Category Archives: People

India waits…

Like millions of Indians, I am waiting for the election results to be announced on May 23, 2019. I feel that rush of anxiety in my heart. I don’t think that I was this anxious even for my exam results. Human emotions are strange, actually.

It has been a bitterly fought election in 2019. Too much of mud-slinging, character assassinations and hate speeches.

Even as I am waiting for the results, in my head I am planning a nice dinner for myself irrespective of the result. Earlier in the day, I tweeted : Notes to myself: This too shall pass. #electionresults2019

Five years ago, on May 19, 2014 the then general election results were announced. It was a gruelling summer day in Ahmedabad. I was trying to make a sense of the path ahead for India (well, I  am still trying to). But at the same time, I didn’t want to be consumed by the political climate. I had ordered a plate of biryani and caramel custard just to feel better.

Let us see how India swings.

 

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The Art of Self-Branding

A FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE

“I write like a dream. But that doesn’t take away the effort I put into every book, every launch, every conversation, every interview and every thing associated with my work.. ” 

All around us, we see people blowing their own trumpets. And with social media, self-branding has got a brand new aggressive makeover. Almost every day, we come across such acts of self-branding. Now people are busy in advertising themselves on Facebook, Instagram and the like. Everyone is a writer, a photographer, a master chef, a film critic, a designer… the list goes on. Everybody is everything. The lines between amateur and professionals are blurred.

So, here as an Indian, I am going back to our mythology to understand this act of self-branding.

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From The Mahabharat 

Krishna tells Arjuna : “You can kill yourself physically by harming your body or intellectually by praising yourself. For when a man praises himself, it is intellectual suicide.”

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From the Ramayana

When Valmiki completed his Ramayana, Narada Muni wasn’t impressed. “It is good, but Hanuman’s Ramayana is better’, he said.

‘Hanuman has written the Ramayana too!’, Valmiki didn’t like this at all, and wondered whose Ramayana was better. So he set out to find Hanuman.

In Kadali-vana, grove of plantains, he found Ramayana inscribed on seven broad leaves of a banana tree.

He read it and found it to be perfect. The most exquisite choice of grammar and vocabulary, metre and melody. He couldn’t help himself. He started to cry.

“Is it so bad?” asked Hanuman
“No, it is so good”, said Valmiki
“Then why are you crying?” asked Hanuman

“Because after reading your Ramayana no one will read my Ramayana,” replied Valmiki.

Hearing this Hanuman simply tore up the seven banana leaves stating  “Now no one will ever read Hanuman’s Ramayana.”

Hanuman said, “You need your Ramayana more than I need mine. You wrote your Ramayana so that the world remembers Valmiki; I wrote my Ramayana so that I remember Ram.”

At that moment he realized how he had been consumed by the desire for validation through his work.

He had not used the work to liberate himself from the fear of invalidation. He had not appreciated the essence of Ram’s tale to unknot his mind.

His Ramayana was a product of ambition; but Hanuman’s Ramayana was a product of affection.

That’s why Hanuman’s Ramayana sounded so much better. Valmiki realized that “Greater than Ram….. is the name of Ram!!!! ”
( राम से बड़ा राम का नाम ).

There are people like Hanuman who are just happy to celebrate what their heart says. They are not hungry for praises. They are content with their craft.

So let us not be like Valmiki, thinking our ‘Ramayana’ is the best.

(Even as I was writing this, I came across this phrase in Hindi Apne muh miya mithu (It basically means self praise. In other words it means to tell other people how good and successful you are.)

For the daughters… I never gave birth to

(I have many daughters across cities, continents without giving birth to one. You don’t have to be a biological mother to share love, warmth, knowledge and kindness. On International Women’s Day, I am sharing a note I wrote to Simrita, my niece who turned 18 on February 15, 2019. She is as precious to my heart as many young girls finding their way in this world. This note is personal yet universal. Like love. So, here it goes.)  

Hi Simsi,

You are 18 today. If we were together today, i would have cooked a delicious meal of chicken curry and rice for you. Or probably would have taken you out for a coffee and walnut brownie treat. Or probably we could have talked and laughed over some silly jokes. Between you and I, we have so many years separating us yet connecting us in strange, warm way. As you are far away, I thought of sharing what my lived experiences and years of talking to talented, creative personalities from different fields (as a journalist) have taught me. I know, you will have your own list too. Some time I would love to learn from your list too and add more to my life.
*In spite of not so knowledgeable people leading many countries across the globe,   knowledge rocks. It’s cool to know about world affairs, science, literature, films, music. There’s no limit to knowledge.
* Health is wealth. No arguments or second thoughts on this.
* Aah, it’s so necessary to say NO when you feel like saying NO from within. If your heart says NO, be firm and say it. Standing up to what you believe is cool. People will respect you eventually.
* Cooking and driving are life skills (well, AI is yet to invade our lives completely). Let us not attach ‘gender roles’ to these skills. I am really happy that you are doing both. I can’t drive and still regret it though many people on the streets are happy and alive because of this lack of skill of mine.
* Money is an enabler, so it’s important. Earning money is important and investing money is more important. .
* Being surrounded by people/friends/mentors/family members from whom you learn something or other is very important.
* Lipstick and nail polish can be a mood elevator on some bad days. So, go for it.
* Develop your own signature fashion statement so that years down people will look at something and say “Wow.. that’s Simrita.” They will remember your style. It could be anything but your style should reflect your personality. Brands no matter how big don’t create personalities. Your own signature style does.
* Empathy always works. So also gentleness.
* Giving is as important as receiving. And vice-versa.
* Networking is a good word. Nurture your contacts.
* Stay crazy. Stay curious.
* Be punctual. Respect other people’s time as you would respect your own time. Amitabh Bachchan always arrives on time for an interview (speaking from my own experience of interviewing him). He can afford to come late being AB but he sticks to time.  .
* Goofing up sometimes is fine.
* So also being vulnerable is fine.
* Enjoy your tea/coffee slowly sometimes. Don’t always rush.
* Think of a  larger universe than your immediate one.
Enjoy life.
P S: How about savoring this strawberry cake? (Our gracious male colleagues got this for us at work today.)

 

cake

A story turns 10

#10YearChallenge : Few weeks back, my social media timeline was full of photographs with this hashtag. Well, here it’s a little different. I wrote this story for my niece Simrita in 2009 (She turned 8 then) as a birthday gift. Ten years later, in 2019, she is all set to join college in couple of months. Two days back, I found the story in my Gmail inbox when I was in a combative mood to delete old e-mails. I am sharing this short story out of love, affection and nostalgia. I am also realizing that how fast kids grow up. Simrita is all set to celebrate her birthday on February 15.

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A birthday to remember

Sui Moi is a beautiful little girl who’s just seven years old. And let me share a secret about Sui Moi — she’s crazy about her birthday (in addition to watching Tom and Jerry on television and eating large pieces of chocolate cake). She has always thrown big birthday parties for her friends. She loves to call all her six close friends and also three close friends of her brother Koko Moi who is six years old. Koko Moi loves his sister a lot and is always ready to think of new ways to bring in special surprises for Sui Moi’s birthday. Are you wondering when’s Sui Moi’s birthday? Her birthday is on January 15.

This year Sui Moi as usual had lots of plan in mind before bringing in another birthday. She along with her papa (whom we will call Papa Moi), mama (whom we will call Mama Moi) and Koko Moi had checked out the menu of a restaurant from where she had planned to order the food her party. And with every passing day, she was getting excited about her birthday. So also Koko Moi. He spent hours in painting a huge card for his sister.

baked birthday birthday cake blowing

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

But alas, sometimes things just don’t go right in spite of our plan. On 15th January morning, Papa Moi got a call from the restaurant saying that there had been a fire in the kitchen of the restaurant the previous night. Though no one was hurt in the fire but they had closed down the restaurant for some repair work. That’s why, they wouldn’t be able to deliver the food and they would give back the advanced amount. “Oh No, God can’t be so cruel to me,” screamed Sui Moi when she first heard the news and tears rolled down her cheeks. She couldn’t imagine what would happen to her party which she had so meticulously planned days in advance.  What’s a party without food? What will she do? There are just some hours left for the party. All these years, Sui Moi’s birthday parties were much loved among her friend circle for the decoration, food, fun and loads of laughter.

But as they say every cloud has a silver lining. And immediately there was a family discussion on what to do next. Both Koko Moi and Sui Moi wore a very sad look. But then came brilliant ideas from Papa Moi and Mama Moi who declared cheerfully, “Let’s cook for the party and as they say nothing tastes like homemade food. All four of us will be the chefs and the party will rock as usual.” Sui Moi at first thought Papa Moi and Mama Moi were joking. But seeing their determination, she and Koko Moi decided to go ahead with this sudden plan.

The first thing on the menu was something from Koko Moi. Well, you might think he’s a little boy but don’t forget that he’s our little champ. So, Koko Moi said with a big grin on his face and a packet of Gelatin powder in his hand, “I will make Jell-O sweets for everybody.”  Bingo… and Sui Moi said immediately “I am going to be Mama’s assistant and help her in the kitchen.” And immediately Papa  Moi said, “Hey you guys, don’t forget me. I am also going to have fun in the kitchen and make some delicious potato sandwiches. But before that let me rush and get the cake and of course some packets of chicken nuggets and pizza bases.”

With so much of enthusiasm in the air, everybody got into action. And Mama Moi immediately rushed to the kitchen to boil some potatoes so that Papa Moi can make the sandwiches once he returns from the market. And she asked her assistant Sui Moi to take out capsicum, mushrooms, tomatoes from the refrigerator.
Then Sui Moi said, “Well, Mama, how about putting some music so that we all can dance a little  while cooking.” Our little Koko Moi simply loved the idea as he’s always the first one to shake a leg. Even as Papa Moi went to the market (this time he went alone cause there are so many things to do at home and Koko Moi was too busy to go with him), Mama Moi braced herself to cut those capsicum, mushroom, onion for making pizzas. And Sui Moi then had a request, “Mama, can you make those lovely chilly egg fry which you made just a week back.” Mama Moi hugged Sui Moi and said tenderly, “Darling, today is your day. So I  will do anything for my dearest princess.” And she took out eggs to boil while Sui Moi watched her with a big smile on her face.
In the meanwhile, Koko Moi was all set for making Jell-O sweets. He added the powder to the boiling water given by his mother… and after that he put them into small containers to be put in the refrigerator.

And then after 45 minutes, Papa Moi came back from the market with packets of chicken nuggets and pizza bases and a huge chocolate cake (which he had ordered the previous evening). Everything went off smoothly and with music in the background, cooking for friends became almost like a picnic at home. So, in the end the guests at the party had : Delicious crusty pizzas, potato sandwiches with oregano, chicken nuggets, chips, cookies, colorful Jello-O sweets. And of course they had chocolate cake. It might sound funny but some of Sui Moi’s friends just couldn’t get up from their chairs after polishing off such a delicious home-made meal. After taking rest for a little while, they all danced like crazy and screaming at the top of their voice, “Sui Moi’s party rocks.” Ha ha, what’s new, didn’t we tell you before?

Are you wondering, what all Sui Moi got as B Day gift:

* She got story books, toys, cookie packets, nice colourful stationary sets, a beautiful necklace and a lovely beaded bag.

 

2019 Wisdom

(A very happy and prosperous 2019 — From Gypsy on qwerty key board)

I have been thinking to write a post for quite some time. But somehow, I just couldn’t find the time to sit quietly and write it. How do I start the first post of 2019? Well, I owe this post to my friend A. 

A… is one of my close friends and I have known him for almost 25 years. He writes beautifully on cinema, sports and life and is a published author. A recently went to Bhutan on an official trip. When we talked after his trip, I asked him excitedly, “Did you go to the Tiger Nest monastery?’ (I know, it’s a real tough trek). What he told me in answer to my question has stayed with me and the wisdom in what he said is relevant to many of us. I am putting his words in the following lines.  Over to A.

“On the day of the Tiger Nest trek, I stood at the starting point and told to myself, ‘Listen A, all your life you have never gone on a trek. So, at this stage of your life why do you want to do something just to impress your boss and probably your colleagues. Why should not you be just yourself and give the trek a miss and enjoy the other beautiful experiences offered by Bhutan. After this conversation with myself, I felt good and then there was no need to impress anybody. They say, the Tiger Nest trek gives you a fascinating view of Bhutan and the view is really breath-taking. Many people consider this trek as a spiritual experience. But what surprised me was that when my team members came back after the trek, none of them talked about the view or the soul-elevating experience. All that they were talking was how some team members could not manage the trek, how miserable some people were and how some people really huffed and puffed with no end result. They were interested in talking about other people’s misery rather than the view, the beauty of the trek, the unique experience, the nuances and the like. So, my point in life is do what your heart says. You need not do anything to impress anybody.  If you do something in a superficial way, you will never enjoy the experience as it will be a manufactured one.”

So, here’s to 2019, life and my friend A’s mantra of listening to one’s inner voice and living  life by one’s core values. Not by other people’s approval. If you listen to yourself intently, you will always know the answer. So, be mindful in 2019 and listen to your heart. Have a wonderful year.

 

 

 

 

Take me as I am

It’s bit tiring as people keep on telling me, “Oh my God, you have got grey hair. Why are you not coloring your hair?”

Well, I am very comfortable with my grey hair. The grey hair tells the story of a rich, textured life I have lived. I can’t color my experiences. I have to take them as they are/were. It is all part of an organic process.

I dread spending hours in the salon for coloring my hair. I had streaked my hair seven years back as I wanted to have fun with my hair. It was a long long process which was quite expensive too.  I am not here to make a statement. If I feel like having those purple streaks to match my purple lipstick sometime in the future then probably I will do that.

But why do people are so worried about other people’s grey hair? They should be more worried about climate change, mindless consumerism and the like.  Not someone’s grey hair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Weddings

Looking at celebrity wedding pictures on instagram can be quite exhausting (after the initial euphoria)– emotionally and physically. And more so when you are a journalist even though you are far away from Lake Como and it’s unlikely that in your lifetime you will ever be there. Deepika-Ranveer, Priyanka-Nick have been the flavour of the wedding season. I think, funny man (though I really find it difficult to laugh at his jokes) Kapil Sharma’s wedding coverage is little low on publicity quotient. Never mind, it’s all part of showbiz. Some will get more than others.

But Priyanka-Nick’s wedding has unleashed the inner energy of some frustrated, negative souls in this country. And unfortunately, this breed includes some journalists too (my fraternity). What do you do to people who give comments like the following?

  • Ha ha… let us see how long this marriage lasts (Even if it breaks, neither Priyanka/Nick are coming to you idiots for solace. And you must be a jerk to have this kind of vicious mindset)
  • Nick does not even put his arms around Priyanka (Anyways, he is not going to put his arms around you… so what’s exactly your problem?)
  • Nick’s 10 years younger than Priyanka… too much of an age gap. These kind of marriages don’t work.  Didn’t you see it earlier in Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore marriage? (Very sad that Priyanka didn’t consider this )
  • Priyanka has no Hollywood career (Anyways, she is not looking for a newspaper job in India)
  • Let us make a list of people who will attend Priyanka’s Mumbai reception (when the official date is yet to be announced) and then dismissing the list telling that no big star will be there. (Hello, are you real?)

And then another moronic question: ‘Why didn’t Ranbir Kapoor go for Deepika-Ranveer’s reception?”

The list goes on. These are the people who have an opinion on anything and everything — right from politics, economy, cricket, cinema to food. They are the ones who give lengthy monologues on what should be Virat Kohli’s strategy in Australia. Never mind, they have never picked up a cricket bat in their life.

The more I hear these kind of conversations, the more I feel the need for grace. You can buy anything in today’s world but you can’t buy grace, empathy and elegance.