Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander!

Ok, this is a happy post. The kind that wants me to dance without music. Earning monthly income is one thing. I’ve never experienced that though, details on that later. But this is my second contest win in 3 months. Euphoria is inevitable.

I can’t stress enough on how much I love Blogadda! They are presenting me with an iPad today. It’s a different high. And I won because of this poem. Poetry is very close to my heart, this is an awesome feeling.

Those are incoherent words. So is the laughter in my house today. I've already mailed my friends, called my family and told everyone I could about this.Yayy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Old is Gold. New is Golden too!

When we were in school, they told us it is the best time of your life. No responsibilities, no pressure. You’ll make your best friends here. They told us we will never meet people as good as these.

It was scary going to college. My best pals were in different cities. Life was about to turn into a friendless zone. And then, I made 3 new best friends.

They repeated that college is the best phase of your life. After that you enter the big bad world of career and relationships. People will befriend you for hidden motives. They will meet you to socialize and entertain themselves. It will suck further after marriage. 

So far I had about 8 best friends (Yeah, I was lucky. And I dare not call any of these 'good' friend!). A couple of them were less in touch, but I could pick up from where I left. They knew my dreams, my fears, my past and my present. They loved me for that and for everything else. 

Meaning, the bar for a best friend was quite high.

It had been 6 months since my wedding. Everything revolved around the husband. I was still calling my mother everyday to ask her the basic recipes of different vegetables. They had already told me I won’t make many friends. Best friend was like a far-fetched dream. I was trying to live with it.

And then, I met her.

I was standing near the elevator. We were going out for lunch with common friends. We instantly got along because we were from the same city. After meeting a couple of times in a group, we started meeting regularly.

She was immensely sweet and sensitive. Things bothered her easily. We use to walk in the Tennis Court and discuss the past, present and future. While I tried to cheer her up in her darkest hours, she brought warmth and sunshine into mine.

Bonding had a different meaning now. We weren’t kids who would laugh over non-veg jokes. We created non-veg jokes! Other kids didn’t bother us, it was having a kid of our own that did. We didn’t have to worry about marks, we had to maintain relationships that came with marriage.

If I was sick, she would cook for me. If I was sad, her eyes would fill up. When I came from a long holiday, she would empty my suitcase for me. It was like a sister, friend, well-wisher all packed into one in a faraway land where I was still learning how to live with a boy!

In our 4 years together, we’ve seen a lot. I was super jealous when she was making new friends. I cried like a baby when I moved to an apartment far away from hers. I was afraid I will have to cook when I'm sick.

But now, she brings me a packed dabba when I have a runny nose. We also increased our clan. We got two new best friends in the process. (More about them in a different post otherwise they would think I’m being partial!)

 Happy Birthday, Aradhana - You’ve made my school friends envious! You’re gifted with sweetness that’s rare in this world. Just believe in your dreams and smile at whatever plan God has for you. We can do anything to keep you smiling. Anything. 

And everyone who thinks only old is gold, I can guarantee, new is as SHINY.

Special friends deserve special birthday celebrations. I tried :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lovin' it!

As a kid, traveling meant going to Nani’s house once every two years. We would travel by train, carry lunch boxes, Kismi toffee bars and read Pinki and Champak on the way. Those journeys were great fun and the time they took made no difference. God knows why we started flying.

My first flight was when I was 7 or 8. I got severe pain in the ears. I remember crying, that’s it, that’s all I remember. My first flight alone was when I was 18. I remember sitting next to a very handsome uncle reading Archies. I think he was the shortest crush I had. For the shortest time, I mean. Flying, suddenly, had a new meaning.

I think that was the time we got our passports made. There was no particular reason. Maybe it was a fad. Afterall, who went abroad? But I did. I went to Dubai in 2003 and fell in love with a foreign land. Zooming cars, clean roads, diverse cuisine, and just basic order at every place left me awestruck. Little did I know that I would be living in a foreign land for the longest time.

After 10 years, I got my passport renewed. It had two visa stamps which wasn’t bad at all. Even though travelling abroad had become economical and much easier, it wasn’t as frequent. Anyway, it’s been 3.5 years since I got my new passport.

The point I’m trying to come to is – that passport is full! It has visa stamps all over it. I’m counting the countries I’ve visited, flights I’ve taken, miles I’ve accumulated. I’m relishing the memories I’ve made, paths I’ve tread and remembering the people I’ve met.

Most of all, I’m counting my blessings.

I applied for a new passport booklet today – a jumbo one this time. May God bless this one as well! And yes, I already thanked the Boy for showing me the world. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chop, Heat, Swirl, Serve, Sleep

You wake up, go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. It's freaking 6:15 on a cold winter morning.

You splash your face with cool water. No, there is no time to keep the water running till it becomes warm. You dash into the kitchen, switch on the gas and pick the pan which already has oil in it.

The peeler is right next to the washed veggies. You scrape the potatoes, put them on the chopping board and cut them into cubes. By this time the oil in the pan is hot. Add jeera and slide the potatoes into the pan.

On the second burner you put another pan. You swiftly mix Sooji with water and yoghurt. Pick the washed onions, green chilli and coriander from last night, chop well, add to the sooji mix and pour this mix in the second pan.

By this time potatoes are nearly done. You quickly chop Methi, tomato and garlic, which, mind you, were washed last night and kept in order. Swirl the potatoes and cover them again for a couple of minutes. 

You then peel the soaked almonds and walnuts and keep a mug of milk in the microwave. In between, flip the Uttapam. Also, add the chopped veggies in the potato pan with some masala and salt. Don’t ever forget the salt.

Run to the bedroom and keep the milk and nuts on the table.

Scurry back to the kitchen and check on the Aaloo Methi and Uttapam. Put another pan on the third burner and start making chapatis. By this time the vegetable and Uttapam are done. While the chapati cooks, transfer the sabzi in the tiffin box and Uttapam on a plate alongside Chutney.

Flip another chapati. Wrap 2 in a foil and transfer them in a second box.

Cut a bowl of fruits and prepare a third dabba.

Neatly keep the boxes in the back-pack and wait till He finishes making yummy noises on the breakfast table.

It’s 7 a.m. The Tsunami in the kitchen has subsided. Kiss the Boy in Suit-Boot goodbye and roll in the blanket till 10.

And that, my friends, is my Sunday –Thursday morning routine! To break monotony, I mix potato with a different vegetable each day. And serve chutney with a different item. The thing I hate to change is my beauty sleep from 7 to 10 a.m. 

You’re jealous. I know. Deal with it!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review - Just Married, Please Excuse

Title: Just Married, Please Excuse
By: Yashodhara Lal
ISBN: 9789350292273
Cover price: INR 199 (Currently selling at Rs. 115 on Flipcart)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers India
Buy Here!

I read Yashodhara Lal’s blog on a regular basis. She picks interesting incidents from her own life, describes them vividly, adds her sense of humor and immediately connects with her readers. This is exactly what she has done with the book. It’s a sneak peek into the author’s married life and early parenthood.

I read her debut novel, Just Married Please Excuse, on my Lucknow-Delhi-Bahrain flight. It was perfect for this long journey – fast paced, full of humour and had that extra bit to keep me glued.

The story revolves around the author who is a hot-tempered Punjabi girl and her husband Vijay - a simple Brahmin guy. It is their roller-coaster ride describing their wedding, entry into a new life, settling in a new city, adjusting with in-laws, hunting for couple friends, making investments, dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and handling the baby thereafter.

Sounds mundane? No, it’s not. It is Yashodhara’s way of unfolding things that makes this book heart warming. Be it her discovery of V’s shorter upper body, her attempt at making phulkas and draping a saree or her account of her pregnancy, she keeps you amused. You will feel that all characters are taken from your own life and that you have been in the same situation as her sometime or the other.

Read this book in your blanket on a cold winter evening. You will find the people in it warm and their anecdotes endearing. My favourite line from the book comes from Y’s MIL – Ladne ki kya baat hai, kabhi wo maan jaate hain, kabhi main.

That’s exactly the way things work in my home! 

On the Hot Seat...

New Year hasn’t been kind. I have unfinished posts in my drafts folder that may never see the light of day. My story has been haunting me and I may write it soon. Other than that, my creative faculties are blocked. Is that a trend? ‘Cause many bloggers have taken this tag saying they had a writer’s block and this eased them. Anyway, here’s something about my 2012 – 

1.What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Made an excel sheet that had my diet, exercise and chill out pattern. I lost weight. And then I gained it back!

2.Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next?
I’m a loser when it comes to resolutions. My life’s resolution is to keep smiling. I’m just trying to do that.

3.What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
16th December. Really, the torture 'Nirbhaya' went through has given me sleepless nights. I haven’t even been able to write about it.

4.What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I lost 3 kgs (although I gained it back) and won this awesome contest. Happy feeling it was.

5. What was your biggest failure?
People have disappointed me. And I haven’t been able to kick them out of my mind.

6.Did you suffer illness?
Oh, things keep giving me a hard time. I try to ignore. But 2012 did make me anxious about my future as far as health is concerned. I will still hope and pray for the best.

7. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
A couple of people. For the first time I realised that people can be mean. Yeah, first time in 30 years. That’s a good run.

8.Where did most of your money go?
Clothes, food and travel. Awesome.

9.What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My Birthday. It was the best ever. (This tag is giving me a happy feeling!)

10. What song will always remind you of 2012?
We are young by Fun! 30 is a big number and such songs keep me sane.

11. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Each year has its good and bad. I learnt a lot in 2012. I am happy. Definitely happy.

12. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I tried to do whatever I set out to achieve. I might not have been 100% successful but I gave my best. I could have read more. Yes, reading.

13. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Fret over people who mean nothing to me.

14. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Ofcourse. Every moment of every day. I'm a poet, you see!

15. What/Who was your greatest musical discovery?
Yo Yo Honey Singh. Hahaha! And please, for heaven’s sake, songs don’t promote rape. People do.

16. What did you want and get?
A happy 30th. Travelling. Love. 

17. What did you want and not get?
No regrets about anything. I’m happy and content.

18. What was your favourite film of this year?
Barfi! - without a doubt. 

19. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Oh, I went to Goa. Was at Club Cubana at midnight, cut a cake in the morning, went to the beach in the afternoon and won lots at the casino at night. Perfect birthday, I tell you. In case you haven’t noticed, I turned THIRTY! 

20. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I would have won/earned a Billion Dollars??? Really, there is no limit to what one wants.

21. What kept you sane?
Friends, Family, the Boy and my love for the written word.

22. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Hard work and determination pays. Mean people are all around you. Friends are precious. Being loved cannot be replaced by any other feeling in the world.

23. Which new places did you visit in 2012?
Istanbul, Oludeniz and Pammukkale  - all in Turkey.

24. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
Ude, khule aasaman mein khwabon ke parindey
 Ude, dil ke jahaan main khaabon ke parinday
 Oho, kya pata, jaayenge kahaan
 Khule hain jo pal, kahe yeh nazar
 Lagta hai ab hai jaage hum
 Fiqrein jo thi, peechhe reh gayi
 Nikle unse aage hum
 Hawa mein beh rahi hai zindagi
 Yeh hum se keh rahi hai zindagi
 Oho, ab toh, jo bhi ho so ho

Please take up the tag if 2013 hasn't started for you as well!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The String with a Knot : My entry for the Get Published contest

Story Idea

Love stories that begin at teenage and culminate at death are the most precious ones. They tread paths that are sweet and innocent at first, rough in parts and comfortable in the end. They see the good, the bad and the ugly of their relationship and learn valuable lessons for themselves and for those around them. Though I don’t know how Ayesha and Ayush’s story will proceed, their present has certainly seen the worst anyone can imagine. 

They met in Delhi Public School because of their consecutive roll numbers. They bonded over cheating in examinations. They relished in being average students. They were overjoyed with their compatibility. Fast forward 8-years of friendship, they got married with grandeur and had their first baby just before their 2nd anniversary.

And then they moved to Mumbai to explore new career opportunities. Ayesha was a flirtatious young woman. She made effortless conversations with every Tarun, Dev and Harry. It was easy to link her romantically with each one of them. But that one time, the gossip mongers, much to their delight, found truth in grapevine.                                 

However, this story is not only about Ayesha, it’s more about Ayush and his love for her. It’s about the insecurity he goes through every day. It’s about misplaced trust and the hatred that ensued.  It’s about questioning feelings that arose as a teenager and still linger around him. And then, it’s also about seeing light at the end of the tunnel because of unfathomable faith and profound love.

What makes this story Real

This story speaks volumes about our generation. We abide by our values and traditions. Yet in our darkest hours we question those beliefs and find ourselves at crossroads. Sometimes crossing the line with courage does us good. At other times, our attempt to ‘break free’ is an act of foolishness governed by neither our heart nor our head but what we see around us. This story also talks about how men have evolved from the previous era and are not afraid to show the world their sensitive side

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

Image from here

To know more about Ayesha and Ayush and see this story in print, please press on the red heart HERE