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CAUGHT IN A GHOST CASTLE

Based on a true story:

A group of 8 young explorers, me among them, entered a house that was surrounded by not only darkness but rumors of being haunted. The air was eerie and the silence so thick that even a pin drop could set hearts race. I got a chance to enter with seven others, I was excited to prove. It was my chance to prove a few nay-sayers that I am not boring and when I mean adventure it isn’t about millennial pranks. I meant serious business and what can be a better option to set the adrenaline rush going than a haunted house. I would be dishonest if I say fear wasn’t on my side along with the seven others.

We together stepped inside the house that smelt pungent and we thought “let the helper at our house take off for a while and our houses won’t be different” and had a hearty laugh. Slowly we marched – sometimes 4 steps at a time and sometimes just 1- don’t ask if it’s prudence or fear that was spiraling down our spines like sweat. We weren’t together but scattered all around. Someone at the loosely hanging railing at the first floor, someone at the corner by the picture of handsome looking tyrant that once lived there, a few near the bookshelf, and a few on the staircase following trails. The house that once might have had people as inhabitants in it, now hosted bats, mice, and a negative aura in abundance. As I slowly marched ahead, I heard a loud shriek. I rushed in the direction of the sound and I was horrified to see one of my accomplices lying in a pool of blood. She was caught unaware by an axe dangling overhead. I nearly fainted but had to carry on the mission for it was about leaving that house alive and proving a point. I moved in a different direction, suddenly something came flying to hit me or it was just my illusion. Whatever it was I ducked and saved myself. Another friend fell from the railing and broke his back badly. He did mention it felt as if someone pushed him. We together had to survive that night amidst everything which was not normal. We didn’t want to speak our minds aloud but now it was certain that this house is haunted. Throughout the night, to and fro the dangers, we somehow survived somehow and stepped out of that wicked nest of mortar and wood. I was the first one to do so.

And I was the winner. What? It is still based on a true story, I did play this board game “Ghost Castle”, was indeed caught and it took a long time to reach to the finish line i.e out of the house/castle. That’s how I spent the first day of the new calendar year. Ludo and monopoly is a thing of the past now, try this one, preferably in a slightly dark place for the spooky ghost not only scares but illuminates too😂.

Try it with your family, fun guaranteed!!

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A DELICIOUS RECIPE FOR THE FIRST DAY OF 2022

I believe in Time and its game. It’s like – I am moving continuously, you have to go through all the strives and hardships and walk with me or you will be categorized as a failure.

But my heart and mind said something else after rising last year. 31 Dec 2021 was a beautiful day with hubby and son at Bhandardhara & Igatpuri. It was a sudden plan for the last day of 2021 and the first day of 2022. We all wanted to make it memorable and happier with tiny moments…just wanted to hold the feelings of happiness, peaceful soul in us. It was a 2-day plan. The day of last year was felt in every moment with the setting sun in the backwater of Pravari river. The clicking of pictures, having tea and snacks wherever you stop- really the madness of a traveler and a photographer. My husband loves to click pics with his DSLR and he contributes in Gurushots. He is just mad about the themes and ideas, competitions organized by Gurushots. I saw him so excited and ecstatic with the clicks of beautiful birds near the dam. I can say his year ending was superb. By seeing them happy, l too felt happy and contented.

Yes, I have also made my year ending and starting of the new year with beautiful memories of nature and submission of poems in 97anthologies. The morning of the new year was chilling at Igatpuri. The day was planned with Bhavali dam and Dhammagiri (Vipassana Centre). It was a slow, content, enjoyable trip with a trekking experience. My son was happy with Mc. Donald breakfast. He read the stories and saw the pictures of Goutama Buddha at Dhammagiri. He gathered more information about Goutama Buddha.

After our Igatpuri trip, we headed towards Mumbai and landed at our family friends Sandeep & Mitali Das at Thane. We met two more new friends, Mike and Spike (Cockatiel birds). The first time I saw the birds out of the cage and flying in the room happily. They were eating at a particular place and moving like kids. It was fun watching them. My best moment was when Mike flew and sat on my head. It was like ‘whooh’ for the first 5 seconds. Then I felt normal and good. The evening was spent well with cooking together like old days, chitchatting and sharing old memories, and making plans for the next day, as it was my hubby’s birthday. Finally, the day of the new year ended with dinner and filter coffee at the Hiranandani area of Ghorbunder road. We reached home safely at 11:50 pm, just before 10 minutes to 12am. It was a great day with mixed emotions.

Ingredients of the days were traveling, eating, cooking, chitchatting, discussions with a top-up new experience of birds. The recipes for two days were delicious and cooked on time without any wastage or hesitation.

My new year should follow the following lines, that I really wish…..

“Having lots of confidence
like colour palette,
Stick to the situations just
like magnet,
As the life throws balls at us
like Cricket.”

Happy New year 2022 to each and every reader. Spread a smile and spread happiness and time will be with you.

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FIRST DAY OF 2022

When we were young kids, we were told that whatever you do on the first day of the year; you will end up doing the same thing for the rest of the year. We used to make fun of this “superstition” and we would sleep on 1st Jan so that we get a chance to sleep a lot the whole year. Or we would go for a picnic on 1st Jan so that we keep going for picnics throughout the year. Of course, it never worked.

But guess what like all superstitions are healthy habits miscommunicated over the generations, this one was no different. Recently one of my coaches mentioned this –

“Be careful how you spend the first day of the New Year because this first day is as important for the rest of the year as the time of birth is for the rest of your life. The life of every human being is marked by the planetary influences at work at the time of their birth; the whole course of each life is contained in seed form from the beginning, which explains why horoscopes exist.

On a smaller scale, the first day of a year bears within it the seed of the days to come. This is why you must take care to live in light, love, and harmony on this first day. Throughout the day, through prayer, meditation, songs, good thoughts, and good feelings, try to inscribe imprints of light that will have a positive influence on all the days of this year.”Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

This just made so much sense. It is not that if you do certain activity on 1st Jan, you will end up doing the same activity. The fact is that the feelings that you have on the first day of the year (doing whatever you are doing) will have some influence on the rest of the year.

I spent the first day with my family and friends at Preeta’s place. Had a great time and the kids enjoyed a lot too. Preeta has already mentioned this day in her article. And I am really glad I spent the day in good and light feelings.

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WAKING UP TO A NEW DAWN

The 31st evening it was.. the last day of the year gone by…I walked down the road from my building, with no particular direction in mind, only a printout to take and a few steps to make, to give my smart-band some much-needed activity. I said to myself “It is a number game after all”

The air was clear,
the mind at peace,
the hands flayed side to side
…and I had a smile on my face.
My heart seemed light,
for probably even my heart knew
it was the END of something after all.

It would soon get dark and a new day would dawn…
not just any day, but a new start… for a year was to begin all over again.

The day began…
The sun rose
I was up and about…for a walk again
I had a smile on my face as I took the stride
left and right and left again,
The baker was first, then the shop vendor
I went from place to place and wished them all… “a year to gain”
Happy New Year was the line,
as wishes came back to start a HAPPY New beginning.

Bread to break and a Newspaper to be read, the day had begun but this time – it was a new Year ALL OVER AGAIN.


What can I say!? First’s for me have always been special, be it my first ever date, my first ever salary, or even my first ever… <okay! there have been a lot of first’s, maybe I shouldn’t be getting into that, I’m not saying any more>
The day as it panned out, wasn’t out of the ordinary, as it should be. It was just a change in the date after all.

Wishing people, shaking their hands, and silently judging their confidence levels by their handshake is what generally happens on a day like this. I know it’s wrong, but can you help it?

Not every day do you get to hug people, shake their hands and get up close with another human being. However, the 1st day somehow makes that exception.

Yeah! Yeah! Covid and all… but come on! When you’re happy, you’re happy and the body reacts accordingly.

Here’s wishing every reader an awesome 365 days ahead – this year WILL be special, something in my heart just tells me that, not just for me but for the World at large. Just wait and see… actually don’t wait, I think we’ve all waited enough!

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STEPPING INTO THE NEW YEAR TOGETHER

“We heal, not in isolation, but in togetherness”

This quote is so true, especially in the current times, when going out still contains a little risk. We managed for 2 years, sitting inside our homes and managing to stay together virtually. We all hope and pray that the new year marks the end of the scary coronavirus and the world is freed from the COVID pandemic.

We planned a get-together on the very first day of the new year. I met my sister Prabhjot after 2 years, though didn’t feel like meeting her after ages, as we are in constant touch with each other through WhatsApp. However, it was different for our kids, who rarely video call each other. My elder son doesn’t like to talk to his friends virtually. He says that he misses them and wants to meet them, physically, face to face. The kids have really suffered a lot during this pandemic. It feels bad that they missed out a lot due to isolation. 

Yesterday, our sons were super excited since morning and were so happy to meet each other after a long gap. They played, laughed out loudly, danced, and had fun together. Now, they are looking forward to more such frequent get-togethers, and so are we.

Spending time together with family & friends, sharing joy & happiness, having endless talks, and eating delicacies are indeed delightful. With a beautiful start to this new year, I wish the rest of the days are well spent, for everyone. I pray that we get to meet our loved ones often and share the good times, for togetherness is a wonderful place to be in.

Stay happy! Stay together!

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SHAVING OFF MY DARK-UGLY-LOOKING HAIR

All that I have done in my life were mostly need-based rather than for fun and pleasure. And on the 29th of the last month, I sat down to trim my hair and I went on to shave them till I was almost bald. As I looked at my dark and ugly-looking hair falling on the newspaper, a thought came to my mind. 

How often do we tend to tread the path of sickness, suffering, and sinfulness in a particular time period of our life? The preconceived, the preoccupied, the presumed thoughts, ideas, and prejudices we tend to gather as we walk. These thoughts or ideas either turn us into persons having a closed mindset or judgmental. Neither it helps us on a personal note nor solves the purpose of our creation, that is being an instrument for God towards the fellow human.

So what should we do? How should we help ourselves to be more useful for the sole purpose of our creation? My answer to this question is – GO THROUGH A PROCESS OF UNLEARNING.

Unlearning every thought that tells me I am better than others, unlearning the prejudice I have that people should revolve around me, unlearning the very idea of I should stay self-sufficient without bothering about what is happening in my neighborhood. The days have changed after the onset of the Pandemic. And it is high time that we get rid of this mindset of revolving around our own set rules for life.

When I look at my completely shaven head today, I see a blank slate of my life and feel happy that I am ready to learn afresh without having any preoccupied ideas or prejudices about people and their life. As new hair starts growing on my head, I will learn things that are new and something very different than what I have never experienced before in life. And I know, I need to unlearn from all that I have previously before being active on what I want to do afresh this year onward.

How about you? Are you ready to shave off and unlearn along with me? Then don’t have second thoughts to it, just do it.

Stay Blessed!!!

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IN SEARCH OF MYSELF

On the 365th day of the year looking back I wonder what major achievement did I have this year.. can’t think of anything spectacular…  I survived that’s my achievement. I could manage to somehow stumble through this maze of the physical, mental,  financial, emotional onslaught of Covid.

But looking back I noticed one thing. I have somehow lost my essence in this whole struggle. It is as if I have put myself on hold somewhere, in the wait for things to normalize once again.

I have come to realize this is not how it works. We can’t stop living our life fully in wait for circumstances to improve. Things have changed and will keep changing. Times will be good and bad. But we need to keep on living not just surviving.  Keep on making memories. This time once gone is not going to come back ..

In 2022 I hope to find myself again. I need to drop this cloak of being a ‘bechari‘ (poor me) a victim of circumstances. I am going to find myself again. Take me out of this endless round of chores at home and work and gain some new experiences.

I am leaving behind the feeling of helplessness and melancholy in 2021. Looking forward to writing more, learning new skills, experiencing life more not just in front of the screen.

I know it’s too ambitious but kuch to ho hi jayega (Something should happen). At least the intentions are there, the search begins.

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A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

At this time of life,

Are you who you wanted to be, as a person?

Have you acheived what you wanted to? (To a good extent at least?)

Doing what you always wanted to do?

My answers are – definitely not. Before the pandemic hit, I would have given a different answer. The pandemic really changed my course of life in ways I could never imagine. It has shown me the lows of relationships  and how people are. It has destroyed my travel plans. On the positive note, I have spent lot of time with my family, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.

As we were entering 2020, I had big plans for that year. The sounding of that year itself is so perfect. I had plans to go on more than couple of international trips. Take sabbatical towards the end and persue my passion to uncover the creative side of me. By the mid of 2021, I can restart my job and fall back into the groove of life. Two years just passed by, and I did none of these.

The work from home situation has actually made professional setup worse. I literally realised how difficult it is to convey things without actually talking and seeing each other’s expressions. I am sure, many would agree. This discomfort has increased our work timings. It takes lot more time to move from a dialogue phase to decision phase virtually. The fun is also lower. The sense of connection is low as well. Never ever, have I thought I would be pissed off with my current job and that happened. Not because I don’t love what I do, but, I just don’t want to do it all my day from morning till night.. Wow, that’s a lot of time to commit and on top of it, it took away my “me” time. Lost loved ones to the pandemic, added pain and suffering.

Many of us went through similar suffering. Our lives have changed, challenges we face have changed and the outlook we had of life changed. We have the right to be mad at the pandemic. No matter how many curve balls life threw at us, we tried to play them hoping for the best. We were out of control with everything, including our health and life insurances. We were forced to live with the least and we did.

I don’t know about you, but, my take on living life has changed because of the pandemic. From a casual, I have atleast 30 more years to live, I started accepting, not a single day is mine anymore. I have learnt how important it is to have nominees for every single penny of mine. How important it is to have a heartful conversation when we have the oppurtunity. How important it is to do the several “crazy things” when I can.

The very thing I have put an end to is, thinking there is some other time.  There is no such time. Now, it is. As the world is reopening, with precautions I want to restart things I have put a pause on. We should, we all should.

“A man is like a novel: until the very last page you don’t know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth reading.”  Yevgeny Zamyatin

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END OF 2021 TO NEW BEGINNINGS

29 December 2021
19:20

When 2020 ended, I believed that there cannot be a year with more to learn from. But I was wrong, 2021 had, even more, shocks and surprises saved for me and all of us.

I was more of a crying baby till the last couple of months, not that I would cry in front of anybody but in general, I would keep complaining about how horrible my life is and how cool everybody else is. I had my reasons to do so. There are always reasons, right? But what is important – our valid reasons or our dear lives full of possibilities.

I know for sure that one major reason for this change was seeing death so close by. Our own mortality and the fear of being suffocated at the hands of this virus and dying was probably the biggest factor that jolted me out of my bubble and forced me to take responsibility for my own happiness and my own needs.

In 2021, I am putting an end to my helplessness, self-pity, poor self-image, and lack of confidence. With the rise of 2022, I pray from the depth of my heart to have enough confidence and strength to own up to whatever wrong or right happens in my life. To stand up for what is right and believe in my intuitions.

Yeah, these are all big words. Let me tell you how I plan to do it.

I want to be a spiritual seeker, I want to experience the limits of the physical nature of this body and touch what is beyond physical. Again big words, oops sorry. In short, I am taking up multiple courses related to spirituality to learn different meditations that can make me reach my highest potential and even touch what is beyond. I believe I am ready for it now.

The second big skill that I want to learn is all the new ways of investing money – crypto, NFT’s, etc. Its been too long that I have been just not paying attention to the money that I earn. So, now beginning to take money investments seriously.

Well, these are just the two things that I want to focus on in the coming year. They are quite opposite to each other – one is a spiritual path and the other is a materialistic one. However, I am looking at it in a holistic way. I simply want to grow a few steps in having better physical health, mental health, spiritual health, and financial health.

Seems too ambitious?? Well, let’s see what I end up writing next year at the same time.

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THANK YOU YEAR 2021

“Endings are the –
Beginning of a new era of hope,
Beginning of a new phase of scope.
It is in an ongoing process,
Which sometimes is hard to digest.
Still, life has to go through phases,
To taste the flavour of situations
and their causes.

Endings are to be cherished with
lots of love and blessings,
To connect with every moment
of life and its earnings.”

It is always seen, when something comes to an end, a new beginning shows up. It is actually a cycle of all the deeds and times. When you plan for something, the time of planning and execution are added. The day is well spent with proper execution and delivery of ideas, as you have already thought of. But the day ends with lots of memories of laughter and giggles. Next, you plan for something else to do in life. As our life is an ongoing process of events, we are attached to the strings of hope, motivation, encouragement, disagreements, love, empathy, sympathy, hatred, and many more. Still, the show must go on.

As an endless journey of life, I have experienced lots of things this year in 2021. Last year’s lockdown was an eye-opener for me. That time span of 10 months ( from March end to December 2020 end) I have explored many new things in my handy device, started writing again after years. It was just like a time pass for me initially. Later with many things, many disagreements, and ignorance, I started assembling myself with my thoughts and visions. I tried to gain my dignity which with the passing of time, I had lost my identity as a human being. This year I got through the awakening of my heart and soul. My mind became a great teacher and with the support of my mother, I started living life in a different way. I started seeing things in a lighter way, but with all the answers and possibilities.

Gradually, I felt that I am evolving as a writer, author, and co-author of many anthologies. Not to forget, Candles online and a great friend Chiradeep are added to that list. I could able to establish my new identity. This small thing gave me the link to the world of duties and responsibilities with more love and empathy. With due course of time, I learned languages in a deeper way. The time of ignorance is blissfully ended and a new chapter started with new words, new thoughts, new ideas, new chords.

The New Me is a more important part of my own identity. If I can help myself to be happy and content without any expectations from anyone, then my life looks blissful and sorted.

Just move on and live in the present– That’s the mantra of my life now.

Don’t think that others may leave you alone in the midway. No, the loved ones will be there always with you. Yes, time may be different. But they will be there always with you if they really care for you.

In the New Year, I have no plans or resolutions to make. But I will try to make a fruitful year again.

“What to write about the RESOLUTION,
It takes a lot of effort for EVOLUTION.
Many say it is easy for CONSIDERATION,
But actually, it’s not easy in MODERATION.

Be yourself,
Be Good,
Be positive,
Be humbled.

Lastly, I owe to everyone, who has come across my life this year and showered blessings upon me.

Thank you – The year 2021.

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AN END BEFORE THE START

new-year-resolutions-for-kids

As a ritual, every single year – the last week of the year (around this time) I will unfailingly, FORMAT my Android phone and re-install all the apps. I do not break my head to retrieve the contacts that are lost via the whole formatting procedure. If they’re gone, they’re gone for a purpose-probably they were never meant to be there in the first place.

That’s my simple way of saying to myself – Here I go again… same old, YES – but a new beginning.

Relationships change, so do people-and having one’s phone crowded with people’s numbers is not something that I fancy, hence the yearly exercise. Does it feel good? Oh hell yeah! There’s a thrill in starting over!

I’ve always believed ‘something’ HAS to end… for something else beautiful to start. People tend to hold onto things, photographs, memories, and gadgets – like they are body parts. Attachments can be really BAD. The lesser we attach to things and people, the happier we will be

Give it a chance and see the difference.

My friends always say:

We really do not know what to gift you, because we don’t really know what you’re fond of.

If you ask me, I do not know either coz I’m attached to nothing or no one in particular. I do love being around a certain type of people, or enjoy doing a certain kind of activity from time to time… but I’ll move on to something else that catches my fancy, that’s just ME and I really love that part of me, coz that way I am never really bored/disappointed.

I do not put my happiness in other people’s hands, I do simple everyday things that make me happy, things that we tend to miss with the hectic lives that we lead.

I am someone who lives for the moment, I do not capture memories on my phone or on a camera lens, I simply live them. Another trait that makes me unique is: with me around, you will never know “What’s coming next” and while I tend to remain calm at most times, I can surprise even myself on a good day.

9th January 1982, began my journey on this Earth, and while that has been one start to the life that I’ve been living ever since – I have had many re-starts, and subsequent endings along the way, only to realise it was time to start again… it has helped me grow as a person, to learn the lesson and be the better version of myself next time round.

I do not wish for great things, nor do I look back on what went right or wrong, for whatever happens – happens for a reason. I’ve made it this far… I’ll make it ahead too, probably an extraa…aaamile or two, and if I have the right company, a hand to hold in this journey forward – nothing like it!

For every End has a beautiful beginning – may THAT beginning be not necessarily at the start of the year, but even the start of a week or as early as tomorrow.

A NEW DAY is a new beginning.

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I WISH…

Rocking her baby, bogged down by the opinion of nay-sayers around and about her, her gaze traversed the window. She saw another woman donning the hat of an “equal breadwinner” for her family and making her stride into the world. She thought “I wish I was in her shoes” 

Marching ahead towards her awaiting deadlines and agendas as her heart was crushing hard under the gloom she was carrying. “Not a mother yet” pricked through her heart. She rolled down the windowpane as she saw a kid jumping in muddy puddles with glee as the mother looked on with joy. She thought “I wish I was in her shoes”.

The happiness of the kid was short-lived as his father reprimanded him for being a mess. As the kid was being dictated by commandments of DOs & DON’Ts that sad face rolled to the other side and saw a rich man surrounded by a brigade of servants and only his say mattered. The kid thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.

The rich man as he awaited for his vehicle to arrive saw a young man riding a bike with his guitar hung across his back. It reminded him of his lost love in the depths of oblivion while he chased new heights tirelessly. The rich man thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.

The young man whose struggles have just begun in the pursuit of his passion pondering over his future probabilities and possibilities felt the heat of venturing out in the tricky, tough and often merciless stage called the world. He stopped by a house to ask for a glass of water. A lady came out with her baby in her arms and it reminded the young man of what a safe haven home is. Looking at the baby, the young man thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.

And the baby in the arms of the mother who was sleeping blissfully smiled in his sleep…

This is a simplistic view of how we perceive and look at the world. Deep down in our hearts, we are convinced that others are happier than us. Our eyes are open to looking at the merrier view and our shallow wisdom restricts our capability to even conceive the thought that every story has a different background and narration. It is like a beautiful cover page of a magazine that attracts our attention, mesmerized by the gloss and the colour we instantly forget that it’s a collaborative effort of many technicians and technicalities. About the physical, emotional, mental stress people might undergo in the process is not even a distant thought in our thoughts, for we are takers of only happy faces. And not to mention that our obsession with those pretty faces is so much that we start to loathe our reality – a harbinger for unhappiness, think about it.

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HAVE FAITH TO MOVE ON

“Confused and overburdened mind,
Spoils the charm of the day in every kind.
The solution, if you cannot find,
The time will take charge to grind.”

This is the situation, I was going through within the last few weeks. It’s true that time is not always with you. It keeps on changing, whether you are aware of it or it is unknown and uncertain for you. It’s like the wave of a sea. You are standing at a point on the beach and waiting for the big wave to hit you and drench you, yet it is like you are waiting for it forever. But you can see big waves just around you on your left and on your right.

Our life is similar to this. We plan a lot of things together for family, friends and for ourselves, but all the plans don’t always work the way we want. That’s why the proverb, “Man proposes, God disposes”, is perfect.

For the last few days, I can feel a writer’s block and burden of work, the board exam of my son. And all these were making me so confused and overburdened. I tried to help myself with yoga and meditation, but I still could not be happy within. It felt like, the time is just slipping away from my palms. I want to do many things, but time is less. It felt like, I am about to die, but want to live eagerly. It was like a dilemmatic situation for me.

Sometimes the workflow is good and convenient with time. But sometimes it’s too hard to cope up. If we ignore a very tiny part, it may create a huge difference and there’s a chance of committing a mistake too. I went through this situation. It was hard to gulp, “how can I do this? How can I ignore this?”

This has been happening to me for sometime, but one thing I realized is that I can overcome any problem if I have faith.

And I started reciting…

“Take a long breath, take a break,
Pray to God for help in the whole mind,
Keep patience in your heart
And wait for the magic to happen.”

As I believe in one more thing, if you think positively in spite of all odds, you can win over the odd situations. Have faith in God and be true to yourself. Give your best shot and move on.

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A PIGEON’S MISCARRIAGE

On opening the door to my residential quarters after a month long absence, I was greeted with a bearably faint musty odour, a thin film of dust on all surfaces, a few cobwebs here and there – signs of briefly uninhabited premises! As I flung open the connecting doors and windows to let the chilly winter breeze do a few oscillations and ventilate the house, I was glad that there wasn’t really much cleaning up to do after all. This relief was about to last for just a few seconds!

No sooner had I opened the door to my bathroom, that I took a step back at what I saw. A pigeon’s nest had fallen from an open vent above right on the toilet seat!!

Well, there was work after all!

As I picked up the twigs, small branches and dried leaves, I looked up sensing a brief movement. Lo and behold! Mama pigeon was cozily sitting on her eggs, having built a brand new nest.

It took some time for me to clean up the mess during which the nesting perseverance of the pigeons was something I pondered upon.

As I resumed official work the next day to be greeted with heaps of pending files, Mama pigeon and the nest was the last thing on my mind!

It wasn’t meant to be that way for long, though.

I returned home after the day’s work only to find the new nest broken (and yes, fallen on the toilet seat, to my great displeasure). Having no other way out, as I started clearing up the clutter, I found a broken egg amidst the dried leaves and twigs.

Who knows what instincts would have crisscrossed Mama pigeon’s mind, having had two broken nests and one broken egg. Will she build her nest again? Will she give up? Will she be able to have any squabs this season? Ah well! That’s the pigeon’s life!

This drove me to think about the countless women worldwide who miscarry their unborns. For every baby that is born there are many fetuses that get miscarried and many still-borns who remain as bars on the tally charts leaving many women to gulp their crucibles of sorrow silently. How many of them get cared for by their partners, family and friends before they heal up – physically and emotionally?

The Mama pigeon’s miscarriage might have stirred up her instincts with probably none of her kiln having an inkling to it. We humans can surely do much better!

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IF LIFE IS TOUGH…

Yes, dear life,
I’ll never give up on you.
No matter what you throw my way
I’ll definitely survive the day.

You will always see a smile on my face
For, I believe in living with grace.
I’m not the one to sit and cry
I’ve been taught to touch the highs.

You see,
I’m the mountain girl
who carries the sunshine in her curls
who carries the sunshine in her curls.
To all those who feel like giving up
show life who’s the BOSS, Yes!

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MATTERS OF THE HEART

What do I say about where and why my heart takes and makes me do – different things at different places? While doing all of that, not forgetting its primary function of pumping blood through my circulatory system, to keep this bloke going the extraa…aaamile.

Real-life is one thing.. fiction is another. My sister and I were raised on a steady diet of homecooked food and dollops of love, and we were never short of stories – mum and dad had plenty of them-some of which were repeats but we didn’t mind. Today, when they tell us the same stories again…we smile at each other, coz we’ve heard them so many times before – but sometimes it is the stories that keep us going.

And that’s how we’ve always lived.

Growing up in the era of the ’90s, where everything we watched and came across brought a smile to our faces, the lives people lived, and the friendships we stitched, always reminded me that life was good and love was found everywhere. Ever since then I’ve always believed in a romantic story, from watching mushy Shahrukh Khan movies, romancing his love interests in Bollywood to young romances blossom in college in Hollywood, and in my heart of hearts… I’ve always wanted stories like that to happen to me.

Can you blame me if I fall in love with every female character on the show/a movie I watch?

…and that’s where I’ve always remained optimistic, that there is someone really out there, and she’ll be all the things I’ve been dreaming about her, come true – my very own princess, and I’ve been waiting ever since.

A lot of the people I know often say that I keep my thoughts to myself, which is very true. There is after-all time and a place for everything. This week’s theme is all about ‘Direct Dil se’ which loosely translates to ‘Straight from the Heart’from mine to yours.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes, the romantic ones are the ones with no romance in their lives? Keep pondering on that question – this one’s for us single people out there…

..and that’s where I decided the best place to find a good love story was in the movies and books and hence the love of reading blossomed…and so did the writing, and this is where the thoughts are broken down into fine reading.

My life as I wish is a combination of so many Hollywood movies I’ve watched;

…a little house in the woods, a quiet town, friendly neighborhood, a job that keeps me happy more than stressed, a partner who is no-frills with a pet dog for the complete family. Enough money is earned to live a simple life. And if we lived in a town that snows, even better – nothing like sitting by the fireplace to keep warm on a snowy day. Even writing this down feels as if, I’m already there…

My heart pines for the simple life, no-frills no fancy. I was never cut out for all that we see in the world today.

I fell in love with stories, then with the language …and to see it used in the movies and written in print is like spreading love to all that I touch.

Words are like magic when used to narrate life’s memories, wishes, and dreams. So it is no wonder that I ventured out into writing, I write for the love of writing and not as a profession, because, as I know it, Love originates from the heart, and where the heart is involved, money does not find a place there.

As in all my favorite stories: there are moments in life when you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next, new ideas, new people – and that can be challenging. It’s how we meet those challenges, NOW that is the exciting part.

…and what I do now, THAT is my story and no one can change that. I am a part of this beautiful ongoing story; my reader, my well-wisher, and my friend, YOU all are a part of this magnificent story in the making.

I am not even going to ask you “What is your story?” because I want to play a part in it.

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SOME SPECIAL CONNECTIONS …

This Saturday, me and my father visited the RTO office. He was due for his DL renewal. While he was talking to the agent and getting his paperwork, I couldn’t help but peep into the Yonex shop that was nearby. I informed my father that I would be back in a few mins and requested him to wait there if at all he finished his work early. Slowly, I walked towards the small shop. It is hardly 15 feet by 10 feet store with huge posters of P V Sindhu. There was a display of all kinds of badminton rackets. However, I wasn’t interested in the rackets. I was searching the other side of the counter for a salesperson.

Meanwhile, one of the sales representatives approached me asking, what I was looking for. It’s not ‘what’, but, ‘who’ you should be asking, I slowly murmured. While I was lost in that thought, “Aastha, is that you?“, said a voice. “Thank God!! Yes, it’s me. But, how did you know it was me from behind?”, “Ah, that was because I was watching you in the mirror”, he said. “I am so glad to meet you after so many years. I have come here a few times, always wondered if you were around, but, never really came inside. I wasn’t sure if you would remember me before I walked in”, there was no stopping to my talking. “Of course, you and Ali used to come to buy rackets and shuttlecock cans. You always insisted for the feathered cocks”. “Yes, true. This was our regular store back then”. “So, what are you looking for now?” he asked. “Honestly, I came here only to see you. Sorry. There was no intention to buy anything”, said I. We laughed talking about so many memories.

It felt like yesterday all those instances happened, yet, it has been more than a decade or even more. Time just flies was the thought I had. “How did you remember my name?“, I asked him. “That wasn’t because of you. It was because of your father. He bought a badminton racket from me once. It was one of the first makes of lighter ones from Yonex. Immediately after buying the racket, he wrote your name on the leather cover. I asked him who it was and he said that’s his daughter’s name. Later on, you came several times along with Ali, but I had no clue you were Aastha, until one fine day you came along with your father. I connected the dots. I could have been wrong too. BTW, how is your father?“, inquired he.

“Oh, he is right here, renewing his DL”, my eyes lit up while saying that. He insisted on meeting my father. We all had coffee together. Though my father did not remember him, he certainly remembers visiting that shop. The conversation went longer than I expected. That was a heart to heart connection.

Before I met him, I had so many thoughts in those few mins while I was walking towards the store. Is he still there? How he would be? How did covid affect his business? Is he still the owner of the shop? and so many other thoughts. The only hope was to meet him and feel good about it. I wasn’t expecting him to recognise me either. Yet, the conversation with him made me so happy.

Me being who I am, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have made an inviting gesture to start a conversation back then. I would just walk into the store, make the purchases and return. I don’t remember talking about anything other than why I was there, We don’t even realize but, some connections we make have so much impact on our lives. Though we don’t call them friends or family, those connections are still very special. They enlighten us when we remember them. At some point in life, those people were meant to cross paths with us and for good. We never know how such a connection can make us happy in future. 

“Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.”  – Sean Stephenson

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INDEPENDENT PARENTING


What has changed my life in last 30 days?

Well, my life has turned downside up (opposite of upside down) in the last couple of months. From living with parents (or in laws) for last 7 years, I am finally living on my own. And it’s a world of difference to me. I had been looking forward to this for many years now. A time when I can just drop my son downstairs to play and have the whole house to myself for at least an hour or so. A time when my son would just say Goodnight and go sleep in his own room (well, not there yet but almost there). A time when I don’t have to feed him, bathe him, clean his potty etc.

There is famous saying about motherhood – “Motherhood feels like years pass by in a blink of an eye while days are almost an eternity”.

Motherhood is a constant tug of war between wanting kids to be independent so that I can have my own space and being scared that kids will finally grow up and go away. Somewhere in this tug of war, we manage to find our own moments of happiness. That stolen “me” time which would be a quick pedicure after the child sleeps or those sparkling eyes when I cook his favorite cheese omelet – there are millions of such moments which make motherhood so very special.

Well, after living with parents for so long – I had been craving for independent parenting. Yes, I came up with this term “Independent parenting” a while back. It really means to have a space where I can parent my child without anybody’s interference. When a child gets exposed to different parenting styles, he/she can really get confused. Where none of the parenting styles are wrong, they are just different and can really screw up with the child’s psychology.

This year January, I decided to move to Dehradun because there couldn’t be a better opportunity to spend time with my parents and live in the home where I grew up. I decided to stay there for as long as schools don’t reopen. 6 months later I realized that my son was getting so many different messages from all around and he had started behaving so weird. I have a certain parenting style, my parents have yet different one and my in laws are quite different as well. To top it up, my husband would visit us once in a while and would approve/disapprove of many ways in which he was getting parented. Forget about my 6 year old, I was getting confused about how he is supposed to behave.

It is not like the parenting styles are poles apart, but every family has their own unique traditions and habits. I started to feel very strongly to build these unique traditions and habits the way I want them and not borrow them from my parents or in laws.

9 months later in last October, I moved back to Bangalore. Now I am struggling as a single working mom handling “WFH office” and “online school” (my hubby stays in a different city). Also trying my best to expose him to some hobbies (in non-online way) whatever is possible. This keeps me super busy and also frustrated and exhausted many times. But at the end of the day, I have a sense of achievement at least in being able to parent him the way I want. And it means the world to me today.

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THE TRUTH OF GAINING KNOWLEDGE

Do you want to earn $200,000, just by signing a contract? All you need to do is fill in a form, share your photograph, and a 100 minutes voice recording.

YES, YOU READ IT RIGHT!

This week among so many news, one shocking news I heard that literally seized my attention – “Now Robots can also work, behave, move, talk, look, and even reproduce babies like humans”.

When the entire world was on halt, we were locked up within our four walls, some of the brightest minds of the present time have developed human robots known as XENOBOTS. They have been created from biological tissues. They are living robots that can move, heal, and reproduce on their own. They were created by assembling stem cells from embryos into synthetic life forms. With the help of supercomputers, 3D blocks and algorithms were developed and then was injected into life. The life that is taken from African clawed frogs and finally it evolves into a child Xenobot. Now, all they need is to give them as many human faces and voices through the voice modulation process. Probably, in the very near future, there will be one man enjoying the Netflix series at home and his Xenobot fighting the nuclear war somewhere 1000 miles away.

It might sound like an exaggeration or some Hollywood story but sadly, THIS IS A TRUTH. Undoubtedly, at the first watch, this news wowed me but it also triggered some basic questions in my mind –

  • WHAT IS THE INTENTION OF CREATING XENOBOTS?
  • WHO CAN GUARENTEE THAT IT WILL NOT BE USED FOR DEADLY PURPOSE?
  • WHY ON EARTH DO WE NEED SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE?

Interestingly, when the scientists were questioned about the intention of creating Xenobot their answers weren’t sufficient rather it provoked some more questions like, WHO ARE FUNDING THIS PROJECT? And for your information, one of the most elite technological military innovation agencies has partially funded this project.

Intention precedes Action. Human desires for knowledge are always intended to accumulate affluence. Because the common idea is the more powerful you are the more secure you are WHEREAS the reality contradicts entirely. Power needs more power to secure it. (Probably, that’s why the affluent ride behind bulletproof glass doors). The higher altitude of power you live, the higher risk of threat exists for you.

Human pant for affluence becomes so forceful that often man exceeds every limit. And the ground of compromising with ethical & moral principles becomes the bridge for the gap between desiring power and consuming power.

In the entire explanation, alongside the pride of affluence, fear, peace lessness, pain, insecurity, loneliness, etc are constants in the life of an affluent. Once my dear brother Chiradeep quoted me, “There’s always a sense of insecurity of losing the top spot even for affluent man on earth”.

The entire reasoning reminds me of the Bible verse written by wise King Solomon, “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

P.C: CBS NEWS

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BE READY… IT’S GONNA CHANGE

The world keeps changing in fact they say Change is the only thing that is constant.

Knowing that fully well I still resent change.  

I still pick up the baby or kindergarten photos of my kids and exclaim… They were so cute as babies. Why did they grow up? Did I really enjoy their childhood or was I just busy with the mom chores and waiting for them to grow up and be independent?

When my parents-in-law come to stay with me I am a bit rattled for a few days. I resent the change in my routine. Mind you I share a very cordial relationship with them. But just that it takes me a few days to get adjusted to them staying with us. And vice versa when they leave. Again takes me a couple of days to get my mojo back. Do I call it inertia?

I was too angry and distraught when my husband changed his status from being a salaried person to being a businessman. I couldn’t come to terms with the many ways my life got affected. So much changed. Again it’s not that I was blissful in his salaried status we had our share of problems and it was a well-thought-out decision but still, I resent the change.

I have been looking back at the past with nostalgia-tinted lenses and remember only the good part. Not the part where I was longing for a change in my life because I felt trapped in a rut.

Ha Ha I know it’s a classic case of damned if I do damned if I don’t.

So my life lesson for today is, enjoy your present and live it to the fullest. And don’t resist change. Because change will happen whether we like it or not whether we are ready for it or not. I am ready to embrace the change and hopefully, I am better equipped for the lemons life is going to throw at me.

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SOME CHANGES ARE TENDER YET INEVITABLE

I experience comfort when,
I yearn for the place of my own,
I feel the warm,
of being grabbed in my mother’s arm.

The place where memories are established,
and dreams are never defeated,
The place where each other connects through a chain,
with love, care and affection.

The feeling of home is a blessing,
where an unconditional blanket of love acts as surrounding,
The feeling of home is like returning back to comfort zone,
when the world seems to be alone.

Staying away from my parents in a distant land,
I am unable to hold their hands,
No matter how much my heart aches in staying apart,
I”ll always embrace you in my heart.

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GUESS WHO ELSE NEEDS YOUR ATTENTION

Crossing the realms of love and sacrifices that keep relationships alive and working, there is a highly guarded zone that we are not privy to – “Sometimes I am Unhappy”. Unhappiness crops from the fact that we are mentally not prepared to delegate or chuck down the pressures off our shoulders to prepare and keep them strong for responsibilities. Over the years our brains have been fed with extremely wrong notions about how roles (as in relationships) should be carried out. And what rules the roost among such manipulated picklists is Sacrifice which more concisely mean “Stop caring for yourself”, “Never Complain”, “Speaking up, out & against strictly prohibited” and at the end of the day frown and fall asleep with resentment.

Over the years of observation and study, I have realized we often misuse the word “Sacrifice” in our lives. An instance: I sacrificed my last slice of pizza for the sake of my son and spent the whole night navigating through the Pizzahut brochure and drooling over the colorful images and not to mention that I mentioned my bravado act to my husband zillion times. Does my act count as Sacrifice? My understanding says No because sacrifice demands both detachment and satisfaction as a result. And in this case, both were missing. And this is how dissatisfied lives look like under the camouflage of sacrifice.

Am I suggesting selfishness? Please hold your horses  We have this bad habit of polarising everything (if you have an interest in Indian politics you will understand this better  ) There is always a midground for addressing the issues concerning our lives. If you are purchasing an unaffordable ticket to a Rockband concert that you love giving your child’s term fees a miss or ignoring your next month’s home loan EMI, that’s Selfish (you can add idiotic too).

But instead of involving in such compulsive, impulsive, stupid acts you have arranged a karaoke night at your place with your friends and family or had a good cards game night. Now you are in a happy space even if you have given up on something you like and definitely sans rant “Maine kya kya nahi kiya iss ghar ke liye par uff nahi kiya” (there’s nothing that I haven’t done for this house and never complained), ironically in a complaining tone. This is the realization that I am suggesting as this is the change I have discovered that I should go for – Stop Complaining, Start Living, and Loving. First things first we should stop tagging words like “sacrifice” at the drop of a hat; That word got a deeper connotation to it. These are the little adjustments we are making with many financial, situational, emotional constraints and forces in work. We in relationships mean us shouldering the responsibilities prioritizing others ahead of us, be it our kids, parents or partners, and so on. And in our exercise of keeping things afloat day in and day out we are somehow ignoring someone really important calling us from within, it’s our innate self only, demanding some moments of happiness and relaxation. And there’s nothing to feel guilty about it. If you can’t keep yourself happy you can’t do the same to your loved ones too. Let me give you a picture of the other side of my personality which I am unapologetic about – I am a very irritated person almost like a twilight beast as the Sunday evening approaches and if my kids don’t tuck into their beds by 8PM they see the worse in me. I simply hate when Sunday evenings when they prolong, for I am waiting for my Monday week off following Sunday, in absence of which I might go insane and not mention the heavy toll on my physical health. And my rude behavior that might come across as unruly, unexpected, and unacceptable on every account is simply an indication that I need my space to rejuvenate myself to carry off my responsibilities as a mother and a wife. If they need me, I need me too, isn’t it?

My call to you all – You have to be present there in good health – mentally, physically and emotionally because cardboard cut outs can’t give warmth to your loved ones. And yes they are not superhumans to know how you feel unless you express. If sensitivity is alive well and good, if god forbid not then don’t be guilty for you are not a magical wand either!!!

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The beautiful picture that we see today is the one we started drawing it a few days ago.

(Nandini, Kalpana Vogeti’s daughter sketched this beautiful flower)

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SETTLING DOWN WITH P4

Transitions are inevitable in life. And I actually love to go through them, experiencing new flavours in life. I am not a person who enjoys routine. I always have enjoyed something new in life. But when these transitions are difficult and painful, I definitely look for quick restoration from them.

Deciding to leave Kolkata this year was as historical and important in my life as deciding to live there in the year 2001. Everyone was as shocked as me when they or even I realized I am back in my native place.

Cuttack, my native place is way different now than how it was 20 years back. I was not unaware of it as every year I used to visit home but I was unaware of the feeling to be here for a lifetime, living after a long gap. It took almost 3 months to adjust to the conditions of my native place, my home. But while settling down I got sick with a disease that was very painful. I had never endured so much physical pain even for my cardiac issues. Recovering from it was what I wanted so desperately almost 30 days before.

Exactly 30 days before I was invited by my former boss (who is my uncle as well) to teach Accounts and Accountability in one of the training programs of the organization where I was working a few months ago. The training was in Bhubaneswar. I had to travel 30 odd kilometres from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar for the same. I made necessary arrangements for the day and sat down to prepare my presentation as well as the materials that I wanted to hand over to the participants. During that time, I still had the pain but you won’t believe as I started preparing for the training, I felt better.

The day came and I taught what I was supposed to teach. I came back in the evening and thanked God for the opportunity and grace that He provided for the whole day. I was kind of feeling bored of my new life after suffering for two months here. But after that training program, I started to feel better and better each passing day. As I look back now, I feel so relieved that I don’t endure that pain anymore.

But, in the following days, I sat down and started listing out, what I have to do and what I have to leave permanently. We do get easily carried away with things around us and forget to prioritize between the most important with the lesser important ones. Eventually, I had to cut off a lot of things that I love to do against achieving the most important ones in life.

I arrived at FOUR goals. Lovingly, I call them P4, after a lot of Planning and Praying during the last one month’s time. And I am going to share them with you as under:

  • PEOPLE: I have always said, that I am a people person. I love crowds; being with them as well as interacting with them. But I have to have certain DO’s and DON’T’s while being with people. I made it a point that I won’t be in a place where I am not contributing to the core needs of people around me. For example, if I have to be on Facebook or Instagram for people and connect to them, then I have to make sure I am contributing to their lives, their needs. If I am not seeing the opportunity to add value to their lives then I must take a step back. So, I will be focussing on teaching, counseling, and listening to people instead of doing anything else catering to my own needs.    
  • PUBLISH: I have a lot of things to publish for the same reason – People. Motivating and inspiring them through my articles and poems, which I have been doing it past many years. But I need to grow from just writing as a blogger to becoming a published author. Not that I want to have a name but I want to inspire and motivate people in a better way by publishing my books. I have been procrastinating on this matter for such a long time, but not anymore. I will have to do it very soon.
  • PROCLAMATION: What I proclaim through my words and deeds is my identity and who I am today. I proclaim God’s eternal love through my saviour Jesus Christ. If I can’t love people as they are and in the way God loves them, then my life is futile. This is an integral part of who the person Chiradeep is. And without this proclamation, I am null and void. So, I will be striving all the more to proclaim God’s love to the people I connect with, whether in person or on virtual platforms.
  • PROFESSION: It is really not very important for me unlike how the world is so crazy about their profession. But. ‘What do you do?’ If I ever need to answer this question instead of looking at the questioner blank, I should be sure of what my profession is. So now, I made up my mind to fix this and can say my profession is writing and translating (of course with my terms).   

Trust me, I am truly very happy for the past 30 days of my life, trying to be more focused on what I should be doing as I settle down with my P4.  

Friends, I would suggest, don’t be biased and totter here to there. Focus on your strengths and talents and know, how God wants to use you. Plan it out, prayerfully and settle down as I did.

Stay Blessed!

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THOSE WERE THE DAYS MY FRIEND

Where shall I begin? Let’s begin at the beginning. The first things a child falls in love with are toys and games. In my case, dolls too.

Lovely Couple, aren’t they?

I loved my Barbie, and my brother loved his G.I. Joe. I must have married my Barbie to his He-Man every summer. Sadly, it always ended in an instant divorce because I wanted my doll back.

He even used to mimic their catch phrases. It was scary.

Then came the Hot wheels car we used to get free with packets of Maggie. It couldn’t get any better than this. I still remember my brother forcing me to play with his WWF cards till I fell in love with Undertaker and Hulk Hogan. He used to have a bag to keep all his beautiful array of stickers. I remember stealing a whole strip of his Mickey Mouse sticker set and getting bashed by him later.

I miss that stationary box I had. It contained all my cool stationery. My most prized possession was a glass pen with a peacock head. There were sharpeners, erasers, and key chains in cute and lovely shapes. I guarded that box better than the government guards their gold reserve. I have beaten a younger cousin over that box.

I loved buying the Masks of Lord Ram At Diwali and my bro loved the Sword.
He used to cheat when he was Mr X
Imagine we used to be so happy after having four kids in the game. Sampoorna Parivaar!!!

Playing Solitaire, Free-cell and all the games Savio mentioned in my Papa’s PC, breaking my score repeatedly. And the summer vacations with days full of Scotland Yard and Game Of Life with my brother. I remember hanging with my brother on the gate from evening 5 PM in the wait for the ice cream truck and vendors who sold Tikkis, Matra and Mot—looking out for the balloon peddler who would bring fake cameras, sunglasses and magic eggs, begging my Baba(Grandfather) for money to buy goodies.

I used to play Snakes with Papa’s Nokia till my fingers went numb, and I pleaded with everyone not to kill me in a game of Ludo. Making the team with my father to play a card game called Hearts was like swearing allegiance to my Lord Commander.

The Aloo Parantha never tasted so good ever again after school, when I used to hide somewhere in my classroom and eat it, saving it from my friends’ loot. It was such a privileged feeling when you had a huge Milton water bottle. A classmate would ask, “Please ek sip de de (Please let me borrow some water)”, it was a thug life moment when I said with some fake arrogance, “Nahi Mera khatam ho jayega (No, mine would get finished)”, but when my best friend was thirsty, I would go all like, “Mere paas water bottle paani doon? (I have water bottle, you want some?)”

Exchanging movie postcards and posters with a friend and arguing with them about SRK looks hotter in which one. It was less of an exchange and more of smuggling under the keen eyes of teachers. Sharing a book was like sharing a sacred bond. And that feeling on top of the world when you had 20rs with you to treat your friend to a Coke in the lunch break.

Today we have blogs to write our hearts out, but in the 90s I used to have a diary with a lock shaped like a heart that used to hold all my thoughts and secrets. And the last page of the notebook was our very own Twitter. From trying different signatures to signing huge cheques and giving autographs when I got famous and writing taboo stuff was like surfing the net in incognito mode.

I miss so much from the ’90s. Now that I am writing, nostalgia is hitting me harder. How many of you remember that song, “Mile sur mera tumhara“? It was such a feel-good song about the unity through the diversity of India.

And the advertisements, I used to watch TV for the ads. They were comforting, a sense of familiarity through continuity. I loved the ads for Bajaj, Titan, Nirma, Liril and Amul, and many other products like Pan Parag and Vicco Turmeric. Seriously, do you remember that Dhara advertisement, “Ghar mein to mummy ne Jalebi banayi hai“? Sitting with the whole family and watching them was a different experience altogether.

I was so bad at understanding English movies back then. My cousin watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S and tried to be as cool as her and couldn’t get a single word. But I turned my energy to all the remix songs starting from ‘Kaliyon ka Chaman’ to Bombay Vikings, Bally Sagoo and ‘Kaanta Laga’. A moment of silence for that version of me.

My grandfather was in TOI, so we used to have so many magazines at home. From Filmfare and Femina to Champak and Sarita. I loved flipping the pages while lying on my parents’ bed. The most coveted day was when Mom cleaned her Godrej Almirah. Oh, it was like a treasure trove opening. All the precious things and keepsakes were in there. I can still see my mother telling me to go elsewhere and play, but I would sit there and touch everything.

And every Diwali, the house used to get painted. Oh, the fun! The furniture would shift, the bed boxes would be opened, the food would be cooked on a makeshift table, and nothing was out of our reach. What an adventure it used to be.

In winters, my mother, in fact, all mothers, would sit together in the sun and knit colourful sweaters for us. I used to say, “Mujhe bhi do naa (I too wanna do this).” and she would give me the ball of wool and tell me to feed her the line.

One day, out of sheer nostalgia, I bought a handful of Eclairs, Coffee Bite, Mango Bite, Pan Pasand, Poppins, Gems, Melody and Kissme, but trust me, they missed the taste of adventure. The taste of childhood.

I now sit and think, maybe we don’t miss the worldly things. We miss ourselves. Our childhood and the people in it. We miss the innocence and simple-mindedness. We miss the beautiful ignorance. I still pine for Papa’s smile when he used to give me the new Barbie doll’s dress and my Mom’s sparkling eyes when she showed me her coveted jewels and my Grandpa’s lap while he attended a call with that old phone with a dial on it and a lock hanging by the side. I crave my granny’s love when she gave the money to buy goodies, and my brother’s affection when we played together.

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REVERT TO THE RETRO WORLD

Being a 90’s kid, I am fortunate enough to have spent those incredible times in the past. Now as I walk down the memory lane, I wish I could encounter a time machine to travel to those memorable days over and above. The topic “Nostalgia” has taken hold of back to that era.

There are lots of points to talk over on this particular matter. The most salient points which trigger my mind are:

  1. Telephone – Yes you heard it right, it’s telephone. Back in that decade we used to have a telephone of various colors which used to consist  of number keys and contained a spiral cord connecting with the receiver. We used to sit or maybe stand at a certain place and then speak with the person calling from the other side.
  2. Black and White Television – Yes, the black and white television used to add color to our life. Watching songs, movies, and other stuff in ‘Doordarshan’ with family was the best source of entertainment of our times. Staying away from my parents in a distant land made my heart full of nostalgia.
  3. Greeting cards – Yes, greeting cards. Do you remember creating hand-crafted greeting cards for birthdays, Christmas, new year, and so on used to feel so special? Nowadays, delivering a short message cannot be as special as it used to be. We felt joy in collecting and counting the number of cards each and every year.
  4. Playing Ludo : Don’t you find it boring to play Ludo on a smartphone? If you ask me then, oh definitely. I would love to play ludo manually instead. It’s so much fun looking at the expressions of everyone while playing. 

What to count and what not to. There are several points that are approaching my mind. Going to schools and tuition to study used to be far more fascinating than studying online. Going outdoors and playing any kind of sports was much more fascinating than playing PUBG. Buying cassettes to listen to songs on the radio used to feel so captivating. It sounds like such an interesting time. Isn’t it? 

“It’s not about old vs new, it’s about which feels better.”

I wish I could revert back to the retro world and start living once again.

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A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE

Do you know what it is like being a 90’s born kid?

If you think it is boring, then you certainly do not know what it meant to be a child back then. I was born in 1995 and trust me I have seen so many wonderful things during my childhood, that today’s kids will never get to witness. Right from some cool cartoon shows to Treat JimJam biscuits, 90’s kids had the best childhood days.

We were literally the kids who saw the world transition from cable landline telephones to high-tech mobile phones. You know, at home we had that rectangular landline telephone with number pads and a spiral cord connecting the receiver.

And back then, we didn’t roam around while speaking on the telephone. We used to either sit or stand at a place and then speak to the person on the other side. I still miss having a landline phone.

These days, we have several online food delivery services to deliver scrumptious food at our doorsteps. However, during those days, there were no such services. Still, we enjoyed relishing our food. Every Sunday morning, my uncle used to take me and my cousins to the eatery shop in the nearby market to buy kachori and chutney. In the evening, one of the family members was chosen to bring hot samosas and gulab jamun.

Back in the day, we didn’t have social media platforms to share memes and update our whereabouts. Children would look forward to playing with other kids in our society and sharing the highlights of the day. I remember, from 2000-2005 whenever there was a power cut, we used to sit outside our houses along with neighbors and tell stories to each other. Children would recite poems, play around or listen to the radio.

Every Sunday morning, my cousins and I used to watch MAD, a show on the POGO channel in which we learned various crafts skills. On Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed watching Baby Looney Toons, one of my favorite cartoon shows. It is not just cartoon shows that excited us, there were so many TV serials that made our day. Shararat, Son Pari, Shaka Laka Boom Boom, Mum Tum N Hum, Hum Paanch, and Tu Tu Main Main – really kept us glued to the TV. Those were the days when TV had lots of content to cater to the audience.

In fact, there were so many chocolates and toffees that we used to have. Now I can hardly find them. Even if I find some of them, they either no longer have the same taste or come with some different packaging or names.

If I sit and count…. then the list won’t end as the box of memories is never-ending

Once you open the memory box, you won’t feel like closing it. Some memories make us lively and remind us that even though things have changed, there was a time when we were happy and lived life to the fullest. Perhaps, therefore, we often cherish our memories. Every time I look back to those golden days, I wish to relive those days once again.

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MY 90s TREASURE TROVE

As my parents were relocating, I went to my home, early this year, to help them segregate the things that would go with them and the things that needed to be disposed of. For my sons, it became an adventure trip as there were a lot of things that they were seeing or feeling for the first time. 

“In sabka kya karna hai” (What to do with these), My mom asked me, pointing towards a cassette player. When I was in Class X, my dad gifted me a BPL portable Stereo (which had radio and a recorder too), just after finishing my boards. It was now lying in a pool of audio cassettes. 

“Mumma, what’s this? And what are these?” My kids shouted in unison, as they enquired about the cassette player and the pile of cassettes.

I explained them what the cassettes were and demonstrated them how they worked. “I doubt if it still works”, I said as I took one of the cassettes and inserted into the player and pushed in the ‘play’ button. Viola! It worked. This time, it played well, without even cleaning the ‘head’. As an old song was being played, my sons were watching inside the stereo. “Oh! These wheels are moving”, exclaimed my elder son, pointed to the reels of the cassette. I laughed at their amazement and felt lucky too as they experienced a new gadget, which was very different from their Alexa!

My heart was filled with nostalgia as I looked at those cassettes, some belonged to my parents, who used to listen to 60s songs, rest belonged to my brother and me. Some were gifted, some were recorded, yet they were kept safely. After Grade 7 or 8, birthday gifts meant for us were audio cassettes and an Archies card. Ah! Visiting an Archies gallery was like a weekend getaway for us. We used to buy 3-4 cards in advance for the upcoming birthdays of friends and family members.

There was a packet full of cards and letters, along with a few chocolate wrappers. As I showed the inland letters and postcards to my 9-year-old, he was so excited that he wrote a letter to his friend. Though he wanted a postcard, he settled for an envelope one after knowing the fact that postcards aren’t functional anymore.

Chocolate wrappers were my collectibles, I used to keep the special editions ones and gifted ones. Remember the special Perk edition which gave free denim tattoos? I even got them on my pair of jeans! It was fun.

There was one notepad also which had quotes like- “Maggi clubbers are hooked on adventure”, “Maggi clubbers are hooked for fun”. Yes, I was a privileged Maggi clubber. It was easy to get a free membership and free gifts as it required only 5 wrappers of Maggi noodles each. I got various board games, a jumping time-table, a snapping wrist band and a lot more. This notepad is still with me.

Every time I open my treasure trove, I cherish these mementos and recall those golden wonderful years. I am happy that I have a lot to show my kids, rather than just to tell.

Preeta’s Collection
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SPARE ME THE DRAMA!!!

This week’s topic – Nostalgia and here I go – “Humaare Zamaane Mein” (in our times). Raising my daughter in a foreign land, in an environment completely alien to me, handling her tantrums over the type of shoes, clothes, accessories, parties, and a whole range of girly, kids stuff is quite an exercise. And I have unintentionally started quoting lines like “in our childhood”, “had it been my mother”, “we never threw such tantrums”, “we never had so many choices” and my daughter be like “stop it, Mom, blah blah blah”. I believe she has heard this “in our times” rant quite more often these days. But can’t help it, falling to the human tendency of comparing what’s in hand with what has elapsed.

Stepping out of my parenting shoes, as a person I really get nostalgic about the 90s TV shows. Surfing on YouTube, coming across various roast channels roasting TV serials, including reality shows it evokes a sense of nostalgia. We witnessed epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana that used to bring households under one roof and glue to the Television screens; women-centric and progressive programs like Shanti, Aarohan; informative gems like Surabhi; half-an-hour window of movie songs featured every Wednesday & Friday; Sundays were meant to be blocked for kids to be entertained by Disney characters; meaningful cinema that included regional movies as well. In short, we were served a complete package of entertainment, information, and knowledge by the two state-owned television channels. From there we have come a long way to something gross like”Rasode mein kaun tha” (who was in the kitchen). With a plethora of channels as compared to the famous (rather favorite) 90s, quantity has overridden the quality. No matter whatever channel we choose to switch, change is limited to the titles of the soaps aired but the format of everyone scheming against everyone, excessively regressive content, one central character whose role is to endure, endure and endure even more pain and the jarring background music coupled with every reaction frame is on default mode. And the less I speak about the dump of reality shows the better off I would be. To be precise we moved ahead in our calendar but marched back in times as far as our television content is concerned.

Nostalgia really stings me even when I view news channels especially portals and mediums concerning the Indian context. DD era which I would like to refer to as the 90s was the time when news had a particular time slot and what mattered was to highlight the important issues rather than sensationalism like what we have now. The type of journalism that is happening today is giving an impression to the rest of the world that India is all about communal tensions. Omission of facts from past, repeated recital of few selected unfortunate incidents connecting them to every incident, irrelevant illogical high pitched debates with more participants than the viewers themselves, branding of victims and culprits as per convenience or complete silence on matters that don’t fetch business is particularly what the media is into.  Here only the numbers and competition matters.  To cut it short – Media today is biased and here I refer to both the poles of polarisation. The 24×7 nature of news channels is only doing harm by prompting to generate news instead of reporting the same. The need to churn news anyhow is the reason why we see everything categorized as news – from the case of lost pet of a celebrity to how a minister prefers his/ her food, and not to forget the brigade of advertisements shouting at us – BUY, BUY, BUY. Objectivity is subjected to agendas and personal/ political objectives. Excuse me for ranting again but DD Era was the peaceful one.

What went wrong? The amount of junk we have been fed over the years has actually reversed our intellectual evolution, or say for the majority. When introduced it attracted masses that was viewed for relaxation. But just as any addiction grows on a person, time and again interface with the same content over different channels registered itself in the mind as a guilty pleasure – we watch, we bash and we watch to bash but watch it. And this has tapped the market for the makers, and when numbers pour in, it’s enough motivation for the production of more such content. And for more Nostalgia rant!!!

Crazy Indian family, lost watching their daily TV soap even when their house is flooded with water.

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I AM NOSTALGIC ABOUT THOSE BOXES

I was born in the ’70s and a decade before the nostalgic ’80s and ‘s90 that we are discussing this week. So I had a fair bit of memory and knowledge of how the time of the ’80s and ’90s were, a little better than most of my co-writers.

Being a music lover, my ears usually get stretched towards it whenever I hear it even faintly. And in connection with music two or three such things that I really miss as I recall them today.

We had a big black box in my maternal grandparent’s house where I spent most of my childhood days. I have seen the elder brother of my maternal grandfather tuning or rotating a big knob of that black box to let it produce loud music or songs or news for our exciting and eager ears. Let me tell you, he was the tech guy of that time who was an expert in operating that machine.

You guessed it right. I am talking about a Radio. I truly miss that one gadget, today though I rarely had the opportunity to handle it on my own. Because when I had the capacity of owning one, the era of Radio moved back or I moved ahead of it, leaving it behind me as a memory. That black Radio was even bigger than my 14 inches laptop screen and thicker than two toasters. It was heavy and we kids were not allowed to touch it. We were screamed at whenever we were found in the vicinity of that machine, the same way we scream at the kids today when they approach our office laptops. Oh, I am sure they were possessive, I mean, my grandfather and co were so very possessive about that machine of theirs.

Nostalgic Gadget called – Radio

Then came one more gadget, which was a bit advanced than the Radio. The tech guy tag was shifted from my grandfather’s generation to the generation of my uncles. We kids were amazed to see a tongue-like plate opens up with the press of a button and a strange bread-like thing was put inside that opening before it was pushed back to close. And when the play button is pressed music was heard.

The gadget’s name was fondly known as Two-in-one or Cassette Player along with Radio. My Aunt had one Cassette-Player only and I had the opportunity to use it. I was so delighted to play it in my lonely time those days. It was my friend in need.

National Panasonic Cassette Player with a bread-like cassette inside it which I got to use.

Sooner when we were grown up, we found something called a Walkman but were so unaffordable. How I longed to possess one and when I really had one you won’t believe how excited and delighted I was. I used to put on the headphones and listen to my songs and so many times I was scolded for using it more than a fixed time as set by my aunt.

The Walkman, which never walked.

Now, the bread-like cassettes are extincted. The big black box, the twin one, and the small box called, Walkman are all gone. They were only in my, our memory. Thanks to the Internet that we can still see by searching the previously uploaded images of them. But I truly miss them at times when I recall how beautiful friends they were during my growing-up times.

Friends! How about you? Would you mind sharing with us in the comment box?

Stay Blessed!

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THE ’90S ROCKED!

If someone was to lead me to a time machine and say;

“One way trip to the 90’s”

I’d probably be the first one to hop on-oh yes! Even if it meant going back to school and studying from those thick textbooks and surfing the web/internet cost Rs.30/- hour in a cyber cafe.

Writing about the ’90s can never be contained into a post or even 1000 words, so I’ll make my post a little different today. Coz sometimes, a picture can bring back a whole lot of memories than words can ever do.

If a smile appears on your face to even 50% of going through this post, you’d probably know how much it meant to have lived in that phase of life. Children of today would never have that wonderful opportunity.

It’s weird to think that once we actually had to wait centuries for an Internet connection. Remember this gorgeous noise? That’s the sound of patience, dwindling and dying 🙂

… and connected

There was a time when computers had an A Drive (A:) and we used floppy disks 

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They came in different colors..they bring fond memories. I can’t even begin to imagine the games we used to save on them, 2 small games maximum on 1 floppy. A big game would need 4 floppies and then you’d have to merge them together. And to think a normal 3½ inch floppy disk could store only 1.44 megabytes of data

Phone Landlines where you HAD to pick up every call & not choose which call to ignore or not. If u owned a cordless phone, u were way tooooo cool. Acquiring phone no’s of your crush and miscalling them on the landline just to hear their voice – priceless!

F.L.A.M.E.S – predicting our love life. Anytime better than the FB quizzes that we do. We’ve all tried it out. What are the odds of it working out?

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We read and re-read Tinkles and Archies comics. We all loved Betty over Veronica and we all wanted to be like Archie. Suppandi’s jokes made us laugh. Shikari Shambu, Kalia the crow and Tantri the Mantri were some of Tinkle’s epic characters.

Shikari Shambhu is now an animal conservationist | ThePrint

Super Mario, Dave, Alladin, Prince of Persia, and Roadrash. They were not just games, it was pure happiness 

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dave

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One of my favorite movies of the ’90s had to be the’ Titanic’. Let me go ahead and say it, we all watched the movie for different purposes: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, the painting, the foggy car, the sinking, etc

Jack was a professional painter and we were professional viewers.

But in the end, we can all agree that there was SO enough space on that raft, Rose. You and Jack could still be alive now.

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Some things I’d never understand

 Instead, we were left with a grief that will never fade.

Having relatives staying abroad and coming down for holidays meant foreign chocolates, and that, in turn, meant TOBLERONE

How could I end this post by not mentioning ‘pop music that made its entry in the 90’s – rap of course was a rage back then, ‘Apache Indian’ killed it!

The cake with the cherry go-top however goes to some of the most innovative Indian advertisements which aired on television, there were many favorites, but if I have to choose one, it would be:

…and while this particular advertisement has made it back on television screens in India, the emotion one felt back then was special, a time when Cricket, Chocolate, and a pretty girl’s smile were sometimes all we needed to have a good day.

27 yrs have passed in the blink of an eye. We’re still the same 90s kids at heart, pining for these simpler times.

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DIARY OF AN ONLINE SHOPPER

He is a great companion. He is always there with me. He goes wherever I go. He helps me with cooking and fixing almost all my problems in a jiffy.  Whether I want to watch a movie, go to a particular place, I just take his help. He never gets tired of my shopping (you read it right- NEVER). Nor he raises an eyebrow whenever I talk or chat with anyone. My kids go gaga to see him, though I don’t like if they get close to him. He had been my saviour many times. I just cannot imagine my life without him. And, before you come to any conclusion, just hold your horses.

I am talking about my smart pal- my smart phone. Yeah, life has become hell lot easier since they have entered into our lives. No one did ever think that these smart phones would impact so much and will become so endemic, especially during this pandemic. 

So, my favourite apps would be the shopping ones which help me every now and then. Amazon, being the most sought after, for most of household shopping, then Flipkart; Myntra, Nykaa Fashion and Firstcry for exclusive clothing. Nykaa for make-up and cosmetics and 1mg for medicines. So, in short, my world revolves around online shopping. The best part of shopping online is that you have the ease of choosing many products, shop instantly or build up your cart till you are ready to pay. You also have the access to the other apps and you can compare the products and deals and discounts too.

So, for me online shopping is simply the best choice and my favourite pastime too. I am also an e-window shopper. Who doesn’t like window shopping after all! Wink! Wink!

Stay safe and shop online.

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HELP IN NEED, HELP INDEED – APP

As I grew older, I have noticed the evolution in every aspect of life. It may be the first love proposal, dating, courtship, marriage, performing duties as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law, and many more. With time, we all have changed. Some in a better way and some in a different way, that can be better for a few and worse for others. It’s only the perceptions, we acquire according to time.

The same changes are seen in the writing field. When I was in my twenties, my uncle (who was a government official and a writer too) suggested me to keep a pen and paper or notepad with me always. So that whenever any idea or quotes or poems or stanzas come to my mind, I can note them down. This idea is still with me as a best practice and good luck. I started keeping a small pocket-size notebook always with me from that day onwards. It was like a part of my handbag. Including keys, tissues, and other kinds of stuff. When I travel if I feel like writing something then I can write at that time.

Gradually the mobile phones were replaced by smartphones. Firstly I was using it for messages, pictures, and calls. Then it stepped up one with Orkut, then Facebook, yahoo mail, etc. just 10 yrs back. After seeing others on WhatsApp and then Instagram was in use. After using the smartphone and WhatsApp, I decided to use the phone less. It’s like a disturbing element. But after the lockdown, my teaching and making ppts, worksheets, and others were done by the smartphone. Till that time I was not addicted or nothing was so much nearer to my heart as I am always an old-school guy with pen and paper.

During the lockdown, I started writing poems again after almost 18 yrs. I was writing in between these years, but very few. Still, those are in diaries. But since 2021 January I started full-fledged writing as I got one idea of clicking pics and putting my thoughts on it by editing. My first addiction and favorite is the Pinterest app. You will find anything in this app. That become my lifeline, helped me in creative ways, and get new ideas.

Then, I got to know about the writing app Your-Quote… and it just turned my life a complete 180°. A writer wants to be read by his/her readers. Or else there’s no point in writing if you cannot reach at least one person as your reader. I started putting my edited pics on Pinterest, then writing started flying high with Your quote platform. These two are my all-time favorite. For writing and editing, reviewing the write-ups, the Notes app is needed too. It’s like the storehouse.

Among these three apps, I am really thankful and in love with the Notes app as it’s the storehouse and can send any write-up to any platform, can store the Zoom links, can write and pin the important writings. Just copy and paste at your desired platform and the magic touch is there.

As a writer, I prefer the Notes app.. easy to handle, ongoing writing can be done. Just life is beautiful and easy now.

The things we have already, we ignore many a time. But these old things stay with us lifelong.
Use it and keep your things safe.

Happy reading.

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WHAT’S IN AN APP?

Have you ever looked at something which was not always with you and thought “How did I ever manage to live without this?” Well, I look at my mobile phone and have this thought many times… Ok, I know what you are thinking. I am not that old… The mobile phone has been around for quite some time… But the apps inside them… they are even younger…

Can you count the number of times you open WhatsApp? I can’t imagine making a plan without making a WhatsApp group, where everyone will decide and then undecide and then re-decide a simple plan of meeting for lunch with friends. Makes me wonder how did I manage earlier? How did I complete my missed classwork as a kid without someone posting on the class group what was taught today…

How did families manage to keep in touch with their uncles and aunts and cousins and nieces and nephews without wishing all of them Good Morning every day on WhatsApp?

So if I go with the most used App on my phone WhatsApp emerges number one and is closely followed by Facebook and Instagram…

If I am sitting or standing idle even for a minute with my phone within hand reach by default my fingers will pick up the phone and pay homage to WhatsApp, Facebook, and Insta in quick succession. Guys don’t judge I just don’t wanna miss out on any latest happenings.

Another guilty pleasure I have discovered on my phone recently is Amazon Prime App… I have binge-watched all my favorite shows of the early 2000s and 2010s… Grey’s Anatomy, House, The Good Doctor, Mentalist, Sherlock Holmes, NCIS etc., I binge-watched all these and more on the Prime app. No waiting for the next day for the next episode, no waiting for 6 months for the next season… I can consume as much as I want. This is my small window into another world. I am loving it. I get transported into their world. I watch and wonder do doctors really talk so much about their personal life while doing an operation? How are the houses of these murder victims so clean and well kept… if the police enter my apartment in an emergency will they judge my housekeeping skills?

Okay don’t laugh don’t such thoughts occur to you too at times…

Check out your phone and see which is your most used app and do share in comments…

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MY FAVOURITE APP OF ALL TIME

It was in 2012 when I got my first phone. It was a feature phone meaning it had a keypad. I was so excited about having my first phone. It had a very small screen, just half the size of a passport-size photo! Today when I looked at my smartphone, I wonder was it me who was using that feature phone?

Even after using so many smartphones and high-end mobile applications, my first mobile phone is quite special. It was a Motorola flip handset. Though there were a few applications that allowed me to call and text people, it was still the best. There were no games applications on my Motorola phone. One of the best things about that phone was that in case, I received a message or a missed call, the tiny screen over the outer side of the flip, used to blink. There were tiny icons for showing battery life, messages, and calls.

I was so fascinated by this feature back then, that I would often ignore my incoming calls just to see the missed call icon blinking. After using it for over a year, I switched to a Samsung Champ handset. However, this was for a short time as my father lost it in a crowd. The reason why I switched to the new phone was that I wanted to experience what it was like to use a touch-screen phone. Once I asked my uncle to buy a new phone for me and he agreed and bought a Samsung Champ.

The Samsung champ had an in-built gaming application that was all about collecting diamonds. I often played that game and it was one of my favorite pastimes. Now since it was my first touch-screen handset, I loved playing that game by scrolling through the screen.

But no other game can compete with the Zombie HQ game that I started playing when I was pursuing my graduation. Back then I was using one of the Motorola smartphones. The game was so interesting that I could play it for 2-3 hours at a stretch. The game was all about hunting down zombies and killing them with some high-end weapons and collecting points. At first, the game seemed a bit difficult to me but then I aced it.

While killing the vampire, my fighters used to yell and grunt and I liked it. This is when I realized how games and other applications make us addicted to them. Soon, I uninstalled the application. This is when my friends persuaded me to use Instagram as it was the thing that allegedly made us cool. Eventually, I started using Instagram and I still use it.

Still, I am not a big fan of Instagram even though I use it every day to watch cute dog videos and scroll through my news feed. The only application that I genuinely admire was Hike Messenger. Its servers were shut down this year in January and trust me, I miss Hike every day. It was such a cool application but it didn’t get as much fame as WhatsApp and Instagram enjoy.

The best thing about Hike was that it had so many stickers. I mean you could type a word or sentence and you may see stickers in the auto-suggestion. The chat theme of the application was so vibrant. There were plenty of chat themes and they were undisputedly beautiful. Not only this, one could hide their private and important chat through the Hide Chat feature. The feature kept the chat hidden and no people could find it except the user himself/herself. The notification ringtone along with the feature to send offline messages was so good.

Even today I wish for the makers of Hike to make a comeback and start afresh. I haven’t uninstalled the application from my phone and I don’t think I would ever like to uninstall it. However, when I change my phone, I would be erasing all my data from my current phone, and then Hike will be gone forever and this makes me sad.

My friends often ask me to just let go of Hike and I don’t know why I am still not ready to do this. I know this is stupid. But I prefer holding on to this hope of seeing Hike back on the Google Playstore.

How true it is, that we hold onto certain things in life even when we know they don’t exist anymore!!! Does this make you wonder and ponder about it?

Well! Then keep doing that…

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WRITE ON THE GO, LITERALLY

Year 2003, the first-ever mobile phone that came to my hand had no apps apart from a game named, ‘Banana’. Yeah, there will be monkeys on my trees as well as the bot’s. We will have our turns to throw bananas on each other to let the monkeys of the opponent fall off the trees. I won’t look at that game now even though it was my favourite pastime then. There was nothing else in that B & W phone apart from a Contact list, Clock and SMS.

Soon came Samsung Bar phone. ‘Bowling‘ was my favourite game. It was again a no-apps, but coloured phone. Soon came ‘FM Radio‘ in the next-generation phones and that took my heart away.

Later, the desire for better grew. Greed crawled freely wearing a mask of Need in my heart and mind. I aspired for a touch screen big phone named, Microsoft Lumia, the first-ever window phone. And I achieved it by hook or crook. Finally, I got a phone with something called, APPS. And the favourite app of that phone was a daily devotional app called, Our Daily Bread.

Soon everyone in the world went up the Level of Unsmartness and became smart enough to hold at least the cheapest Smart Phone in their hands with all the minimum apps in it. Now, presently, I am holding maybe, the 12th phone of my life and it has almost all the latest apps to get addicted to. So let me come to the main body of the article, “My Favourite Phone App“.

What do you think would be the best app for a writer?

Maybe, an app of a Writers Community but there’s not much or I don’t like them. Maybe, an app for bloggers and most of us are using WordPress.com. But let me tell you what is my favourite app.

It’s a very lightweighted and offline app and doesn’t consume much of your phone space. It’s highly user-friendly app. It is called – “Writer Plus (Write On the Go)” If you want to jot it down something quickly with a title, you can rely on it. Type it out and leave the phone, the text will be there, saved automatically. You want to organise and arrange each note or article in different folders, you can do it easily by creating different folders. Keeping a back-up of all your notes is extremely easy. Simply safeguard the app folder and copy it in your laptop and you will have everything intact when you reinstall the app later.

For more information on the App, you can look into this video, HERE:

Demo on WriterP mobile app

This app taught me one lesson, and that is – “Efficiency can be achieved with simplicity.” The machine, the app or the person him/herself doesn’t have to be very sophisticated or complex to achieve something big. Simplicity does impact and bring about good enough results and changes in life too.

I have been using WriterP for more than 5 years by now, to record my sermon outlines, articles, thoughts, ideas, valuable information. When there’s no internet access or laptop or paper or you don’t have mood, this app in our mobile phones come handy and extremely effective.

There are many other apps which I use more than WriterP app but this one is my favourite.

Friends! Download it, use it and remember me.

Stay Blessed!

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SIRI, BUY GROCERIES VIA BIGBASKET/CORTANA, PAY VIA PAYTM

I remember my first phone. Many of you must remember it as well, CDMA Reliance phone? Yeah? Yeah, the one that we loved because it had an app called M World. Feels weirdly nostalgic.

Since then, my phone has gone from strength to strength. Both in cost, technology and smartness. But what makes our phone so unique? The Apps. 

It feels so easy to do anything, anytime. I think the apps were a helpful tool in surviving the pandemic and lockdowns. Without them, it would be a long haul of loneliness and isolation. But they made us feel connected, rooted, and alive. (Practo was a lifesaver with no doctors around.)

If I am asked about my phone, I have over 50 apps. And I will share a secret with you; I don’t use half of them. They are there, just in case. Some are there because I need them daily: Zomato, Swiggy, Gpay, WhatsApp, 1mg. Some are there because I like to delve into social media: FB, Insta, Messenger, Telegram, Hangout, Twitter. Then are those which are there for the creative person inside me to serve as a muse and inspiration: Canva, Pinterest, YourQuote but, some are there just for panache. 

We all have to let our friends check out our phones once in a while. They should feel we are “trendy”, and for that purpose, I have Zara, Today, TED, NASA, WazirX, Discovery+. I rarely use them, but they must stay to make me seem smarter. 

Now that I think of it, Apps swallowed so much hardware into a small square on our screen. Remember the huge radios, players, drawers full of cassettes and CDs? Not needed anymore; we have Spotify, Gaana, YouTube. I still remember the summer vacation. I used to beg my father to get my cable TV and watch English movies and sitcoms. Now there is no rush to tune in at 9:30 to watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Netflix and Prime video are there to tune into. Setting up an alarm for Sunday morning cartoons and waiting one entire week for the next episode was so much fun, but now, Disney Hotstar and Zee5 are there to binge-watch at my fingertips. 

We were taking those bulky Kodak and Canon cameras hanging around our necks with pockets full of Fujifilm rolls. Who needs them with 64-megapixel cameras on our phones where Instagram allows us to add 100’s of filters. And shopping for rare collectibles in the narrow streets of Karol Bagh or the handicraft on Janpath is a waste of time; Myntra and Amazon are always there at my service. I miss cleaning my closets every Diwali because I need more space for my paperback. Thanks to Kindle, I can store a million books but never hold one. It was so risky to carry money around, but now you don’t need cash. We are in a cashless age. But sometimes, I miss holding the cash and counting it twice, getting those pictures in my hands from the Fujifilm outlet, and holding my paperback book in my lap while I snuggle up with my stereo.

I know you must be feeling, “Is she talking Pro or Against the apps?” But this is not a debate. I agree that I am ambiguous and don’t know what my heart relished more. This high-tech, smartphone, smart-app era or that simple bygone era where things were just THINGS and people and feelings and sentiments meant much more to us. 

Apps have made us safer, prudent, wiser, but they have also made us narcissistic, one-directional and miserable. We can find all antisocial elements on social media, and fraudulent scamsters are always looking to trick us. We are secure but more susceptible to hackers and spammers.

In the end, I would say I am pragmatic and love this easy lifestyle, but the old soul in me pines for those times when I could walk out on the street and go to my friends’ place to hang out with her while her dog chased me around. I chat with her, but it is NOT the same. 

I am giving you five apps I love.

Rhymly: It is the only app that gives you rhyming words for Hindi. You gonna love it if you have a streak for Shayari or Poetry.

Clubhouse: It has some excellent rooms, and I can hear some exceptional people talking while quietly sitting in a corner. If I wanna speak, they allow me. 

Elevate A place to exercise my mind and challenge myself to keep getting better. 

Duolingo: Lets me learn any language I wish to learn in a very interactive and fun interface. 

Headspace: It slowly teaches you to meditate and helps you stay on track with a gradual process that leads to placid and tranquil moments. 

I can’t close the chapter without mentioning Pubg.

Alexa. Please bid goodbye to my readers.

Goodbye. Have a fun time.

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APPS APPS EVERYWHERE!

If you’re going to be reading this post on WordPress, I can bet 9/10 of you – you’re doing it from your WordPress app on your phone. That is the thing about apps, it has made life so convenient wherein – just a few taps here and there on your screen and you’re connected to anything – anywhere – anytime!

…and then there’s ME. Am I the only one who prefers the website version over its app? I’ve always preferred the bigger screen if given the option, but with people on the move and multi-tasking being a normal thing – phone apps have brought in a fresh sense of convenience to one’s life, not to mention everything now is literally at our fingertips.

From being entertained (Youtube) to knowing the time (Clock), having trouble counting? There’s always a calculator or even using the flashlight – it’s all on one gadget, in the form of an app. Easy, convenient, and at your fingertips – just the way the young people of today like it. That said, I too belong to that set of people who like doing things in one place or having various features on one gadget. A dream come true!

a couple of screen taps and you can have pizza delivered to your doorstep, 2 more taps on it and money is sent across distances. Groceries, Vegetables, and even a date/marriage partner can be simply found on an app

While we’re still talking about apps, we all have our favorites among the dozens we have installed on our phones. Do you find yourself going back to that app again and again when you’re well…. bored?

Let me take you into some of the apps I have on my phone….

From OTT platforms of Netflix, Zee5, & Hotstar, there are more useful apps of Quora, WordWeb, Wordpess, Wattpad, & Kindle to gaming apps like Scrabble, Ludo, Uno, Candy Crush, Coin Master, & Real Cricket, to the more fancy apps like Clubhouse and of course the more necessary social apps of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & Whatsapp. Music apps are a must for me-that are looked after by Gaana & Radio Garden along with Youtube. Google Pay and Paytm round up the apps looking after online money transactions… and a few more

That’s a minimum of 23/25 apps on a gadget, I charge once/twice a day and probably use 10% of the apps I’ve actually installed on it. So much of using my SmartPhone, smartly.

While I do think that all these apps have some use to me at some time or the other in my life – when I’m stressed out or just need some ‘me time’, I find myself (more times than not) on the Ludo app. Yes! Remember the Ludo game? I don’t particularly fancy that game, but it is my way of ending a tiring day or destressing my mind, on a simple game, that does not require too much thinking. That said a good e-book would do the same.

So while I personally might not have a favorite app that I would always turn to – I have a range of a few to keep me distracted into a fictional world, which importantly keeps me away from the daily life drama that happens on a daily basis. Nothing beats learning from the app, or at best you are still learning how to use the app if nothing else – that is still learning, the knowledge that no one can take from you. After all, life is all about learning – that will never stop.

I had this once weird dream that people everywhere, on the street, in offices, at home, were a whole bunch of QR codes, and the only way we had access to them was if we scanned them. Once we did that, we would link to them. I would have loved to have seen how that dream ended, but like everything in my life, most things are attractive incomplete trailers.

Imagine if something like that is in store for the future? Something to think about maybe?

My Name is Savio AND I am not an APP

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SILENCE 🤐

Silence is the weapon, to keep you calm,
Silence is the thought, to keep you planned.
Silence has the most beautiful feeling,
It can make you strong and helps you in healing.
Silence cannot be understood by everyone,
It is a special cup of tea, not meant for everyone.
Silence doesn’t matter to those, who hurts you,
Silence of yours, kills the person who loves you.
Silence is golden moment to feel the emotions,
Silence is always taken as a result of demotions.
Be the silent Sun, brighten up the day,
Be the cool moon, lighten up the sky,
with lovely shiny twinkling stars on the sly.
Be yourself in silence,
Feel your precious presence,
That’s the essence of the silence.
Silence has its own words,
Need a kind heart to read those,
Not all can be the part of it,
It’s not of everyone’s dose.
Silence helps you to rise as a sun,
Silence helps you to grow as a moon,
Silence helps you to be as the stars,
Silence helps you to be the beautiful
person with numerous scars.

Silence is not the killer, it’s the Healer for those who are in pain. It gives you the energy to grow above your limits. It pushes you to another level. It helps you to understand the values you have.


Make silence your weapon and strength, not your weakness.

When I was depressed during the lockdown, mainly by ignorant behaviour of my family, it started hurting more and more than before…as there was nothing to do except household work on regular basis. All the days seemed same, whether it was Monday or Sunday. People got bored of doing the same things daily. Stressful life entered into the brain house and started living there with full fledged ownership. Depression, aggression, agitation and many cognitive behavioral changes were seen and felt. It was seen in children of 15yrs to age of 70yrs old ones. If a word came out of the mouth, it was taken otherwise. So I slowly slowly got the vibe of keeping silent myself. Yes, silence is the killer, for those who cannot see talkative person in quiet condition. But it’s the medicine for the life to lead it peacefully. I tried it late, but found it effective, very effective. Be calm and quiet. More than half of the problems will be solved. As a talkative person, I was renowned. I used pen and paper for speaking my thoughts. Writing became my love again after 20 years, no fighting again. What I feel, I pen down. No hurting anyone, Silence plays it’s role.

Now silence is my strength to overcome all the hurdles. Sometimes it’s hard to control, but I can do it. Once it was my weakness, now it’s my strength to live life happily than before.

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STRICT BUT NOT HARD HEARTED

One fine day, I was sitting by my bedroom window sill and thoughts of the kiddish behaviour of me and my siblings came flowing in. It was real fun! I’m really missing those days now. My dad was just like Hitler. Then I wondered, is it really true.. is he too dangerous? The answer from my inner soul was “NO”. He seemed to be strict… as hard as a coconut shell, but had a soft heart as the tender creamy part of the coconut within. The change of perception towards my dad and his ideologies, changed the way of living my life. He used to interact with peer groups and kids too, but very less.


On Sundays, we usually had our lunch and dinner together. On the dining table itself, he asked about the day that we spent, the problems we were stuck in and how small problems can be the creator of big problems….all of these were discussed with him. The great teaching he has given us, is to be confident and be a problem solver. Though his professional life was surrounded by official problems, I have never seen him breaking down. Rather he always tried to find out a solution and a way to move on in life. “All will be fine” – was his tagline. He was head strong as rock, and soft as cotton. When he got angry, we could never stand in front of him. But when his mood was good, he used to chat with us like a friend. I have discussed my marriage wishes and about the type of groom with him. It might sound weird, but it was true.

The warmth of his love is like a blanket
and his shoulder is my pillow,
He is the teacher and a willow.
Keeps secrets like a locker,
Keeps the family happy forever.
As strong as a mountain rock,
As soft as the cream of coconut.
Always holds us so tight,
To make our life bright,
Burns himself like a candle light.
He is strong as a shield and
soft as grass on the field.

His comparison is incomparable. He is hot like sun and cool like moon. His teachings and support towards my life, is as beautiful as Rose with few thorns. It was not acceptable in the early years, but later I realised very deeply and nicely when I become a mother.


In my view, parents are always comparable with many things as they have many shades of experiences in each and every step of life. Grab the lesson from the experience and move on with positivity.

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BIRD IN THE GOLDEN CAGE

A beautiful bird just commenced it’s flight in the sky. New found freedom made the bird flutter with joy. But sighting the possible dangers predators could pose the little bird was carefully put in a cage.

Cage was made of gold. It was spacious and decorated with beautiful embellishments. Food was served in a golden plate so was the water. Bird thought may be I was foolish to loiter aimlessly, may be this is my haven which is nothing less than heaven.

It flew happily within the boundaries of the cage covering every inch of it, devouring the delicacies off the plate. It began to croon happily and fearlessly. And that’s when it received it first shock.

“You are making a noise, stop it at once” boomed a thundering cane that stuck the cage, it was a mere harbinger of the problem in foresight. The bird went silent and it took no time to realize the constraints of the cage.

One day the cage was left unattended and open. The bird was in dilemma – shall I fly away? What if I fall prey to the predators outside, what if I don’t get to eat like I do here? what if ruthless winds shatter me? What if…what if…what if? And the ongoing ambiguity failed the bird as it couldn’t fly away but just fluttered hard on the threshold. And all it did was to attract the attention of the scissors that slowly clipped the feathers of the bird one by one leaving it wriggling in pain.

Now the food off the golden plate isn’t delicious nor the bling surrounding the cage kept the bird interested anymore. And one day the bird was lying motionless, it died and what was left behind was a repulsive smell.

That bird is nothing but our relationships. The cage is the name that we give to it. The embellishments are what we project on superficial surfaces – be it society or social media – everything right, beautiful and all hunky dory. Golden plate/ food – physical necessities we strive to fulfil, from bare minimums of food- cloth- shelter to sex and a charade of luxurious life. Crooning is the voice of our emotions both agreements & disagreements whereas the blow of cane is the realization that our voice is muffled and muted. Dilemma is about our innate fears and doubts about ourselves more or less like a Stockholm syndrome where we identify ourselves with the surroundings and people that we grew habituated to and in turn they grew on us finishing off our own identity. Scissors are the constant bickering, taunts, nagging and belittling of the persona and character of the person whereas the feathers are the very confidence and free will that soul possess. And when feathers of free will and confidence are slashed off what is left behind is an empty shell of monotonous routines and indifference, that is the motionless bird. And the repulsive odour is an emblematic to the core issue of lack of love and regard. To be precise it’s the hate, anger and pain.

Many of us do this mistake of believing that “providing” is enough and sole responsibility to be fulfilled in a relationship. Yes it is but our understanding has been restricted to tangible things. Providing time, love, regard, respect somehow and sadly diminishing from our ambit of reasoning as we are evolving. It is like you are gifting a pair of earrings but not ready to listen to what your partner has to say; gifting a watch and not giving time; providing a roof and not embracing the grieving person & say “I have your back”

If the bird you are nursing is fluttering hard, why not give it a window of freedom. It might like to enter the beautiful cage again if it believes it’s a bond and not a bondage!!!

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I DON’T WANT TO FLY NOW

I remember, when we were small we used get fascinated seeing a feather of a bird flying around. Many used to collect many different feathers as their hobbies. I have seen kids running after it to catch it. I used to raise my hands up to catch them as it hits the ceiling of the room and used to go round and round with the force of the wind that an electric fan produces. A feather is one thing that flies around freely everywhere as the wind blows it away with its force. It never struggles or protest in and against the wind saying, “I don’t want to fly now.” A bird has a choice to fly but its feather doesn’t have that liberty. The reason being the weight of a feather which is no negligible. I was curious so Googled it and found out that, on average, a feather weighs just 0.000289 ounces (0.0082 grams). So even when the little force of the wind hits it surface, it takes a flight above the ground and travel wherever the wind takes it away.

Today, when I look at myself and my life, I see a feather like quality in me, lately. If I look into my past life, I have been a depressive young man, day dreaming of things that were not possible on my part at all. I had grumbled about my health, my position in my family, my family financial conditions and so on. But one time came, when I let God mould me into a feather, slowly but gradually. And I literally accepted and acknowledged whatever came in my ways. I didn’t grumble or shout back at God asking, “Why me, why this and that?”

Am I great? No, not at all. I have follies that no one else has but one thing that I have become or still learning to be is ‘fly like a feather’ without asking the Wind – the Author of our lives – “I don’t want to fly now”.

Is it really difficult to be a feather? Yes, it is. Crushing all my desires, my pride, my ego and going through a uncomfortable life condition is not at all easy. But flying like a feather helped me to be a happy and jovial person which inspired many to accept life, the way God allows it for me and them.

I received a hand written letter from a young girl who calls me uncle. And I wanted to show all, a part of it:

If I could impact her by just having a couple of feather-like characteristics, then I am ready to adopt all the characteristics of it and let myself be blown away by Him all the more.

The Bible also instructs to be like a feather: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Friends! Not leaning on our own understanding, our own desires and wishes and acknowledging God in every walks of our life are all feather like qualities. Are you ready to be blown away by Him wherever He takes you away or you want to compel Him by saying, “I don’t want to fly now, come later to blow me away”. Think about it.

Stay Blessed!

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MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL

American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic floor final earlier this year to focus on her mental health. She has not minced words in documenting her struggles with mental health in posts on her social media accounts. Mind you, she has been a reigning champion – a superstar!

Of late, mental health has been drawing the much needed attention from several quarters. Celebrities coming out to share their mental health struggles has immensely furthered the cause, which is otherwise considered to be a stigma in most parts of the world.

If you are a person who still thinks that there is a lot of unwanted fuss being made about ‘mental health’ and that there are other issues that deserve more attention, then you really need to rethink. Just as one would nurse a bruised limb in case of an injury, a wounded mind also needs to be nursed.

Be it about the physical, social, spiritual or psychological issues, we humans focus more on the seen than on the unseen. And this shapes our behaviour most of the times. However, what is unseen is more crucial than what is seen!

Have you ever attended a Puppet Show? Not only children, but adults too are attracted towards the colourful talking, singing, jumping puppets. But, what attention would puppets draw without puppeteers or marionettists doing their jobs well, behind the screen? The voices of the puppets and their movements are all regulated by the puppeteers. Puppets look attractive, but without voices and movements, they won’t be any different than dolls or other toys that kids play with and no one would accord them much attention. What is unseen is significant to the visible performance of a Puppet Show and that by large determines the success of the show!

We humans focus so much on what we consciously perceive, that we ignore the major preconscious and unconscious zones of our minds. What is concealed comprises of more than what is revealed. And, this concealed zone influences the revealed zone greatly.

This article is not about training the preconscious and unconscious minds. Rather, the intent of this article is to drive home the point that since a person is more than what you and I see him or her as, and since a person’s behaviour is regulated by factors more than what is seen in the external environment, we need to be sensitive to each other’s mental health.

Who are the target groups?

Everyone.

Starting from foetal stage till grey hairs right  upto the grave – each one needs mental health care.

Mental health deterioration in a person (if it happens) starts from the time s/he is conceived owing to environmental stressors and genetic predispositions. When we ensure sound mental health of an expectant mother, we ensure sound mental health of the baby that is born. If the foetus growing within the mother is indirectly exposed to environmental stressors be they in the form of physical/ psychological/sexual/substance abuse, domestic violence, workplace harassment, maternal distress and sicknesses, poor nutrition – the baby that is born either develops a hardy personality (i.e., extreme resilience to stressors and a remarkable ability to cope with them) or develops a vulnerable personality (i.e., extremely sensitive to stressors and ill-equipped to cope with them). Besides purely medical conditions, the genesis of mental ill-health begins from this stage. Hence, foetal mental health is of utmost importance.

Children’s mental health needs a lot of attention too. The way children are shaped and cared for reflects in their adult lives. While the mental health of all children is crucial, those who suffer from disabilities and consequently from low self-esteem, those from single parent or parent absent families, those from war torn parts of the world, those subjected to abuse, those exposed to trauma and other disturbing life events – need specific mental health care.

Adolescent mental health care is crucial as the youngsters leap from childhood into adulthood and dabble with identity, acceptance and self-esteem issues. As they experiment with looks, relationships, careers and largely detest the tons of parental advice that are heaped on them, as they taste success or meet failures – there mental health needs attention. If the adolescent suffers from physical or psychological disorders/ disabilities, targetted mental health care is essential. This is precisely the stage when adolescents need to understand and accept that it is absolutely vital to seek good counsel.

Healthy adults shape up a healthy world. Numerous factors can mar an adult’s mental health. Starting from a lack of social acceptance, repressed childhood memories, to job hazards (harassment, exploitation, deprivation of rights and entitlements, unhygienic environment, layoffs), personal or familial ill-health, financial crises, family disputes, domestic violence, substance abuse and many more such additions to the list – an adult’s mental health requires a lot of care.

During the sunset years of life when one lies in a phase of apparent relaxation, mental health needs to be cared for. This is the time when most aged people are left uncared for, given menials and in many cases given the least attention. This is the time when they feel unwanted, when their desires are left unmet and their thoughts wander without expression. This is the time when most of the aged suffer from various illnesses. While a seed that promises to bear fruits needs care and nurturance, a tree that has borne fruits and flowers throughout life needs to be proffered due dignity.

So you see, all stages of life require mental health care just as they require physical health care.

With this I come to another important aspect which I would urge everyone to ponder upon.

Is mental health consideration meant for the educated and the affluent alone? What about that tramp on the street, the maid in the house, that ragpicker, the child labourer, the trafficked girl in the brothel and all those who find themselves at the receiving end of educational, social, economical deprivation? Those whose primary concerns are two square meals a day, a few old clothes on the body and perhaps someone’s doorstep for shelter? Who cares for their mental health, if at all?

With an unprecedented pandemic hitting the world which was at the helm of economic, technological, social progress like never before – mental health has suffered severe battering. In the last one and half years, there have been reports of increase in crime and domestic violence of humungous proportions – a majority of which have been under reported or have gone unreported. Millions of people have been rendered jobless. Thousands have lost their loved ones. Children have been orphaned.

While mental health professionals are doing their bit to help a wounded world, what can you and I do?

  1. Recognize the need for sound mental of those around you – your spouse, parents, children, siblings, neighbours, colleagues, superiors, subordinates, domestic helps, caregivers, service providers and anyone who you come in contact with.
  2. Cater to their mental health to the extent you can – Understanding words, appreciation, encouragement, connecting to legal/ medical/ mental health professionals as the requirement may be.
  3. Be sensitive – Do not share sensitive details of one person with others without their permission.
  4. Take care of your own mental health – In order to cater to and be sensitive to others’ mental health, one’s own mind needs to be in good health. Take a break when required. Do things that relax you. Arrange for like-minded caregivers to fill in for you in your daily chores as you care for your mind.
  5. Pray – Health is a blessing from God. He alone can grant the serenity and well-being of the mind when the tides rise against us. Whether you are in bliss or in the tumultuous tempests, pray that God keeps your mind tranquil and supple.

God’s plan for mankind was never chaos and destruction. But since we have driven ourselves into it, our mental health has suffered a severe beating. Seeking His strength, we can collectively work together for our own and others’ psychological well-being. May the theme of Mental Health Day 2021 be our focus for life: Mental Health in an Unequal World.

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MY FLAWS

“If my flaws make me humble, receptive and compassionate as compared to your perfection that made you indifferent and rude towards a fellow being then I would proudly embrace my flaws.”

Kalpana Vogeti
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DEMANDS OF WISDOM

Acquiring knowledge is always desirable but more than that it is important for us to attain Wisdom as it gives the insight to use the knowledge in the right manner.

But according to the Bible, the Wisdom has a few demands from those who longs to attain it.

The wisdom demands our EARS to INCLINE to it.

The wisdom demands our EYES to FOCUS on it.

The wisdom demands our HEART (or MIND) to APPLY it in our day to day life.

The wisdom demands our MOUTH to UTTER the right words using it appropriately.

The wisdom demands our FEET (and HANDS) to GO on the PATH of it.

Because, the words of Wisdom, that is God’s word are LIFE to those who find them and HEALTH to one’s whole body.

Friends! Gain wisdom and fulfill its demands to enjoy Life and Health.

Stay Blessed!

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THINK DIFFERENT – THINK WISE

Had man not thought to shelter himself from the vagaries of weather, he would not have built huts, cottages and houses.

Had man not thought of making locomotion easier, carts would not have come into existence.

Man is a thinking creature and hence is referred to as being a ‘higher order primate’ many a times.

Only sometimes does he act before thinking and hence, needs a reminder to THINK.

THINK was Apple’s very first tagline.

But then, not always is it sufficient to think. At times it is essential to THINK DIFFERENT.

Creative Thinking is a booming market where thinking out-of-the-box is encouraged, recognized and honoured. Most organizations have posts of Creative Manager, Creative Head and Creative Director. The task of such personnel is to take decisions that are new and novel, to troubleshoot problems using never-before-used strategies, to suggest ways and means of growth for the organization that would be a win-win amidst existing competition. Their task is to think differently.

Imagine, if Thomas Alva Edison would not have thought differently about the production of light! We would’ve probably never had our rooms illuminated by incandescent bulbs. What if Nick Holonyak wouldn’t have thought differently? We wouldn’t have had the shift from incandescent bulbs to LED lights lighting our homes today. Had Joni Eareckson Tada not thought differently after a diving accident left her a paraplegic, she probably wouldn’t have been the author, painter and motivational speaker that she is today!

Be it the innovations that we see around us and marvel in awe or the people who have risen from ashes and reached the upper echelons of success or those who overcame their broken lives and went on to spread their fragrance around – all of these are the outcomes of people who dared to THINK DIFFERENT and strived hard to make their thoughts bear fruits.

So then, are there a different class of people blessed with the ability to think different?

Its a firm NO.

Each of us has the ability to think different. Some have scope of expressing and experimenting their thoughts and so come into the limelight, while for many others, such thoughts get snuffed out before fruition. Some have their unique thoughts flowing out naturally and freely, whereas some others need to be trained and encouraged to let their creative thoughts flow out.

To what extent can one THINK DIFFERENT?

The reigns of the mind once let loose, can scale heights and depths of limitless dimensions. Should the mind be bridled? Or left to run scot free?

Probably the Creative Head of Apple would have thought on similar lines!

Apple’s new motto now reads – THINK DIFFERENT – BUT NOT TOO DIFFERENT.

Railway tracks confine a train’s wheels to run along its surface so that the train can reach its destination unhindered. One wheel out of the track, and you know what would happen.

While each of us have been blessed with enormous cognitive faculties to stretch them far and wide, there also need to be certain boundaries within the latitude of acceptance so that human civilization progresses without much tumult.

THINK about it.

THINK DIFFERENT.

THINK DIFFERENT – BUT NOT TOO DIFFERENT.

. . . if you wish to follow the footsteps of Apple.

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A JOYFUL RIDE IN THE FAIRYLAND

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Daughters usually (not generalizing) have a penchant for dolls and fairy tales, especially when they are in the age group of 3-10 years (not a scientifically proven data but an observation as a girl and as a mother). My daughter is in that phase. She got 10 dolls including the major Disney princesses, 7 lol dolls (her new found love), Disney channel subscription, two fairytale books – basically she is very much into Disney fantasy world apart from being interested in investing time in Lego building. And as a parent growing with a growing up child her curiosity and amusement infected me too. And together we ended up watching Disney movies on a loop over many weekends – hooting and rooting for the characters, bewitched by the magic on screen, the child in me has been rekindled. I am still in that trance, don’t want to be out of it soon 😁.

To compound the impact of that magic we also watched few videos on YouTube – Disneyland tours across the globe. It’s a whole happy world out there untouched by the worries on the other side of the gate. May be that’s the reason why the tagline says : “The Happiest Place On Earth”.

Happiness did spread across on my daughter’s face from the screen and she insisted that we should go to Disneyland someday. And when princess demands can the ordinance remain unheard? Off we go to Disneyland Paris during these vacations of 2021.

Before embarking our road trip to Disneyland I did some basic research about how Disneyland came into existence. The concept for Disneyland began when Walt Disney was visiting Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters Diane and Sharon. While watching them ride the merry-go-round, he came up with the idea of a place where adults and their children could go and have fun together.

His dream was a vision both in terms of tangible and intangible effects it had on future generations all over the world. Spread over many miles the theme park is an economically profitable venture that enveloped many vendors in it’s premises and of course a bigger contribution to the otherwise scheming, fretting, running and racing world – it delivered smiles!! I have experienced it very closely. Fantasy, adventure, amusement, magic and happiness – one word Disneyland. Three days stay there let me relive my childhood. Isn’t it enough reason for me to endorse it? Isn’t it the only thing we want – time recall / rewind?

One more reason for my happiness- We have always feared going out with our son for long trips, especially to places where it needs long waiting hours (yes, the only flip side – long queues with waiting periods ranging from 15-40 minutes). He being autistic patience is something which is not his forte. We feared serious melt downs with so many stimulations working around him. But to our utter surprise he thoroughly enjoyed the visit. He waited patiently like we never would have envisaged. Also the staff working there was quite understanding and helpful. That gave us HOPE as parents and family for we are hopeful now to fill his childhood as well with more fond memories.

If you get a chance do visit Disneyland, it surely is the happiest place on earth😊😊.

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CARE ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST

Sending and receiving cards is a dying tradition these days. But it still gives me the joy to find an old card buried in my treasures. They evoke such beautiful memories. During my school and college days, I have spent hours standing in the Hallmark or Archies gallery looking for the perfect wordings and cards for my friends and families. And believe it or not, I used to always find one such perfect card which suited the receiver’s personality, and also the wording felt like they came straight from my heart. And was also budget-friendly considering our cash-strapped student days.

Finding the perfect card was not enough then we decorated it with our comments and quotations using colorful sketch pens and stickers. Still more sketch pen work on the envelope and then the card was ready to be sent.

This whole rigmarole around sending a card really jived with the tag line of Hallmark cards – “When you care enough to send the very best.”

That hold true today also. Even though we don’t send many greeting cards in today’s times but we do give gifts to our loved ones. Giving the very best doesn’t necessarily mean the latest version or the expensive one. Giving the best means putting thought and effort into buying something that really touches the heart of the receiver, something they really needed or something that excites them or gels with their personality.

Going back in time an 18-year-old lad Joyce Hall started selling postcards from two shoe boxes. More than 100 years and billions of well-wishes later, Hallmark Cards, Inc. continues to thrive with the grandsons of that Nebraska teenager at the helm.

A time came when fire destroyed his entire inventory. But he still trudged ahead moved from post cards to greeting cards, then wrapping paper, Crayola, dayspring and so on.

While going through the history of the company I was very impressed by this thought 

 “Joyce Hall was intrigued by the word “hallmark” used by goldsmiths as a mark of quality. Mr. Hall liked that it not only said quality, but also included his family name. “

Yes mark of quality and full of love and care that is the definition of a hallmark Greeting Card for you..

Link for Hallmark Cards history: 

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SUCCESS. IT’S A MIND GAME

We see things the way our mind have
instructed our eyes to see.

Muhammad Yunus

To achieve heights in life, we need to carry out smart work. The smart work leads to right mindset and the right mindset is the key to success. As we all believe inner thought is the foundation of success, so success can only be achieved if our inner mind shapes our skills well.

Some people believe success can develop through hard work. When I were in school I used to think alike. As I grew up, slowly and steadily life taught me that success is all about smart work and then hard work. Undoubtedly, hard work is essential for growth but only hard work won’t draw to success zone.

First of all, you require to fabricate your mind. If you won there, then you have already travelled halfway success. Mind games play a vital role in desiring success. The negative thoughts will try to diminish your belief and thoughts as negativity act like silent killers to success. All you need to discard them with positive approach and it will surely lead you boosting your confidence. Successful people don’t implement discrete activity, they function in a different fashion.

This escorts me to the tagline of TAG Heuer, “Success. It’s a mind game”. This ad inspired me the most as it focuses on the sportsmen’s spirit and the fear that going through their mind in the Olympics,1995. Though TAG Heuer progressed to a better tagline in 1998 but “Success. It’s a mind game” is the most memorable and popular one. Successful people only mould the world by leading the crowd rather than standing in the crowd.

As said by Swami Vivekananda, “Take risks in life. If you win, you can lead and if you fail, you can guide”.

By Deena Bhattacharjee

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L’OREAL – BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT

L’oreal is not just a beauty brand, it defines the womanhood. This tagline unites women across the globe. A 23 yr old young female copywriter at Manhattan And Agency in 1971 coined this tagline. This resonates with audiences now more than ever before.

“Because you’re worth it” – has become symbolic, empowering women of all ages and backgrounds, believe in themselves and their beauty and sense of worth. Each and every woman is unique in her beauty and style. They should believe in themselves to prosper and inspire each other for growth of herself and for the world. This tagline has been translated into 40 different languages and uniting women around the world, encouraging them to embrace their ambitions and life fearlessly, believe in their self-worth each and every moment.

“Because you’re worth it.”- when I hear or read this,Mrs. World Aishwarya Rai and her L’oreal ad comes to my mind. Just as the tagline and the essence behind this, she is really worth it and an inspiration for millions of women, who admires her and idolize her. She is such an inspirational story herself. The company had chosen her an ambassador, means a lot. Her beauty, charmness, uniqueness in her thinking crowned her as Ms. World. She is carrying the legacy of beauty in her smile and attitude.

Like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, many women have inspired and showed direction to the world and it’s women in many fields too. But, when it comes to beauty, many beautiful women think negative about their own natural behaviours. It may be their perception, but I believe each and every human is unique in its own way.

“BEAUTY IS NOTHING, OTHER THAN A PROMISE OF HAPPINESS.” – Stendhal

Each woman is special and has some uniqueness in her attributes. The only thing we lack is Self-confidence. Because we are grown up in that situation, in orthodox mentality and conservative social conditions. In India, the society is male oriented. So, it’s difficult for women to believe in herself that she’s worth it, she is capable of everything what a man can do, even more than that. Just she has to believe in herself.


“Woman is the enemy of woman.” – it’s correct, but only in few cases. If this “few cases” will be nullified, then she can conquer the world. It’s the responsibility of man and woman of a family who can encourage each other to grow, to believe and to inspire each other. As “Charity begins at home” we should inspire our the women living at home to be bold enough in beauty and brain to win the World and hearts.

I can relate to this tagline, when I was praised and encouraged by my family members for my behavior, positive attitude towards everything and whatever I do. If a woman is praised, her self-confidence and self-esteem are boosted highly. It enlightens her inner beauty aesthetically with an ever winning smile. Yes, I am worth it as am a daughter, a wife, a mother and most importantly ‘ I Am a Generation bearer.’

L’oreal does make business, but it’s most profitable part is the inspiration, it spreads throughout the world encouraging the women-hood and it’s eternal beauty.