Monday, October 31, 2011

Daring to make mistakes

“And what if I make a mistake?”, my colleague asked me, when I delegated something important to her.
“We’ll take care of that”, I replied. “Unless you make a couple of mistakes, how are you going to learn?”

Two days later, she made a mistake that I knew would take me a couple of hours to rectify. My instinct was to yell at her, but I held myself back. After all, wasn’t it I that had told her she shouldn’t be crippled by the fear of making mistakes?

I was right. By making mistakes, she’s learnt faster than I expected.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

And when I signed up for NaBloWriMo, I was sure I was making a huge mistake. For someone who had taken an unintended sabbatical for nearly three months, wasn't it ridiculous to commit to blogging everyday? And yet, I managed, because how can you finish something, unless you first have the courage to start.
Thank you for being with me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The intrinsic goodness in us all

Running on my normal route yesterday, I took a nasty tumble and bruised my hand. I continued running, but took a longish detour to the only water-tap in the area so I could wash out the wound.

I took nearly 20 minutes longer to return to the starting point. “Where had you gone? I was starting to get worried about you”, said the man at the milk-booth which I normally use as my pit-stop between loops.

I don’t know him, but he was still watching out for me. Did I fall, so my faith in intrinsic goodness could be renewed?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What price Celebrations?

The last thing you expect at midnight is for someone to set-off a fire-cracker with an ear-shattering bang right under your window. And yet, that is exactly what happened last night. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a second cracker with an equally loud bang was set off just as we were about to drop back to sleep.

It wasn’t that the people doing it didn’t know it was illegal- they just couldn’t care. After all, which of their neighbours would do something as un-neighbourly as summon the police?

What is the purpose of celebrations, if they inconvenience others so?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, October 28, 2011

One Bride for Three Brothers

One Bride for Three Brothers.

Sounds like the name of a farcical comedy, doesn’t it? But for Munni, it is a harsh reality. Married to a man several years older than her, she is forced to have sex with his unmarried brothers too, and has no idea which of the brothers is the father of her three sons.

When there are less than 9 women to every 10 men, you would expect that women would be valued for the scarce commodity that they are. But apparently not. New ways are found to redress the balance.

How will it all end?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Still in darkness

When you look down on India from space at night, you find large areas in total darkness. If those areas represented forests or wilderness, it would be reason to celebrate, but most of them are as densely populated as the rest of the country- they just happen to be in darkness.

Sadder still, as this composite picture shows, there are parts of the country which had illumination in 1998, but had lost it by 2003- not coincidentally, those are areas with high insurgency movement.

Can a country call itself “Developed” if it struggles to provide electricity for all its citizens?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Image from - Science Photo Gallery

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Traditions that drive you mad

Is it only in my house that festivals end up becoming so stressful? Whether it is strictly necessary or not, you create your own traditions, and drive yourself crazy trying to maintain them even when you have barely enough time to breathe. You expect people to co-operate, but nobody seems to want to do anything except on their terms. And just when decide you will do everything yourself, instead of staying out of the way, people end up creating new problems. “Never again”, you swear. And at that point of time you mean it.

But come next year, you capitulate.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I challenge you.....

“I challenge you to prove to me that staying in school = job, … and that by being educated she isn't also ostracized from the social network that can help her survive if she isn't excessively exploited…….Yes, I know "stop prostitution, build schools" is more compelling, but I'm unconvinced …[education]….is a solution.”

Had it been one of my own friends who said this, I would probably have taken her down in a tackle and given her a bloody nose, but since it was a friend of a friend, I took a deep breath…… and realized she was not entirely wrong.

To read on, hop across to my post in Burrowers, Books & Balderdash.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another brick in the wall

“We don’t need no education, We don’t need no thought control… Teachers leave us kids alone.”
Comfortably ensconced in India’s top b-school, we took pride in treating this as our Anthem. Not just us- generations of students forming the intellectual elite have taken perverse pleasure in shouting out the lyrics- pretending for all it is worth that they are who they are despite their education, not because of it.
And yet, for the multitudes, education is but a dream. They know classrooms without teachers; lessons need to be self-taught or unlearnt. They’d welcome dark sarcasm in the classroom, for sure!
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Are people dishonest?

It’s that time of the year again where every pavement stall in the market starts selling paper lanterns.
You expect to see paper lanterns everywhere, but not early in the morning when there is not a soul in sight. Not shoppers, not salesman, not guards. Just paper lanterns with streamers fluttering enticingly in the breeze.
The salesmen had obviously not wanted to cart the lanterns to whichever street corner they call home. But were they not afraid the lanterns would be stolen?
You and I choose to think of people as dishonest, but they who know, seem to know otherwise.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A pack of cards

A friend gave me a packof cards- 52 cards and a joker- but not exactly a normal set of cards. Instead of the four suits, there were four sets of “giving ideas”- to the world, to strangers, to people you know and to yourself. Each card has one giving idea- donate your favourite set of clothes, use a recyclable bag for a week, appreciate the work of someone who passes unnoticed…
You can pull out a card a day, or a card a week, or any other rule you choose to set for yourself.
And, you pass it forward.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reading together

And yesterday, my not yet eight year old picked up the first of the Percy Jackson books, and started reading. “Mamma, what is the meaning of s-p-h-i-n-x?”, he asks. Then another word, and yet another, and another. ‘He shouldn’t be reading this’, I think to myself. ‘He is so not ready for it yet.’ And yet, I cannot put my book down, and next to me, he plods on as valiantly as Percy Jackson on one of his quests. And then he chuckles, at just the right place.

An unexpected calm settles over me- we are discovering something nice together.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

People often ask me how long it takes me to prune a drabble down to exactly 100 words. "Not too long", I always say. But this one is special. I got it exactly 100, the first time I tried.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You have to start somewhere

“Is educating girls the answer”, she asked. “Somehow it seems too simplistic to think that education alone can be the key.”

Much as I would love it to be otherwise, she is right. In a world where women are treated as second class citizens, where they are denied basic human rights, where they are killed at birth, and treated as playthings of the men; in such a world, Education alone cannot be the answer!

And yet, when you are fighting centuries of oppression, you have to start somewhere. And education is as good a place to start as any other.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who's book is that?

“Mamma, who’s book is that?”, asked my older one.
“Erm”, I muttered looking sheepish. “I bought it for you, but I like it so I’m reading it. May I?”
He took the book from my hand. “Percy Jackson”, he read aloud. “Can I read the book now? I mean after you finish?”
“Yes, you may. But you will enjoy it more in a couple of months.”
“Okay. But if I can’t read it yet, why have you bought so many of them?”
How do I tell him that even though the book is meant for young-adults, I like it too.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How far is that?

I’d taken the kids to a birthday party after a long run. I looked as exhausted as I felt, and was quite out of place among the other mothers who’s expensive gym clothes had nary a crease or a sweat mark.
“You look tired. ” One of them tried to make polite conversation.
“I am”, I admitted. “Just back from a run.”
“Oh?”, she raised one eyebrow. “How much did you run?”
“Twenty-five kilometres.”
The number didn’t seem to register. I could have said 5 or 50, and had the same effect. Why do people have no concept of distances?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, October 17, 2011

You've changed

“You’ve changed”, someone told me the other day; in a tone clearly accusatory. To hear her say it, I should have remained exactly as I was when we last met.

But is it possible for people to remain unchanged? Or desirable to do so? Isn’t it the purpose of life to learn from experience, to grow, to evolve, to change? Can you call it a life worth living if all you have done is to stubbornly cling onto who you were a month, a year, a lifetime ago?
“Yes, I have changed”, I said. “And I am glad I have.”
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Breaking out of poverty, one school meal at a time

Where there is not enough money for food, children are put to work as soon as they are able. Untrained for anything but manual labour, their fate is decided the day they hoist the first load of bricks on their head. Even if they do squeeze in a few hours of informal education, they are too malnourished to really learn anything.

Enter free school lunches. One well-balanced meal guaranteed everyday. An incentive for parents to send their kids to school. Food that keeps children healthy, and receptive to being taught.

A chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Today is Blog Action Day, and the world is talking about Food. Join the conversation.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Her first love

He is the first man every little girl falls in love with.
A man who’s place can never be taken by another.
Throughout her life, in all her relationships, he is the One
She compares everyone to… nobody quite matches up.
One day she meets someone she wants to spend her life with,
She marries, moves away, but remains ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’.
She has children of her own, loves them more than life itself,
But he remains Number One.

And then, one day, he passes on. Gone forever, never to return…
He does it so he can watch over her.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Are you getting old?

“Mamma, why do you have so many white hairs?”
“Because I am getting old.”
“But you are not old.”
“I am not yet old, but I am starting to get old. Which is I am getting so many white hairs.”

My younger one fell silent, and spent a couple of minutes digesting what I said.
“Mamma, is Patti old?”
“Yes, she is.”
“Older than you?”
“Yes, of course. Patti is my mother, so she has to be older than me.”
“If Patti is older than you, why doesn’t she have white hair like you?”

Time to teach him about hair-dye?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Weaker Sex

Women are frail, they say. The weaker sex. The ones who kept the fires burning while the men went hunting in search of food.

And yet, when you look at the world of endurance athletes, you find that so many of the best are women. The ultra-marathoning legend, Ann Trason, who often beat most of the men to the finish, and has broken the world record more than twenty times. Lizzy Hawker, who covered a world record distance of 153.5 miles in a single day’s running, finishing 2 miles ahead of her closest male competitor.

Who is the Weaker Sex?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

photograph of Lizzy Hawker

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is he deserving of deification?

Steve Jobs headed an organization that created products that set new benchmarks in innovative product design, and marketed it well to the target audience. He helped create shareholder value, and users of his products swear by them.

He was a good manager, designer, and marketer. A visionary, and a leader. Nobody can take that away from him. But to glorify him almost to the point of deification is to take it too far.

I admire the man for his professional achievements, and his personal philosophy. But I do not think he deserves the deification that is being thrust upon him.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wouldn't life be incredibly boring?

How often are you disappointed, because you expect the people you love to behave exactly the way you would, and they don’t? They don’t do anything wrong- they just do not do things “your” way. And you can’t even bring yourself to tell them why you are upset, because in some irrational way, you expect them to know.
But people are not mind-readers- they cannot know what you want of them. People are not your clones- they cannot do things exactly as you would. 

Nor should they.

After all, if we were all exactly alike, wouldn’t life be incredibly boring?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The inner princess

Pink was never my colour. When I was young, I believed I was too dark to carry it off, and by the time I hit my twenties, I declared war on it, because it was a “girlie” colour. Pink was what giggly girls wore, not sophisticated women out to change the world. And so it remained.

Till I started running, and discovered the princess in me. Running makes me feel strong, in control, and yet strangely feminine. I never feel more like I woman than I do when I’m running. Is that why my running wardrobe is almost all pink?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The way that suits them best

My younger one had been struggling with his subtraction homework for what seemed like hours, when I taught him a simple way to do it. His face lit up. “But this is so easy”, he said, “are you sure you are not fooling me?”

In the last week, he’s been taught three other ways of doing it, none of which works for him, but he doesn’t mind, because he’s able to get the correct answer. 

Yes, each child is different, but shouldn’t teachers take the trouble to teach each child the way that suits him best, rather than confuse them?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An elegant solution?

When micro-loans are your only chance of moving out of poverty, wouldn’t you do anything within your power to ensure you remain eligible for them? Even if it means doing things you would otherwise never even contemplate, like staying off drink, and ensuring that your womenfolk eat healthy.

That’s exactly what an organization in rural Maharastra is doing- offering micro-loans only to families where the haemoglobin levels of the women is at least 12. In traditional households, women and girls receive less nutrition than men, which impacts haemoglobin levels. Isn’t this a elegant way to improve the status of women?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Details of the story here

Friday, October 7, 2011

Best friends forever

A dear friend, a very dear friend, did something the other day that upset me. Upset me so much, I almost thought of ending the closeness, and pulling back being slightly more than mere acquaintances.
And then I thought about it. My friend did what she did because of who she is. She could not have done otherwise; that is just not her.

I can’t change my friend. But I value the friendship. Does it make sense to put our relationship in jeopardy for something I cannot control?

I called her up and spoke for long. We are still friends.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Those precious moments

Yesterday, while getting the kids home from school, the younger one dawdled. “Come on, we’ve got to go home. Mamma has work to do”, I told him, but he refused to listen. 

“Come on, Sweetheart, let’s go home.” I was rapidly losing my temper, but a tiny voice whispered. “Let him be. Do a couple of minutes really matter so much? What if something happens to either of you tomorrow, wouldn’t you regret not spending these moments with him?”

I joined him in looking under a car. A brown cat was feeding her kittens. I’ll always treasure that shared moment.

 “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Steve Jobs 
(February 24, 1955- October 5, 2011)
Requiescat in Pace

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

That sense of Achievement

A lady I barely know engulfed me in a bear-hug today, and said- "Thank you. Because of you I ran 2 kilometers today!"

Apparently I’d given her tips on how to start running, and had promised her that she could be running in two months. I barely remember the conversation, but she’d managed to run continuously for 20 minutes today.

2 kilometers! 20 minutes! To me, insignificant. But to her, the equivalent of experiencing zero gravity for the first time!

I glad for her, but slightly jealous too- will I ever achieve the sense of achievement that she did today?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In a nation such as ours.....

In a nation where the equivalent of 600,000 girls go missing every year- killed in the womb, abandoned at birth, allowed to perish due to neglect. In a nation where girls do not get the same advantages as boys, where they have no say in their future, where they are coerced to follow the destiny dictated by the community. In a nation where women are assaulted for daring speak their mind, where the shame of a rape is on the victim.
In such a nation, isn’t it a sham when the Mother Goddess is worshipped with such pomp and splendour?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Aren't we the ones...

The other day, I took my kids to the local playground. A playground where people I know would never even dream of taking their kids. While I did my run, the kids played happily on the climbing frame. They made new friends- kids with whom they did not even have a language in common except the universal language that most kids seem to understand.

When we left, they made me promise to bring them there again. A promise I was glad to make- sure beats taking them to the mall on weekends. Aren’t we the ones who spoil our kids?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What does it take to say "no"?

No!!!!! That’s the first word kids learn to use in the proper context. They are emphatic in making their point- a “no”, means No.

When do we lose the strength of character to say “no” when we do not want to do something? How often do we end up saying “yes”, when actually we mean “no”. Why do we cringe from uttering the word we mean, and then hate ourselves for being coerced into doing something we do not wish to?

If we were honest enough to say “no”, when we mean “no”, wouldn’t we all be much better off?

"A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. "

Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi
2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What is news?

When Amy Winehouse dies, it makes front page headlines in India. Her “career” is recounted; and the cause of her death much speculated upon. She is news, after all- alive or dead.

But when Wangari Maathai passes away, we only hear of it through the electronic media- facebook and twitter. Mention her name, and all you get are blank stares- the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, a winner of the Right Livelihood Award, someone who worked tirelessly to make the world a better place for everyone. And she is virtually unknown.

Except to those who care!
 "When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope."
Wangari Maathai 
(April 1, 1940- September 25, 2011)
Requiescat in Pace 
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.


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