Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reintroduce yourself

When asked to introduce myself, I never know where to start. Do I describe my educational qualifications, professional experience and all that Job Interview kind of stuff? Or should I just define myself as someone’s mother, daughter, wife or neighbour; and let the context describe who I could be?
Wouldn’t it be great if I could pick all the labels that apply?
A bookaholic. A photographer. A wannabe writer.
A plant lover. A gardener. Not a pet owner.
A marathoner. A running evangelist. A budding cook.
A knitter. A crafter. A lousy painter.
A people watcher. A social commentator. Me!

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

A couple of days too late for the Reintroduce Yourself bloghop. But, better late than never.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What's wrong in saying that?

“We create little image boxes of our own. One such box has begun to draw its lid tighter and tighter at present. It is the box that contains an image of my religion in millions of minds”, wrote a Bollywood Megastar who happens to have the surname Khan.
The reaction began almost instantaneously.  He was told that he could get out of the country. That he should get out of the country.
But that’s not what he said. All he did was speak out against stereotyping people. Of tarring everyone with the same parochial brush. What’s wrong in saying that?
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
Full article here - Being a Khan

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Universe of Books

“What do I read now”, my son asked me after finishing the Harry Potter series, and analysing it in as much depth as his mother’s now rusty knowledge permitted. Half a dozen recommendations jostled their way to the front- books I love, books I thought he would like, suitable books- I pushed them all aside. “Here’s a cupboard full of books”, I told him. “Pick any that you think you might like.”

There is a Universe of Books out there, and it is never too early to learn how to search for books that engage you.

He picked a Cozy-mystery!
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What's the purpose?

“If you had one wish, what would you wish for”, a recent survey asked over 200 children in the 7 to 12 years age group. World peace. Education for All. Religious Harmony. Were the answers the majority of the respondents replied.
I was stunned. My kids are more socially conscious than most others their age, but had I asked them the same question, I know their replies would have been more in the nature of i-pads and skateboards. I read the fine print- “replies prompted”, they clarified. What’s the purpose of conducting such a survey when the answers are prompted?
 A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 25, 2013

There is still Hope

Her father works as a security guard- a job he has clung onto for over a decade. Her mother is barely literate- a woman who’s personal horizons end at the walls of her home. She is a Certified Public Accountant, working for one of the “Big Four” Public Auditing Firms. Her younger sister is doing a Masters in Science in the United States- she went there on a full-scholarship.
Her’s is the kind of story that gives us hope. The kind of story that reminds us that with hard work and a supportive family, you can open almost all doors.

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tomorrow marks the 63rd Anniversary of the day on which India proclaimed herself a Republic. Though there is a lot that is wrong in the country, stories like this give me Hope.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Roots and Wings

While hoisting my son on my shoulder last week, I was struck by a realization. Is this the last time I’ll be able to do this? I could see the ‘lasts’ stretch in front of me. Last time I carry him to bed. Last homework supervised. Last day living at home.
There was also the longer queue of ‘firsts’. First overnight trip. Leaving home. First heartbreak. First job.
It is time to let go. To watch him soar, knowing he will come back to me when he needs to.
Roots and Wings. That’s all I can give you, my child.

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

My Baby turns Seven today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I thanked tradition

Nobody goes swimming in January. Not even in a city which has but an apology for winter do people venture into a pool in January. But I had gone for a swim three days after the marathon last year, and I was determined to do so again this year. I had survived last year’s swim- I knew I would do so this year too. And I did. The water was cold, but bracing. I was happier than I have been for a very long time. I thanked tradition. If not for that, I would have missed something I really enjoyed.

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

42.195 kilometers

I was always slightly vague about the distance of the marathon- anything from 42 kilometers to 42.2 kilometers was what I would put it at. It really didn’t matter- when you have done that much, a bit more is just a bit more.
But when my legs gave way with less than 50 meters to go, the distance to the finish line seemed insurmountable. Those last few steps were harder than the rest of the race had been. I now know the exact distance of the marathon is exactly forty two point one nine five kilometres- no more, no less.

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, January 21, 2013

If something is worth doing

You don’t attempt a full marathon the week after you have been ill. But not only did I run on Sunday, I gave it my best- not the best I am capable of, but the best I could on that given day.

It was sheer willpower that got me within touching distance of the finish line. But then I couldn’t go on. My legs just gave way. Not once, but twice. I dragged myself over the finish- luckier than I deserved.

Will I do it again? Yes, I will. If something is worth doing, it is worth giving it 100%.______
  A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I despair for my country

Ninety-six percent of children of school-going age are enrolled in schools. But less than half the children in grade five can solve simple two digit subtraction problems, or read texts meant for grade two children.
If the numbers are not bad enough, what makes it worse is that the numbers have gone down since a similar survey conducted in 2010- enrolment numbers have remained similar, but the quality of education has gone down.
If kids learn nothing in school, why should parents not put them to work instead? Why struggle to send them to school?
I despair for my country.

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

That's what is important

“Now don’t you wish you’d run a few more races”, a friend asked me. “Then you wouldn’t mind having fallen sick before the Mumbai Marathon.”
“I don’t mind”, I assured her. “Races don’t matter too much.”

She wasn’t convinced, and for awhile I too wondered if that was just my way of consoling myself for missing a big race.
Yes, I trained hard for this. Yes, I struggled to fit those long runs in. No, it was not easy. But at the end of the day, I run because I love running. And I can run. That’s what is important.
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.
Also see, "I Run"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The last time

I little over a year back, I ran in the Aarey forest for the last time. I had been running there for nearly nine months. It was where I put in the miles that made me a marathoner. I loved the place.
After that last run, I tapered for the marathon. And when I re-started with lower mileages, the neighbourhood park just seemed more convenient. Travelling a few kilometres to run no longer made sense. I never went back.
If I’d known then that it was the last time I would be running there, would I have done anything differently?
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I am glad

When my son finished reading the fourth Harry Potter book, I had to take a decision. At nine, he was not ready to handle the raw emotions coursing through the fifth book, but I didn’t want to censor his reading either.
I hoped he would find the book boring, but no such luck- he is as tenacious a reader as his mother was. All I could do was stay with him every step of the way; explaining what needed to be explained, softening the blows, putting things in context.
He’s now finished the series. I am glad I let him.
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Women can fly free

“Stay indoors when you can, and avoid being alone in public places after 8 pm”, the police officially tells women. “If you do not, we are not responsible for your safety”, is left unsaid. Isn’t it much easier to curb the basic freedom of women, than to do increase safety in public places?
Kites symbolize freedom. Kites are traditionally flown on Makar Sankranti to mark the beginning of the harvest season, the start of plenty. Kites no longer sport geometric patterns- they are adorned with photographs of Bollywood actresses.
Is it only in the skies that women can fly free?

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Is it his fault?

All of three years old, he knew every single bird on Angry Birds. Their names, what they did, and even at what level they appeared. He could demolish the piggies with one swish of his index finger, but he struggled to throw a ball, much less catch it. When a butterfly fluttered near him, he couldn’t be bothered to look up- it was just something that interfered with his game.
The world, for him, revolved around the i-pad, nothing existed beyond that.
It is easy to berate the child. But is his addiction his fault, or that of his parents?

  A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

When you care.....

My kids are unadventurous when it comes to food. They are happy when their school-lunch alternates between cheese sandwiches and chocolate sandwiches; anything else comes back untouched. Which suites me fine, because I am a reluctant cook.
But one of my resolutions for this year has been to feed my family healthier food. The first days were tough, but it got easier, and yesterday, I even took the trouble to garnish the food with fruits-bits shaped into flowers.
 “Can we have it again tomorrow?”, they chorused when I asked them if they liked their lunch. When you care, it shows.
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Women are Victims, not Provocateurs

“Baba has been misquoted”, the lady thundered. “What he meant to say was that if the rape victim, instead of fighting back, had chanted a prayer, and appealed to her rapists as brothers, she would have been spared.”
All I want to ask the lady is one thing. Will she be willing to put her faith on test by boarding a bus at night with six male passengers, with nothing more than prayer to keep her fears at bay?

When will people start accepting that women are victims of sexual assaults, not provocateurs? When will other women start accepting it?
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Slowing down

I knew every inch of the park. Or thought I did. You can’t run over 500 miles in a place and not know it intimately, can you? But when I decided to take a walk in the park instead of run there, everything came alive in a different way.
Instead of catching only stray words, I could now hear entire conversations. I could speak to walkers who I’d earlier only smile at. Instead of dodging the cricket balls, I could now stop to pick them up and throw them back.
There is a lot to be said about slowing down.

A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friends keep us afloat

We had been friends. Till we had a fight, and cut each other off from our lives. I distanced myself from most of our mutual friends. There had been good times, but I put them behind me. “Life is complicated enough without excess baggage”, I convinced myself. It suited me fine.

Months later, she reached out. “Can we put all that behind us, and start afresh?”
I wanted to ignore it. Her. But made me take her hand. There were no apologies, no recriminations. Just a desire to start afresh.
I am glad she reached out. Friends keep us afloat.
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Asking for it

There was a howl of protest when a minister proposed banning school-uniform skirts, to “protect” girls from sexual harassment. It sounds regressive, but I agree with him.

One of the things I learnt when I started working was to dress appropriately, and when in doubt err on the side of the conservative. The idea was to “fit in”.

Isn’t this similar? If men equate wearing skirts with “asking for it”, isn’t it better not to wear them? The ultimate solution is a change in mindset, but till that happens, if swapping skirts for pants will keep you safe, why not?
A Drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Give credit when it is due

To most people, a flower is just a flower. Indistinguishable from the million others of its species. But to a gardener, who also happens to be a photographer, every model is unique. And I instantly recognized my Easter Lily when a friend made it her cover photograph on Facebook.
“Is that my flower?”, I asked.
“No, it was taken in Asthamudi”, she replied immediately.
Not giving credit was one thing, but claiming ownership was quite another. I dug through my albums and proved that she had commented on my original photograph.
She called to apologize, but still hasn’t credited me.
Yes, this is the Beauty that got stolen. Now, I'm going to make sure every picture I post is watermarked- it is precisely because I am not doing it for commercial gain that I do not want to lose credit.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Brand New Year

January 1, 2013.
The First Day of a Brand New Year.
MMXII has now taken its place in History. The much-hyped Apocalypse never materialized. Despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to wipe each other out. The year will be remembered for a lot that is better forgotten. Tragedies that could have been avoided, anguish that need not have been. That book has now been closed; a new one opened.
In MMXIII, I hope we remember the lessons that we so painfully learnt learnt last year. And that we work together to make the World a Better Place for All.


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