Sunday, October 30, 2011

Five maxims to live by.

Over the years certain things I have learnt and accepted have stood me in great stead when things in my life went awfully wrong. Here are five maxims that I live by and swear by!


1.There is NOBODY who will understand you perfectly except yourself. Not your soul mate, not your best friend, not your parent, not your spouse, not your children..Nobody. Yes, they may understand you up to a large extent, they may say they understand and sometimes you just have to accept that it is good enough.

2.Everybody learns only if they themselves live the lesson. You learn only when you go through it yourself. Your friends may describe what it is like based on what they went through. Your parents may have their own views. But only when one experiences it for oneself does one truly understand. There is no point trying to make someone understand what it really is like, because they have never been there. 

3.Beyond a point you cannot take responsibility for your parents happiness. Your parents are adults. They have made their choices. Yes, they have given birth to you, raised you provided you with everything , but that does not mean you can fix every single thing in their lives and that is truly okay. It is they themselves who are responsible for their happiness or snappiness :P. (you can do what you can and rest one has to let go)

4.Don't expect, instead accept. Most people have their own way of dealing with things and it may be completely different from your own. They may not see things the exact same way YOU do. Two people may see a closed door. One may imagine a beautiful garden which lies beyond and the other might think there is someone imprisoned there. Each of us have our very own closed doors.  Accept it and do not expect people to do what you want them to.

5. Life is truly unpredictable and there is really no telling when it is your last day. (My cousin lost his wife a fortnight back. She was just 35, really hale and hearty and has two kids under the age of 8. She was there in the morning and by evening she was no more. It was a massive shock for all of us) So wear that best dress/ best shirt that you have been conserving for a 'special occasion'. Use that expensive perfume! Make every single day a day to celebrate!

Express what you feel.

PS:  You can interact with me on my Facebook page.  I reply to almost all comments and I check it very regularly. I do read all the comments left here too  and manage to reply most of the time even if slightly late :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heavenly stuff! Apple crumble topped with Vanilla custard sauce

Like I mentioned in my previous post, the children are having their hols and TV is a BIG no-no in our household. (I do not watch TV myself) So naturally the onus of keeping kids creatively occupied, falls on me as I am the stay-at-home parent. There are many things that one can do to make good use of time instead of parking them in front of an X-box or TV.

 Cooking is a great way to keep kids occupied especially if they are allowed to do stuff. Today we made Apple crumble. The Apple crumble turned out really scrumptious! It was heavenly!

Here is a close up of it! (I baked it in a cake tray and made the heart after taking it out while it was still warm)

And this is how it has to be served. You could heat up a little crumble in the microwave and then top it with delicious Vanilla custard sauce. (click on the link to be taken to a very simple easy to make recipe!)You can also serve it with ice cream!

And in case you want to know how we made it--we just followed the  recipe in the link above.

Also you can watch this video 
(and we just used normal red apples.There is no need to use cooking apples as shown in the video)

Try it even if you do not have kids! 
Go ahead, surprise that someone special with Apple crumble over the weekend :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The making of Mr.Moshi:)

The Diwali vacations are on for my children and this morning  my daughter wanted me to do something fun with her. I never say a no for doing anything creative and we made Mr.Moshi (a key chain buddy)  today!

This is how we did it.

You need felt cloth, key ring,yarn and polyfibre stuffing. (Ours came in a kit but you can easily buy all of it in a craft store)

Next we stitched the eye patch and the stomach patch on to  one piece. Then we made a loop from the long rectangular piece and passed the key ring through it. We also kept the ear pieces in before stitching all around and we left a small piece open for stuffing the wadding.

We stuffed the wadding from the side  and we used a pencil to push it all the way into the arms and legs. Then we closed him up by stitching all around.

And Lo Behold! Mr.Moshi came alive before our very eyes! :)

My daughter is delighted with him. So am I :) Now we will never misplace our keys as it's defintitely hard to miss Mr.Moshi :)

Sweet isn't it? (and a brilliant way to keep kids creatively occupied too!)

Try making your own key-chain keeper. (even if you do not have a child!).
Good fun :)

You can interact with me on my Facebook page.  I reply to almost all comments and I check it very regularly. I do read all the comments left here too  and manage to reply most of the time even if slightly late :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

What it takes to write a book.

Sometime back I had put this as a status update on my Facebook page

It takes two years and months and months of research and hours of writing, re writing and writing and editing to produce a book. And then there are people who read it and TRASH it in a few seconds without even having written one measly article for a newspaper, let alone a book themselves! And they hide under the disguise of 'constructive criticism'. No wonder Christopher Hampton said "Asking a working writer what he feels about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs" :D
This status update of mine got a record number of impressions (3000 +) and likes. 
Often when I meet people, they tell me "I always wanted to write a book." For any one of you who is reading this and who wants to write a book,  this video is a must watch. It tells you exactly like it is.
A writer's job is a very intense job. It is truly not easy to sit alone in a room, just with your computer and your thoughts and keep writing and writing and writing and writing, day in and day out until you have written about 70,000 to 80,000 words that coherently follow a plot and on top of that is interesting, sounds real and it is  written well enough for people to want to read it.

So you can imagine the immense amount of satisfaction I felt last night, as I completed writing my third book. Yes I did! It will still take six months for the book to hit the market. (Yeah, there is that MUCH work involved after writing it!)

Most writers who share their experience on writing say that to be a writer one has to be an introvert as well as an extrovert. You have to be interested enough in people and you have to be really observant. At the same time, you have to be detached enough to translate what you observe into writing. For me, the only way I can do it is by blocking out everything that is not of immediate urgency. When I write, it has to be just me and my characters. I have to step into another world. I have to travel with my protagonist. I have to make that journey to that awful place inside my own head and pull out everything, examine it, analyse it and then pour it into words and temper them with the right amount of emotions.

And at times, it gets very lonely.

Two days back I texted one of my closest friends. I told her that by the time I finish writing my book I think I will not have any friends left.(as I do tend to shut off from everyone when I am concentrating on my book and some people get pissed off big time because I am unavailable and I don't return their calls) She corrected me. She said that by the time I finish I will know who my real friends are. How rightly she said it!

I do think I am really lucky to have as my best friend one of the most understanding guys. He is really really  proud of what I do. He is extremely supportive and he is the first to read anything I write and get back to me with feedback and he tells me what works and what probably does not. Yeah and a good thing is also that I am married to him :)  He deserves a BIG kiss :)

Thank you Satish!

Another person who reads my work as and when I complete the chapters and who offers feedback (and I fought with him  for that and bullied him too and yet he was so patient :p ) and suggestions is  one of my very good friends (whom I have mentioned on my blog earlier) Mayank Mittal.

Thanks a lot  Mayank!

One other person who reads  my work  (and does not fight with me,he is too sweet for that!) and is always the perfect gentleman is

Ramesh really writes well himself and has a superb business blog going.(check out his writing by clicking on his name)

Thanks a lot Ramesh!

There is one more person who played a big role to push me to work really hard this time. I would have never worked so hard and pushed myself this much, but for Durjoy Datta, who is now a good friend too.

Durjoy is a best selling author of FIVE titles and chances are you have already read him.

I have read all his five books and I do really enjoy them, but be warned, if you are slightly on the conservative side you  may not like his totally explicit style and it may shock you :P 

Durjoy is honest, down to earth and very very hardworking and enterprising too. He has now started his own publishing house (Grapevine India) along with a partner, and his sixth title will be out soon.
You can check out his books (and order them)  here.

 Thanks a lot Durjoy!! :)

At the risk of this post sounding too much like an Oscar speech, there is another person whom I just have to mention, who is one of my closest friends who lives in the UK and with whom I exchange emails on a daily basis. And sometimes even when I don't write back for a week (which is like a huge gap if we go by our standards) she is most understanding. Thanks Sis!
 Then of course, THE most important person for a writer--YOU, the reader. I get mails, comments, FB messages--all of which I truly value. (I write back too!) So if you have been reading me, a BIG  and a heartfelt THANKS to YOU!

So now you know what it really takes to write a book. :-)It is motivation, dedication, hard work, perseverance.

But mostly it is just sitting at the computer (even when you would rather be chatting on the phone with a friend or checking out a movie at the multiplex or relaxing at a pub with a drink) and typing and typing and typing and thinking and thinking and typing and typing some more!
You can interact with me on my Facebook page.  I reply to almost all comments and I check it very regularly. I do read all the comments left here too  and manage to reply most of the time even if slightly late :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Box that up!

Image from photobucket

Sometimes there is only that much you can do about a particular situation in your life.(am not talking about issues related to health or fitness here)

You might have tried your best to resolve the problem. If it involves a person (and most problems sooner or later do!), you might have tried your best to reason with them, cajole them, persuade them to make them see things your way, especially because you know you are right and they are making a mistake.

You might have been reasonable, you might have fought, you might have wanted things to go your way. But things refuse to change. It is the same vicious circle over and over again.

What do you do in times like that?
You let go. Accept that for now, this is the situation and nothing you say or do will make a difference.

Focus on other things where you can do something.

Do not think about the problem for now. Box it up. Put away the box.Do not get affected by the contents of the box.

Give it time.

And after about two months, open the box. You will be surprised just how much of it has vanished into thin air and how much it has resolved itself!

Sometimes it is really the best way.

You can interact with me on my Facebook page.  I reply to almost all comments and I check it very regularly. I do read all the comments left here too  and manage to reply most of the time even if slightly late :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

The best pickle giver in the world

This morning it was a hurriedly mad rush. I am single parenting as Satish is abroad. Two children( that too one a teen and one a pre-teen!) and a large dog, plus a home to handle, apart from my writing (on a tight deadline for my third book! Details soon!) does at times  does make me want  to run away to Santorini (with some nice looking Greek God) and never ever come back.

But even in the  crazy, super-stressed moments laughter creeps up surreptitiously like a little thief, making you glad for life's little blessings.

There were just ten minutes left for the school bus to arrive this morning (and all parents know what a nightmare missing the school bus is, because you will then have to drive the child to school in the mad morning traffic) and I had made them Paneer paranthas for lunch (yum! I do make them well) but had not yet put it into their lunch boxes.

I was hurriedly making their breakfast and so I took out a pickle bottle from the cupboard and  told my daughter to pack some pickle into both their lunch boxes, to go with the parathas.

"Mama, please can you  give the pickle in the lunch box? You are really the best pickle-giver in the world! " says my daughter.

I was speechless for a few seconds and then I laughed.

And you bet the best-pickle giver in the world packed their lunch boxes after that. :D


You can interact with me on my Facebook page.  I reply to almost all comments and I check it very regularly (and yeah there are some new photos there as well). :-)

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Here is to you!

Photo of Satish and me clicked by my son on a day that I achieved something that meant the world to me.

Whatever brought you to where you are today did not come about by chance. You rose because of the decisions you made. You might have made a few choices which seemed absurdly silly and foolish  in retrospect. There might have been things that went out of your control no matter how much you tried to make it go the way you wanted it to.

You might have spent sleepless nights over the outcome, crying (maybe internally), asking questions, wondering, suffering, wishing to be somewhere else but where you are.

But each one of those times, when your prayers were not answered, when your hopes were dashed, when people you depended on left you stranded, when you were suffering , you without your knowledge were growing in character, in mental strength and fortitude. You were learning life's lessons, as hard as it might have seemed at that time.

The older I get, the more convinced I am about it.We make mistakes.We're here to learn.

Forgive those who caused you hurt. It might be hard. But that by itself is one of life's greatest lessons if you think about it.

Smile a lot.
Be kind.

But most of all never ever stop chasing your dreams.
You have just once life.
LIVE it!

Here is to You! *clink*
(and yes, all your dreams WILL come true. Don't ever give up)

You can interact with me on my Facebook page.  I reply to almost all comments and I check it very regularly (and yeah there are some new photos there as well). :-)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A post card story from Mc.Leod Ganj

Outside my window, right now there is the sound of crickets and a myriad other insects, chirping in disarrayed harmony, yet blending together to create  sounds that soothe the soul, fascinate the mind and  makes you pause and listen as you suspend whatever you are doing, putting everything on hold to just listen. And that is precisely what I am doing right now as I pause from my typing. Listening to nature's exclusive soundtrack.

Am on a vacation near  Mc.Leod ganj which is very close to  Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. Mc.Leod is a fascinating mountain town, 6800 feet above sea level. It is filled with Tibetan refugees. There are many monasteries and yesterday we visited the official residence of the Dalai lama.

A thousand dancing flames at Dalai Lama's monastery

Yeah--that's is me. I found the prayer wheels calming.Read what it says.   
Another view of prayer wheels

We walked around the languid town, ate momos, watched the monks dressed in maroon robes, in quiet admiration, a privilege to peep into their world. It all feels very surreal and Tibet is alive in these lanes, hopes of a free Tibet fill the air and it is hard to not get caught in the atmosphere or soak in a bit of the Tibetan culture.

My children and me at the waterfall.The water was icy cold!The rocks are very slippery!

 The tall Deodhar trees, the cool mountain mist and the gigantic Dauladhar Mountain scape frame almost every scene in this place,punctuated by the bubbling brooks of waterfalls and cool refreshing springs. It is nature at her resplendent best and you cannot help but succumb to her charms.

A view of our cottage

The resort (Blossom village resort)  we are currently staying at feels like paradise. (click on the link for details and  more pictures of the resort) The word 'Idyllic' really comes alive when you set foot here. Our cottage is truly beautiful and there are a thousand flowers in bloom. (We chose a place far away from the city and the touristy crowd).
A few of the flowers in bloom at Blossom village resort    '

The person who owns this place had a chat with us this morning and we were really impressed by the politeness of the staff and the stunning beauty of this place which has a natural stream running through the property.  There is also a cow, a buffalo and a newborn calf on the premises, and my children have been making friends with Noorie and Cookie (the cow and the buffalo, the calf is yet to be named.)

Another view of the waterfall we visited this morning

In short we're living a dream. A break much needed from the mundane chores of daily life. A break to pause, to ponder and relish. A break to seek some inner peace. (and the Buddhist prayer wheels and singing bowls do just that) To  rejuvenate.

So we get back with renewed vigour to the tasks that await us.
In my case, it translates to working on completing my third manuscript.

Until then.
May you find inner calmness and peace.