Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last post of the blog marathon .Post 30

Today is the last day of the 30 day blog marathon. Eevery single day, the last thirty days, there has been a new post on this blog. Truly not an easy task at all. I had asked a few of my closest friends if they could help me out by writing guest posts for me. Two of them obliged.

Thanks to Satish and Ramesh who both wrote a superb guest post each.

Satish's post is here:  How India won the world cup ( a hilarious account of behind the scenes story)

Ramesh's post is this: The apple of my eye   (a truly lovely confession of love)

Both the above posts are really worth a read.

Apart from the above two posts, on some days I had had such a tough day that all I wanted to do was to curl up in bed with a hot mug of chocolate and read, under the duvets, with the Air conditioning swicthed on. Instead, I had to sit at my laptop and churn out a post.

A big thank you to those who commented very regularly. i have managed to reply to most. (except for one or two posts). Your comments kept me going really.

My personal favourites among the posts I wrote for this blog marathon are the following:

Some connections are just meant to be

Daily star quota

and of course, the best one

Creating happy memories

If you are a regular reader do let me know which ones were your favourite? Which ones did you like the most?

Now that I have written for thirty consecutive days, I shall be taking a much deserved break for a few days.
But you can be assured I'll come back.

The blog and me--it's a long term relationship. And I don't walk away from  such relationships easily ;-)

So, see you soon.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Food--comfort. Post 29

These days my mother is visiting me. Needless to say, the kitchen in my home is a busy , happy place. She churns out some lovely fare. Above is a sample of what she had made the other day, which was gobbled up by Satish and kids.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I am not a foodie at all. I eat to live, not live to eat  :) If i could do away with food altogether, and if someone invented tablets instead, (one capsule for breakfast that contained the goodness and nutrition of 2 parathas, a bowl of dahi and an egg) then I would be the first person to take it.I eat when I am hungry and I eat healthy and nutritious stuff. (Yeah, I am so boring that way). I am a fitness buff and do an hour of yoga daily and also take two 30-45 minute walks.(Yes, I am that diligent when it comes to maintaining my weight and my health. I can go on and on about benefits of a healthy lifestyle and bore you to death. I am that passionate about it. :P  I used to have a friend who felt equally the same way and she and i used to discuss health stuff for hours together)

But for many people, food is equal to comfort. Many eat when they are upset, eat when they want to be entertained, eat in company, eat alone, eat when they are bored. Many people also do not watch the calorie content of what they eat. Many people order food from out (who has the time to cook when one is working) and anything is wolfed down, especially when one is hungry. It takes just 15 minutes to make yourself a healthy snack and carry it to work. That way the calories piling up can truly be avoided.

But the thing is, one has to be so motivated as to want to do such boring stuff like carrying one's own dabba.

When you are in your twenties, your metabolism is certainly higher than in your thirties or forties.The steps taken now will ensure good health in the long run.Almost all ailments that people of a certain age suffer from can be directly linked to diet and exercise. It is so important.

Take care of yourselves.
You have just one life to live.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

One more portrait. Post 28

 Rihana is a lively little girl  who accompanies her mother everyday, as her school is closed for the summer. Her mum helps me with my house work. I teach Rihana little English rhymes and tell her about dinosaurs and lots of other stuff. She follows me around the house and is very interested in everything I do.

I totally love her spirit and I so wanted to make a portrait of her. I completed this just a little while ago. The lighting isn't good enough to do justice to the portrait. I shall perhaps click a better photo in the day light tomorrow. But you can get a good idea of what the finished piece looks like from this picture. The finished piece is A3 size. (approx 12" x 17")

For my other portraits click here .

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Creating happy memories of a special day. Post 27

Last year on this very day, I wrote a post titled ' A journey of 15 years--what we learnt'. (The post had got an overwhelming response.)

Today one more year gets added and the journey completes 16 years. Gosh--that is a long time by any account! It just feels like six months not sixteen years and I am truly thankful for the freshness our relationship still retains. (and I admit publicly, full ten out of ten to Satish, and maybe only  two to me :P that too, the two marks are for the nonsense I do, which makes him laugh (okay most of the time :P ))

In case you are still wondering what I am talking about, we celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary today. If I ask Satish what it is that he loves most about me, he would probably say that it is my ability to surprise him, even after 16 years, with crazy, wacky, fun stuff. He will probably also say it is my child-like enthusiasm for almost everything. Many a time, I excitedly tell him something and he sits there as calm as a Buddha, while I am dancing around, arms waving wildly, eyes shining with eagerness and asking him "Isn't that great? Isn't that wonderful?" He smiles indulgently. Secretly I am glad that he balances out my personality completely. I can depend on him, no matter what and he will always come through for me. He also understands me perfectly and know me inside out. That is what I love most about him.

16 years back, when we were newly weds (and still getting to know each other's quirks, he didn't know what a devil I was :P :-)) we had gone to Kodaikanal  for our honeymoon.(I find the word absurd but its etymology is interesting). We were staying in this nice hotel (well, even if it was a shack, it would still have seemed amazing  because you know how it is, when you're just married). There was a long corridor at the end of which was our room, our 'honeymoon suite' located so for discreet privacy. There were several rooms (at least 15) before ours.We were told  by a giggling concierge that the floor was full of honeymoon couples.

I remember still the acceleration of my heart as a devilish plan hatched inside my mind. I looked at my handsome husband's angelic face. The plan was becoming clearer and clearer and the temptation was too strong to resist. Like Usain Bolt, I shot out and before Satish realised what was happening I had successfully rung all the 15 doorbells of the room preceding ours and I had run into the safety of our honeymoon suite (I was the one carrying the key and I had opened it in a jiffy) and collapsed on the bed laughing. Satish ,for a few seconds, had no clue what had just happened, but he fortunately realised within a few seconds that all the honeymoon couples in those rooms would soon be opening the door and would find him standing there. Within a  few seconds of that realisation, he had done an Usain Bolt too and had joined me, collapsing in laughter on the bed, like two little children who have just played the greatest prank on earth and not got caught.

I laugh to this day, imagining all those people who must have opened their doors (who knows after hurrying to get dressed, perhaps :P ) to find no-one outside. My apologies to you, if you were celebrating your honeymoon in  Kodaikanal in 1995 and you opened the door to find nobody outside. I confess it was me. :-)

Since then, we have done many more crazy things together.Some of them are truly scandalous and this blog is read by my friends children too, hence I cannot mention them here. We still talk about them and we still  collapse with laughter, when we talk about it.

I think the sweetest thing about a relationship are memories. Especially of laughter, especially of the good times one has had. If they far outweigh the fights and the low point which any relationship hits, then you have a good thing going.

I know. I speak from experience.

Satish was out of town and he is on his way back from the Airport as I type this. I have dressed up specially for him. Yeah, I am still the eternal romantic and old habits die hard. What I plan to do is hide behind the door and shout BHHHHOW and leap at him , just before he rings the door bell. :-D

I am chuckling madly as I type this and wait for him. We would be going all by ourselves (leaving our two children at home who are urging us to go out) to a nice place for dinner.

So see you tomorrow, I must go for I have a mission to carry out--creating happy memories of a special day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How art makes a difference in everyday objects. Post 26

 A simple wooden bench transformed into a work of Art.

A mobile phone charging station. I love the traditional design elements and how elegantly it has been transformed into an eye catching object of beauty.

Both the photos above clicked by me at Ranga Shankara, Bangalore India. Check them out, they're cool!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A little love and words that make a difference.Post 25

Today was free love day. I drew a heart on my wrist and I made the pledge.

In India, depression and suicide are the leading causes of death, after heart disease. It makes me all the more convinced about the cause to spread joy, peace and positive thinking. I do firmly believe in Rhonda Byrne's Secret and all that so many eminent personalities and spiritual leaders have said. Two other books which I truly found inspiring were 'Ask and it is given' by Esther and Jerry Hicks and 'I will not die an unlived life' by Dawna Markova. Two extremely powerful books indeed.

Gillian has written a really good post today called 'how to draw things into your life'.(Suggest you read her post before reading further) I too have a journal exactly like Gillian's and I  had started it many years ago. I know that it has indeed worked for me, like magic.I know many others too who swear by it.  It is truly incredible how powerful our thoughts are and how they shape our lives and perhaps our so called destinies.

I also think it is extremely important to pick the right kind of people to interact with and to be surrounded with. People who are all the time negative, possessive about you and jealous, might be holding you back from achieving your dreams.Unless you feel good about yourself, you will find it hard to believe that you indeed can achieve your dreams no matter how old you are.It is never late.

Today was one of those languidly  exhausting days. By the end of it, I just wanted to crawl into the safety of my bed and comfort of my journals and a good book. I was tired of everything, low on hope and high on chores to be done. (sometimes they feel so heavy) However, a  long phone call from a good friend  made all the difference  and I silently thanked him for calling.

It matters so much--kind encouraging words.
So, go forth and spread love and kindness.

The person you might be cheering up most might just be yourself.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I love my India.Post 24

Two pictures that I clicked yesterday in Bangalore, India. I do miss living in the UK, but I absolutely love my India.

 Yakshagana  of Karnataka.

Probably this could be Bandipur which is one of India's best known protected areas.It has a Tiger reserve too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Daily Star Quota--Guest Post by Satish. Post 23

 The regular readers of this blog would know that Satish writes guest posts on this blog, once in a way. But perhaps what many will not know is that he too has been published.

This piece he wrote about our daughter has been published in the 'Chicken Soup for the Indian Father's soul'. He had written this about an year back, when we were in the UK. I just love this piece.

 Daily Star Quota

By: Satish Shenoy

My eight year old daughter is the apple of my eye. No actually that’s not true - she is my entire fruit basket, my universe, my life and my sweetheart. There is always a special bond between fathers and daughters as well as sons and mothers. Don’t know why that is so, for I don’t love my son any less, but that somehow feels like the general rule. And daughters I guess realise that special bond too and are able to wind their fathers up around their little fingers. Mine is no exception and manages to make me her willing slave in everything she wants to do.

Every Friday my daughter will without fail ask me a set of questions before she goes to school:

1.      Will I get a star today in school?
2.      How many stars will I get?
3.      Will I be the star of the week?

The teachers in her school award a star to children, which could be for the work they did in class, good behaviour, patience or even for just holding a door open for another child/ teacher. Additionally every week one child is awarded the star of the week and I realise that, just like each of us adults try and shine in our work at office, at school too there is intense competition for this award between children. It can even break a friendship for a few days, if someone else gets the star of the week. When a child gets a certain number of stars they get a chance to put their hand in to a lucky dip box and pick out a gift which could be an eraser, a sharpener, a sticker or pencils all of which we already have hundreds at home, yet the one got from school is priceless.

My daughter believes I am a mind reader and we often have games where she will stand behind a door and raise a few fingers and ask me to guess how many fingers she is holding up. Sometimes I cheat by taking a peek at the right number when she is not looking or just guess and when I get it right her eyes widen in amazement and she runs and tells my wife that I am not only a mind reader but can also read the unknown much to my wife’s amusement.

My answers to my daughter’s questions are obviously quite predictable:

1.      Of course my darling you will get stars today. In any case you are the star in my life, the sun, moon, planets and in fact my whole universe so even if you do not get a star in school you still are my star.
2.      Hmmmm let me see - 1 or maybe 2 or maybe even 3 are my answers – I have even gone as high as 5 in spite of the fact that no one in the school’s history has ever got 5 stars.
3.      Definitely and absolutely.

My wife is the practical one in the family and promises no such thing. She says if you deserve it, then yes, you will get it which I guess is the right advice. But until she gets a ‘Yes’ from the two of us, my daughter is never satisfied or willing to let go. I remembered when as a child asking my mother before I went to school to say a YES, especially on days when I had not completed my homework that the teacher would not scold me for not completing it. If she said yes then my worries just went away. On the days my mother gave me answers like my wife did I used to plead with her to say ‘Yes’ and this seemed so similar to what was happening now with my daughter.

While my darling has been getting stars every now in school and getting to dip her small hand in the lucky dip box, she had not yet received the star of the week award and was really hoping she would. When she did not get a gift I would immediately offer to buy her whatever she wanted, but that never was the point I guess, as dipping your hand in to the goodie box was what really mattered.

One day to my surprise, there was an additional request from her when I was dropping her to school and she asked me to make a special prayer for her that day so that she would get star of the week. I was in a hurry to reach office and did a brief two second prayer in my mind and told her that it would happen that day to assuage the pleading look she gave me.

I was in a meeting in the afternoon when I got a call from my wife. I couldn’t pick up the phone just then. I called her back immediately after my meeting and to my surprise it was my daughter who picked up instead. She was on seventh heaven and said
 “Dad you are a genius!” I could picture her eyes shining with joy and the million watt smile on her face.

She had got the star of the week and in addition had received 3 stars, which was exactly my answer to her second question that morning. I got a lot of hugs and kisses that evening when I got back and I heard my daughter tell her brother that if you want something just ask Dad, get him to pray for you and it will come true – believe me she piped. The entire tension I had gone through in office that day, vanished instantly when I saw the joy in her face and the genuine faith and belief in her Dad. For a change, I was getting more attention than my wife and I was not going to relinquish that at any cost so basked in the glory of the moment.

Life goes on and questions continue to be asked without fail, especially so, now that there was a proven track record. Some things have however have changed a wee bit after that day. My son who is older to my daughter now asks me similar questions too!

My daughter’s faith in my answers, have now graduated to a different level and some of the questions I am now asked apart from around the stars are:

1.      Will Cali be my best friend today and will she play with me more than with Lola?
2.      Will I be able to play the full tune on the piano today?
3.      Will I be able to find 20 pence today like Sam did yesterday (My darling does not ask for a £1 million lottery which seems to be less significant compared to finding 20 pence on the road)
4.      Will I be able to draw the ‘best picture ever’ today?
5.      Will you buy me a Ninetendo DS this week?

Well my answers remain relatively the same as they used to be in all cases – well actually, not in all cases. The last one receives a ‘hmmmmm let’s see’ instead of a straight NO which my wife would give.

After all Dad’s have to take some advantage over Mom’s once in a while, eh!?

Friday, April 22, 2011

A flash-fiction story. Post 22

Sometime back, a flash-fiction contest had taken place on this blog, as well as on the Facebook fanpage of Life is what you make it. The contestants had to use all the three pictures given above in their story. It was not essential to use the  words in the picture, but just the visual. The word limit was 209 words (as the book has 209 pages)
Some marvellous stories were churned out and the judges chose one lucky winner.
Later, I too wanted to write a flash-fiction story using the above three pictures. The story I wrote is my post for today.
Here goes:

The shrill ring of the telephone did nothing to soothe my alcohol induced headache. Nor did the words my brother uttered. He was calling after fourteen years. Time had changed nothing. He was still the asshole he always had been. Perhaps it was a genetic trait. It took one to know one.
“Mother died this morning.”
“About time too, the alcoholic, adulterous, good for nothing bitch. How old was she? 83?”
He hung up without a second’s hesitation.
I called him right back.
“Make sure you keep the letters she safeguards. I want them.”
“You will not have them.”
Later in the day, when the flames rose higher, they devoured everything, including the letters she safeguarded and her memories. Prominent among them was a handwritten spidery scrawl
“Dearest darling,
If you weren’t a married woman I’d have proposed to you a hundred times over. I remember the night you came over in the rain. You eyes danced in the candle light. I wished I could kiss you and never let you go, but I did not even have the guts to hold your hand. You will never see me again, as is your wish. But I will love you till the end of time. I remain only yours.”

Some connections are just meant to be. post 22

Chapter One from the book "Only Love is for real" by Dr. Brian Weiss

Chapter 1

Know, therefore ,that from the greater silence I shall return...Forget not that I shall come back to you...A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.
---Kahlil Gibran

There is someone special for everyone.Often there are two or three or even four.They come from different generations.They travel across oceans of time and depths of heavenly dimensions to be with you again.They come from the other side, from heaven.They look different but your heart knows them.You heart has held them in arms like yours, in the moon filled deserts of Egypt and the ancient plains of Mongolia.You have ridden together in the armies of forgotten warrior-generals, and you have lived together in the sand-covered caves of the Ancient ones. You are bonded together throughout eternity, and you will never be alone.
Your head may interfere: "I do not know you." Your heart knows.
He takes your hand for the first time, and the memory of his touch transcends time and sends a jolt through every atom of your being.She looks into your eyes,and you see a soul companion across centuries.Your stomach turns upside down.your arms are gooseflesh.Everything outside this moment loses its importance.
He may not recognise you,even though you have finally met again,even though you know him. You can feel the bond.You can see the potential,the future.But he does not.His fears,his intellect,his problems keep a veil over his heart's eyes.He does not let you help him sweep the veil aside.You mourn and grieve,and he moves on.Destiny can be so delicate.
When both recognise each other,no volcano could erupt with more passion.The energy released is tremendous.

Soul recogniton may be immediate.A sudden feeling of familiarity,of knowing this person at depths, beyond what the conscious mind could know.At depths usually reserved for the most intimate family members.Or even deeper than that.Intutively knowing what to say, how they will react.A feeling of safety and a trust far greater than could be earned in only one day or one week or one month.

Soul recognition may be subtle and slow.A dawning of awareness as the veil is gently lifted.Not everyone is ready to see right away.There is a timing at work and patience may be necessary for the one who sees first.

You may be awakened to the presence of your soul companion by a look, dream,a memory ,a feeling.You may be awakened by the touch of his hands or the kiss of her lips, and your soul is jolted back to life.

The touch that awakens may be that of your child, of a parent,a sibling or a true friend.Or it may be your beloved,reaching across the centuries, to kiss you once again and to remind you that you are together always, to the end of time.
 Dr. Brian Weiss is a traditional psychotherapist. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School, Brian L. Weiss M.D. is Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami. He is also the author of several to books which have  all been International best-sellers. Click here to know more about Dr.Weiss .

I have read all his books and what he has to say in indeed extremely interesting.

I am a firm believer of the fact that science,even though has advanced so much, is yet to discover answers to so many many questions. Like I have said before, a hundred years back,people would have laughed at you if you had said that it is possible to land on the moon. Five hundred years back, when Galileo said that the world was not flat,but round, he was persecuted by the Catholic Church.

Today when we think of it, we say "Of course, the world is round. How could they have believed it was flat. How foolish and ignorant they were!"

Who knows maybe 100 years from now, people will say the same thing about Past lives.

 There are many documented evidences of young children speaking a language they have never heard. (The term is called Xenoglossy).Dr.Ian Stevenson has done a lot of work in this field which is very impressive. 

Just like there are many Medical miracles for which there is absolutely no logical explanation, so too, there indeed exist many 'feelings and connections' which people are unable to find an explanation for.

Some people believe in karmic connections and others feel it is your mind fooling you and there is nothing like that.

But mostly all of us agree that towards some people, we feel an instant like, and towards some people, an instant dislike. One could argue that it could be because of subtle sizing up that happens when one meets an individual, yet many a time, there would be 'nothing wrong' with the person, yet one cannot put a finger on why one does not like them Similarly, sometimes, we like someone a lot  even after talking to them for just 5 minutes. And sometimes weird coincidences happen which feel completely bizarre as though it has been cleverly orchestrated.

Brian Weiss  and scores of others would probably explain it as a past life connection.I do not know how much of it can be proved without an iota of doubt or skepticism, but I do know one thing for sure:
No matter what, no matter how much you try to fight it, some things are just meant to be.
Faster one accepts this Truth, the more peace one feels with oneself.
The Tossed Salad ( a lifestyle mag) interviewed me and if you wish to read it this is the link.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Simple things in managing a home. Post 20.

One of the best things about writing a book like '34 Bubblegums and Candies' is the instant connect that anyone who reads it feels. The incidents are all true-life incidents and it is a non-fiction book. It falls under creative non-fiction which is one or the rarer genres. It made it to the National best-seller list, has gone into 7th impression (sometimes, I myself cannot believe it)  and I get hundreds of mails from people who share their life stories with me, after they read the book. They say that they truly feel they know me well as a friend. I feel honoured and humbled. I have only been honest and sincere in my writing, and that has touched and moved thousands.(The book sold more than 25000 copies and still counting).

I do try to reply to each and every mail I get, at least once. (If you haven't got a reply from me, it might have been pure oversight). Lately, I have been getting a lot of mails (at least 12 on the last count) asking about how I manage to do so much (writing, art, fitness and raising two children plus running a home) and how I organise my time. Usually to all the mails I get on these lines, I give them this link which was a post I wrote on time management.

Below is a mail (which has been shared after taking permission from the person who sent it--Name has been changed) which is on similar lines, but this mail somehow moved me.

 Hi Preeti,
My name is  Gargi* and I am a regular reader of your blog and books.
I am married with a 6 year old son and a full-time job.
I am left speechless about the way you handle so many aspects of your life...your home, your kids, your exercise, your career.

I am writing the email specifically to ask you about how you have brought so much organization and balance in your life. 
Is it possible for you to share the rules and guidelines by which you lead your life.
My intention is not to invade your personal space. I am at my wits end trying to do this jugglery act . I am out of shape, my home looks like we have shifted in yesterday and this state of chaos increases my irritation levels which results in a grumpy husband and a hyper-active kid.

The only aspect which has been working very well is that I cook fresh and well-balanced meals for my family.

I don't have any idea where to start in terms of exercise and cleaning up the house.

Is it possible for you to share the kind of things you do every 2 hours in a day so that it gives me some idea as to what I need to pay attention to and what can be delegated etc

Again, I feel bad asking about something as basic as this but I figured out that the only way I am ever going to learn this is from a person who has mastered this.
Any other tips/suggestions is most welcome.

Thanks in advance, 

I thought I could answer this mail in detail here, as the next time I get a mail like this, I could always point them to this page, plus it would serve the purpose of my  'useful post' for the day.
So here goes:

Firstly I got married when I was just 23.I had a corporate career and it had just started out and was taking off well, but I quit my job and gave up my budding career. The primary reason for this was that I was certain that I did not want to send my children to a creche or a day-care or allow them to be raised by grandparents.(It is truly not easy to raise young children and if the primary care-giver has to be a grandparent, it is a huge burden even though they may not vociferously express it. Many grandparents have no choice in this matter--but that calls for a different post)

Did I feel bad to go from a 'working woman' to 'just a housewife'? Of course, I did. But the thing is, when I gave birth to my son  (and later to my lovely daughter) and saw their twinkling, bright button like eyes, I was certain I had made the right decision. I absolutely LOVE babies and children and having my own two children to love and take care of-- It was like someone had given me a treasure! I totally and completely enjoyed (and still enjoy) being a mother. Spending time in the company of my children is something I can do for HOURS.There was no way I was handing over my children to be raised by others.

My writing career started only in 2006, when I lost my dad. I had started writing the blog, and that took off in a way I never expected. (see this post for details) Before that I have worked with children and taught in many schools. I also had been doing my own workshops on developing thinking skills in children. By the time my writing career started, my children were no longer infants and did not need me all the time.

But my case is completely  different from Gargi's case, as I have never worked full-time, after I have got married. (for a brief while I did, but it was impossible for me to efficiently manage my home, plus work and kids, so I quit again)
What I would advise Gargi to do is this:

1. Wake up an hour early every single day
:  The amount of time you gain and the amount you can achieve in that time is truly quite incredible. You could begin going for walks. It may be very hard at first, but soon your body will start responding and you will begin seeing results. Side by side, cut down on calories and begin to eat healthy. A good book I recommend (which I read recently)  is 'From XL to XS' by Payal Gidwani.
2. Hire an efficient cook: Get a cook to come at 6.30.a.m or 7.00.a.m and get him/her to cook nutritious meals. You save so much time when you do not cook yourself. Plan the previous day, what menu you would like the cook to make. Monitor how much oil he/she uses and emphasise that you want healthy food. Train the cook to make meals exactly the way you make them.

3.Involve husband and son in keeping home tidy: When my children were small and I needed them to clear up their pile of toys I used to play games with them like "Who will gather and put away the largest number of blocks in less than a minute?" We used a stopwatch which would beep. All of us would rush to do it, and it was a family activity which resulted in everything being put away. Your husband and child too have some responsibility in helping you to keep the place well.

4. Organise and manage kitchen well: I am sharing with you pictures of my kitchen shelves. 

As you can see, everything in my kitchen shelf is neatly labelled and everything is in transparent see-though containers. I have invested in a good set of containers for storage.
At a glance, I know what is running out and what needs to be stocked. I also have a pen and paper handy on the fridge, so that as soon as something runs out, I make a note of it. I have trained my maid also to do it. if she needs any supply (like cleaning liquid, broom) , she immediately writes in on my list. I have a calendar with boxes (it has pictures of all the current music favourites like Iyaz and Katie perry :-))  and I make a note of stuff like how many clothes have been given to the laundry/Ironing guy, when extra milk has been delivered, and also if a certain newspaper (I subscribe to three newspapers) has not been given on a particular day. At the end of the month, I just have to consult this calendar, while settling bills.
5. Give clear instructions and train the house-help well:  The house-help has to know what rules you want followed. She/he has to clearly know what their duties are and when they are supposed to do it. What I have done is that I have a made a list for the house-help as well. On Mondays, she  sterilises the kitchen towels, by boiling them in hot water for 15 minutes, with a disinfectant, On Tuesdays she  cleans the fridge and kitchen hub with detergent . For each day of the week, she has an extra task, apart from the regular duties like mopping-sweeping, cleaning kitchen, dusting, doing the vessels, chopping vegetables , putting out the clothes to dry and folding and putting away clothes etc. I do pay her very well too.
6. Leave it as you found it: A simple rule which a friend of mine follows and which she has made all her family members follow is 'Leave it as you find it' rule.She asks her husband and children to spend two minutes just before they leave the room, to put back things in their proper places, and to leave a room as it was when they entered it. The same rule for bathrooms. Personally,I confess, I am not that disciplined or strict--my kids often leave wet towels on the floor and leave their beds unmade and I usually clean up after them :-) (what the heck--once they go to college, the house will be so empty and everything will be super tidy anyway)

I do hope the tiny things I have written here help in some way.
Honestly, this is all I do. If anyone has any other tips for efficiently managing a home, do share them and I will update this post, crediting you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Slicing the silence,Post 19.

Silence, like a shroud of death,
Extends infinitely etched,
Covering fragile egos
High-strung, taut, stretched.

I wonder what you’re doing
Thoughts of you hovering inside my head
I do so want to reach out,
Slice the silence and leave it dead

But being so afraid of what I will find,
Into my shell I retreat
Draw up the shroud a little tighter
It is now laced with weary defeat.

Inside it I still conceal myself,
Cuts on wrist-- a practised chop
Terrified to slice the silence now
Lest the bleeding does not stop.

© 2011 Preeti Shenoy

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

Save a life--it costs you nothing. Post 18


The growing apathy in  Urban environments towards suicides is something that I feel  so deeply about, that I could truly stand on the streets and scream out at people "HOW CAN YOU BE SO INDIFFERENT? DON"T YOU CARE?". But that wouldn't really help anyone, would it?

Today's DNA newspaper carried a headline that said "I want to kill myself."  
My heart really weeps for Deepti Chauhan who killed herself as well as her five year old son on Saturday. She was just 31. She travelled up and down Mumbai's suburban trains for 8 hours, contemplating various methods to kill herself and her child. Can you imagine her loneliness and her pain? She was surrounded by people, yet all alone. Nobody knew what was going on inside her.

File photo of Deepti Chauhan and her son.Picture courtesy NDTV

A month back Nidhi Gupta killed herself and her two children by throwing them off the 19th floor of a high rise. In Bangalore, there was a series of suicides, one after the other. Mostly they were young peoople, living far away from home. They all had promising careers, were well educated and on the face of it, were happy people.  Bangalore has now become the suicide capital of India. Research has shown that depression is the second biggest problem in India, after heart disease.

What I truly lament about is that reading about a suicide, creates perhaps a  small stir, as one reads it in the newspaper, while sipping the morning coffee. "Oh so sad," we say (or sometimes don't even say that) and we turn the page, to something more interesting, perhaps Femina Miss India photographs or Kingfisher calender models ,splashed across page three has caught our fancy.

We all seem to suffer from the malady of apathy. We are so busy in our daily lives. We do not know who lives in the apartment or house, next door, anymore. We connect on facebook and we feel good about 'keeping in touch.'
The Hindi movie 'Jootha hi Sahi'  has a scene that shows John Abraham talking the whole night to a girl who was suicidal. He saved her life.

However in real life, there is a huge dearth of volunteers in  many of the suicide helplines. None of the volunteers in suicide helplines are paid and they do it, because they care  deeply. In Bangalore, SAHAI is a well known helpline for suicide prevention and emotional distress. However, it functions only from to and does not function on Sundays. Authorities agree that a suicidal person with a strong urge to kill themselves, will not wait until next morning, but they are helpless as already there is a dearth of volunteeers.

Where do WE (you and I) come into the picture, in all this? What can WE do? Volunteering in these helplines is an extremely difficult task and  it is not easy at all. In fact, it must truly be one of the hardest tasks in the world. Besides, we all have our  hectic lives that leaves no room for others, especially some people with emotional needs. " I have my own problems and my own life to lead, I really don't have time for this suicide nonsense. There are helplines to take care of it. Why should I bother? Besides, what can I do?" is probably what most people would say, as they get on with their careers, earning more money to buy bigger houses and fancier cars (What? don't look at me like that. It isn't a crime to be ambitious. I have slogged my butt off in college for this) , getting married, raising children (Of course my children deserve the best,I have worked hard for it),  and a hundred other things that constitute 'life'.

The fact is ALL of us can indeed do something. We can care just a little bit more. All it takes is just a thought and just a little time to reach out to somebody and to make a new friend. See that person at the water cooler at work? Smile at him.See that girl who you always meet and greet with a smile? Say a hello to her. See that older woman with two children? Notice her and  pay her a genuine compliment. See the young kid trying to be cool? Smile at him as well. Reach out from your cocoon. Be friendly. Be kind.

Sometimes that is all it takes. You may be saving a life.
If Deepti Chauhan or Nidhi Gupta had a friend whom they could call up,(obviously they had no support system from their families.They felt so alienated from their husbands, from the families and were so depressed and saw no hope that the only way 'out for them was to end their lives and those of their children), someone who would listen to their problems, someone kind enough to care, who knows they might have been alive today?

Free Love day   is an event that is happening worldwide on 25th April to promote awareness about suicide and depression, as well as a Lifestyle to promote unconditonal love. (2,76,247 people have already joined in at the time of publishing this post) .This is what their page says:

Statistically, for every suicide there are ELEVEN attempts. And the truth is that we don't know who wants to, will try to, or will take their life.

What's the answer to this? Love is one. Here, love means an action and decision to unconditionally practice patience, kindness, and humbleness towards people. Sharing your story with people, because we all have one. To open up so no one feels alone.

SO HERE'S THE DEAL: On April 25th, put a heart on your wrist to signify that you will wear your heart on your sleeve and observe a LIFESTYLE of love. ASK SOMEONE HOW THEY'RE DOING. TELL PEOPLE YOU LOVE THEM AND DO IT. Nobody should have to feel so bad about themselves that they take their own life, so let's give them a reason not to! Let's change the world on April 25th!

If you accept this challenge, pass it on; let's make this day as big as we can.

I for sure, will be a part of this event. 
Do you care enough to? 

(If you do, please spread the word. Link back to the page or this article, write about it, blog about, Tweet it, buzz it, mail your friends, tell them..But please, please DO something)

PS: My second book ''Life is what you make it' is based on a true story and the protagonist in the book survives two suicide attempts.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just a picture today. My Dobe. post 17

 I love my Doberman.Her name is Lostris. She is just four months old and is still a pup. And she is extremely clever.(Please do not refer to pets/animals as 'it'.Always use a he/she) 

Lostris happens to be an Egyptian  Queen in one of Wilbur Smith's historical novels. Both Satish and I are huge fans of Wilbur Smith and both of us have read ALL his books. He is brilliant.

I will be writing a post on why Dobes are totally the best. Until then, I leave you with just a picture.(Each picture, they say is worth a million words).I was trying to get Lostris to look into the camera but she kept insisiting on turning her head and trying to kiss me :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Post 16. Why I do a blogathon and a meme

Doing a blog marathon is really hard. No matter what your other commitments, no matter how busy you are, no matter how many things you have to do, you still have to sit down and write that post before the day is up. For a blogger, the most gratifying aspect of blogging is the interactions with the readers that one has through the comments. A blog is nothing without its readers. What surprises me is that some posts, which I would have written quickly, without much thought, sometimes get a lot more comments, than a post which I would have written after working hard on it. Obviously some posts strike a chord with many more than other posts.
But I do enjoy writing all of them. I like doing a blog marathon, because it brings a kind of discipline into my writing. It forces me to sit at the keyboard and churn out a certain number of words. It helps to tame the monkey in my mind :-) And also I really love to hear what you have to say. (and it feels so terrific to get mails from people that say they just wait for my blog to be updated. Wow! How cool is that?! :-) Thank you folks!)

Today, I found this interesting meme from sunday stealing which is actually a part of a 5000 question meme! I decided to do this , as the questions were quite different from the usual memes. If you're doing this, leave me a link and I will surely come and have a dekko.

Here goes
1. Who has done something today to show they care about you?
My Son. He talked so much to me, asked me what was bothering me, put his arm around me and told me he was my best friend and I could tell him anything. He is so insightful, that kid. (He is 13 going on 30!)

2. Do you have a lot to learn?
I have to learn patience and art of forgiving.I also have to learn acceptance.

3. If you could learn how to do three things just by wishing and not by working what would they be?
To paint like the great masters, to do shirasasan (head stand) in yoga and to learn to fly a plane.

4. Which do you remember the longest: what other people say, what other people do or how other people make you feel?
Definitley, undoubtedly how they make me feel. I also remember word for word, what they say. I remeber what they do too. I am a self confessed memory keeper.

5. What are the key ingredients to having a good relationship?
Love , trust, same wave length, a great sense of humour  and yes, great sex helps too :P :)

6. What 3 things do you want to do before you die?
I  wanted to have my own children and I have two. I wanted to write a book and I have written two.(working on 3rd and 4th). I wanted to make life like portraits and I have achieved that also.
Cannot think of anymore 'must do'. Perhaps I might want to read many many many more books, before I die.

7. What three things would you want to die to avoid doing?
I am presuming that the question means, what three things would I rather not do and instead die.
Lose my health, lose my mind or lose my loved ones.

8. Is there a cause you believe in more than any other cause?
Yes--I feel strongly about increasing rates  of suicides and the growing apathy in urban environments. I also feel very strongly about female foeticide, gender inequality, legalising prostitution and euthanasia as well as assisted suicides.

9. What does each decade make you think of:
Eighties makes me think of college, nineties makes me think of the Internet revolution and the present decade just makes me think what a long way we have come.

10. Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why?
Present decade as communication is instant.

11. What is your favorite oldie/classic rock song?
Jefferson Starship--nothings gonna change my love for you. Wham--wake me up. George Michael-faith, Cure-Friday I'm in love, REM-losing my religion, GNR-November Rain, Don William-I believe in love and Starry starry nights  are a few that instantly come to my mind.

12. What country do you live in and who is the leader of that country? If you could say any sentence to the current leader of your country what would it be?
I live in India. The Prime minister is Dr.Manmohan Singh. I would  just say "Jai Hind" and mean it with all my heart.

13.What's your favorite TV channel to watch in the middle of the night?
I don't even watch TV during the day--why would I watch in middle of the night?! I would rather read a book.

14. What Disney villain are you the most like and why?
I cannot recall any memorable Disney villains.Haan if you ask me to be any villain, I'd be Phoolan Devi.

15. Have you ever been a girl scout/boy scout?
Yes, as a child I have been.

16. If you were traveling to another continent would you rather fly or take a boat?
Fly--that too fastest plane.

17. Why is the sky blue during the day and black at night?
God pulls the curtains down when he goes to sleep.(He/she must be having a whale of a time up there :P )

18. What does your name mean?
It means 'Love'. I love my name :-)

19. Would you rather explore the deeps of the ocean or outer space?
Deeps of the ocean any day.

20. Word association

What is the first word that comes to mind when you see the word:

Air:  Michael Jordan (Nike Air) :P (am too much of a basketball person)

Meat: YUCK

Different: Me

Pink: My little girl's bed

Deserve: India's world cup in cricket

White:  Yoga

Elvis:  Let me be your teddy bear

Magic: Witch, Evil,Black

Heart: Attack

Clash: Of the Titans

Pulp: Fiction

21. If you could meet any person in the world who is dead who would you want it to be?
My dad of course.

22. What if you could meet anyone who is alive?
Salman Khan :) or George Clooney too will do :-)

23. Is there a movie that you love so much you could watch it everyday?
I like many..Bucket List, Bridge to Terabithia, Shawshank, Goodwill Hunting,I could never be your woman..These are the ones that come instantly to mind.

24. You are going to be stuck alone in an elevator for a week. What do you bring to do?
I bring an enormous pile of books to read.

25. Have you ever saved someone's life or had your life saved?
Yes, I have saved a child from drowning. Will never forget how grateful the parents were.

See you tomorrow. That's all for today! :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

On loving someone. Post 15

Love Sneakers Pictures, Images and Photos
How do you insulate yourself from getting hurt when you open up your heart to somebody and admit (even to yourself) that you love them? You don’t. 

Loving someone (need not necessarily be romantic love, it can be love for a child, a friend, a sibling, a mate, a partner) is like telling them “I trust you completely and fully. I expect you to be around when things are rough for me. I want you to hold my hand and be there for me. Please do not let me down.” It is opening up your most vulnerable inner self to them, giving them fully the power to destroy you, but knowing that they will not.

Loving someone always comes with expectations. Elizabeth Stone had said
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

You can strike out the words ‘have a child’ and replace it with ‘to love someone’. The quote would still hold true.
When the loved one, the object of our affections ,does not react the way we expect them to, we feel deeply hurt. It is almost as if we’re saying “How can you do this to me?! I gave you my heart.” We feel upset, abandoned, lost, let down.

Most spiritual Gurus advise  us to practise detachment when it comes to love.  They tell us not to have expectations. But I do think one has to be either a Mother Teresa or a Buddha to love without having any expectations. I think it is only human to expect love to be reciprocated, to expect people to be around, to expect a hundred little things from the ones you love.

If love causes so much hurt, so much pain, why love at all? Why not live a life, detached from everyone, with a tight barbed fence around your heart, so that you let no-one in? The answer on contemplation becomes clear. The joy love brings, the hope it fuels, the feeling it reinforces that you can do anything really and the heights you reach when your loved ones push you on, is something truly incomparable to any feeling in the world.

Close your eyes and think of someone you truly love. The very thoughts fill you with joy, happiness, and pure delight. (And if you cannot have them by your side anymore, it is deep sorrow in equal measure that one feels).
Loving someone is giving away control of a small part of your life to them. Your happiness is in their hands. How terrifying it is! Yet how heady! No surprise then that hundreds of writers, artists, poets have written reams and reams on this topic. It is eternal. It is always fresh. And everybody loves a love-story.

Love—one truly cannot escape it. Everyone succumbs to it, at one point or the other, in their life. It is only human to.
When you love someone, you hand over the reins of your life to them.

And you hope like hell, they will not let go.
© 2011 Preeti Shenoy