Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A journey of fifteen years--what we learnt.

Fifteen years is a long time in the lifespan of an individual, by any measure. After all, even a life sentence lasts only 14 years. So today, I cannot help feeling a sense of achievement, a sense of wonder,  a sense of quiet accomplishment and a deep joy on completing 15 years of marriage. Yes! Today is my 15th wedding anniversary. A big thank you to those of you who called me and wished me. It was really sweet of you. I felt moved.  Somehow, the effort that goes into making that International phone call always moves me. I am delighted when I get any call from India. To be honest, very few bother calling and any phone calls from India are treated with same reverence as a call from the Prime Ministers office. Not that the Prime minister’s office calls me either. :-)

If I claimed that all the fifteen years were ‘picture perfect’ I would be lying. There were a lot of ‘pictures’ yes, but they were far from perfect! I was 23 when I met Satish, fell  totally,madly and completely in love and threw away my job in a multinational in Mumbai to follow him to Gwalior, (where he was working with Cadburys) without a moment’s hesitation, just 40 days after meeting him. (yes, we got married within just 40 days of meeting each other!)

I remember vividly the sights and the sounds, when I  got off the Comfortable AC train along with Satish, which we boarded from Mumbai and how scorched I felt arriving at Gwalior railway station with temperatures around 45 degrees, as it was peak summer! It was the first time I had set foot in this city and the only person I knew there was my husband whom I had just met forty days ago!

Coming from a sprawling, bustling busy Metropolis like Mumbai, Gwalior felt like a bygone era and the contrast between what my life had been in Mumbai and what it would be like in Gwalior hit me like a ton of bricks. More so, when I was welcomed as a new bride in the Punjabi tradition (with all the accompanying rituals)  by our very kind Punjabi landlords who took it upon themselves to make me feel welcome and make me feel a part of their family which was indeed very kind of them. There was not a soul in Gwalior (at least within miles of where I lived)  who would speak English, which was what I spoke to most of my friends.I polished my book learnt CBSE hindi and tried hard to make conversation with ‘bhabhi’ who wanted to know how many suits my ‘maike’ had given me. It took me a while to decode what she was asking (as I had to rack my brains to remember what 'Maike' and 'Sasural' meant) and when I did, my reply shocked her as much as her question shocked me—“None,” I had replied  as we do not gift ‘suits’ but ‘kanjeevaram sarees’  I smile now at the memory. 

I remember how I had brought my collection of books with me and how happy I was to see his collection. Then we arranged our books together (his and mine) and he made space in the wardrobe for my clothes. He had a remarkably well kept house for a bachelor and all his colleagues’ wives used to wait to see whom he would get married to and would comment that the ‘Girl  who gets him is lucky indeed’. Of course, I am  fairly certain that the countless ‘adjustments’ that an independent   working woman from a huge metro like Mumbai  made when she moved bag and baggage to the very Historic Gwalior city, would not have occurred to the well meaning wives of the colleagues who had made that statement.:-) (just saying)

After that, we have lived in six more cities. We have moved houses about eight times. Each new place has been an adventure. I have grown along the way. So has he.

The road has sometimes been rocky. The path has not always been smooth. But when I look back, I have had more joy and more happiness than I could ever hope to have from anyone else. I am truly not the easiest of people to live with and be close to. (No one who calls themselves as artist ,writer and a poet is. Trust me on this or ask their spouses :-) )  It might be hard to believe how offending I can be, when provoked. I have my terrible rages (yes I do, you do not see it, that is all!) and my black destructive  moods.

But the fact is, he has been supportive of me, as much as I have been of him. (It is not easy to give up your career, move bag and baggage to another city for the sake of your Husband’s career).

We have together learnt a lot in these fifteen years. We have learnt when to take the driver’s seat and when to be navigator. We have learnt when to let go and when to hold on. We have learnt that sometimes it is best not to say anything and to hold back your words, especially when you are angry.  We have learnt that sometimes, when the other person has withdrawn into an angry shell you have to chase and poke and prod and pursue till they come out, yet sometimes you have to let them be.

But most importantly we have learnt that if a relationship is important to you, it is worth doing just about anything to make it work and to keep it going. Especially if you have invested so much time into it, spent time together laughing, enjoying, having fun, then you should never neglect it. One should weed out discontent right at the roots.Stamp it. Kill it. Feed the positivity. Express what you feel. Make it grow.

In the end, it will be truly worth it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fights in a friendship

We all know that friendship is one of the biggest blessings on earth. Countless philosophers right from Cicero to Aristotle to Ralph Waldo Emerson have elucidated so much on this subject. Yet we do not need to read all of them to know that fulfilling friendships are indeed great for one's mental and physical well-being, as a number of scientific studies have proven.

How do we choose our friends? Why do we become such good friends with some people? And finally how do friendships break?

The answers to the first two questions might be obvious upon a little reflection but the answer to the third question may not be so obvious. The reasons may be myriad and it might be complex. Friendships, like all relationships, need work to go into them, for them to flourish, grow and be enriching. Sometimes this work may come from just one person and that person might get tired of doing all the work. Sometimes the circumstances may change, the situations may change. Sometimes the people themselves might change.

If the friendship is a 'friendship of convenience' (for example I might be friends with a mother whose child goes to the same school as my child's. We might car-pool, share notes etc. But if my child changes school, the friendship may die) it may not last long. If the friendship is a 'friendship of shared interests' (for example you  might be friends with people who are at your once a week pottery class or you might be 'gym friends') then too it may last only as long as the interest lasts. Same is the case for 'office friends'. You might be friends for years yet when you change your job, your friendship changes too.

Then there are the 'childhood friends'. These days it is so easy (thanks to Facebook, Myspace, orkut and a multiple such sites) to connect with people from your past even if you do not want to. You might have been friends as children, but you may no longer be the same person that you were in school or college. You might have changed in a countless ways. As adults, when you try to recapture the same magic that you shared in college, more often than not, the friendship falls flat.

The best kind of friendship is that which is for a lifetime. The true test of any friendship is, of course time.

When two people are close, there are bound to be disagreements and there are bound to be fights. I would go a step further and say that if you have never had a fight with someone, then you obviously aren't close enough. It is only when we are truly comfortable with someone and we feel totally at ease and secure in a relationship, that we can 'fight'. Fights are needed for any relationship, including friendships, to grow. In fact how you sort out your fights can define the relationship and make it stronger and make your bond more solid.

But the catch here is that fights are scary things. Nobody likes conflicts.Each person has a different way of dealing with fights. Some people are terrified of conflicts and would bottle up hurt feelings and carry on like nothing has happened in the guise of 'forgiving'. Some people would shrink into a shell when confronted. Some people will just not 'hit back'. Depending on how the 'fight' is handled it can truly be the end of a relationship or it can cement the bond, fortify it further  and make it truly unbreakable.

The thing here is some people can take fights and some people just cannot. After a fight, some people can just put it behind them and completely  forgive and carry on (and I am one of such people)  and the friendship is even better than before.

But some people can carry the grudge for years and never truly forgive.On the outside they might be polite and civil but deep down, things have changed and the friendship can never go back to where it was. This is a sad thing but if one of the parties is not willing to 'make up', there is no point for the other party to keep trying. In this case after trying a reasonable number of times to 'make up' it is best to cut your losses and move on. It is going to be very painful, especially if you considered that person a close friend, but sometimes that is the only way. Sadly I have lost a few  friends like this.

I am fortunate that I now have friends with whom I can truly fight with! Sometimes, after the kind of nasty stuff I have said to them in a fit of extreme emotion, I think that either they must be mad to come back to me or they must love me very much. :-) (These are my closest friends, the ones whom I stay with and the ones whom I always meet, when I go to India). One of my closest friends said to me  "If you  dare not talk to me or try to ignore me, I will come there and gouge out your eyes." Another tells me "Fool--you act smart and I will kick your backside so hard you will be counting stars in your sleep--just wait and see." I smile in delight when I hear statements like these from my closest friends. ( Of course, If I hear it from someone I do not consider close, it would just be plain irksome) Statements like these, reaffirm our solid bonds and assure me that they are going to be there for life.

Th older one grows, the more one values good friends. If you have friends who you can truly fight with, hold on to that friendship with an iron grip. Do not let it die. Nourish it, cherish it, make it grow.

If you want to test your "Friendship Quotient"  take the Friendship Intelligence test designed by Mark Vernon who is an author and journalist. These are a set of 20 questions which I found very interesting and a lot of fun to do. (I scored a 78 out of a possible 100 which probably explains why my friends love me :-) ) .

If you aren't too shy or ashamed of your scores (*cheeky smile*)  you can share it with me. :-)
Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts about fighting in a friendship.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two links

This is not really a 'post' and so comments are disabled.

Arjit Srivastva wrote to me some time back asking if he could Interview me. He published it yesterday. The questions he asked were so different from what I am usually asked :-) I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

Here is the link (and you can comment here :) )

Rohit Srivastwa (no connection to Arjit) created a Facebook Fanpage yesterday morning. He said "I am doing this because I am indeed a BIG fan of yours and I think you are an amazing human being."

Here is the link:

Thank you Rohit!

All updates about my second book and other writings would appear on this page now on, as the Ning site which many of you are members of, will not be functional after a while. Also it would be easier for most people to login from Facebook as most of us now have our interactions there. (so in case you want to know, please sign up on that page)

Thank you for your support, all of you!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

York Minster

Am on a vacation in York, Yorkshire,U.K. (yes, the hotel has wi fi :) )

This picture was clicked yesterday in front of York Minster. (cick to enlarge)
I absolutely treasure this picture--easy to see why :)

More about York when I get back home.

Have a nice day!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A day on a boat in Norfolk Broads

"Miles and miles of gentle waterways glistening in the sunlight with peaceful Norfolk countryside as far as the eye can see," is how the brochures describe it. What they do not tell you is how truly uplifting for the soul it is, how ethereal the whole experience is and how you feel like you have just discovered a slice of heaven and how it fills you with an unexplained longing to make the experience linger and how you feel so totally at peace with the world while you're at it.

The Norfolk Broads are UK's largest nationally protected wetland.There are 125 miles of gentle, navigable and picturesque waterways with pleny of place to moor, jump off the boat and explore quaint little villages or  market towns or just while away an afternoon at a pub, with a bottle of wine (or a drink), some soulful music and good company.

We did just a bit of everything.My brother and his family visited me from India. We did a Norfolk Broads boat trip together. You have an option of doing it in two ways:

1. You can go on an organised  boat trip which they take you, as a part of the tourist group and show you around. You are a part of a large group and you sit back and enjoy on the boat.

2. You can hire your own boat and drive it yourself. There are three kinds of boats--Day boats, Picnic boats and Excursion boats. The day boats are ordinary boats which you can hire for a couple of hours. The picnic boats come equipped with a toilet and a stove where you can make coffee, tea or anything hot. The Excursion boats have bedrooms and everything you can think of, for a comfortable holiday. They are usually hired for 3-4 days.

While the idea of an excursion was very tempting, we finally decided to hire a day boat, as we had  a child who was just 3 in the family (my brother's daughter is just 3) and also we had a senior citizen (my mom). All of us enjoyed it so much that we have now decided to hire an excursion boat the next time!

What made it truly memorable was the fact that we were totally in charge of the boat. We all took turns driving the boat. It is the first time in my life I was handling a boat. To moor the boat, you need two able bodied adults and usually it is best for the most fittest members in the group to do it. Satish reversed the boat while my brother jumped out and moored it. If my brother was driving, Satish moored it.  It was truly  a marvellous experience to 'park' the boat and explore the land and then come back an sail away in the boat. 

There are lots of towns where you can do the boating from. For complete and detailed  information, you can go  here.

The Norfolk broads trip is a trip that everyone must do, once in a lifetime. Put it in your 'List of places to visit before I die'. Take my word, you will not regret it.

Here is a video of  pictures from the trip which you give you an idea of what I am so excited about.
Switch on your speakers or plug in your headphones, sit back and enjoy!

(and do not forget to leave me a comment before you go, if you enjoyed it as much as I did)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

In gratitude

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” 
                   — Albert Schweitzer

This post is for all those people in my life who have lit my flame. (You know who you are)
I do feel blessed to know you and  wish for you the brightest of things life has to offer. I also thank you for being in my life. (Touchwood)