Friday, December 31, 2010

As January rolls in

Hi there,

First of January. There is something childishly optimistic about a 'New Year'. The fact is, a 'new start' to whatever you want to do, can be done on any day of the year. Yet there is some joy, some anticipation, some excitement as December 31st passes and January begins.

The newspapers carry so many adverts about new year bashes. It is almost as if there is a compulsion to 'do something' for December 31st. Almost anyone I meet seems to ask me the same thing "So--what are you doing for new years?"
Somehow, the noisy pubs and clubs and bashes and dos and loud parties (commercially organised with a Bollywood diva or a celebrity singing and dancing) with a room full of drunken strangers isn't my idea of welcoming the new year. We usually stay at home for new years. Sometimes we have good friends over, sometimes it is just the four of us.  (Satish and I and our two children)

If it is just the four of us, we usually have a 'party' on the terrace. We play some nice 'fun games' (I think  up some really unique games and usually my son and I are in a team. We play against my husband and daughter in the other team), and we stay up till midnight. When the clock strikes twelve, I light my hanging lamp. (see photos. This is my prayer space)

We then pray for our loved ones, our families, our closest friends and for all those people who matter to us. We spend a few moments in serene silence, wishing for the very best but most importanly offering gratitude to the Universe for all that we have.

We are so fortunate (and so are you if you are reading this) to have a home, to have food on the table, to have good health, to have people who care about us and to have so much love.

We then hug each other,wish each other and go to bed.
We have had this ritual on for many years now.

So when people ask me in surprise "What? You aren't going to party?" I find it hard to explain to them, the joy in silence, serenity and peace and most importantly the joy in being with your closest ones(I cannot even imagine leaving my children at home and going for some party  to some hotel on new year!) to welcome a new year. I just smile and say "No, we will be at home only."

This year though, we would be spending it with immediate family.

However you choose to welcome the new year, whether you are partying (with or without a bollywood diva--hey--to each their own) or whether you are at home, whether you are alone or with friends, here is hoping that you take time to contemplate on where your life is going. Steer it gently, nudge it, prod it and then just leave it alone after you have given it your best shot.

It will all turn out perfect in the end, just the way it was meant to be.

Cheers and the very best wishes for achieving all your goals !

Love and warmth

Monday, December 27, 2010

Silent Words

Words  rising to the lips
From the depths of the heart
Held back as prisoners.
They’re not free to leave
Or live.

Squashed they must be
The desire they contain within themselves
Squelched with no trace
For they belong neither to you
Nor me.

Yet they strive
To exist within boundaries
Refusing to die
But struggling to live

They rise like smoke
Spread against the sky
Forming letters bit by bit
That can only be felt within the soul
Silent words.

Each of the letters
Contain a world of their own
True to the deepest core
Yet unsaid, unexpressed
So pure yet so tainted

Unable to be quiet
Any longer
They scream in anguish
Echoes scream back
‘I love you too’.

© 2010 Preeti Shenoy

For more poems click here. Some poems have already appeared in print. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Age is a matter of feeling not of years--a wonderful birthday

Many people shy away from birthdays. They feel only children can celebrate their birthdays. Yet others feel every single day comes only once a year, so what is the big deal about birthdays. Some feel bad that they are another year older.

But my views on birthdays are different.I truly go all out to do something special on the birthdays of those closest to me. Do I expect them to return the favour? Of course not! It is not like I would feel disappointed if these people do not wish me or give me a gift.

However, when someone close to me, does make that extra effort, it does make me feel really special.(on my last birthday when I was visiting India from UK,  one of my closest friends flew from Delhi just to spend the day with me and that made my day truly unforgettable. In fact, this  story of our friendship will appear soon in the Indian edition of Chicken soup for the friend's soul).

My birthday that just went by (It was on 21st December, I turned 39 and I am very proud of my age  unlike many who try to hide it :-) ) was truly one of the best ones I have had in a long long time. The doorbell rang at 11.30.p.m on 20th and there was a bouquet of red roses, a chocolate cake and a wine बोतल  (the delivery slip said 'botal'- heh heh) that was delivered. The sender was another of my very good friends. There was also  a card that said " The good thing about being forty (39) is that you can appreciate twenty five (26) year old men."  I wondered why my friend decreased his age by one (outside the bracket) and increased mine by one (within the brackets) .When I opened the 'wine बोतल' it turned out that it was actually a whiskey bottle! Of course I texted my friend immediately to tell him about the mistake  and he texted back saying "Oh #$%* I will kill them" which I found sweetly amusing (and I chuckled inwardly). I texted back hastily (before he set out to kill them :P ) saying I drink whiskey too and it was okay :-). Then I switched off my phone as I knew that I would be flooded with midnight calls and texts. Very smartly, he called up on Satish's number and of course spoke to me  and wished me and he said "You thought that if you switch off your phone I won't call you or what?"  Somehow the effort he made to reach me, truly moved me. He also explained the mystery behind the card when he told me it was a famous quote by Collen Mc Cullough  who said

"The lovely thing about being forty is that you can appreciate twenty-five-year-old men." :-)

On the next day (which was my birthday) I was again totally swept off my feet when Satish told me that he had taken the whole day off to spend it with me. My two kids and he had planned surprises for me throughout the day! It began when the doorbell rang and my three conveniently  vanished, leaving me to answer the door. When I opened, there was a bouquet of THIRTY NINE red roses (Oh my God!) and two teddy bears and a black forest cake! But that was not all--- Every hour, they had planned a surprise for me! It included a lovely spa package, an extremely moving poem (which he had composed and framed and which spoke of out 15 years together), a hand written book and a lot more! Each hour there was a thoughtful gift and a surprise (which I oepned in between the many phone calls I got wishing me). I was truly flabbergasted, astonished, overwhelmed.They took me out to a marvellous place in the evening. The  best was yet to come. When we came back they asked me whether my day had been great (Were they kidding?! It had been marvellous!) and what gift I liked the best (it was undoubtedly the framed poem composed by Satish). Then Satish gives me THIRTY NINE cards! (OH MY GOD!!) He had taken care to choose each card and he has a truly wicked sense of humour (as many of you know from his guest posts. Incidentally he too has been published in Chicken soup for the father's soul). Some of the cards moved me to tears and some of them had me clutching my sides with laughter. He had written such lovely and such hilarious things. Then he also gifted me a diamond ring (with seven natural diamonds!) and matching diamond ear-rings.
 For me, more than the value of the gift, it is the thoughtfulness that goes into it, that counts. More than the diamonds, I still valued the poem and the hand written book. I absolutely was swept away by the effort he made.

Sometime back  Ramesh of Business Musings  who is also a dear friend, had gifted my son (on his 13th b'day)  a very thoughtful gift--a lovely photography book. Ever since then my son has been experimenting with the camera on the manual mode. I am his favourite model (as his dad and sis have considerably less patience than me :-) ) and on the day after my birthday, my son clicked these pictures of me (with camera on manual mode--can you believe?!) which I totally love and which manage to express exactly  how I felt about my birthday :-) I am sharing these pictures with you.

And now reflecting back on my special  day, I am convinced three times over that the BEST present of all is the presence and love of good friends and family, all blissfully wrapped up in one another :-)
Ps: And a big thank you to so many many of you who sent me messages wishing me. I think I have replied personally to each one. I truly appreciate and value the wishes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You deserve to feel wonderful

A good friend of a good friend died  two days back. It was all of a sudden, a cardiac arrest. I have met the person but cannot say that I am a 'friend'. Yet the death did affect me.

What is it about deaths (even of people we do not know)  that affect us all so much? Is it the warning of our own mortality? Is it because we're truly powerless in front of it? Is it because it is a stark reminder that life is indeed fragile? Is it because it is a jolt of  fact presented to you in a manner  that screams that today indeed might be your last day?

In my twenties, I hardly thought about death.(At that age, who cared really!) But now, the older I get, I find myself realising more and more that every single day that passes, brings you closer to the date of your death. We all come with expiry dates and the clock is ticking.

 Most of us, especially if we're parents, hardly live for ourselves. This is more true if you are a woman. Somehow I find that men do not feel as guilty if dishes are piled up in the sink and the house is a mess. They would probably still grab that  mug of beer and catch that cricket match or football game or NBA match or whatever sport he is into. It is more likely to bother a woman who'll probably wear those dish washing gloves and get down to cleaning before relaxing a bit. (I am yet to meet a woman who says she can unwind completely in a dirty house).

But I am digressing here. The point I am trying to make is that all of us deserve to feel great about ourselves, every single day. Our loved ones too deserve to be made felt wonderful. Life is too short for quarrels, for petty misunderstandings (it is truly petty if you view it against the fact that for all you know that person may not be alive tomorrow), for harbouring grudges, for feeling down about whatever is worrying you right now.

There is nothing you can do about death, but there are several things you can do about life and the way you live it.

Here is my list to ensure that each day is a day well lived :

1.Express love:  Hug and kiss and tell my loved ones that they matter a lot. Somehow, expressing my emotions is very important to me and I am demonstrative by nature. (If I am annoyed that shows too even if I try to hide it :P ) There are many who are not able to express what they feel, even if they want to.  They feel it is understood. But the fact is even those people  who claim they are uncomfortable, secretly  like it if they are hugged and kissed. (Who does not want to be loved?) When I was doing my Masters, I remember reading up several case studies that demonstrated the importance of touch. This is a good article if you wish to read more about it.

2.Show Compassion: How is showing love different from showing compassion? It is perfectly possible to love somebody deeply and show no compassion. A case in point might be an overly authoritarian and disciplinarian parent who feels that showing love, hugging and/or kissing is a sign of weakness that may spoil a child. Compassion means looking at the situation from the other person's point of view and empathising by considering their needs and feelings. I have a few friends who feel offended if I am not available to them when they need me. They are unable to see it from my point of view and sometimes they sulk for days.

3. Make time for things that matter to you: To me, reading is very important. So is spending time with my children and spouse. I ensure that no matter how busy I am, I am available to the children when they come from school. It is very rarely that I have not been at home to greet them (with a hug) when they arrive. I also read to them at bedtime and then spend at least half an hour with them. Usually they cuddle up to me and tell me so much about their lives. Similarly I ensure that when my spouse comes home from work, I get exclusive time with him. I do not take phone calls at that time. We sit in the garden and have a cup of tea.(without the kids). It's truly one part of my day that I look forward to.I read every single day and I cannot live if I don't have a book to read.(currently I am reading two books and i always ensure I have enough stock of books to read).

4.Wear smart clothes:  I wear  comfortable and smart clothes that make me feel terrific, every single day and I just do not  save up the clothes for 'special occasions'. If you have not read the poem 'Millie's mother's red dress', do read it. It is a wonderful poem. When my dad passed away, one of the things which affected me most was giving away the new T shirts that he had never worn. I had gifted them to him and he had wanted to wear them immediately. But my mother (like Millie's mother) told him to save it and wear it when they would come to visit me the following week. There was to be no 'following' week. I still get goosebumps and a lump in my throat when I recall how delighted my gardener was when I gave away those T shirts to him.

5.Make time to  call up a friend and talk and laugh: Life always seems better after a phone call to a good friend, more so if the friend is a positive, happy person. Often I find that a problem talked over with a good friend does not seem such a big problem after all.

I am sharing here a poem which summarises what I believe in and follow:

To Have Succeeded

To laugh often and love much:
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one's self;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
And sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived...
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

To me, that would be a life well lived and when it is my time to go, I'd have no regrets, saying my good-byes.


ps:  If you have your own ways to live a fuller life  that you can add to the list I shall update the post (and credit you of course) with 'addendums'.

Addendums (as promised)

From Ruchira:
1)Don’t color your life with regrets and sadness for what you don’t have. Instead stay happy by focusing on the positive things! Celebrate your life – After all you only live once!
2)Always Keep learning and doing new things – It’s never too late to learn something new !
3)Travel Travel Travel – Explore this world as much as you can. It’s a Beautiful place !

4) Its never ever too late to say sorry and patch up :-)

From Pia

Not to be afraid of trying new things
Not to be afraid of being adventurous
Not to be afraid of what people would think and doing what you
Accepting life as it comes ("Whatever happens, happens for good" - My husband Vinay keeps saying this)

From Shachi:
Learn to let go easily....forgive and try to forget as well. I find this very hard to do so.
-Be authentic - I see many people who try to adjust and tune to other people, so that everyone likes them. In doing so, you sometimes compromise yourself so much that you forget being true to yourself. I try not to do that as much as possible.
-Find happiness in simple stuff - for me right now, its my baby's smile :)

From Sheila:

1. Take life as it comes with a grain of salt and quit complaining.
2. Live in the present moment.
3. Show people that you care before it becomes too late.

From Sucheta:
try anything once.
-No regrets whatsoever.
-Learn a new thing ( including an idea/concept) everyday.
-With everyone you meet: Connect. Listen. Accept. Evolve. (wow, this just summed up what I have been trying to figure out about people for days!)

From Guru:

# Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn
a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia
#Don’t compare your life with others, you have no idea what their journey is all about.
#Learn to be happy with what you have while you persue all that you want.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

One more pencil portait

A lot of people have been asking me about my Portraits. With the kind of questions I have been asked, I realised that many have doubts as to what portrait commissioning is. Also, many are confused between a quick sketch, a caricature and a hand drawn pencil portrait.

You find sketching booths in malls which give you 'portraits' within a few minutes. It is basically a photograph clicked and digitally altered by a program to make it appear like a portrait. (There is no talent, no time and no art involved here). You could easily do this with something like Picassa or photoshop.

A hand drawn pencil portrait takes me at  the very  least a whole day to complete. The finished result is a lifelike resemblance and is very realistic. (Unlike a caricature or a 'cartoon' ). Recently, I sold my first portrait commission in India. (yes, in between all the relocation from UK to India, I still found time for my art ).

It was Swati's husband's birthday and she wanted to give him a really unique gift and she wanted it to be a surprise. So she contacted me  by email (after seeing my portraits on my blog)  asking me about the commissioning procedure.She wanted me to make a portrait of her husband and her five month old baby. I work from photos and all she had to do was mail me a suitable picture which she did. (she mailed me several and I helped her choose)

I was as excited as her to be a passive player in the surprise that she had planned. I delivered it to her well in advance and the joy on her face as she saw the finished portrait is something I will always remember.

Later she told me he was really delighted and the portrait now occupies a place of pride in their home. (It feels so delightful to know that my work of art is  a part of someone's treasured moments of joy)

The portrait is done on extra smooth bristol board A3 size paper which is of  the highest professional quality.(and it lasts for centuries). The finished portrait was sprayed  with an Artists fixative to prevent it from smudging.
In case you wish to know more about how I work and what equipment I use, you can read this post where I have explained a lot of details.

If you want to see more portraits, please go here.

If you have any more questions, mail me! (ps at preetishenoy dot com)

Addendum: I had to copy past this comment by Swati here in the post:

Hey Preeti
Once again thanks so much for making this the best birthday gift I've ever given my husband. The look of pure joy on his face when he unwrapped the portrait will be one of my most treasured memories :).
Hoping you get lots more commissions :).
I really liked the way you were so involved in the whole process, even messaging me on his birthday and asking how he liked the gift. It's so good to see someone put so much into something they do - not take it as just another job.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

You are thought of.

texting. Pictures, Images and Photos

This morning I got a text message which made me pause and think. It said "
When someone messages you, don't think ki isko sms free hai to kar raha hai but think that he gives 1 minute of his life for remembering you. Stay connected.Good morning"
(For my non hindi speaking friends, it translates to don't think that the person is texting you simply because he has free texts)
It really made an impact on me and made me go "how true." ( Of course, I replied back immediately). It is true that no matter however silly the message (many a time forwarded) is, fact is the person has indeed spent a few seconds to send you the message. For those few seconds, you were remembered and thought of. 

I wondered if most people who got a message like this would dismiss it as just another forward or would it make them think, like it made me think. I sent the message to fifteen of my friends.

Only four replied back. The replies were almost instant too.

Three out of those are my closest pals, my 3.a.m friends ( I can wake them up at 3.00 a.m if I really needed), or 'forever friends' (sometimes clichés describe it best), the ones I can depend on, no matter what, the ones I can trust with all my secrets, the ones I can call up and cry on the phone to (yeah, I have done that) , the ones who completely understand me, the ones I am fairly certain will be there for me, and probably the ones who complete bits and pieces of me.

All the three of the above had something more  to say than a mere acknowledgement of the message. (And even the acknowledgement had not happened with the other eleven. Perhaps they are too busy with their lives to respond to 'forwards').

 Just makes me feel grateful and fortunate to have the  'forever friends'.

And it also makes me think a lot more about 'forwarding forwards' and responding back.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Making love out of nothing at all

Anyone, just anyone ( no matter what their age) who has  ever been in love, knows just how much a song can say. Since time immemorial, men have serenaded women with love songs. (and vice versa too). There have been some  truly brilliant and amazing pieces of music that have been composed for the object of the affection, but the magic of music is such that each one hearing it, feels the emotion as though it were their own. 

Music is pure joy. Music is magic. Music is love.
Life without music is truly barren, empty and to me, it is a life without passion.(Incidentally, the only thing I watch on television are the music channels)

People connect over music. Often we find an unexplainable delight in meeting another who enjoys the same songs as we do. 'Oh,You like Kailash Kher? Me too!' and an instant bond is formed.

Songs often bring back memories too. Even the deeply buried ones that you thought were buried so deep down and so far inside that they would never surface. But music has a way of gently drawing them out and before you realise you have travelled back in time and you are standing right there at that instant when it all happened and when the song swept you off your feet. Years fade away and you re-live that moment as though it just happened a few seconds ago.

This morning it happened to me, when I heard a song. Many years back someone had dedicated this song to me.

He didn't just dedicate it, he sang it.(and he does sing well). He looked right into my eyes as he sang (oh yes, he knew how to serenade women all right) and he meant the lyrics too with all his heart.

And I know just where to touch you
And I know just what to prove
I know when to pull you closer
And I know when to let you loose
And I know the night is fading
And I know the time's gonna fly
And I'm never gonna tell you
Everything I gotta tell you
But I know I gotta give it a try

And I know the roads to riches
And I know the ways to fame
I know all the rules
And I know how to break 'em
And I always know the name of the game

But I don't know how to leave you
And I'll never let you fall
And I don't know how you do it
Making love out of nothing at all

Everytime I see you all the rays of the sun
Are streaming through the waves in your hair
And every star in the sky is taking aim at your eyes
Like a spotlight

The beating of my heart is a drum and it's lost
And it's looking for a rhythm like you
You can take the darkness from the pit of the night
And turn into a beacon burning endlessly bright

I've gotta follow it 'cause everything I know
Well it's nothing till I give it to you 

What chance did I stand against such a guy? Of course I fell for him. I fell so madly in love with him that I married him forty days later. :-) (yeah, that quickly.)

This morning when the song was playing he sang along again.
I called out to my our children and said  " Your papa sang this for me many years back."
They both listened in rapt attention with wide eyes. :-)

I am still smiling and finding it hard to wipe the grin off my face.
And as for the the song, it is still playing inside my head.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bird of paradise in my little paradise

When I was moving to the UK from Pune, India, one of the things that saddened me the most was giving away my collection of  about forty potted plants which had moved with me every place I moved. These plants were the plants I had lovingly grown, after I got married. Each plant had a story and each had been chosen with care and carefully tended to. Satish knows my love of plants and nature (and animals) and whenever I went out of town, he would never forget to water them. We had moved and lived in about nine houses in a span of  eleven years and yet each place we moved, the plants would arrive behind us like Bo beep's sheeps, sometimes wilted (as it would take three days in a truck at times) and they always survived.Sadly, they would never survive an International move and also there is a ban on bringing plants and other stuff into the United Kingdom. So we left them behind.

When I relocated to UK, all I inherited  as a 'garden' was a sad looking patch of earth with a lot of rubbish strewn and absolutely  no plants at all. My heart sank when I saw it, but I set about nevertheless, creating a garden. It was the first time in my life I was actually doing hard physical labour in the mud. Satish and I dug, weeded, uprooted a lot of unwanted bushes. Then we went to the garden centre and bought lawn seeds. We read up about planting them and little by little, a lovely little garden took shape. I discovered that tending to an English garden is a completely different (but rewarding) experience. I grew all kind of flowers that I had only seen in books before. I grew Clematis and Azaleas and Tiger lilies. I grew roses and Dianthus. I grew English Lavender and  primroses. One of my good friends gifted me Daffodil bulbs and I loved watching them bloom in my garden. Each flower that bloomed reminded me of the smiling face of my friend.

Then we moved back to India and I had to once again  leave it all behind in the UK.

But this time I was really fortunate to have inherited a  lovely little garden in my new place at Bangalore. I lie on the lawn at night and gaze at the stars. Early in the morning I walk around with my cup of coffee admiring the dew drops and feeling the grass under my feet. (Walk on grass barefoot if you haven't done it for long. It is such joy in such a simple thing!)

So, imagine my delight when a Bird of Paradise flower bloomed in my garden! I have been gazing at it every single day and admiring it and clicking pictures too. Here is how it slowly bloomed. (Pictures are in sequential order)

This is how it looked on the first day.

 Then it opened up a litle further and two more 'wings' appeared.

The above picture was clicked by me just a little while ago and that is how it looks at the moment.

Sitting in my garden, a cup of coffee in my hand, peace in my heart and typing away on my laptop as I gaze at my bird of paradise flower,with the sun slowly setting in the background, casting a pale orange glow across the skyline, I understand Henry Beecher completely and  truly, who had said  "Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into."

Even Emma Goldman's words make so much sense now. "I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck," she had said.

How apt! Just make my rose a bird of paradise in my garden, please :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

An extremely special birthday

Funny how time changes things so much.

Thirteen years ago on this day, I became a mother. It was my first born and I was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I did not know how to hold my new born son and I had to call my mum or my aunt to even lift him. I was so afraid of not supporting his neck right (new born babies cannot hold up their neck and need to be supported and carried in a particular way) and he seemed so tiny (even though he weighed a healthy 3.25 kgs) and I was so scared of hurting him.

Funny, how within a week I was able to even manage giving him a bath and how I learnt to even manage the cord stump. 

And then his first year. Oh how delightful it was! He was such a sweet, gorgeous baby. He started sleeping through the night at three months.I began reading books to him when he was three months old. He was such a joy and truly no trouble at all, that I even travelled without my husband, to Darjeeling and Gangtok  when he was just five months old. (New parents know what a nightmare it can be to travel with babies). We had an amazingly wonderful trip.

I refused to leave my precious baby in a creche (I just couldn't bear the thought of someone else looking after him) and so I took up a job (teaching in  a pre school) which was completely different from my field, just so that I could take him with me to work. He started accompanying me to school, from when he was one and a half years old.

When he was about two, he fell down and  he had to get six stitches at the back of his head, I was so distraught I could barely speak. I never knew till then, what helpless pain truly is. But he was a tough little fellow. He was finer than I was.

Then  I taught him to read using the Glen Doman method.  At the age of  three years and eight months he was reading Ladybird books like Princess and the Pea. He was even featured in a local TV program for early reading for children.

His love of books  grew along with him.(and today he reads Paul Jennings and Cornelia Funke)

At four and a half I taught him to ride a bicycle without trainer wheels. When he had his first fall, it was on a row of cactus plants. I had to rush him to my cousin who is a surgeon and he had to extract thousands of cacti thorns from his legs with a tweezer. I think I flinched each time a thorn was pulled out, more than he did.

The years have flown by since then.Today he is almost as tall as me and he can lift me with ease! I squeal and tell him to put me down when he carries me and lifts me off the floor.

Now he can talk to me at my level and we discuss a lot of things. We have such wonderful conversations. I tease him about girls and he teases me right back about my 'boyfriends'. We talk about Call of Duty-Black Ops and we talk about the cultural differences between UK and India. We discuss colleges and  various courses offered. He asks me about what interests me and what I like and I ask him the same. He introduces me to 'cool music' like Pendulum and I tell him about GNR, Bryan Adams and Billy Joel.

He  tells me I am cool (the ultimate compliment for a mother!) and is very proud of me and shows off my book and my portraits to a  few select friends.

He has a wonderful sense of humour and he can really make me laugh.He also clicks great photos and even has a photo blog.

I cannot help turning nostalgic and sentimental on the eve of his thirteenth birthday.

Happy  13th birthday to my darling sonny boy.
Even if you are 26, you will still be my sonny boy :-)
Funny how some things remain the same no matter how much they change :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A little love note

Susie in trouble p1 Pictures, Images and Photos

Most people who don't have children, have a  fairly stable routine and  days of work (unless of course you happen to be the official photographer for Kingfisher Calendar or a flight attendant or Rakhee Sawant,  in which case I doubt you would be reading this blog :-)). But people who have children--oh, they will agree with me, when I say  that each day there is a new drama which unfolds. You really don't need reality TV (move over Pamela Anderson)  when you have kids. There is enough entertainment provided on a daily basis, except that sometimes you are an active participant  (at times unwittingly the clown) in this reality show and you don't even realise it till you put your feet up at the end of the day.

But a lot of times it also seems  like we are transported back to our childhood, through our children. The kids these days might be natives to Internet, might have had far more exposure than we did at their ages and might be tech-savvy little geniuses but the fact is children always are children, be it in today's world or be it a hundred years back. The toys they play with might have changed but the qualities inherent in children (a curious nature, a playful attitude, and most importantly being unafraid to try out new things, unafraid to fail and the ability to quickly forgive and not carry grudges) are still the same. ( We adults would do well to emulate some of these qualities).

Each day when my two kids come back from school, I am there to greet them. This is one of the best times of the day for me. After they have been served (today it was aloo tikkis which they gobbled in a jiffy showering me with ample 'mmmmm mummy you are the best cook in the world')  and cajoled to change out of their school uniforms, they cuddle upto me and tell me about their day. I love listening. Each day there is something new.

Today my son (who will soon be 13) said " Mum, today a boy in the bus gave a note to a girl."
"Ooh" I said, "Did you see what was in the note?"
"I could just see it from outside. He had written 'from' and  'to'. That was all what was there on the outside."
"Oh, " I said, a bit disappointed to not know what was in the note.
But the story wasn't over.
"Mum, the girl took it from him and said awwwwwwww," continued my son.
"And? " I prompted him, now fully engrossed.
"Ma, when she opened it, it was a dead bee inside. She screamed her head off and then she threw it out of the window."

I  really collapsed on the floor with laughter as my son and daughter too joined in.

Like I was saying, kids will be kids.
Or maybe boys will be boys :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On making a birthday memorable

cupcakes Pictures, Images and Photos

The other day the newspaper carried an article which showed three young guys from the city who had developed a Facebook application for wishing your friends on their birthdays. It wasn't an application that merely reminds you when a birthday is upcoming (I have no grouses against that) but this was an application which would do the actual wishing for you at midnight, while you slept or watched a movie or had sex or do whatever you do at midnight. It could personalise the wish as much as you wanted ( or as little as you wanted) and it would post a message on your friend's wall at midnight as though you had written it yourself , and your friend would be no wiser. You merely had to enter all the dates of your friends birthdays one time. The article said that this way, you would never have to keep track of any birthdays or take the actual effort to wish a friend or even  forget to wish a friend and your friend would be happy and moved that you  really took the trouble to wish him/her at midnight.

How much more superficial can one get?

To me, birthdays are only as important as the people who have them. If the person mattered to me a lot, I would surely make an effort to make that day extra special for that person. To me, it is all about making an effort, not merely wishing for the sake of wishing. I would surely value a phone call or a visit much more than a mere posting on the wall which seems to have become perfunctory. And I would value a hand written card more than an electronic one for sure. On one of my birthdays, a  good friend took the trouble to have a cake and a teddy bear and flowers delivered to me. It was a complete surprise and I was delighted. On my  last birthday  (when I was visiting India from the UK, in December) I was over the moon, when one of my closest friends flew down from a different city, to be with me. Another of my closest friends had taken the trouble to order a delicious chocolate cake weeks in advance (it is very hard to get a booking for a cake from that particular place) and also the care and thought that went into the gift she had chosen for me, moved me and made me feel on top of the world.

Yesterday happened to be her birthday and I decided to surprise her. I turned up outside her door (I had to change two city buses to get to her place as I am stranded without a vehicle at the moment) with a large bouquet of flowers and a nice gift (which I know she will love). Then I called her number and wished her from right outside her door. She had no clue where I was calling from. Then I told her that I think I heard a knock and that there was someone outside her door and asked her to open her door. She wondered how I could hear a knock though the phone when she couldn't :-)  I insisted that she open the door. When she saw me standing there grinning like an idiot from ear to ear, she was so stunned that she could not react for a few seconds. :) Then  she screamed and we both burst out laughing and hugged each other.  She said " Hey. I never expected this. You really made my day."
We then ordered a Chinese takeaway and spent the rest of the day talking and laughing. She later texted saying it was one of the best birthdays she has had.

To me, that is how a close friend ought to be wished on a birthday and a birthday ought to be celebrated.
Not  for me, an automated application that wishes them for you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ullage of life

Every single day I get a new word in my inbox from Sometimes they are words I know, sometimes they are new.If it is a new word, I usually try and understand the context in which it is to be used and I look at the way it is pronounced too. An interesting word I got yesterday was the word 'Ullage'. It set me thinking.

Right now I have relocated from UK to India, and we have moved into a lovely home, which is at the moment, completely bare.  There are no tables, no chairs, no microwave, no TV, no kitchen utensils and worst of all, no writing desk, books, the kids toys or my art stuff which is all bobbing in a ship, in a container in the Pacific Ocean or perhaps it has reached Indian Ocean--who knows! They tell us it will finally arrive by month end. (am keeping my fingers crossed). I am cooking with a few borrowed pans and plates. We sit on the bare floor and eat our meals. Getting stuff organised in India, I am discovering is a long, lengthy and extremely frustrating process.(and God help you if you are not an Indian! I cannot imagine any of my English friends being able to manage in India, unless they knew someone here).  Even obtaining a local mobile phone number was a big hassle and they debarred my number twice, despite my visiting the customer relationship centre and submitting every necessary document two times. Renewing my Indian driving licence is another lengthy lengthy process and if you do not have your own vehicle in India (and right now I don't) one knows how inadequate the public transport system really is. But hey, this is not an NRI returning to India and cribbing and cribbing about what is wrong in the country. (I do love my country, am very patriotic and have  spent more than a year in very uncomfortable and extremely difficult conditions, teaching slum children English and Math, because I do believe that each of us can indeed make a difference if you truly care).

So how is all this connected to the word I received?  Mostly I realised that many of us (and that includes me) tend to focus on the 'Ullages in life'. We look at what isn't right and we feel bad. We complain about the traffic instead of being grateful that we can afford a car/two wheeler. We complain about our jobs and how we got a 'raw deal' instead of being grateful that we're not laid off  or unemployed. We complain about how we don't have perfect figures (propelled by media frenzy which mostly objectifies women with all the hype about size zero) instead of being grateful that we have a healthy body free of disease. One of my good friends recently had a mastectomy done and has battled breast cancer and is a proud survivor. Her spirit is truly amazing as never once has she moaned, cribbed or complained instead she asserts how much she loves all of us, her closest friends and keeps sending us messages of love and hope.

We all tend to look at what we don't have, instead of being happy and grateful for the things we do. Let us stop looking at the ullages of life. Let us instead appreciate what are fortunate to possess.Let us fill our lives with joy, laughter and whatever makes us feel good from the inside.

On my part, I am grateful to have extremely supportive friends (because of whom the relocation from UK to India has been smooth), I am grateful to have a wonderful home, happy that my children got into a superb school (despite it being mid  academic year). I am grateful for the three newspapers (yeah I subscribe to three :) )  I receive every single day (Newspapers were a big luxury in UK and many people don't buy one daily) and which I devour from end to end :-)  I am grateful the extremely cheap texting (I could not believe my ears when the guy told me that I get 500 free SMS a day! I kept asking him if it was for a month! Texting is so expensive in the UK)  which I use liberally to text all my friends my friends  my friends who reply. I am grateful for the sunshine, the lovely weather and a lovely lovely garden which my new home has. I am grateful for the superb facilities which my residential complex has and doubly grateful that I can visit my mother who lives in Kerala very easily now. :-) I am also grateful for such well adjusting children (they have been real darlings) who do not complain even one little bit about anything even though the transition hasn't really been easy for them, moving from UK to India.

What are you grateful for today? If you share I am listening.


 PS:  I leave you with a wonderful video which I loved. Listen to it with your headphones on :) It is surely a pep up :)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Dreaming of home

Moving homes is hard. Moving home from one country to another, it is even harder. But I think the hardest is to be without a home which is what my current situation is.

 We reached India on 19th October, exhausted after travelling for more than 24 hours,(it is such a long long long way) bone weary,  jet-lagged and wanting to run back to a comfortable place called home. Except, there was no home. The last of our belongings had been boxed and shipped, our lives neatly packed into cartons, labelled and despatched with cool crisp efficiency of an International relocation agency.

It took me more than ten days to get my body clock set to Indian Time. Was I glad to back in India? I really had no time to notice as there were and still are a million things to be done. Right now we have been put up in a company guest house and we're trying to set up things from here.

We have managed to find an excellent school for the children (they got chosen into four schools which was a pleasant surprise as many well meaning folks had warned us about relocating in the middle of an academic year and how hard it is to get admissions into a good school. The warnings were baseless as we discovered. Doors do open when you try hard enough). We are slowly setting up our home too (we finally signed the rental agreement two days back) and I hope to move into my own home next week, even though the stuff that has been shipped would arrive only by the end of November.

Thank you to all who mailed and asked me how I was doing and wishing me luck. I still haven't got around to replying to mails.  I shall do so slowly.The first thing I am doing  after getting a mobile Internet connection (Oh, the amount of documentation needed these days to get one, is crazy)  is blogging :-) (Yeah, I could not bear to be away from my beloved blog and its readers any longer :-) )

They say that when emotion over flow poetry flows. Poems are often feelings poured into words. Just before we left UK, my nine year old daughter wrote an amazingly beautiful poem.  It seems so apt , at the moment.

I am reproducing it below. (Click on the photo to enlarge it to read it in her own writing and to read her English teacher's remarks too)

Dreaming of Home

By Purvi Shenoy (Aged 9)

Once upon a time
I dreamt of living in a warm cozy cottage
Where the fire flames dance like crazy

The carpeting squidges between your toes
Where the bed is nice and bouncy
Where the garden is filled with the smell of flowers

In the kitchen, a delicious smell of my mum's cooking
In the attic, the stair case creaks and there are old toys in the corner
And the bedroom has cool crisp sheets on the bed.


My daughter's poem really tugs at my heart strings at this moment.
Right now, it seems like heaven, as I wait to move in and create a place called  home.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

News from my end

Hi there,

Is it possible to feel very happy and very sad both at the same time? I have discovered it perfectly is possible!

The  very happy news is I am relocating back to India. ( Phoren country desi dil was a post I wrote some time back. I do love my country totally ) The  sad news is I will be leaving UK. ( The saddest thing for me was that I had to give away my pet-- Sparkle. ( Yeah, I know I will get over it and I know I will be fine, but it is still hard )

A friend  asked how it is possible to feel sad and happy. It is. Moving two houses in the same city  or even moving to a different city within a country, is just not the same as moving countries. Moving from your home country to another which is a completely different world, adapting to a completely new way of life  and then making that  new country your home--well, you understand it when you have done it.(and it is not easy at all). The experience has indeed  been an eye opener in many ways.

It has been nearly two years now since I moved to the UK. A part of me has indeed accepted it as 'home'. I have some glorious memories here and Norfolk is really an outstanding place in terms of unmatched scenic beauty, miles of wonderful coastlines, old ancient cathedrals that reach out to heaven, the marvellous English countryside, the greenery, the flowers, the daffodils, the seasons, the Norfolk broads, the best library in the whole of UK, a very vibrant art community--I simply love it all.I would be lying if I say I will not miss it. Even yesterday we went to a really beautiful place called Southwold.(Pictures perhaps in another post?)


 I also now have a National level UK qualification in Portraiture, something which I could never have done in India. My Art has taken off in a huge leap in UK. I am happy I got that opportunity here and I do feel a bit sad to leave all that behind.

We will be moving back to Bangalore (yay! It is my most favourite city in India) by 16th October! I am delighted that I am moving to Bangalore. It is where my daughter was born and it is also a place where I have a LOT of friends. One of my book launches happened in Bangalore and it is a place where I feel completely at home.

After we move, we will be school-hunting, house-hunting and then setting up a home from a scratch .(as we had sold almost all of our stuff when we moved here) I am looking forward to a number of  very exciting things I can  and will do while in Bangalore. If you  are curious and really want to know  what it is,  please  see my latest portrait  by clicking  here  and read the comments  which will tell you what I am planning ;-)

And so many of you, who have written to me saying you want to meet me, let us meet! :-) But give me two months or so while I get my life and house in order.

I would surely be posting here, as soon as I can :)
Until then, wish me luck please. I need it.

Till then in the true British spirit I am going to keep calm and carry on. (but I still need all the luck)

Love and Sunshine,

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Things you never notice .Wordless Wednesday 25

This is my entry for Wordless Wednesday

Sometimes you have to see the world through the eyes of a child and then you see things you have never seen before.

My niece Gia (need I say I totally adore her? :-)) turns four tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Gia!
For my other portraits click here .

[And yes I do commissions if you want a pencil portrait  as a unique  gift to that special someone. I work from photos  which can be e-mailed to me. I use Extra smooth Bristol Board 100% acid free, A3 size paper which is of the highest professional quality (and it will last for centuries). You can mail me (on ps at preetishenoy dot com ) for rates if you are interested.]

Monday, October 04, 2010

A time travel tag

Sunday Stealing had this really interesting Time traveller meme going. It was hard to resist :-) It was written by Emily Barton from telcommuter talk.

Sunday Stealing: The Time Traveler Meme
Emily's Rules:

1. Depending on your age, go back 10, 15, 20, or even more years.
2. Tell us how many years back you have travelled and why.
3. Pretend you have met yourself during that era, and tell us where you are.
4. You only have one "date" with this former self.
5. Answer these questions.

Okay, as we start, what year is it and how old are you?

My answer:  It is  January 1995 and I am 23 years old. I have gone back 15 years because that is indeed a good amount of time to go back in, and  it is indeed very good to ruminate over what a long way I have come.

I am in Mumbai, working at a Corporate job, really enjoying it, and have been made another  job offer  which I am considering hard. I travel by Mumbai local trains to office. I have to take a bus and then change two trains  to get to work. I am immensely enjoying my independence (and my  ahem--boy friends :P ) but still waiting for the right man to marry :-)

1. Would your younger self (YYS, from here) recognize you when you first meet?

No way. My YYS would wonder who this  smart  woman is :) And OMG, she has two children too. That too 12  and  9!Not kidding.My YYS would have never thought I'd turn out like this.

Here is a very recent photo of me with a good friend.(Picture clicked 3 days back. one of my favourite pictures)

2. Would YYS be surprised to discover what you are doing job wise?

Very. My YYS would have never thought  I'd be a published author (working now on my 3rd book!) as well as a Portraiture Artist. (Click here to see my portraits.)

3. What piece of fashion advice would you give YYS?
Please don't wear shapeless stuff. Be proud of your body.

4. What do you think YYS is most going to want to know?
Am I making the right decision by deciding to give up my corporate career?

5. How would you answer YYS's question?
It is one of the best things you have done.

6. What would probably be the best thing to tell YYS?
I would tell my YYS to memorise the following:

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

 7. What is something that you probably wouldn't tell YYS?

Heh heh heh heh. I probably wouldn't tell her  how much natural childbirth really  hurts , How hard breastfeeding really is yet how you will do it for your children,  how bringing up toddlers and having children  changes you in ways you have never imagined.

8. What do you think will most surprise YYS about you?
 YYS will be most surprised to know how much a mother really  can endure.

 9. What do you think will least surprise YYS?
That I am still in touch with some of my childhood friends.

10. At this point in your life, would YYS like to run into "you" from the future?
I think so. She would then be assured that it will all work out just fine.

I totally enjoyed doing this tag. I tag the following people:
 Suma   (i would love to hear her answers)

Nancy  (I so miss her posts)

Gillian (i love reading her)

Prashant ( he will scream blue murder for tagging him as he has decided to minimise his online time  :P But he writes so well  and i want to meet his YYS :) )

Ajay (He always has an interesting take on most things and he is one of my closest friends. How can i not tag him? Besides I want to meet his YYS too (and laugh my head off)  :P  :D)

and finally my very good friend (whom you see in the photo with me) Tony who does not have a blog, but he can use my comment box.  (Tony joked with me saying he would love to meet 200 gorgeous Indian women through my blog when I mentioned to him that my blog has more  800 subscribers and gets more than 400 page views in a single  day)
So here is your chance Tony :-)

(I really hope Tony does not kill me for this when I mail him the link tomorrow morning. :P  He has no clue about this post. If you don't see me after 3-4 days, please alert the Police. It might mean I have been murdered by Tony ) :-)

If anyone else wants to do this very interesting tag, please consider yourself tagged and  do leave me a comment after doing it and I will surely read.

 Travel back in time--it's a great pep-up :) (you can use my comment box if you dont have a blog)

Wishing you a happy monday to kick start the week.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Find yourself

LASIK Lips Pictures, Images and Photos

 A conversation I had with a one of  my closest friends last evening set me thinking.

Most of us, as adults today, have corporate jobs, or are doctors or accountants or lawyers or home makers or other such things. On the face of it, we all fit into Society's concept of  'successful adults'. By 'successful' I mean, 'well adjusted' or in other words, 'boxed-in'.

Why is it that we have very few creative thinkers? How many of us can claim to have done something original? By creative, I don't just mean creating a work of Art .(Not everybody has an inclination or an aptitude but my firm belief is that every single person can be taught  Art if they have a willingness to learn, even if you cannot draw a straight line. But more on that perhaps in a later post.)

By creativity I mean originality of thinking. I quote the following  from this  site

What is creativity?

Creativity is the bringing into being of something which did not exist before, either as a product, a process or a thought.

You would be demonstrating creativity if you:
  • Invent something which has never existed before
  • Invent something which exists elsewhere but you are not aware of
  • Invent a new process for doing something
  • Reapply an existing process or product into a new or different market
  • Develop a new way of looking at something (bringing a new idea into existence)
  • Change the way someone else looks at something

Creativity is the very essence of being. Yet most educational systems kill creativity.I agree completely with Sir Ken Robinson. (In case you have not heard of him, this talk by him is truly worth watching. It will take approximately 20 minutes)

As adults, many of us seem to lead 'dead lives'. We study hard, get great grades (or aspire to), get a job (which we sometimes crib about) , earn well, get married (sometimes to the completely wrong person), have kids, provide for the kids, happy when the kids grow up (and we pat ourselves on the back if they have managed to get a coveted degree--MIT, Yale.Havard, (on the presumption that education matters to most parents)), we grow old, we die.

But my question is have we really lived?

Where is the passion in your life? If you were to die tomorrow would you be satisfied? (If you have answered yes read no more, this post is not for you. If you are happy and content exactly the way you are living, good for you! Read no further :))

Would you be content having led the life you have led?

What are you doing with your life?

I truly believe that it is creativity and passion which can make all the difference between existing and truly living. An excellent book which I just finished reading is "I will not die an unlived life" by Dawna Markova. 

It is definitely  not a book for light reading and I do not think very young people (By very young I mean those below 25-26) or people who are just starting out their lives  (new mothers, ones who are just getting married or those who have just got their first job)  might appreciate it at this stage in their life. (But then again I may be wrong.)

Be Creative. (yes you definitely can if you open your mind to new possibilities, new opportunities and think beyond what is. It really is not too late ,no matter how old you are)

Find your passion.

This post seems to have ruffled a lot of feathers, judging by the comments I have got. :-) (Apologies if you were offended) .

Obviously what I have said had disturbed a lot of people, made them uncomfortable, made them think.I have enabled comment moderation for this post simply because of the large number of  'comments from disturbed people' I have received :-)

Most people who wrote the above comments do not even seemed to have watched the video I talked about or even seem t have bothered to find out what the book is about (unless you read how will you know?) and have dismissed it as 'modern bull sh***' without even considering there can exist an alternate view point or a different way of life.

Since I spend time in individually  replying to comments, I felt it was best I answer the 'disturbed souls' here rather than saying the same thing over and over to individual comments.If you are happy leading the lives you are leading who am I to ask you to change or who am I to question?! If you are happy so be it! Good for you!

If my saying the life is 'boxed-in' offended you , go ahead and label the creative souls as 'crazy' :-) I don't mind :-)

Dawna Markova does not ever say that you have to do 'something great' to be 'creative'. Her book is so magnificently written, so inspiring and very humbling.Her writing is sheer poetry. Unless you read you will not even know what I am talking about.

But thank you for taking the time to write the comment,. Hope I have answered what you have said and apologies if I have not published your comment.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Recharge your soul.

No matter how old you are, no matter what you do for a living, no matter what place you are in, right now, I am sure you have that little problem, that little thing which needs to be taken care of, that small (or big) problem which needs to be sorted. Sometimes, we get so busy focussing on doing that we forget on just being. Sometimes we get so caught up in the journey and  reaching the final destination that we forget that the journey and how one enjoys it, is what matters more than the destination.

Life always throws us challenges. Just when we think we have it all figured out-- POW, there comes a knock and you don't know what hit you. Sometimes, there is no time even duck.

We all need a little special something, every now and then, to keep us going. We need that little pampering. We need that time out. We need to recharge our souls with what makes us truly happy. We owe it to ourselves. Only if you are happy, will you make your loved ones happy. If you are empty within, you have no love to give. Like my friend Gillian says "Everybody needs a cup of love, every single day:".

One of the things that makes me truly happy is being with Nature. The other is being with friends who are radiators of positive vibes and who being you joy. So it was a double treat for me when Tony, a friend of mine (an amazing person and a great guy) , took me to Fairhaven  (the website describes it as woodland and  water garden, a secret hideaway waiting to be discovered) and spent the day with me.

We talked, laughed and felt recharged. It was food for our souls.

It was magical.
Thank you Tony!

I am sharing some memories here with you and I know you will like looking at these pictures.(and hopefully they will recharge your soul too or at least transport you for a few moments to a magical place?)

I wish you peace and tranquillity in your life.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yet another pencil portrait

This is a portrait I completed today. It took me about three hours to make this. The paper is an A3 size. He is one of  our closest friends. He is a remarkable and an extremely smart person and he was featured in Outlook Business for his niche business of parking management. Click here to read the article.

But to us, times with Sathya are always  GREAT times (oh, the amount of crazy things that  Sathya and Satish have done together! I will have to write a whole book about it :))  and one of his lesser known skills is bar-tending. :-) (He makes some amazing cocktails)

It is his birthday next week  and this portrait is an early b'day gift.
Happy birthday Sathya and here is wishing you  all success and  knowing you will reach even greater heights!
ps: To know more about how I make these portraits and the techniques I use go here

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The best certificate in the world.

How the children address me and their dad, depends entirely on their mood.
If it is urgent, they call me "MAAAAA..." .
If they are with their friends (and they always talk in a Brit accent if they are) then it is "Mum" ( with stress on the right syllables the way a native English speaker would say it)
If they are feeling very affectionate, it is "Mommini", a word they made up.
They even call me "Cutie-pie Mommy" :) Sometimes even "cutie."

It's the same for their dad. They call him "Pa" or "Papa" or even "Poppet" or "Poppy" and sometimes even "poppy doopy doo" :-)

One of the things their dad does particulary well with them is baking a cake. (Yeah, he bakes and he bakes well) They love helping him to bake while I watch them, the two little helpers scampering about, carrying out the instructions of the Master Chef. :-)

The other day , for a change, I  baked a lovely chocolate cake for them, instead of them doing it with their dad. The kids  (my 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter) loved it and said (as usual) that I am the best mummy in the world. I revelled in the adulation.

A few days later when I went to my daughter's room, I discovered a 'certificate' that she had made which was hidden under a pack of crayons. The crayons were covering the middle part of the certificate. I saw the title and I saw  P------- Shenoy and I presumed she had made a certificate for me.

"Thaaaank you Purvi. This is so sweet of you ", I called out.

She looked puzzled for a few seconds. then she said sheepishly "Oh Mummy.Please don't feel bad that I  made only for papa and  I didn't write your name. I will add it now."

That was when I noticed that the certificate had been made out for "Poppet Shenoy" and not Preeti Shenoy :-) My daughter quickly made amends, by grabbing the nearest pen and adding my name as well.

Over the years, I have  collected several academic degree certificates (including an all India first rank) and several certificates in Sports (at National level) and extra curricular activities too.

But honestly nothing beats this one that I got.

You really have to earn this certificate and no amount of studying or practice can get you this one. It is truly priceless and I so cherish it. :-) Isn't this the best certificate in the world? :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vive La friendships!

There are friends who you may have known for 23 years, yet never got really close to, if you know what I mean.
Then there are friends to whom you have never spoken for 23 years, but when you do, it is as though the years have vanished like vapour and there is your bond, just as strong, just as good, just where you left it.

When the latter happens, it is indeed magic  and I have just received a large dose of magic just now and I am still floating in air with silly grin on my face, smiling at it all. I have just reconnected with a friend who was my classmate and with whom I had lost touch for 23 years. Last time I saw Ilakshee was in 1987. She gave me a little card then. There was no Internet those days and partings meant you had to write by snail mail if you wanted to keep in touch.

We never kept in touch but I treasured the card  (click on the above pictures to enlarge and read) . I am so glad I am a memory keeper that way. Everything that I treasure, and anything that moves me deeply, I keep carefully. I must have moved at least 20 times since 1987. But everywhere I went, my little collection travelled with me. One of it was the card which Ilakshi gave me.  Over the years, I used to read the card once in a way.I used to wonder what happened to her. Now I know :) She has turned out to be a smart, great looking, enthusiastic, vibrant and very positive person apart from being a mummy to two lovely girls. (don't go by the words on the card on her description of herself--that was just an over critical 15 year old talking :) ) This  her recent  pic on the left.

Today I spoke to her on the phone. We giggled and laughed and guffawed over our school memories, especially about our Yoga teacher. One of our friends had yanked his hair to see if it was a wig as he had really long and very straight hair  (yeah he could have modelled for sunsilk ad if he had been a woman. His hair was that good! ) and our point of perpetual debate used to be his hair. One fine day, our doubts were put to rest when his hair was yanked and we were all punished for the rest of the period. :-) It was completely worth it, the punishment :-)

We talked about many other things as well. I can't wait to meet her now. She hasn't changed even one bit. She is the same Illu I knew.

It is indeed amazing how time makes absolutely no difference to some things.
Vive la friendships! They bring so much joy to life :)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A tribute to one of the coolest people I have known

He was a real cool guy, you know, my dad. I mean really cool.

He used to drive really well. He loved it. It was his passion. At that time (and this was a long time ago when we were little children) , his job involved a lot of travel around Karnataka and you bet, he drove. When we had summer holidays, those were the best times. My brother, my mum and I would travel with him.The part I remember most was how expertly he used to navigate the hair-pin bends in the Western Ghats which can be treacherous if you have no expertise. My brother and I would slide in the back seat from one end of the seat to the other (whoever heard of seat belts, back then :-)) , as the car swerved and we would shout "Whooooo..Daddy another hair-pin bend coming. Once more, daddy once more!"

When I was 16 or maybe 17, he taught me how to drive, in an Ambassador car. He was a tough teacher. The slightest of noise while changing the gear and 'thwack' there would be a sharp twang across my forearm. He expected nothing less than perfection. The first time he did it, I threw a tantrum and got out of the car and said "I don't want to learn to drive." He got out and made me get right back in and said "You will bloody well learn it and learn it well." Of course I learnt it and learnt it well. He would accept no less.

I remember how he used to play with us on the beach. He would play Frisbee with us. He would also play 'running and catching' and he would run so fast that my brother and I would never be able to catch him. But how we loved trying!

And then the swimming in the sea and the river. Oh the memories, it evokes! He was an excellent swimmer (too), my dad. He taught me (and my brother) how to swim and we learnt in the river with a strong current. Later the swimming pools seemed so tame, in comparison.

Dad was very sportive and he was also a lot of fun. One time, as a child, when I was heavily into reading Enid Blytons, I badly wanted to find an 'old treasure map' like the Famous Fives. So I drew my own map and soaked it in tea, to make it look old and burnt the edges. (yeah, I was an innovative little devil :)) Then I buried it in sand in our garden and pretended to find it and showed it to my dad. He played right along and I was so delighted that he did  not call my bluff.  "That is indeed exciting. Let us go look for the treasure," he had said.

He really has given me a treasure--a lifetime of  truly treasured memories.

When I was in college, he coached me in a supposedly difficult subject--Mercantile Law. He made it so easy for me. He predicted the questions that would come and he was astoundingly right. I topped the University in the subject that year. He was so proud of me.(but then he was proud of anything I did)

And then, after I got married (too) the conversations and discussions we used to have. My dad loved books and I inherit that from him. I also could discuss anything under the sun with him. Almost every single day I used to speak to him on the phone. He was so much fun, my dad.

He passed away this day four years ago. The way he died was as unexpected and dramatic as the way he lived. He went sitting down in his favourite arm chair, in the middle of a conversation. One minute he was watching TV and talking to my mother and the next minute, he had closed his eyes and he was gone. He was so fit, agile and had absolutely no illnesses. He was just 64.

Those of you who have read my book, know all this ( and probably in detail too). But today I had to say it all again.

I cried today for almost an hour.I missed him so badly.

Most days I am fine, but some days,the aching just does not stop.

                                                             Picture clicked in 1974. My dad and and I