I write so I can breathe. I am constantly evolving, mindless at times, frustrating even perhaps but heck, I wouldn't change the smell of freedom that comes with writing.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Ten Things Before I Kick the Bucket

My bucket for the list of things to do before I die is bottomless really. But, here are my ten that tops the unending list in no particular sequence:

1. Write a book/ write books 
 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
It is taking longer than ever but it is still one of the things I really wish to accomplish before I die. I will.

2. Dream Drives/Road Trips/Places 



 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
(i). Ladakh
The North of India has this beautiful land hidden away which is a long time dream of mine to explore. A road trip, no specific plan but just drive to wherever the roads take me and off road too. I believe this particular road trip for me is an important one in my journey to find myself, to reflect, pause and look inward. 
(Image Courtesy Google Images)
(ii)  Storseisundet bridge Atlantic Road and Tromose (Northern Lights) Norway
This unbelievable 8km road  connects the cities of Kristiansund and Molde. This road is an open sea road along the Norwegian coast crossing  islands; the distance between the islands were so small that a road was built over the archipelago. For a person who loves to drive, this is one stretch I want to drive. A drive right through Germany's Autobahn. As for the Northern Light, I don't even need to say anything about Aurora Borealis. 


 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
(iii)  Annecy, France 
In south-eastern France,on the northern tip of Lake Annecy is this beautiful Venice-like town. Only, it is more picturesque and quiet and as yet unknown. The criss-cross of canals makes it one of the most photogenic places in France. 
 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
 (iv) Folegandros, Greece
Tucked away in the Aegean Sea is this pristine white paradise of Folegandros on a 700ft cliff. This place has been on my list of travel spot for the past decade. Someday, I want to take in the splendor of it all in person, walk down to the sea on the ancient mule tracks and forget the rest of the world exists.
(Image Courtesy Google Images)
(v) Masai Mara Sanctuary Safari, Kenya
Yes, this is one safari where I am willing to let go of my hands on the wheel and simply explore and go around appreciating wildlife in Africa. One of my favourite dream safaris because there is nothing that compares to an African  safari and an African sunset.
(Image Courtesy Google Images)
(vi) Machu Picchu, Peru
This is one of my dream sites to visit from history. The mystery and the magical spirituality of the place beckons to me. Situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley, this beautiful surreal destination is a must visit for me. 


(Image Courtesy Google Images/ thegreenpastures.com)
(vii) Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Tawang is a peaceful hill station in Arunachal Pradesh in North East India. The challenge lies in reaching the place and the journey is incredibly fulfilling I have been told. 
(Image Courtesy Google Images)
(viii) Munsiyari, Uttarakhand
This is one challenging drive and very rewarding in terms of the beauty and quaint life it leads. Nestled in Pithoragarh, this place is a starting point for a number of treks into the unexplored Himlayas.
(Image Courtesy Google Images)
(ix) Salt Desert, Kutch
I am not really one for dry desert drives but this one is unique. The stark white salt desert and the splashes of colour of its people. I have this roaad trip to make too!
(Image Courtesy Google Images)
(x) Cinque Terre, Italy
This bunch of five villages (and the colours are amazing) on the Italian Riviera is another dream destination for me that overlooks the Mediterranean. The cuisine, the people, the places all calls out enticingly to venture into a world that explodes your senses. 

3. Make a Film - Script/Direct
 (Image Courtesy Anticlock Films)
Yes, I have co-produced one film, and a National Award Winner at that but I want to direct a film that I write the script for. Someday, I will.

4. Donate hair to a cancer patient
 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
If you see the length of my hair, you will laugh at this one. My hair currently is less than 5mm long. Yes, I wish to grow my hair long enough and then cut it to donate to a cancer patient who wishes for hair. 

5. Open a bristo/A food truck that goes everywhere

(Image Courtesy Google Images)

This is a dream for me. I will get to it.  One can pay as much as they feel like. Hmm...I gotta earn enough for this but that is how I wish for it to be. My wanderlust and need to cook for those who love to eat could work.

6. Learn to Salsa
 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
This is one dance form I wish to learn. For someone with two left feet, this is a dream but it is on my list. Bring on the shoes. Umm...I have to get my back sorted first I am getting there though, slowly but surely. 

7. Specialise in Black and White Photography
(Rafique Sayed - Image Courtesy Google Images)

I held my first camera at the age of 9 when I scrimped and saved two hundred and fifty bucks to buy a black and white Agfa Click III that used little film rolls (12 exposures). It has been a journey for me. I am an amateur phtographer who takes pictures more by instinct than technical perfection. It is my dream to be mentored by Rafique Sayed and learn. 

8. Buy a Mercedes for my Dad
 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
I know I have to be incredibly rich to cover this one. My passion for cars comes from my father. His favorite brand of cars is a Mercedes. He believes Daimler engines are the best there is out there. I want him to have one. 

9. Live without communication gadgets for a year
 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
Am I nuts? 
No. 
I want to do this. 

10. Will my vital organs to anyone who may need it and my body for medical research
 (Image Courtesy Google Images)
I may not be sure how I will die but I do not wish to be cremated or buried. I wish for my body to be put to good use. This really is not something for before I die but yes, this is the one thing I want done after I die.

Phew! I need to be incredibly rich. I am wealthy though..

- Sandy


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Dilemma of the Round Roti

Really? When I was told by a friend that is what #Indispire topic for the week is, I said "Whaaat?" Yep. That is what I did. I was greatly amused and I sat smiling and wondering what to write. What does one write about "Do round rotis taste better than non-round ones?" My mind wandered. I realized that I hadn't seen the round of a roti for ages. In short, I hadn't cooked one for ages! The last I had a roti was...well, not in the recent weeks at least. For a Punjabi, that amounts to ages. 

I sat mulling over the realization even as my dog Nike looked on reminding me that he had not had one either. (He likes to be involved and absolutely loves parathas!)

Sure enough, this morning, I woke, quietly ignored the easy cooking of rice and opted to give my meal for the afternoon a little effort and make roti instead. A TV show by Vikas Khanna where he sits in a Ratnagiri kitchen watching the Puran Poli Aunty make perfect round ones flashed in my head. I love puran polis (slathered in ghee...Sin! Utter sin I tell you!). You get the drift.

Making plain rotis would be easy but I got more adventurous and boiled green peas to mash it with a few aromatic spices and make simple 'round' parathas for lunch instead. They were perfect; round, small, beautifully dotted with green stuffing. I am hungry already but I will wait for lunch to relish them. Would I be hungry still if they were not perfectly round or were shaped more like the map of India or Africa or whatever else? Of course! They would still taste as good, be a piece of art but, no, I would frown if I was served with that in a high end restaurant. Hmm. 

They would look different yes, but they would taste the same. 

Gratitude. You actually went through my ramblings. 

If this makes to a top post, I will be be Indispired to make more. 

*grin*

- Sandy

Friday, February 13, 2015

Freedom's Price

He rummaged around in a frenzy while she watched. Just back from a great evening with a friend, she had been telling him about it. While she talked, he got up, searching for something, asking her questions about how she had felt, where she went, what they spoke about. She happily narrated the amazing evening she had, connecting up surprisingly well with the new friend she had made, telling him how refreshing it was to find someone to discuss literature with for a change. 

At some point, she stopped, realizing he had stopped hunting for whatever he was looking for. He stood a distance away with a crepe bandage in his hand that he had unwound the length of. She had loaned it to him when he had twisted his ankle a couple of days, perhaps a week, ago. 

"What are you doing?" she asked, a sense of foreboding coursing through her veins. The air was suddenly ominous and she hated the fear that crept inside her stomach, an eddy of trepidation that coursed through her and ran her body cold. 

She tried to get up.

"Sit." he ordered. She sat back, petrified.

A pair of scissors in his hands cut the bandage into two. That was however not what stopped her short, choking her breath and intimidated her. It was his eyes, watching her, in a cold murderous gaze while he began to slowly wrap the bandages around his hands, slowly, deliberately, never once taking his eyes off her. She held his gaze, feeling the bile rise to her throat slowly. She was spiralling into a space she didn't want to be in and fought hard to keep her calm.

He had not answered.

"Why are are you tying bandage on your hands? Are you hurt?" she asked again, amazed that her voice came out without the chill she felt inside her. 

"Do you know," he said smiling, eyes still not leaving her, "You wrap something around you and then put on your gloves for boxing? It prevents bruising."

She let go a breath slowly, realizing she had been holding it a while, relaxing a bit.

"Are you going somewhere for practice?" she asked. He was a fitness fanatic and she played around with the possibility even as he spoke.

"I don't need to." he said, stepping closer to where she was seated on the worn-out sofa. "I can practice right here."

She smiled and later would recall the irony of that smile. 

A million stars blinded her as the first punch hit her nose throwing her head back, her neck turning to the side as she realized she was his punching bag. Her face was pounding with the first hit and then came another, which she tried to duck but the punch managed to graze her cheek. 

Oh God! What was wrong with him? Pain seared through while she tried to get herself to stay calm. So far, she had not screamed and she shuddered at her capacity to withstand physical pain. Stop! Stop! Please stop!

She managed to get out of the sofa and ran to reach the door. She needed to get out. This man had gone mad. Her head spun with the shock of it, with the stupefying realization of the reality that the man who said he loved her had turned into a jealous raving madman who was unleashing unfettered violence on her. She needed to get out. 

He swung her around a few meters away from the door. That is when she lost track of the pain. The punches came without a break, her back against the wall he had pushed her to, her ribs cracking, breaking, and the kicks landed on her pelvis and that hurt. It was as if a stubbornness began filling her up. She refused to scream or cry. He did not stop until her legs gave way, and she slid onto the floor, curling up, blood soaking up on her t-shirt, the size of the blotch increasing as her hazy vision struggled to stay aware of what was around her. 

"You went out with a man?" he blazed. 

"I asked you if I could and you encouraged me remember?" she responded quietly, salty blood seeping out from the corner of her mouth. She sat up on the floor, her arms holding her knees and she realized she was swaying, as if singing herself a lullaby. She needed some rhythm to keep her composure. She would not cry. She did not want to give him that satisfaction. It took all of her energy, but she held on. She needed to hear it from him even though she had it figured out by then that this man was insanely jealous that she had gone out with one of his friends for coffee.

"So?" he retorted, his eyes still cruel, bearing down on her, without sympathy at what he had just done to her. 

"This doesn't make sense. It was just coffee!" she replied. Pain was throbbing through her and she dared not raise her hand to even touch her face. It felt ripped apart. She inwardly prayed it was lesser damage than she felt. 

"You don't understand, do you?" he said, a short laugh and sarcasm dripping together. She looked at him then, a question in her eyes, pain set aside for that instance. 

"I own you." he continued. "You will always be my slave and do you know why?"

She waited. 

"If you ever refuse me, for anything, or even so much as look at another man, no man will ever want you. I will make sure of it. I will tell them all about you; every little detail, all of it. If you ever tell anyone I hit you, I will destroy you."

Sitting on the bare floor, cold seeping to her bones, she believed him. With a sickening heartache, she knew he meant it. He was capable of it. She wanted to get out. She needed to find her strength to end it all. 

He raved, ranted, telling her about how he thought she was a cheap whore, telling her about other women he was sleeping with, about how he didn't love her. She believed he didn't. Love is not this. She listened. She made no move. She had been trapped into this relationship, a fly who unwittingly got caught into the spider's web and wasn't able to leave thereafter. It had been months and she hadn't found a way to come out of this clean. She felt dirty and knew nothing could cleanse her spirit. it was that thought that scared her the most. 

Finally he stopped talking, watching her. She sat, staring at him, dead eyes, not giving him a reaction to his endless tirade. 

"Get out." he said. "Go clean up. Not a word to anyone."

She got up, surprised to manage on her own. The cold breeze hit her face as she stepped out into the darkness. It was late she noticed, relieved that she would hopefully not cross anyone on the way back to her apartment. She lived down the street and she found her way into the bathroom, managing to drag herself to the mirror. 

Her eyes remained shut, afraid of what she would see. 

He was right. 

The damage was more internal. Her nose had bled onto the t-shirt and her cheek was slightly grazed. a cut on the top of her nose looked like it needed attention but she would manage that. The t-shirt came off and she could see the bruises forming, below her breasts, a red welt on her pelvis was sign of another injury. She knew they would be blue by morning. All she wanted was to be able to treat her nose without having the doctor ask her too many questions. 

A couple of lies about hitting her nose on the door and falling, she managed to get through the doctor. It had taken all her strength to not squirm, or limp. Broken nose. 

She would have to live with that. It was a reminder to never let a man ever hit her. 

A week later, she walked on the street and ran into him. It had been a week since that night he had broken her nose. 

"Why haven't you shown up bitch?" he asked. "I hope you haven't told anyone."

She looked up at him. "No, I haven't," she said, her voice calm and without emotion. "Isn't that obvious considering you are not in jail?"

He smirked. 

"Also," she added, resolve and strength in her voice, "I am not sure what you will do, but I am dumping you. I am not your slave and I never will be."

His eyes blazed. "Why you..." and he stopped as a group of youngsters passed by. 

"Never been dumped, have you?" she asked, putting as much sarcasm into her voice as she could. "Well then...here is your first."

She did not wait for him to respond. She turned and walked away, head held high, back to her apartment. Her heart was resounding. She thought it would burst. She managed to shut the door behind her as her legs became jelly and gave way. She slid down to the floor, thankful to whatever had given her strength to face him. She smiled for the first time in days. 

She was scarred but alive. She let out a sigh,the dam broke...and the tears never stopped. 

Copyright @Sandy2015










Monday, February 2, 2015

I Am Someone's Soulmate

The belief in a soul mate cannot exist if one doesn't believe in souls, that we are all souls in transit on Earth, each seeking another that will complete us. Even at that, with those who believe in souls, see the existence of soul mates in a different light. Soul mates - of passion, love, friendship, desire, happiness, peace, serendipity, chaos...what have you.

Yes, if you ask me, soul mates do exist. They may not be life partners. But here, how do you define a life partner? Does that person have to live with you under the same roof? Be committed to you? Marry you? Are those people who connect to your soul either way not bound to you? Are they ever away from the depths of your soul? Romance is simply an add on. Soul mates - who are they really?

I am not sure how the world views this thing about soul mates. I can however tell you how it works for me, what it means to me. Is a soul mate really the love of your life? We may never really figure that out. I know soul mates are the eternal source of your evolving into the real you. For me, there is no single soul mate. If there is, I have yet to really be absorbed by that. I have soul mates. Yes.

Let me tell you about my soul mates. They are the people I connect with more than anyone else. They are not just limited to men. These are the people who understand me as perfectly as anyone can; some of them are people I have never met in my life and there is a virtual connect that can put a lot of real relationships to utter shame. These are people I confide in without a second thought; tell them things I wouldn't tell another. Truth is, I believe, my soul is so vast that each soul mate who touches my life covers a part of my life and touches it in a way no one else ever can. Perhaps, that is why there are so many. They are meant to touch a certain part of my life. Perhaps, when all of me has been covered by all these soul mates, somewhere there will be one who I will seek thereafter and know that this is the one. This is theory though, a line of thought I am keeping aside.

Do I tell one single person everything? Is that the basis of qualifying as a soul mate? I do not know. I know there are a few people who I can tell everything to. Do I though do that despite knowing I can? Perhaps not. Soul mates for me come in all kinds. The dark one who sees the darkness in me and doesn't judge me. The positive one who never lets me doubt myself. The pain-ridden one who makes me walk through my pain and allows me to befriend it. The loving unconditionally one that is always there when I reach out. The one that laughs at my silliness and adores my streaks of madness. The one who encourages me a step beyond my own belief. 

The choices we make, the road we walk, the bridges we cross, the pinnacles we stand alone on, the possibilities of someone touching your life is always there. Only, you have to open your soul to it. The soul will seek you. You have to enable it to be sought. Have no fear. The soul knows no fear. Seek not to change yourself to someone you are not. The wrong idea of a soul mate can lead to all kinds of madness. It is true. It is terribly sad.

Soul mates. They belong to everyone. They belong to no one. They will always be in the periphery of your life. They will let you be. They will embrace, hug, cuddle, nudge, push, pull, badger, laugh, smile, sit with you in utter serenity, invoke passions of unbridled love and lust, calm your spirit and hush your tears away. In each friend, there is a soul mate. In each life mate, sometimes there are no traces of this.

All I know is that this is my reality. I am someone's soul mate for sure. Maybe I will not be a life mate. But, a soul mate? Sure!

- Sandy

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Whatever

There is a constant jarring of my nerves, a sense of foreboding, a feeling that things are getting bad to worse. It feels that we are losing our sense of being Indian and becoming petty little items of religion, cast, colour, region and so on and so forth. Pride in being an Indian first has deserted most people I come across.

There is no bigger entertainment right now in our lives than politics and religion. A fly on the wall, that is what the rest of the world is, is indeed very amused by the antics of what is going on in India. There is no turning back the clock, no freezing time...but heck, can't it get to a better highway than it is bulldozing its way forward right now?

Who is a bigger laughing stock? An insecure Modi or self-contained pliant Manmohan? I don't know. I know it is better to keep shut and make people wonder if you are...You know that proverb eh! No, this doesn't make me a pro-BJP or Pro-Congress or Pro-AAP or pro anything. I am a small-fry citizen who simply wants to keep her sanity intact and not want to be terrified of the future of her child in the country India is becoming. 

We mess around with our Constitution, our Fundamental Rights, there is no sight of the Directive Principles that out to guide the governance. We are messing with truths, with untruths, with ideologies covering basic humane instincts, tarnishing childhood innocence with prejudiced garbs of religious beliefs and antagonistic nonsecular emotions. I go back to the lessons learned in Civics and wonder if that was all a dream. I remember memorizing the Preamble. Heck, Have we all forgotten it after having it drummed into us?

We pick on things. Little things. As a citizen and as a governance, we are shameless. There are horrors that overshadow goodness and I wonder what kid of parasites are we to feed on such things and be fed such nonsense. We are quickly losing our identity (if it isn't already lost). 

Could we just have military rule for the next five years and get sorted? Yes, I will gather much chaff for saying so but I know what I am saying. And no, I will not get into a defensive mode trying to explain why, so do not bother. I am simply stating my thoughts and I hate talking to the walls. 

Also...there will eventually be that whiff of rebellion that will make its way to all your nostrils. The cup will run over. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

- Sandy

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Friend Called Solitude


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I am a quirky one; weird, unusual in my perspective of life and that adds to the confusion people feel when they encounter me in a conversation. Truth is, when we are very used to clamour in our lives, the things with maximum clarity can confound us to the core. I am an old soul. I believe that. You see, I grew five hundred years old when I was five. That is a pretty young age to be so old. I have my reasons and those who know the inside story know that it was unavoidable. 

Pain can become your friend only when you embrace it in the silence of your darkest hours. The thing to remember is that it is still an hour. It lasts sixty minutes. How long those sixty minutes or even sixty seconds last really depends on what side of the bathroom door you are on. Aye. You got it. 

Being alone became a part of my routine. As much as I long for people to be around me, to be loved, desired, needed, I really hold on to my solitude. It is an integral part of my process of evolving into who I am today and who I will be tomorrow. You see, the greatest clarity has come to me in moments of utter solitude. It awakens you to the fact that you are on an individual journey in this universe. All the souls you meet along the way may be part of your tribe from before, the road may be crowded as hell, or empty with just you walking it, but, the journey is your own. The more you begin to accept your silent moments as a friend the better and clearer the path becomes. 

The essence of Vipassana I am told is about acceptance of this solitude and knowing what to do with it. People get bored to easily. I am never bored when alone because I have conversations with myself, with the silence of the night, with all the sounds that emerge in the dead of the night because our ears become the canvas to the insights we can get when in our own company. Much as I believe in the importance of solitude for evolving, I have my reservations about Vipassana as a retreat to attend. That, is another topic of discussion which I place aside for the moment because that is not my point.

My point is, each of us has our own perspective on solitude. There is a massive confusion between the thin line that divides loneliness and the state of being alone. Loneliness comes with its pangs of longing for anything but being lonely. Being alone is the friendship one has with oneself, with one's soul. It is your darkest depths and the most stellar moments in your life. When you are sixteen, you may not really get it but as one gets older, one gets it...oh well...if you are alone you get it but if you are lonely, that ain't getting to you at all. It is simply a different perspective, a different experience.

My life's biggest insights have come to me in solitude. 

To each his/her own. 

- Sandy

Friday, January 23, 2015

Darker than the Shade

He brings her hands to touch him. He groans with the feel of those tiny hands on him. It makes him harder. She is sobbing, “Please, let me go. I don’t like this game. I hurt. It is paining me. Please…”

He hugs her and tells her, the game is just begun. She will enjoy it, soon.

The next few minutes she burns, hotter than the tears that flow down her eyes, the pain is extreme and her muffled screams remain thus, his hand clamped over her mouth. He is making noises that drown hers. She is afraid of him. She has never been in so much pain or terror.

It is over.

She cowers as he stands up. Her body coils into a ball, shivering, whimpering. He pulls her up to rise. Her legs give way and she is unable to move. He lifts her up and takes her to the bathroom. He bathes her, the water cold, humming a tune, blissful. She can barely breathe or stand. She sits quietly while he dries her and changes her clothes, carries her to bed and tucks her in.

“Now sleep.” He whispers, “This is our secret. Do not tell anyone.”

She stares at him, eyes blurring.

“I will tell Mommy.” She retorts back. He laughs.

“Nobody will believe you.”

The doll sat there on the shelf, eyes unblinking. The doll that stayed with her over twenty years, unblinking, bald, without clothes on, until she finally gave it away. The hairless doll knew her secret. She was the only one who she spoke to; little insensible monologues of guilt and pain…

As for telling anyone, he was right.

He was right. Nobody believed.

Copyright @Sandy

(This is just an extract of the complete short story. It is graphic and I have shared only what can be shared here keeping in mind the readership.)



Thursday, January 22, 2015

We Die Many Deaths

Who decides what death is when we are yet alive? Breathing and yet not really living, why is the fear of the unknown more than the hell we bear? Death is probably simply a question of what you want it to be. Everything in this world changes and the only definite unchanging thing is death. Death, the biggest reality, the most ignored, the best permanent cure of pain.

I was a little girl when death took away my brother's friend Philip. Perhaps, thereafter, we lost a lot of friends, family members, watched in horror as the world around us fell apart and the televisions became the visual medium feeding us with so much of horror that we have now become immune to what can move us and cannot. My closest experience was when my Biji (grand-mother) passed away. Life is short I realized. If you wish to say something to someone, say it. If you wish to hug, go ahead and embrace it. If you wish to love, do it. You just never know when it will slip through your fingers. I had another experience dealing with it when one of my dear friends' mother passed away. The process teaches you so much!

What does one do with death? I am awkward with condolences and the loss of a person really. There! I said it. I am not immune or indifferent. My threshold for hanging on to loss and pain is different; intense, meaningful and short. I prefer it that way now. It gives me more moments to celebrate the good about the person I have lost, remember and smile instead of cry. Isn't that better? I come across as indifferent perhaps but then I cannot live up to others' measurement of my loss or pain. Who decides how much is acceptable? And why?

Either way, I see more dead people walking and going about their daily routines than those who have stopped breathing. Have you ever met someone who wakes up really early morning and prays and then goes about in the next few hours abusing the house-help or the driver or the child, wife, husband, father, mother...what have you? That is a dead person. Death of kindness.

For instance, the man who whistles to a waiter/waitress instead of calling out to him/her? The youngster who doesn't stand up to offer his/her seat to an aged person, a pregnant woman? The people in the commute who push and shove the tiny frail ones, the ones who look poorer than them, those who are short? Death of courtesy.

The people who watched while a bride burned to death, a child molested, a woman or man sexually abused in public (or otherwise) and watched, driving past an accident victim without stopping to help? Death of selflessness and compassion. 

I could go on....but you get the drift of it.

Who are we to fear death when so much around us is killed, so much of ourselves we kill? Yes, I die too sometimes because self-preservation pushes me to smother some of the instinctive reactions I would normally have. I have had my experiences where I have stood afloat somewhere, watching myself be, deciding whether to let go or tell myself it is not yet time. Yes, I have had those moments. One wishes not to return mostly. I did.

Death is my biggest motivator. It is unchanging. It gives me the opportunity to cherish those I have in my life, those who love me unconditionally, presents to me each new moment that I have to make the most of. An unproductive day nags at me, not because I did not earn money out of it but the satisfaction of having lived it up! At the back of my head, it nudges me, fires up my zest for life, to breathe in love and energy. 

I know when I am dead. I am dead when I cannot feel; passion, love, joy, sadness, pain. That ever happen to you? To me, the phase was my worst ever when I felt no passion at all. But then, that's just me. 

Mostly, it is whatever works for you.

- Sandy


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Very Inspiring Blogger Award - Second One

I am humbled and grateful for a second time and this time to Uttpal who insisted that I accept this even if I had already received this last month because he felt I deserved it.

If I was speechless about it last month, I am even more so now.To sustain this is going to take me twice the effort...oh wait! I don't really make an effort any more. It is becoming a habit perhaps. You see, that is what happens when one's appreciated for what is being shared and I really am grateful that it makes a difference in the lives of so many, even if I have not met most of them personally.

If I am to go by the indicative rules I have to carry this torch and do a few things.
1. Mention seven more things about myself
2. Nominate fifteen more people (apart from those I nominated last month) who are making a difference with their blogs.

So, here I go...

Seven more things...

1. I am partial to dogs. I melt at the sight of them and I wish to God I had a huge place where I could have more than just one. However, I am grateful I have one. He loves me unconditionally. Find me a therapist who loves you unconditionally and does not judge you...yep, you get the drift.

2. I may not be lucky and Murphy may be my best friend but to make up, God has given me an extended family of amazing friends and I cherish them.

3. At any given point of time, I am always in love. Don't ask how. It is just what it is.

4. I am told I give the best hugs in the world. I am beginning to believe it.

5. Orchids are my favorite flowers. I am allergic to jasmine, lilies and well...white flowers. It is not that I do not like them. I cannot be around it.

6. A few things will always melt my heart...babies gurgling with laughter, babies gripping my finger, my daughter's eyes, hugs from friends, being loved.

7. As much as there is negativity in the world, there is positivity as well...you only see what you feed.

Nominations:


1. Wisdom Times
2. Sudatta's Blog
3. The Top Post!
4. Life Stalker
5. Kalpanaawrites
6. Lucid Dreams
7. Ananya Tales
8. Nandini Speaks
9. Memories
10. Sunshine and Zephyr by Shweta
11. Mumbai Daily
12. Powerful Views
13. Hell Its Mine
14. Footloose Forever
15. A Foodie, A Traveler and not a BLOGGER


Phew!

Sandy

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Balancing Act

I saw a post this morning and I recalled what it was like when I had my now fourteen year old daughter. Like any new mother-to-be, I had apprehensions if I will be able to handle being a mother and keeping a balance of the 'me' that also needed to exist as desired. 

I had seen lives change when babies came into the picture. Suddenly, the attention had shifted from a mother-to-be to the baby. Of course, that is but natural...but here is the thing, how does one handle the lack of attention the mother gets thereafter? I mean, beyond the advice of eat this, don't eat that. This is good for the baby so you must eat this, even if you really hate it. Yes, all the karelas, the juices, the stuff that is going to get you to puke, as if you weren't hassled enough by sheer lack of sleep. Every one had their own recipe for succeeding as a mother, a parent. 

That is not all. Think about it. For a long time, one stays so immersed in the baby relationship alone that everything else flies out of the window. The relationship with your partner gets tossed out. The intimacy is crushed out of existence. Some men stray, some seek gratification elsewhere or just become Mr. Scrooge. Women are ignored. There is low self-esteem, depression...and that is just the beginning. To top it, if you are a single mom...God help you!

It drove me nuts and the only thing that worked for me was the single logical and sane advice I received which most labelled as 'selfish' and shook their heads in disdain about. There was no saving grace for me, according to the wise women around who had borne children, I did not know how to be a mother and was being disrespectful by not heeding proven advice. I was a losing battle, written off, een before I had begun. I didn't mind being slotted in my favourite slot as a human being - a black sheep. They stand out. Think about it. There is more breathing space and they are not keen to toe the line. I didn't. For years I was looked upon (heck, I still am) with that expression of sheer ridicule and pity for being the mother I was; no rules, no traditions, just gut instinct and a love for living life on my terms. 

I didn't get here as a mother just like that. I got here with the help from a friend I have never really met. I got it from my blogger buddy Deeksha. I am so grateful to her for this. My daughter and I have a happy relationship and that is what matters. It is not about being a cool mom. It is about being a happy mom and a happy daughter. 

Deeksha gave me a valuable piece of advice when I was having my baby. My kid is fourteen now. No matter how many years have passed by, this piece of advice has stood by me. I pass it on to you because a baby can turn your world upside down, and sometimes in very frustrating ways too...(yes, much as we like to say otherwise)...She told me, (in more or less these words) "Sandy, the baby is the new arrival. The world existed before the baby arrived. The baby needs to adjust to the world. The world shouldn't be adjusting to the baby. Only then will you be able to find the balance to stay positive and happy and keep it all together."

To you Dee. You rock! 

- Sandy

Friday, January 9, 2015

The God of All

Addressed to all the religious fanatics in the world who feel the experience of their respective religion should be embraced by the others who believe in personal experiences of spirituality in the confines of their private lives, who believe in a different divinity or no divinity at all. You are all blaming God for acts that are of your own doing and choices of your own making and sadly pulling the triggers by using God's name. That is the truth of it. That is the most pathetic act of cowardice. Own up to the murders and violence you commit as an individual, not as a messenger of God. God does not need you. You are all the wrong numbers that has messed up the quiet solace of peace that can be found in spirituality or in nature. 

Here is the thing. We are all a part of this planet Earth. This is the reality. If we mind our own business and sensibilities and spend as much time on being kinder to at least one person every single day, we, as a race and species would fare better. The sensibilities of us, so called humans, is either raping or being raped. Harsh words eh? Well, yes. It is needed. Do you know what is needed more? Compassion, empathy, kindness, love and tolerance. 

Why are we all persisting about this race for a greater God? It is as if God wants to compete with the sensibilities of fanaticism. No, this is where you are wrong. God is (to those who believe one exists) above and beyond all this. There is no divinity that will stoop so low, that has such a low self-esteem of itself that it needs to impress its importance on humans or any living thing by force. God does not need you morons. You are merely a really tiny part of the tiniest speck for the Universe under that power. Fool yourself not. This is your insecurity, your need for power and assertion, your lust for violence that propagates this maddening chain of events. No God wants a sacrifice. God created you (if you so believe) and you have free will. That free will is what you abuse every single time you set out to profess your religion or belief on someone else. God does not need your votes to exist. The fact that you feel it is needed does not purge you of your sins that you commit in the name of God. 

One may argue, what is sin for one is a pious act for another. That is not God's argument is all I am saying. That is your argument born out of a limited perspective that so limits the joy of the purity of positivity that you can experience otherwise. That is the pathetic part of it all. I feel sad for you all who go about shoving your respective religions down someone's throat. You forget that you cannot own that free will that resides within each human being. Everything you do is an attempt to attain that impossibility. Free will cannot be enslaved. It will break on through. 

A friend Zarina wrote this:
"Every time I get to know about a terror attack anywhere in the world, I find myself praying fervently that the proprietors should have nothing to do with Islam. Unfortunately they do have- more often than not, and my heart cries out in utter helplessness. It is alarming that instead of feeling the hurt and loss of the victims, and praying to the Almighty for giving their loved ones strength, I find my prayers directed towards an absolutely different and perhaps selfish cause. This tendency of my feelings, I suspect, is a result of them being overpowered and overwhelmed by a consistent fear. A fear for the Religion I cherish and for the scores of people like me who believe in true essence, the message of our beloved Prophet. Fortunately, never have I felt the tiniest bit of doubt about Islam or the Prophet’s message. But surely, this cannot be said of scores of others.

If, being a Muslim, every such incident generates in me excruciating anger and loathing for these sick people, how can I ever expect people of other faiths to be patient with Islam? However hard I cry out about the true message of my religion, can I expect anyone to care about it when these dumb wits cry out “Allahu Akbar” after slaying human beings? Oh! How I want to cry! To scream! To ask forgiveness, for each act of cruelty performed by these masked cowards wielding weapons in the name of Islam! Please forgive me for the crimes I did not commit and for the crimes that I did not approve of.


I want to ask these self proclaimed saviors of my religion a few questions. If any of you are listening, please answer my questions….

  • When do you feel the Prophet will turn in his grave with disgust - When he sees his caricature on a newspaper page OR when he sees his fellow humans being massacred on HIS behalf, by people like you?
  • Do you really believe Islam needs your aggression and violence to protect it?
  • Do you really believe that you are protecting and serving the interest of Islam by spreading such terror and barbarism across the world?
  • Do you really think you are protecting my interest when, with every act of violence, you are making me vulnerable to increasing hatred and loathing?
  •  Do you think that you can rest in peace in the next world when THAT is exactly what you never allowed in this world?
  • If you really think that image of the Almighty or the Prophet would be tarnished by mere cartoons, caricatures or misinformation, what do you think will your merciless execution of your own brethren do to their image? Do you really think it will bring them glory?
    Do you really think that you can force all of humanity into believing in Islam by terrorizing them?
  • If the answer to all these questions is “Yes”, then YOU ARE NOT MUSLIMS! So STOP taking the name of Islam and Allah as an excuse for your cowardice.
 If the answer is “NO”, then please turn back to the Almighty. For you have already distanced yourself from him in a way that will take your lifetime and more to just make a U turn!
If it is an attempt of powerful people with vested interests, to tarnish the image of Islam, then this power is your test and to use or abuse it, your decision. But, if you think that you can get away with it, the only one you are kidding, is yourself. Get Well Soon!"

I would like to use this same piece for all religions. Fanaticism doesn't exist alone in a religion that is not your own.

Do you know what disgusts me most of all? The columns in the countless forms I fill up for the banks, for the Government related documents, the courts, schools, colleges, any darned place. What my religious status got to do with my driving, my education, financial transactions, social security, insurance, health? Who propagates and cultivates this division in the name of caste, religion etc? Right! You got it. If you didn't, I know which club you belong to. 

My head bows to the Divinity I believe in. I do not need to bow my head to your directives of how my relationship is supposed to be with the Divine. The divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you. Namastae. That is what 'Namastae' means. I limit myself to that alone. Do not shove anything down my throat. I do not respect that. I never will. I believe in a divinity of compassion, empathy, kindness and pure unconditional love. Everything else is bullshit. Period.

- Sandy

(With due acknowledgment to Zarina who happily agreed to let me share her post ~ much appreciated!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Remembering Abhijit

January will always remain a month of so many events in my life. It was also the month of Abhijit Dasgupta's really rude passing away in 2011. He never really listened to me and said the vodka in his glass really was the Absolut best. That got him. Tearing him away from Calcutta got him. A broken heart got him. I couldn't get him to stop. I yelled. I fussed. I patiently counseled. He was his own person, right until the day Karma decided she wanted him all to herself.

He was a lot of things for a lot of people. For me, he remained simply Abhijit. There was so much to the man, to his insights and to his observations. My association with Abhijit ranged from a much shared love for the music of R D Burman to really crappy Bong jokes and everything in between. He waited for both and we shared so much of this on Twitter. He would demand music when he wanted it. The #NowPlaying hashtag scored precious numbers and re-tweets.

He was a friend. A confidante. This too, at a point in my life when I was at the lowest ebb of my life. Oh! I have been through a number of them thereafter but none has caused me to howl so much as it did then. There were mad jibes at each other, sparring contests, humour as never before, intellectual fencing and it all made me feel he treated me as an equal. 

Abhijit had gathered up as much family in the virtual world as he possibly could. He had a dream of having his own fan club, of writing a book on Calcutta, little things about the city that was his everything. It is as if he wanted to connect people together before he left. He took promises from me. I promised. Simple. He believed Karma gets everyone in the end. More so, because we all blame Karma for pretty much everything that happens in our lives. 

Never meeting Abhijit didn't mean anything. His loss came to me as loaded in impact as it would for any friend I had for decades or an entire lifetime. He also is the first friend I lost to death, a friend I confided in and a friend I shared as much laughter and joy as was there at that point. He kept telling me I deserve better. Yes, and I believe him. I am getting there..and no, I am not giving up. 

- Sandy

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Good Bad Girl

Top Post on IndiBlogger

Good girls??? Like really! Who defines them? This is, I know, is one of the most prejudiced topics of all. When I say prejudiced, I mean controversial, never-ending and to what end? 

A girl who understands him. 

A girl who gives him his space.

A girl who follows all the rules and traditions and keeps him happy.

A girl who dresses decently (read - not what she is comfortable in but what others want her to dress up in).

A girl who respects her parents, elders and behaves properly (the word 'properly' is a long drawn out vague term that is supposed to include anything and everything that the girl is never asked an opinion about).

A girl who quietly agrees to marry the person her parent selects for her (for whatever reason) and keeps the family reputation intact at the cost of losing her (already lost) individuality.

A girl who does not smoke, drink, flirt, date, go out and have fun. All these are things only men are supposedly entitled to do. 

A girl who can cook, sew, look after all the in-laws and out-laws.

A girl who will quietly apologize for things she has not done, for her wronged rights and for everything anyone else can put a blame on. 

A girl who has no identity, changes her name, kills her career, her talents, her passions because she is supposed to be someone for everyone. A girl who puts all of that in the closet, locks and seals it up because she can't be smarter than you and be more successful or get in a bigger salary because that would really mess up the ego and the family respectability.

This list is not even the beginning of the exhaustive one that it can turn into.

The formula thus could be:

Obedient daughter + Devoted wife + Respectful daughter-in-law + Adjusting pampering sister-in-law + Doting mother + Understanding sister + A disciplined hard-working student + A slogging work-horse + An adjusting girlfriend/fiance + An indulgent Aunt + Quiet niece = Good Girl

I am being cynical. Yes. I know why. I come across such 'good girls' every day who are terribly lost and unhappy and some idiot guy who makes it worse for her. I also come across some who are happy with their lives mind you, but the number of 'good girls' covering the above point are far larger in number. I have missed out very crucial ones I think (the controversial ones)...

A wife who doesn't complain of marital rape. Yes, people. If she doesn't want to have sex and you have gone ahead and had your way any way.  

A wife who kills her sexual needs because her husband does not feel like it. Yes, people. She has a libido too. 

A wife who changed her name, spiritual preferences, food preferences, clothing, mannerisms, habits, squashed her career, dreams, aspirations, needs...you forget she was someone who was successful, bright, individually self confident way before you came into her life.

A daughter who did not like the subjects she was forced to study but did because you wanted her to become someone you wanted her to become and she did not want to become. 

A daughter who gave up on her dreams because that finance was used instead to educate a sibling (probably a male) who doesn't quite make the grade and splurges money any way and doesn't lift a glass of water at home but gets all the attention.

A daughter you forced to apologize for wrongs she did not commit but had to apologize any way. 

A daughter who you insisted stayed with people she protested visiting but you pushed her to any way and she got sexually abused  and you swept all of it under the carpet when she came to you for help because the family name would be spoiled. 

A daughter you forced marry a man she knew was not right for her because she knew how he had tried to molest her before or made passes at other girls she knew, gotten some of them pregnant, was cruel to people. rude and unkind, someone who led a dual life. 

Please note, I haven't even touched upon the mother, daughter-in-law, niece, sister etc. areas...won't. It would fill up several books to explain.

That is the 'good girl' apparently. 

Let's get real. Why just a 'good girl'? This also defines a 'good boy'. (Boys are sometimes in the same boat. Something is drastically wrong with humanity these days. It is terrifying. It is true. Exceptions are not examples.)

From whose point of view? It is a pointless question and it is a question that has many answers. 

A girl who fights to redeem herself from all of the things I have mentioned.
A girl who decides she will do what is right by her.
A girl who defies norms because it stifles her fundamental freedom as a human being.
A girl who stands up for herself and wants to be the one who makes her choices by herself, never mind the process of falling down, standing up, learning to stand up again.

That is the real 'good girl'.  This girl is the one who will stand by what is right. This is the girl who is labelled as "The one your parents warned you about." but gets you the best, understands you, gives you the space you need, doesn't not choke you as a human being. 

That is the 'Good Bad Girl' who accepts you as the 'Good Bad Boy' and loves you anyway. 

She may be crazy. But she is free and she will let you be free. 

- Sandy
((Dis) Claimer - I am biased. Yes. I have arrived at it with a journey of a thousand lives lived and shared. I am a Good Bad Girl. That is where I come from.)