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.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pune launch 34 Bubblegums and Candies.

Saturday evening (4th October 2008) was special. It was the first time I’d be attending a book launch.What made it very special was that it was my own. :-) I did not know what to expect. But I knew what I didn’t want for sure.

I did not want to talk about myself. It was not about me. It was about the book. It was about a journey. It was about a message, to live love and laugh, to dance like no-one was watching, to let go of the insignificant things, to live life fully.

They told me I could do whatever I wanted. I was the star.

“No” I corrected them “My book is the star.”

So what happened at the launch? I think these people who attended it have said it better.




The guest of honour was Anuja Agarwal who is now a friend and also VP and Global head of Communications of Duetsche Bank. She spoke really well and said some wonderful things about me and the book.

The turnout was really good. There was a big crowd. But funnily ‘friends’ whom I expected to be there were not there. They had promised they would come. I did not bother to ask them why they did not come, nor have they bothered to call up and explain. It has ceased to surprise me now. It just validates a few things that I have said in the last chapter of my book. (called ‘How this book came to be’)

I met some wonderful people whom I had been interacting online with. I met Dr.Roshan (whom I have met once before), Akanksha (whom I was looking forward to meet) ,Nishant (whom I knew only through twitter) and Prateek (whom I had interacted with only through my blog) among the bloggers and I met many non-bloggers too. Many people had read the newspaper articles and had turned up for the launch. I was moved that they wanted to click pictures with me. They were treating me like a celebrity and I could see the respect, awe and admiration in their eyes. I felt really humbled.(and honoured too)

I kept signing books after books after books. One person wanted me to sign a book for his wife who was expecting. Another couple wanted me to sign a book for their child, so that she will have it when she grows up. They said they would treasure that book. There were photographers who kept asking me to pose for pictures. Lots of people gave me bouquets and my house now is full of fresh flowers. Each corner I turn, there is a burst of colours reminding me of that special day. I also know that fame like these flowers will fade and so I enjoy it while it lasts.

I do believe with all my heart that that dreams indeed come true. You have to make it happen. It depends on how badly you want it, and how hard you are willing to work for it and what you are willing to give up for it and how deeply you believe in yourself. Paulo Coelho was right. You just have to want something badly enough (as opposed to mere wishful thinking) and act on it. The Universe indeed conspires to give it to you.

That morning a good friend of mine had sent me this video. He wished me luck and he wanted me to watch it before the launch. It moved me and also inspired me a lot. There’s a lovely message in the video—only you have to get it. I loved it. It beautifully illustrated what I have always known. (Incidentally, there is a chapter in the book called ‘Two monsters’ which explains it well)

"Yes, you can be a dreamer and a doer too, if you will remove one word from your vocabulary:Impossible"


True--Nothing is impossible.


Note: The Bangalore Book launch of '34 Bubblegums and Candies' is on Friday,10th October, 6:00.p.m at Crossword , Residency road. R.K Misra is the guest of honour. And yes--you are invited. :-)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

34 Bubblegums and Candies-Excellent reviews in the Media

Indian Express and Sakaal times today carry two lovely articles. And DNA again mentions it in their second page.Click on each one to enlarge and read.
Times of India and Pune Mirror too have featured it.
A big thanks to all of you who have been so supportive, so encouraging with your comments.
I am beaming :-)