I was a bit nervous as I had not yet met R.K.Misra who was to launch my book. I had not yet checked the arrangements at Crossword, and till the previous evening, the books had not arrived at Crossword too, though my publishers had sent them well in advance. The manager at Crossword was continuously checking with the Transporters and giving me updates. In between all this, there were many reporters from different newspapers calling me up for Interviews.

We took a flight from Pune to Bangalore the previous day, and suspended at 30,000 feet above sea level, somewhere between Pune and Bangalore, I forgot all my worries as I watched both my children. My daughter was very pre-occupied and was looking out of the window constantly as though she was searching for something.

“What are you looking at? Are you looking at the clouds?” I asked her.

“No mama.” She said “I am looking for God. My friend told me to watch out and that if I see God I have to tell her too.”

I smiled and let her be.

After a while I saw her opening her book to read.

“So did you see God?” I asked her.

She looked at me conspiratorially, smiled and pointed to her older brother. “He told me the truth.” She said.

“What did he tell you?” I asked

“You cannot see God.”

“Oh.” I said. “Maybe God is taking a nap. That’s why you cannot see him”

“No mama.” She said as though, she was an adult and I was the child “God does not live in the sky. That’s why you cannot see God.”

Later I asked my son what he had told her.

“The truth of course” he shrugged nonchalantly.

“And what is the truth?” I persisted.

His answer like many things he says, astounded me. He said “God is formless. He/She is just a higher power or positive energy. You cannot see God as God can be in any form, but you can feel it in your heart.”

I did not know what to say to that except nod in agreement.

Today while talking to my daughter, this discussion came up about the things that are in the sky. She said that God may not be in the sky but fairies definitely are there.

“How do you know? We haven’t seen them.” I countered using their own logic.

“That’s because they are on rainbows.” She said, “And when the rainbow is in the sky we are not on a plane. We are on the ground.”

Faultless logic.

“And what do fairies do in the sky?” I asked her.

“They ride their bicycles up and down on the rainbow.” She said without any doubt and without even a second’s delay.

I am sure she must have thought about it earlier.

Her brother wasn’t around and so he did not educate her.

And hey—who am I to deny a child her imagination, a lovely one at that?

If any of you happen to be on a plane and see a rainbow when you look out of the window, do watch out for the fairies riding their bicycles up and down.

And just in case you happen to see them, say a hello from my little girl down here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some nice ‘liberated education’!

polite Pictures, Images and Photos

With a name like Alamelu Padmavathi Ammal (with due apologies to anyone whose name is Alamelu, Ammal or Padmavathi) you cannot be very liberated. Okay—maybe not liberated in a wearing-cropped-denim shorts-spiked-coloured-hair-tank top-with-leather-boots kind of way but perhaps liberated in a I-am-a-forward-thinking-modern-woman kind of a way. I don’t know what it was but the Alamelu I knew, or rather used to know, was not very liberated in either ways.

The first time she met me was about 7 years back. Come to think of it, that was the last time I met her too. :-)

It was at a boring office party in a not so boring quaint little town, where the men sat separately and drank for the entire duration of the party and the women were not offered alcohol or the starters. (For the entire duration of the party too) I would have liked both (The alcohol and the starters, not the men or the women!) but nobody asked me. And I was not liberated enough to barge into the ‘bar-room’ full of men, that too husband’s office colleagues and demand my drink. So I played the Good wife and kept quiet.

I have no idea how I must have seemed to Alamelu. Her first question to me was “So what are your educational qualifications?” It wasn’t a “What do you do?’ or “How many kids?” or even the most common conversation starter about how hot the weather was. It caught me off guard for a second. She had touched a nerve that I usually avoided. If you have been following my writings, you’ll know by now, that one thing I usually do not talk about is my educational qualifications, because it usually raises eye brows. (That’s why I have not mentioned it in the short bio that comes beneath my picture in my book cover).In case I have got you wondering why, let me confess some little secrets, some facts about why it is so. For one, I have several academic degrees (and one of them where I stood first in the entire country too) and second I really do not think an educational degree is relevant or essential to get to know a person and third, I do think what life teaches you is far more important than what ANY college can, and fourth I think qualities like empathy, kindness, courage, perseverance, honesty and positivism are what really matter, not what you studied and where. Of course it is only now, many years later, in retrospect, that I am able to analyse and articulate what I feel about it.

When she asked me that question, I was plain stumped. I said a moment later, “I failed in my class ten exams.” And I smiled at my own little private joke. The look she gave me could have frozen the entire Sahara desert many times over.

“Oh—so you got married, had kids. End of story” she said with a snigger, dripping contempt and disdain, in an almost accusatory tone.

“It depends on how you define the story. Whether is fiction, fantasy or fairy-tale” I retorted, but I don’t think it registered. I don’t think my little joke registered either.

“I have done my C.A,” she announced grandly and “I don’t intend to be just a housewife” was her veiled dig.(It looked as though she expected me to stand up and applaud) Anyone in India knows that the mere mention of the word CA is supposed to evoke awe, respect or a similar suitably impressed emotion for the person who has cleared the exams of the great and hallowed portals of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. [Hey, I have nothing against CAs, heck, I even married a CA, but it was for his sense of humour and niceness, despite his educational qualification, okay?;-)]

I played dumb. “What is CA? Is that some kind of a degree?” I asked innocently. Alamelu did not know what to say to that—how can you explain C.A exams to a tenth grade school drop out? I did not wait to find out. I moved away quickly and avoided her for the rest of the evening.

I have never met Alamelu again. I have no idea what she has done with her life or how many more unsuspecting people she has thrust her gigantic, smug, superior attitude on. It’s been more than six or seven years now.

I imagine Alamelu walking into a book store, picking up my book, flipping through it ,perhaps recognizing me from my picture, and being surprised about a tenth grade drop out writing a book.

Someone once said "The purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place to spend one's leisure."

But like I said, whichever way you looked at it, whatever she studied, whatever she wore or whatever her thoughts were, Alamelu could definitely not be liberated. I cannot imagine her mind ever being a pleasant place.

To the Alamelus of the world, I have just one thing to say—it is something that my dad told me early in life and something I have taught my kids:

“It is nice to be important but it is more important to be nice.” Or to paraphrase it a bit differently

“It is nice to be educated, but you are definitely more educated, if you are nice."

Addendum: Hi all. Just a clarification. When I wrote this post, I was angry and hurt at what had happened and with the attitude of many people in our country. So much that even 6 years after the incident happened I still remembered it and blogged about it. It really is not about the name 'Alamelu Padmavathi Ammal' .It just so happened that her name was that. She could have been called x y z too. Somehow I don't feel good about this post anymore , maybe because, now I feel it has a trace of vindictiveness and I don't like it. So I am closing comments to this post. If you want to tell me something, please mail me on ps @ preetisatish .com .It takes just the same amount of time to shoot off a mail :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On Rifles, chocolate cakes and lifetime bonds.

chocolate cake Pictures, Images and Photos

Really sorry--I have had to remove this post as it will soon appear in a book. Making it available online would have been very unfair to my publisher who has placed so much trust in me. I hope you enjoy the other posts as much as you enjoyed this one. A heartfelt thanks for your support and understanding.Thanks for continuing to read what I write.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bangalore Launch-34 Bubblegums and Candies

Many of you writing to me,
Asking me to post on launch at Bengaluru
I feel good, happy, elated
That you want some-moru :-)

Launch went off great,
R.K Misra was terrific,
A born leader, an orator, a patriot,
With an approach which was focused and specific,

Meeting you all in person,
Whom I met only online,
A meeting of minds,
That added glitter and shine,

Book signings, Book readings,
Laughter, deep thoughts, a connect
That’s sums up most of it,
A launch that to me was near perfect!

I think pictures speak louder than words. Xh (anoop) has clicked some great ones. Click Here to see lots of them.

Also, Varun, Gazal ,Bimal and Prats have blogged about it. Click on their names to read what they said.

I was very impressed with R.K Misra, (yes he has a blog too) who is so down to Earth, Humble, with no celebrity airs, despite having achieved so much. He means what he says.He brings professionalism and transparency to public governance and leaders like him is what our country needs. He started a movement called “Change India” after winning the Lead India Campaign from among 36,000 participants. His idea of a ‘private-public partnership’ has resulted in improving the lives of thousands of Indians. To know more click here.

I was so delighted when he told me that he loved my book. I got to spend some time with him, before the launch, in the morning and in the evening too, before the function started. I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that within a day of getting the book he had read many stories and he discussed minute details with me. He really liked my book. In his words “More I read your book more I was convinced to be a part of the book launch. It is a wonderful work, so simple to read and extremely insightful. My hearty congratulations and wishing you all the success.”

The Media coverage too was excellent. (click on each article to enlarge and read) But more than all that, I felt so happy to see my friends whom I had connected online. They made a special effort to come for the launch. Many had carried lovely gifts for me and the children. I felt really grateful to the people who made an effort to come—especially so, as many people whom we thought would surely come didn’t turn up. (Just like what happened at Pune) So I’d like to make a special mention of the following who not only came, but hung around till the very end and waited for me till I finished talking to the Media and posing for the paparazzi.

Xh (Anoop) He clicked lovely pics too

Anant: I had written about him. Click on his name to read it.

Prats : It was great meeting her. Apart from gifts for the kids,she also gave me a perfect egg shaped paper weight made of marble with a note that said “Wishing you lots more Manuscripts to weigh under. All the best”.I was touched by her thoughtfulness.

Chandini: She is not a blogger. I have blogged about her. You can read it by clicking on her name. She postponed her trip to Mumbai just so that she could attend my launch.

Varun: He left so quickly as it was his dad’s birthday the next day.It was great to meet him.

Pratima: I had been interacting with her online. She gave such cute Mugs to my children.My daughter now has 4 glasses of milk a day, without any murmur, because she liked the mug so much! Thanks Pratima!

Gazal: She too hung around till the very end.

Karthik: he came all the way from Chennai to attend my launch!

Praveen: it was nice to meet him.

Bimal : He has been very encouraging.Always reads what i write and encourages me to do better.

Nikhil: That ever smiling enthusiastic bundle was a joy to meet and he has been helping me a lot with my book promos.

Prakhar: He looked just like his picture :-) Not that he ought not to—but as soon as I saw him I recognized him.

Sushma: Who said had been reading my blog a lot.

My oldest friends Hrishikesh who I went to school with, and Jen whom I went to college with,(see pics) turned up—and I felt so happy! I was meeting Jen after 13 years, and Hrishi I had met a few months back, after 17 years!

There were many more well wishers—I felt great that they took out time and made an effort to come for my launch. Too many names to mention, so forgive me if I have left out yours. A big thanks to you all--not only the ones who attended the launch but also the ones who continue to read and and connect with me.