Monday, January 30, 2012

Growing up with Choice

“What do you want to be?”, the class of graduating high-school students was asked. Among the teachers, doctors, engineers, and civil servants, a lone voice said, “a good housewife”. Unambitious though she seemed, she probably had a better understanding of her destiny than the rest.
The first generation of women in their community to go to school, few of them would be allowed to travel to the nearest city either for higher studies or to work. Within a year of graduation most of them would end up married.
But they can ensure that the next generation grows up with Choice.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Smallest Minority

Had the Indian Government not chosen to ban Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses” nobody would have even heard of the book. How a meandering book by an author few can read, can be a threat to an established religion is beyond me.
And yet, the power of the written word was grossly overestimated and the book banned. Worse- 25-years later, the same fundamentalists who got the book banned, managed to prevent Rushdie from speaking at a conference.
Much as it pains me to admit it, the poet-activist who said, “in India, the smallest minority is Indians”, did get it right.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I want to be an archaeologist

“When I grow up, I want to be an archaeologist”, my six year old declared.
“And why might that be?”, I asked, expecting him to tell me (as his brother did two years back) that he wants to explore the pyramids and discover mummies.
But with him, things are not exactly as you would expect them to be. “Because I want to play in the mud”, he declared.
“But you can play in the mud even now, if you wish.”
“Can I? Oh, thank you. You told me last week that I couldn’t.”

I know when I have been outmaneuvered!

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's a Peach

“Look, Mamma, this tree has a peach”, my son told me excitedly.
“That’s not a peach, Sweetheart, that’s a miniature orange”, I explained.
“But it looks just like the peach in James and the Giant Peach”, he insisted. “Are you sure it is not a peach?”
“Positive! A peach has one seed, and this one has several.”
“But this fruit is whole- how can you be sure it has many seeds?”
“I just know!”
“Okay. But I am going to call it a peach. May I?”

If you really think about it, why not? So peach the fruit shall remain!
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, My Second Born

When you start arguing with people, you forget your age, don’t you? And they yours? You either convince them, or confuse them; either way, it ends with them giving up in disgust, or defeat.

And must you always want whatever your brother is playing with? You want that, and nothing else. You make life miserable for everyone till you get it. And after you get it, it is longer something you particularly want.

My second born. You exasperate me. You challenge me. You make me feel a failure. You make me feel on top of the world. Don’t ever change.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sankranti- traditions endure

Sankranti; the Harvest Festival. One of our most important festivals. The day when you pray to the Sun God for a bountiful year. A festival which I never celebrate, because I did not see its relevance to a city-bred person like me.
And yet, on Sankranti day, dawn found me running on a bridge over an inlet of the sea. I caught the Sun playing hide and seek behind the skyscrapers. I saw its preening at its reflection in the placid waters. The Sun’s rays warmed my arms, lit up my heart.
Even if I deny my traditions, they endure.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Embrace what you fear

“Are you crazy? Going for a swim in this cold!”, a friend exclaimed. But I was adamant- I’d told myself I would go for a swim three days after the marathon, and I wasn’t backing out.
When I reached the pool, I began to have second thoughts. It was chilly. Did I really want to do this?
I stuck one foot in the water; then the next. The water was icy cold. I let my body sink into its embrace. Blood rushed to the surface warming me. I felt glorious.
Embrace what you fear, experiences are made of those moments.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dreams do come true

When I first spoke to her six months back, she could barely walk 5 kilometers. But she had a dream- to run the half-marathon. I knew it was possible- four years back, hadn’t I made a similar journey in much less time? More importantly, she believed it she could do it.

Life interfered. Her training went haywire. But she still pinned on her bib and turned up at the start line. Her knees almost gave way, but she didn’t give up. Five hours after she started, she crossed the finish line.

If you believe in yourself, dreams do come true.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Listen to our heart

The race was charted out in meticulous detail. There was Plan A, a Plan B; and a plan for when things went wrong as I knew they would.
But when I actually started running, my legs listened not to my brain, but to my heart. My heart knew the pace I should hit and the pace I should keep. My heart knew when to slow down, and when to keep going. My heart helped me run a race I never knew I could- turn in a time I never thought possible.
Why can’t we learn to listen to our heart?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

And now, I can proudly wear this!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

All for Tomorrow

Over eight hundred training miles. Nearly two hundred hours on the trail, or the treadmill, or pumping weights.
Nine months of rising before the sun on Saturdays to get in a long run. Furiously juggling work, family and a training programme. Cold showers, early nights, stifled yawns.
Befriending muscle pain, till the quadriceps and hamstrings just stopped crying out in despair.
A whole new lexicon- long slow runs, tempo runs, speed workouts.

Everything leading to this moment.
Bib pinned to my chest, timing-chip on my shoe.
Me, and Twenty-six point one miles. Tomorrow.

I hope I give it my best.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Son, My Inspiration

Not only is he the youngest in the class, my (nearly) six year old is also the smallest. That also makes him one of the slowest, even if not actually the slowest. By the time he reached the finish line of the 100 meters race in school, the winners had been declared. And yet, there he is flying over the tape- giving it his best, because he could not do otherwise.

My Son is going to be my Inspiration when I run the marathon on Sunday.  I hope I can give it my all, and do so with a smile.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making you Smile

My program manager choosing to quit on me. Assignments that the third grader needs help with. The younger one going through one of those difficult phases. The marathon coming up on Sunday. Itchy throat, runny nose. Sleepless nights. Early morning conference calls. In five words- Life Spiralling Out of Control.

“Out with my plants”, I thought. “I need to simplify my life.” Maybe I could stop watering them, and they would just go. But you can’t let plants die, can you? Grumbling, I reached out with a watering can. And saw this.

Nature has a way of making you smile.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cats are a kind of alien...

“Have  you finished your homework yet?”, I asked the (nearly) six-year old.
“I am thinking.”
“How long does it take you to think of ten interesting facts about a cat?”
“I can think of only three facts”, he insisted.  
“Okay, tell me. And I will help you with the rest.”
“Cats are a kind of alien, because when they are angry, their nails come out”, he began.
I struggled to keep the smile off his face, but realized why he had been struggling.

Shouldn’t a teacher be happy with a couple of such facts than a dozen more inane ones?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The best we can be

“How do you find the answer so fast”, asked my son in wonder when I mentally calculated the long division he had been struggling with for the last several minutes.
“Practice. Nothing but practice”, I replied.
“But you still did it so fast”, he said. “Did you know the answer from before.”
“No, I calculated it right now.”
“But how could you do it so fas?”, he asked. “Are you the best in the world?”
“No, Sweetheart, I am not.  But I do try to be the best that I can be.”

Isn’t that what we should strive for, always?

Flashback 2011 - December 
I would probably call this the "Best" Sunrise I witnessed during the year, but there have been other memorable sunrises too. In fact, truth be told, Every Sunrise IS the Best, in its own unique way. Taken in December during our holiday in Goa, this photograph forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shades of grey

When we think back on the year, we remember supreme successes and frustrating failures. We remember events that made us giggle, and things that made us cry. We remember the people who went out of their way to be nice to us, and the ones who were nasty.
But is that what the year was? Ups and downs? Crests and Troughs? Wasn’t most of the year, just normal? One day merging into another. Chores performed, hugs exchanged, deadlines met. Survival from day to day.
Why do we focus always on the black and white. Isn’t life mostly shades of grey?

Flashback 2011- November
This monochromatic photograph was taken in November when I was visiting my mother. Crappy camera phone, no editing, yet, it was my unanimous choice for the month of November, when I was working on my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Are Festivals worth it?

There was a time when I used to celebrate all the major festivals at home. Not necessarily because I believe in the rituals, but because I thought it was good for the kids to have a strong cultural foundation, so they could take their own decisions later on life. I would drive myself crazy putting up appropriate floral decorations, making sweets, dressing the kids in traditional wear.

Till I realized nobody really enjoyed it.

I’ve now decided not to celebrate any more festivals at home. At least I no longer wear myself out, and them scream because I am tired.

Flashback 2011- October
The photograph was taken on Diwali, the Festival of Lights- maybe the last time I celebrate any festival at home. The picture, taken in October, forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A livelihood at home

Over 20 million people squeezed into a tiny city. Extended families living in houses smaller than a garage- every inch of floor space covered with sleeping bodies at night. No running water, nor dedicated sanitary blocks. A road network so inadequate it takes hours to commute 20 miles to work. The most overloaded public transportation system in the world- it is a miracle how so many people squeeze into so little space. And yet, people keep migrating to Bombay.

Will a time ever come when people from rural India aren’t forced to migrate to cities to earn enough to survive?


The Bandra-Worli Sealink is an architectural delight. But the toll is so high, and the approach so crowded, few people even think of taking it. Couldn't the money have been used better? This picture forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Friday, January 6, 2012

You can't do both

“But it’s raining”, is the excuse we hear constantly during the monsoons. Everything is put on hold because you presumably can’t step outdoors in the rain.
And yet, few things beat the pleasure of running in the rain. Raindrops falling on your head. Feet splashing through puddles. Newly washed leaves on trees. Wildflowers that bloom only for weeks. The smell of fresh earth. The cool air hitting your face, caressing your bare arms. Bliss.

This year, I’ve learnt. You can either make excuses, or you can do what you want to do. You can’t do both. The choice is yours.


Flashback 2011- August 

The photograph was taken in August at a colonial bungalow where we stayed during an outstation run, and forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What a child wants

“Don’t tell anyone, but you know what happened today…”. Every night, thus start my son’s everlasting tales.
But a year back, it wasn’t so. A year back, he was withdrawn, defensive and unhappy. His grades were poor, he was clearly not happy in school and I had no way of reaching out to him. All I could do was wonder what went wrong….. till that day when the dam broke, and he articulated his fears.
My son’s far from perfect, but he’s friendly, happy and confident.

Sometimes, all a child needs is for his mother to be there for him.

Flashback 2011- July
A rolling stone gathers no moss. Moss, to me, is symbolic of parents who are there for their kids. Of parents who give their all for their children. Of my parents. And of the parent I wish I could be. This photograph, taken in July, forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Courage is....

The eye-surgeon with a flourishing practice, who returned to his village and set up an eye-hospital for the poor. The retired bureaucrat who runs a school exclusively for boys from a community that has been shunned for generations. The articulate woman who’s dedicated her life to rescuing and rehabilitating victims of the sex trade.

They could have led comfortable lives, but chose to do something meaningful. They may not flaunt the material trappings of success, but they are the richest people I know.

Gandhi said it best. “Seek not greater wealth, but simpler pleasure; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity.”_____

Flashback 2011- June 
When it rains, the dry bed turns into a gurgling stream. In the dry months, it could be mistaken for a trail. Water comes and goes, but the rocks stay on forever. This photograph, taken during a trek in June forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Not the real India

The treasured only child of her parents. Someone who was encouraged to soar as high as her wings could take her. A person who held her own even in a not entirely equitable world. All these years, I genuinely believed that India allowed a woman to attain her potential.

The country I grew up in is not the real India.

In India, girls are killed before they are born; they are allowed to starve through neglect; they sold into sexual slavery; they are denied a voice at home; they are invisible in the community.

How long can such extremes co-exist?


I visited rural Maharashtra in May. Saw women struggling to assert themselves, to claim their position in society. Change has to come- but how long will it take? This photograph forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Giving it my best shot

Three summers ago, I had the crazy dream of registering for a marathon. Fate took over, and I landed up at the start-line untrained and unsure. I couldn’t do it, walked the distance, and swore never to attempt it again.
But unfinished business rankles. I decided to try one more time. I have trained many months for it. I am as ready as I’ll ever be.
Whether I achieve my dream or not, I would have given it my best shot. I am satisfied.

“Courage is not absence of fear, but the judgment that something is more important than fear.” 


Flashback 2011- April

A former treadmill junkie, I had to start running on the road if I wanted to pile up the kind of mileages that I needed to attempt a marathon. Luckily, I found a place I fell in love with, and this photograph, taken during my first ever training run in April forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I had savoured the beauty

“DOOONNNN’TTttttt….”, the word was still in my mouth, when it happened. My son’s hand swung out, knocking the stem off my plumeria plant. A moment earlier, I had been gazing proudly at 17 buds poised to spread their perfume and beauty outside my bedroom window. Now all there was to see was the stump of a stem, bleeding milky white discharge.
These would have been my first flowers in four years. I would have seen their perfection first thing in the morning on waking up. I wept.

And then I stopped weeping. In my mind, I had savoured the beauty.
Flashback 2011- March
These flowers bloomed on the same plant, but not as easily visible as the other ones would have been. Would I have even seen them had the other lot not been tragically lost? This photograph taken in March forms a part of my Pictoral Flashback of 2011.


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