Monday, January 31, 2011


A couple of days back, I had written about how I had been talking to this group of girls, all of them first generation girls in high school. I had been so engrossed in talking to them that I never even realised that my collegue had been clicking pictures of me all the while. Today, she showed me the photographs and I just had to share them with you.

I love these photographs, because what can be more fulfilling that talking to girls who are coming to realise their true place in the world?

And I like the photographs even more, because I am wearing Pink- a colour which I normally stay away from, but which I am now going to adopt solely to prove that the colour is a colour, not a gender.

And pictures of blackboards for some strange reason always remind me of the alphabet. Which in turn now reminds me of Blogging from A to Z.

Last year, Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out came up with the idea of blogging from A to Z in the month of April. I signed up because I hate missing out on fun stuff, and ended up meeting a host of wonderful people, many of whom became blog-buddies and friends.

The A to Z Blogging Challenge is back again, bigger and better than before. Sign up, grab the button, and get set for the ride of your life.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In Parallel Worlds

Three days in a village in one of the poorest states in India.
Griding poverty. Governmental indifference. Regressive social practices. Ineffective education. No employment opportunities. No access to primary healthcare. No power. Unsafe drinking water.
Twenty-four hours after getting back home, I am struggling to come to terms everything I saw.

The nearest city is famous for silk sarees. On hearing where I had gone, a friend asked me if I had picked up a couple of them. One saree would keep a family comfortable for a few months.

Sometimes I wonder if my friends and I inhabit parallel worlds.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

The sarees from Benaras are undoubtedly beautiful- they are just far removed from where I was.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The end of their Ambitions

How long have you been working?”, a high-student asked me. I was visiting a school for disadvantaged girls, and for the last 30 minutes had been bombarded with questions on various career options.
“Guess”, I replied.
Two? Four? Three?
“Come on, girls. Do you think I look that young?”
Six? Seven?
“Fourteen! Nearly fifteen!”
There was a collective gasp. “No, you are joking.”
They were shocked when they realized I was not pulling their leg. “But”, finally ventured the bravest one, “why aren’t you married?

It is sad those exceptionally bright girls consider marriage the end of all their ambitions.


drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Get Running # 1: The Simple Joy of Running

[A lot of people have told me they can't even imagine running as much as I do. My answer to all of them is that a few years back, I couldn't run either. But now I cannot imagine not running. This is the first in a series of drabbles that would hopefully get people who do not run, but dream of running, Running!]

Four years back, I took my then three-year-old to a park to see the flowers. I pointed out the phlox and the petunia. The pansies, the poppies, the chrysanthemums and the gerberas. The flowers that I had grown up with, and loved. But he wasn't interested. All he wanted to do was RUN!

Not run with a purpose. Not run away from or run towards something. Just Run. Run, because he loved to Run.

I almost envied him. Years back, I must have run too. But I had forgotten how. And couldn't do so anymore.

Something beautiful was lost forever.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Get Running # 2 : Everyone can Run
Get Running # 3 : Start Running
Get Running # 4 : Embrace the Pain
Get Running # 5 : Keep at It
Get Running # 6 : You are A Runner

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simplification is but a Dream

Just when decided to simplify my life by getting rid of all but a few favourite plants, Nature chose to conspire against me. An Easter Lily that had been dormant for well over a year threw out two buds.

I was happy that the plant was going to flower; sad because it was going to do so when I was not in town.

Yesterday morning, while watering the plants, I saw a bud starting to open. By afternoon, the flower was in full bloom. It was perfect. I couldn't stop looking at it.

Guess my plants are safe for now.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

For an earlier episode of the Easter Lily saga, visit here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sixty-one years of the Republic

[When I was a kid, I used to really look forward to Republic Day. But as I grow older, I increasingly find myself getting depressed every time the day rolls around.] 

Sixty-one years back, the People of India gave to themselves a Constitution, and proclaimed themselves a Republic.

One day back, a senior government official was burnt alive in broad daylight when he tried to alert officials about the pilferage of government property.

Is this the freedom and independence that the people of India fought so hard for? The freedom to steal what can be purchased openly. The independence to offer and accept bribes where things should work without them.

Corruption is the cause of all evil in the country. Remove it, and all problems are solved.

But remove it how?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

The news article that horrified.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pink is just a Colour*

I was reading a bunch of profiles of 'real' girls from 'real' families today. All the girls come from impoverished backgrounds. Many are first generation literates. Most of them lack positive role models in their communities.

All of them were in school and doing well. All wanted careers- doctor, teacher, engineer, police officer- they were all willing to dream and dream big.

They all realised that it was the generosity of strangers that enabled them to get a good education, and they all had plans on how to pay it forward.
They are the future. And they all love pink!
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

* Inspired by Lady Fi's comment on Facebook - "Pink is a colour, not a gender".

Monday, January 24, 2011

To my baby, who is no longer a baby

When you play 'stone, paper, scissors' with your brother, it is hard to believe you are both not the same age. You are the youngest in your class, but often correctly answer questions directed at your older brother.
You are mature beyond your years, and yet you love being treated like a baby. You bully your brother into feeding you, and make him fetch and carry for you. You ask to be carried even when you are not tired.

You turn five today. You are no longer a baby. Are you sure you are not ready to grow up yet?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

One more chore

Watering plants has now become a chore. It should not be, but it is. I grudge my plants the time I need to spend watering them- when you are rushing to work, the last thing you need is one more thing that cannot be put off. There are days when I forget, and spend the rest of the day worrying about the plants getting dehydrated. I keep taking about getting rid of the plants. Maybe I should. They are not essential, and I am trying to simplify my life.
But do I really want to do without their sunny smiles?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hands that Work

For generations, those hands have worked, and worked hard. They have created meals out of nothing and scrubbed dirty dishes. They have scraped the last bit of food for their children, and pressed their stomachs so the hunger goes away. They have begged on streets, and gathered scraps of metal to sell. They have administered first aid, and wiped the fevered brows of the children. They have helped deliver their neighbour's babies, and wiped tears when people have died.

Those hands have always worked. Today, those hands are learning a skill that will transform the life of their family forever.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

The Cross we Bear

I am really sorry. The last couple of days have been really hectic, and I was just about able to post on time on most days.
I was out of town yesterday, and only managed fifteen minutes of computer time in the morning (to catch up on office mails)- so no post.

Since I do not like to not post at all, here is a photograph I took last week (though it seems like a couple of weeks back at least), which is just a pretty picture, and doesn't need any commentary from me.

The Cross we Bear

Hope to be back with a post later today.
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will she ever move up?

She lives in one of the most affluent suburbs of India's richest city. She counts Bollywood megastars as her neighbours, but neither is even aware of the other. She is a short walk away from a multi-speciality hospital, but doesn't have access to basic healthcare. There are five-star hotels nearby; she struggles to find enough to eat. She passes designer boutiques everyday, but has never owned a new set of clothes. She had a family once, but no longer remembers anything of them.
The street is her home. The sky is her roof. Will she ever move up in life?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Cezanne

Strolling through the Museum of Art, Sao Paulo was a unique experience for someone who knew her Impressionists intimately, but only through reproductions. The Renoirs were exquisitely beautiful, the Toulouse-Lautrecs looked like Toulouse-Lautrecs, and the Cezannes were HUGE.

The third Cezanne grabbed at me. Once my eyes fell on it, I could not peel them away. I wandered away, but always returned to gaze at it. I stared at it from every angle; I stared for hours. I couldn't have enough of it.

The name was in Portuguese. I could never find the painting again. I cannot ever forget it.
Happy Birthday, Cezanne
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
Image is a google-doodle celebrating Paul Cezanne's 172nd birthday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Courage to Drop Out

Two days back, a friend stood at the start line of her first full marathon. She hadn't been keeping well and shouldn't have been running; but she hadn't wanted to back down. She took off with the rest, and maintained her pace for seven kilometers before the pain struck. She ignored the pain as runners train themselves to, but when she started seeing black spots in front of her eyes, she realized she could not go on.

I always thought it took courage to finish. Now I realize that sometimes it takes the same amount of courage to drop out.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Age appropriate stories

"But why, Mamma", persisted my seven year old. "Why did Danny stop talking?"
"Because his mother died, and his step-father took away everything belonging to his mother."
"Why didn't Danny hit his step-father? Why did he have to stop talking?"

I struggled to answer the question, and did as bad a job as his teacher. I can understand how extreme emotions may lead a child to stop talking in his voice and communicate only through his Monkey Puppet. But how will my child?

The level of reading may be right for second graders, but shouldn't prescribed stories also be age-appropriate?
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

It is not the legs that run

The 6:15 am Start
It is not your legs that run 21.097 kms- it is your soul that does. I always knew it, today, I know for sure.

Most of the Mumbai half-marathon is run along sea-fronting roads. At 19 kms, you reach a psychological milestone when you take a sharp turn and start running inland. That is the point when you know you have almost made it. That is the point when you would expect people to start speeding up because they are so close to the goal. But they don't.

I maintained my even pace after turning in, and in the next kilometer overtook not one or two but Sixty-nine people. They must all have run a good race to reach where they had in the time that they did. And yet, without even increasing my pace, I was effortlessly overtaking dozens of them every couple of minutes. Why?

So close to the end, when they knew they could crawl the rest of the way and still make it, their soul had given up. It was as if they race was over and the remaining two kilometers were just a formality to be gone through before picking up their medals.
And me? The agony of running with acute stomach cramps since the 8 km mark spurred me on- I sprinted the last 500 meters in less than two minutes- that was a promise I had made to myself last year. I kept it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Anything is possible

Fifty-two weeks back, ran my first marathon. The humidity was killing. Two-thirds of the people starting the race gave up along the way. I didn't. I ran as long as I could, and walked the rest of the way. But never once did I rest. And never once did I even think of giving up. I finished on my feet. I finished in a run. I finished.

Three days later, a friend gave me a LIVESTRONG gel-bracelet. I wear it constantly. I reminds me of who I am. It reminds me that anything is possible if you really want it.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where does milk come from?

My kids and I were playing 'Animal Questions'.

"Name three animals that give us milk." No reply. I realized they probably did not know the difference between a cow and a buffalo, and they definitely did not know about goats, so I simplified the question. "Okay, name one animal that gives us milk." Still no reply. "Come on. Name one animal that gives us milk."

"But animals don't give us milk", the older one ventured tentatively. "Milk comes from a packet."

When people in villages consume milk from packets, can I really expect my city born kids to know better?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

At Mount Mary Church

Mount Mary. The oldest and most popular church in Bomaby. One of the most famous basilicas in India. A gem of English architecture.

Tacked to the main entrance is the sign-
Talk about embracing local traditions!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On the food habits of pandas

"You know, Mamma, yesterday I saw a panda eating noodles,"
"Oh really?"
"Yes. He was putting the noodles in his mouth with a fork. And some of the noodle was falling down, and he was pushing it in with his hand. And his mother was saying, 'why are you doing this? Don't you know there are millions of germs in your hand', and the panda said,..."
"Hang on, are you sure you saw the panda eating noodles?"
"Yes, the panda was hungry because it doesn't have bamboo, so it started eating noodles."

Life is relatively uncomplicated when you are five!

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

More on why Pandas need bamboo here.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

See the Life You Change

I sponsored three months of nutrition for a child a couple of days back through SeeYourImpact.Org, and got this story back about the life that I changed.

Fourteen year old Radha’s story seems right out of a Bollywood movie. Her parents, Pappu and Sheel Kumari, are landless agricultural laborers, who migrated to the city of Kanpur to work as laborers at the brick-kilns or construction sites. Since her parents are at work all day, the fourteen year old manages the household chores (preparing food, cleaning utensils etc.) and for the past four years has been working part-time as a horse-cart puller transporting bricks at construction sites.

Despite all her chores, Radha finds time to attend Apna Skool, where she is in grade 4. She is a good student, and being the oldest in the family realizes the need to set a good example for her brother and two younger sisters. All four of them are very dilligent in their studies, and dream of going in for higher studies and earning a decent livelihood one day.

Radha’s favorite subject is Hindi and she loves reading stories. She aspires to be a teacher so that she can educate many more children like herself. She is fond of playing with skipping ropes.
Your donations, [--- and ---] will ensure that Radha enjoys an entire year of nutritious, tasty lunches, and healthy snacks. Thank you.

If you would like to make a difference to someone's life, do check out SeeYourImpact.Org- you can also redeem this gift card to get $ 5 off on your donation - CWHWRTH3QF

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Parasol

[This drabble was a part of the project that the Burrow mounted in collaboration with Castle Galleries, Cardiff in December 2008.]

Evening gown, stilettos, upswept hair, and... an umbrella? Could any composition ever be more incongruous?

She was told it was a parasol. Bollocks. Parasols were meant to keep out the sunlight – this one was perfectly angled to reflect the studio lights onto her shoulders.
She tried telling them they had to shoot outdoors, that nobody ever opened their parasols indoors.

She was just a model, she was told. She knew nothing of advertising.
True. But she had common-sense. Would people not rather buy an umbrella if the advertisement had the model splashing through puddles in a mac and wellies?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Image credit - The Parasol, Mark Spain

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Where are the Men?

A village of women. Old women, young women. Beautiful women, not-so-pretty women. Outspoken women, timid women. Women!

Everywhere you look, there are women. A few old men tottering about, a few children running about. But no able-bodied men anywhere.

Where are the men? In the cities, working on minimum wages, saving as much as they can, so their wife and children can eat.

They do not like it, but do they have a choice when the rural economy has collapsed completely?

The men are forced to move to the cities. The women keep the village going. But for how long?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snap judgements

"Burqa sales on the rise" screamed the headlines. I reacted instantly. All these days, I had taken the increased number of Muslim girls graduating from high school as a sign that the community was getting more progressive, while in fact it has been regressing and putting more girls behind the veil. I was livid, and also upset.

I read further. The number of young girls buying burqas has gone up exponentially in the last decade, but the reason for it is that more girls are stepping out of the house, so need the veil.

Snap judgements are very often wrong.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

For a longer post on the same topic, do check out what I posted at Burrowers, Books & Balderdash earlier this week- Burqa sales on the rise

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What keeps you awake at night?

"What keeps you awake at night", my boss asked.

"Nothing", I answered. Either something is in my control or it is not. If something is in my control and I can't sleep, I'd rather get up and do it through the night. And if something is not in my control, what's the point of losing sleep over it?

The things most people lose sleep over, I tend to work off either with chocolate or a long run- the latter is more effective, the former more fun.

But I lied. One thing does keep me awake at night- a good book.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Creations Blogfest- Jan 5

A couple of days back, I happened to stumble across Summer Ross's "New Creations Blogfest". The rules were simple -
1)Pick one ending sentence from last years stories, your favorite one that you wrote. (Only one, and yes it has to be an ending sentence)

2) Write one brand new starting sentence for a story you have been thinking about, or something off the top of your head. But it must be your first sentence. (Yes only one, and yes it must be new.)

Now post your ending and brand new beginning sentence in one post on January 5th

The first part was easy, since there was only one story that I completed last year.

The second part was much more challenging. A couple of you know that I made a tentative resolution to finish one book before my 40th birthday in June, but that I could not decide on which of the four story ideas I had in my head to start work on first. In the course of thinking of my 'starting sentence', I think I have committed to one of them.

So here are my ending sentence from last year, and beginning sentence from this year-

"If you insist", she laughed. "Now have your breakfast. Then you can go out and play."
- ending sentences of "To the Moon, the first in The Magic Ladder Series" of children's books.

"And what is a good Tam Brahm girl like you doing piling tandoori chicken on her plate?"
- starting sentence of my untitled 'Romance at the Workplace' book, which may well turn into a Cozy set in an Investment Bank

So there you are. My two sentences.

And, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Summer Rose. Thank you for making me do this.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Visitors from a Snowy Land

Growing up on a staple diet of Enid Blytons, I knew all about snowmen and winter sports. I may never have "seen" snow, except in photographs, but I knew that you should never use woolen gloves to make snowballs. I knew exactly how to roll a snowman, and how to make his nose, eyes and big goofy grin. I know how to make an igloo, and to skate on frozen ponds.

I still dream of playing out all my childhood 'snowy' fantasies, someday.

But this year, snowmen visited the apartment opposite my home. And brought a cold snap with them.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Borrowing from future generations

[Every once in awhile, I get into a despondent mood, and rant. This is one of them.]

A city of twenty million, all the water we use is transported from lakes hundreds of kilometers away. The lucky few get water in their taps, the rest have to buy it from tankers. With water getting scarce, you would think people would converse, but they don't. Rainwater is allowed to drain away, taps leak (including the ones in my house), and fountains are the latest status-symbol.

Taps are running dry, even in cities. We are borrowing water from future generations, with no intention of paying back. When the world runs dry, would we have anyone to blame but ourselves?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Burnt around the edges

[This is a work of fiction..... or not.]

What is life if you haven't picked up a couple of reminders along the way? That touch of grey which you try to colour out of existence. Those faint lines around the eyes, which you claim are due to laughter not age. That tiny scar above your eyebrow that you got playing soccer. The hint of a double chin which you try to pretend doesn't exist. All those little things that remind you of a life being lived.

A little burnt around the edges I may be, but I am not sure you can show me anyone who is happier

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

In the New Year, may you find

In the New Year, may you find-

...the Courage to Test your Wings...
...the Courage to Sit Still and Contemplate...

...the Freedom to Test your Limits...
...the Freedom to set your own Expectations...

...the Wisdom to Know when to Go Beyond...
...the Wisdom to Accept things that Cannot be Changed...

...the Passion that almost Consumes You...
...the Passion that makes Living worthwhile

...the Contentment that Leads to Happiness....
...the Contentment that Inspires You to Do More....

...the Dreams that Come True...
...the Dreams you Continue Reaching for....

This is what I wish for you.


Drabble - a story told in exactly 100 words.

And here is my entry for the Eye Candy Blog Fest organised by the awesome Vicki Rocho. Took the picture two weeks back, and I call it Peace & Freedom, Forever.


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