Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alas!

Alas he says
As he wastes his time
Looking at mundane sites on the Internet
Amusing himself
Or trying to
But missing her bad all the time
Cocooned in his idealism
Of a promise made with wool over his eyes
And a stone in his heart.

Alas she weeps
But silently
As she waits to hear from him
Pretending to find joy elsewhere
Faking happiness
Or trying to
Even a single word would bring such comfort
To show her she still matters

Alas  is a situation
They have both created
More he than her though
She at least tried
Really hard

But he mulishly clings on to his alas
Burning silently, longing, craving
Yet doing nothing.
Both of them trapped
In their intermingled destinies
Of a web they wove
Alas!


© 2011 Preeti Shenoy

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5 things I learnt from someone nice--a birthday post


Today is the birthday of one of the most important people in my life. Last year and the year before that, we had celebrated his birthday in the UK. This year we celebrate in a new home. A few of his closest friends came over at midnight yesterday and it was a complete surprise for him, when he was woken up from sleep and brought downstairs, groggy eyed  to find all his good friends as well as both the kids assembled there, with cake, eats and everything else.He walked into a pitch dark room and the lights came on and rest you can imagine! :-)

We had all planned it all and co-ordinated, down to the last detail, which included minor but very important things like alerting the security at the gate of the vehicle numbers they would be arriving in, so that the security would not call to alert of their arrival. They texted me when they were outside my home and I crept quietly downstairs and let them in. We really made awesome-happy memories last night, which I am sure we will fondly remember for years to come!
A big thank you to the people who made this happen (you know who you are I am really grateful to you guys :-) )

It is a known fact that the people we spend maximum amount of time with, help us shape our thinking, our action and ultimately our destinies. Most spiritual leaders and high thinkers encourage us to seek out positive minded individuals who proactively lead their lives, with their goals in focus and are full of love and warmth. They are above pettiness and focusing on negatives. If your goal is to lose 5 kgs of weight but you are surrounded by people who eat a lot and are really not at all diet/health conscious, then it will be that much harder for you to achieve your goals. Similarly if you trying to quit  smoking but are surrounded by people who smoke at least 6-10 cigarettes a day, it is going to be hard for you.

So how is this connected to the surprise birthday party? In my case, the  person with whom I have spent the maximum amount of time is the one whose birthday it is today :)  I have spent 16 years with him and that is indeed a LOT of time. There is a LOT  I have learnt from him which would be impossible to contain in one post. Here are 5 of the things I learnt from him:

1.If you feel bad about something someone said, no matter whether they intended it as a joke or not, your feelings are indeed valid and you're entitled to them:  This is something I am always grateful to him for. Many a time I used to question myself as to whether I am over-reacting to a comment made by somebody, about something which is sacred, to me. He is the one who taught me to honour what I feel, no matter how the other person intended it. (and sometimes its not even worth analysing why they did/said certain things--but at other times it is)


2.Just because you feel upset and hurt, you do not have to immediately react. I truly admire his ability for this. For me, if I feel hurt my first instinct is to lash out at that person and let them have it. My level of tolerance for such things is far lower than his. At times, side stepping such things is a smarter thing to do, though I have miles to go in that department!

3. What matters most to you does not truly matter that much to everybody . There are very very few people who are genuinely interested in what matters most to you. But that does not mean you must not form close connections. If you are lucky to have them in your life, hold such people close. But also remember that situations and circumstances change over a period of time. Accept this fact and suddenly there is a huge perspective change in your relationships.

4. If someone has not made an effort to be in your life, despite trying many times from your side, walk away. This ability is something I admire him for. He always says  "If that person genuinely wants to be a part of your life, they will  make time to call or initiate contact." This sounds so simple but it is profound if you think about it.


5.You do not have to raise your kids exactly how your parents raised you: Till I met him, I always used to think that raising your kids with a Spartan discipline is the only way you will have well grounded adults.This was the way I was raised and I used to falsely believe that it was the best way. It was completely the opposite of how he was raised and he truly is one of the nicest people I know. That was a huge eye-opener for me.


Happy birthday to a GREAT guy and THANK YOU for being in my life and most importantly thank you for loving me as much as you do, especially during the times I don't deserve it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Some flowers from my garden

Lillies--one of the easiest plants to grow.

Pink Hibiscus. Radiates so much peace!

Yellow Hibiscus--so cheerful and peppy.

I was very happy when this bloomed. So much perfection in nature!

Zinnias--not too hard to grow either. But they are not pernnial and have to be replanted.

Table roses are one of the easiest plants to grow. Especially if you live in an apartment. It needs only a very shallow container, lots of sunlight and some watering.They grow really well.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marriage and its other implications

Warning/Disclaimer:
If you are under 25, then this post is definitely not for you. It is a serious post. I suggest you stop reading right now and come back after five years ;-) I know many of my friends' children read my blog, and hence the disclaimer.
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A friend of mine, a smart brave young lady, who has a great career going for her, has just called off her wedding, after being engaged for 5 months, as she realised that the guy was not right for her. I totally applauded her courage and her decision. Her folks and she suffered a huge loss monetarily as all the wedding arrangements had been made, venue had been booked and even wedding  rings had been bought. Can you imagine the amount of courage this would have taken, especially in an Indian scenario? Her parents support her completely and I was happy that she had the courage to call off her wedding rather than suffer with the wrong person for the wrong reasons of placating society. Not everyone can be as brave and as certain as her.
 
I have been doing some serious thinking about marriage. I know some bright young women in their late twenties or early thirties, who are single and financially independent and leading their own lives. Yet 'well meaning relatives' and parents push them like crazy to get married. Nothing you do as a woman counts, unless you have got married and produced a child or two! Somehow, in the Indian society, everybody is content only if you are 'settled' (meaning married and produced a kid within 2 years of marriage) once you cross the age of 25/26, whether you are a guy or a girl. I also know some really smart young men who are being pressured the same way.

With young men (and also young women) what happens mostly after they get a job and start earning well is that many of their friends get married (perhaps succumbing to pressure from family). They post 'happy couple pictures' on social networking sites (I find it amusing when someone puts up a couple picture or a picture of their child as their display pic on Facebook!). They find their own homes and move out of their bachelor(ette) pads. At the end of the day, they have 'someone to go home to'. All this sounds fantastically exciting when you're single and longing to 'have a family of your own.' Which is not really a bad thing.


But what most people do when they are looking for a person to marry, is that they compromise, simply because time is running out, and 'everybody is getting married' and because parents and well meaning relatives will stop nagging. If the prospective match  meets about 60% of what you have in mind (after meeting several people who matched only 35-40%, then one gets fed up of searching for the perfect one too), they say yes.(and everyone is ecstatically happy for a few days and congratulations start pouring in).

Trouble usually starts after 5-6 months of knowing each other really well and when the initial excitement of a new person in your life wanes a bit. If you're married by then, its too late :-) Then it is a lifetime of 'adjustments and compromises'. I had elaborated on this in my article 'Marriage and Freedom'.


But if you're not married, then some, like my friend, do the smart thing and call it off. (A similar scenario happens in Zindagi Na mile Dobara--I loved the movie! It is a MUST watch)

 
Yesterday, I posted a part of Steve Pavlina's article on my tumblr (where I post stuff I find on the Internet that interests me) with a link to read his whole post. Here is a screen shot of it.



If you are interested in the whole article and if you are interested in what he has to say, you can read the whole article here:
http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2009/01/polyamory/

Steve Pavlina has indeed written an incisive article and he addresses many issues and  myths like physical intimacy, sexuality and selfishness. It takes a LOT of courage to go the path that Steve has chosen. It takes  depth of character to even understand what he is saying, especially with regard to sex. If you have been conditioned by society, by peers, by parents to believe in the following concepts
 "Marriage means compromises"
 "Everybody has to adjust in a marriage,"
 "I will not do anything that my spouse does not like even if it matters a hell of a lot to me, because it makes my spouse feel insecure/unhappy. After all I love my spouse and I have to make this marriage work"

then you will definitely find Steve's frank views shocking and pure blasphemy. (I can already picture the reactions of a few of my good friends if they read Steve's article) :-)


But then I also know of many married people who will nod in agreement to everything that Steve has to say ;-)

Personally I do believe that a partner should never restrict you  from doing things  YOU want to, because of their jealousies, their insecurities, their needs. I know many who badly want to do many things, but they do not do it, because their partner does not like it or partner does not share the same interests. They live their lives exactly like how their spouse wants them to, giving up things (and even people) that mean a lot to them, thinking that if they do that, then the marriage will be a happy one. Over a period of few years they are a mere shadow of what they used to be and they are not even sure of their needs anymore. They define themselves as somebody's  mother, somebody's wife, somebody's father, which are all roles which are important, no doubt. But beneath that is the interesting person who used to be so much fun,who used to be so interesting and full of life, who has faded away now. They exist in their weary marriages, adjusting, compromising, placating parents, society and everyone but themselves, too afraid to make a change.

One can grow in a relationship only if it is free of restrictions, jealousies and mistrust.
To this end, Steve Pavlina's views are something which I completely and wholeheartedly endorse.


If you're single and you have not yet found the right one, fret not! Enjoy your freedom!!  Marriage is really not as big a deal as its being made out to be, trust  me!  (I have been married 16 years) It is a  LOT of work and a LOT of giving up, even when your spouse is the most understanding of people.

If you are married and especially if you've been married five years or more, then read Steve's article. It's worth the long read. ;-)
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Addendum:

I never expected this post to generate this much interest!! I have been flooded with an enormous number of mails, from  so many people who feel stuck in their current life situations. All of them bless me for writing the post and send me so much love. Thanks so much for that! Many  of them ask if I will be their mentor and guide. While I am honoured that you choose me to be your mentor, I am really sorry, I will not be able to oblige. Everyone knows that I put more than a 100% into every single thing I undertake. Currently I have a lot of things to keep me occupied (the top priority being completing my 3rd book) and hence I will not be able to take any mentoring requests or requests for guidance which will involve a LOT of commitment from me.

Also many people are leaving comments on this post which is not at all in line with what is written in the post. Many are making personal comments about other people who have commented on the post! Also, Please understand that I am not interested in getting into a debate with anyone who has already subscribed to the idea that "marriage means compromises."

Hence I am screening the comments for this post and  will be deleting only those which are not  directly relevant to what is being discussed.

Thanks a lot folks! Next post onwards comments will not be screened  :)




Monday, August 22, 2011

Odds and ends and coming a long way



Noticed an odd coincidence just as I opened Blogger to write a new post--the Number of followers this blog has was 576 and this is also my 576th post. Strange isn't it? The number of subscribers are more than 1100 now and this blog now gets more than 530 page views a day, sometimes touching a 800. Wow! What a long way I have come. Thanks for this much love folks! I do love you all :-)



A bit of news that I am thrilled about is that my second book is  number 4 now on Hindustan Times best-selling fiction list. It had also made it to India today top selling fiction. It has been number one on Flipkart for ages.

In Bangalore the other day, when my children and I walked into Landmark, I felt so chuffed that they actually recognised me. My children nudged me and we smiled. They excitedly pointed out both my books at the store saying "Look Ma, your book," and this time the staff there smiled indulgently.

Later when we were sitting at the food-court in Forum mall, a couple sitting at the next table (a young man and his girlfriend/fiancee) kept looking again and again in my direction and were whispering to each other. I sat up a bit more straighter. I presumed they must have recognised me too and I was secretly preening prouder than a peacock, deep inside.

Then the guy walks up to me and says "Excuse me--can I ask you something?"
I thought he would ask if I was Preeti Shenoy and so I said  "Yes, of course."
"Dont mind my asking, but are these two children your children?" he says.

I was taken by surprise. "Of course they are my own children," I said.
"I mean are you their biological mother? I am so sorry to ask you this," he says apologetically.
"Yes , yes I gave birth to both. Why?!" I asked curiosity getting the better of me.
"No--we both had a bet," he says pointing to his girlfriend/fiancee. "She said that they cannot be your children  and you were their cousin or sister or something. So sorry to bother you, thanks."

Then he went off and they both smiled at me.

I guess I just need to write more books. ;-)


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

5 ways to a more peaceful you

From my garden.


Yes, I am back :-) Thanks to all who mailed and pinged and texted asking if I am okay. I indeed am. That is if you don't  count a hurt leg due to which I could not walk, a change in residence with a million boxes to unpack, a hundred thousand chores to deal with plus a 3rd book to write and also nursing a broken heart.

Okay-- I lied about the broken heart  :-) heh heh..But the rest of it is indeed what has been happening in my life, and  S-U-P-E-R-B-U-S-Y does not even begin to describe even a tenth of what I am going through.

I am sure you have been super-busy too, at least at some point in your life
How does one find inner peace and stay calm and composed among such a chaotic schedule and when things don't go your way? What can one do to instantly better the situation?

The first thing is to accept that certain things are indeed beyond our control and there is nothing one can do about it. This is really hard to do, especially if you are the kind of person who wants to control every outcome.But this acceptance itself brings a certain amount of calmness.

The second is to do something about the things you can control. Doing the following when things become 'too much' usually works for most. I can vouch for it as I use these.



1. Go unwired for a few hours:
 Completely switch off from all electronic stuff. No i-pod, no laptop, no cell-phone. Work can wait. Nobody is going to die if you are unreachable for a couple of hours. (of course choose a good time to do this). When you do this, you begin to listen to your inner voice--  your soul, which speaks to you. Usually, in our daily bustle of living we truly forget to listen and our inner voice gets drowned. Going unwired might feel very uncomfortable at first, especially if you are an internet addict. But trust me, the experience is liberating.


2. Clear Clutter:
 Clear all clutter from your drawers, from your cupboards. Neatly organise your physical surrounding. If you have no use for something or if you have two of something, give it away. Do not keep ANYTHING just because you feel it might come in handy sometime in future. If you haven't used it in the past 6 months, you don't really need it. And you can always buy a new one in case a need arises that urgently. It's not worth holding on to clutter. A neat organised home does wonders for your inner peace.


3. Pencil in one thing that satisfies you--then do it. 
Think of one thing that makes you feel really happy. Maybe it is a chat with a good friend,maybe it is making a card, maybe it is a very simple thing like sipping chai and staring out of the window when it rains. May be it is patting your dog or playing with a toddler. Maybe it is calling up your grandmother and telling her you love her. Try and remember the last time you felt really happy --what were you doing? Now pencil in that in your day--and then DO IT!
 

 
4.Ten minutes of 'peace time'
 Sometimes having children around you all the time can be overwhelming. Sometimes having your own family members around you ALL the time can be irritating too. Ask for 'ten minutes' (or twenty or even an hour if you have that luxury) of 'me time' where noone is allowed to disturb you. Lock yourself up in your room and use this time exclusively for yourself.

5. Journalling
So many great visonaries, leaders and new age gurus have stresssed and stressed the importance of journalling,. I do keep a journal (in fact I keep several) and the benefits of this are really manifold. To know why journalling is important and how it can help you lead a better life, read this brilliantly written piece by Steve Pavlina. The article also has a link to another piece which explains how you can use journalling as a problem solving tool.


So this is how I have been able to preserve my sanity despite all the happeings and non-happenings in my life ;-) :-)

How have you been?  What have you been upto? And which of the tips above are you going to use today?
If you care to share, I am listening.




Saturday, August 06, 2011

Friendships--some stay in our hearts forever

"How do you spell 'love'?" - Piglet
"You don't spell it...you feel it." -  Winnie the Pooh"

"Friendship," said Christopher Robin, "is a very comforting thing to have."
--A.A.Milne

Some of my strongest friendships have broken even though I have given it all I had. One of them was very puzzling. She was like my soul-sister (and you think you outgrow  things like that in college). We used to meet every single day and our children got along so well too. Our children were inseparable and so were we.Then I moved cities and we still kept in touch. We called almost every single day. We laughed, we spoke and the world seemed brighter. She was my strength as I was hers. I remember her once telling me " Preeti--don't you think if we have each other we can face any darn situation in this world?"  I had agreed.

Then one fine day, she vanished from my life. Yes--it was that dramatic. She wouldn't reply to her mails. She would not answer her cell-phone. She had just changed residence and hence I did not have her new landline number.No matter how many times I tried calling there would be just no reply.I must have tried calling , texting at least a 50 times. I must have written at least 18 mails to her. I was worried.I was worried if she was okay.
I had no idea why she was avoiding me. Then I got so worried that I made a friend (who she does not know)  from another town call her. This time she picked up. But the moment the friend  mentioned my name she hung up and never answered her calls either. I made another friend call her and she did the same.(But now I knew that she was okay and well).
To say I was hurt is like saying Niagra is a waterfall. Finally, I stopped trying to get in touch with her. She still had all my numbers and my email and she could easily get in touch if she wanted.

After about three years of not being in touch with her, (by this time I had lost my father and my friend had been very fond of my father too as he had helped her in many ways.)  I contacted her again (on her cell-phone), on her birthday.By this time, my first book had become a national best-seller and I was begining to be recognised for my writing. When I called her, I never expected her to answer the phone as I had tried so many times before (and she wouldnt pick up my call).  But this time, she picked up and I wished her a happy birthday. She couldn't speak for a few minutes and then she burst out crying. Then she kept repeating over and over "Preeti, I do not deserve a friend like you." I kept asking her what had gone wrong and why she had withdrawn. She told me she would tell me everything when we meet. To this day I do not know because when we met, we hugged each other and we were so happy! Whatever had happened in the past did not truly matter anymore.

Now we are very much in touch and it is as though we were never out of touch.

I lost another very close friend due to a silly misunderstanding while I was still trying to cope with all the fame, success and adulation that came with my first book. It was a silly remark which my friend made about my book, which hurt me badly and I expressed it mincing no words. She withdrew in fear because she had never seen that part of my personality in all the years she had known me. I have apologised at least a fifty times. My friend never forgave me. She talks to me now, but very measuredly and not at all like the easy, fun-filled laughter that it used to be. I called her many times. She has not called me even once. Now I stopped calling even though I do miss her deeply. Sometimes, you just have to let go.

If there is true love, then the  friendship is indeed for life. Even animals know that instictively. 



If you do not know the story of Christian the Lion, do watch the video above. I guarantee it will not fail to inspire/move/touch you in some way. The book which has sold millions of copies is amazing too as it has vivid desciption and plenty of photos too).

On the eve of friendship day, I dedicate this post to all my true friends (they know who they are!) --the ones who are there for me, no matter what. I truly value your presence in my life and I am so darn fortunate to have you.

If you (like me) are blessed to have great friends, you're really lucky! Tell them how much you value them. Call them.NOW! :-)

Happy friendship day!
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ps: Two stories I wrote of my very good friendships have been published in 'Chicken soup for the Indian Friends soul' which is now available in all leading bookstores.