WHEN A BICYCLE CRASHED…

It was a lovely day in the month of February. I don’t remember the exact year; perhaps it was the early 2000s. The sky was overcast, but a cool breeze breaking into gentle gusts intermittently flavored the day.  The leaves lay strewn on the roadside as the trees awaited the spring to grow back leaves. In the late-afternoon I was out on my ranger-max, my beloved bicycle.

I was making laps of the circuitous path in the church compound when I heard something crash behind me. I turned back and saw a girl lying in a heap with her bicycle. I would have laughed had it been a familiar face but I had not seen her before. She must have been new in the area or maybe I never noticed her.  I removed her bicycle and extended my hand helping her to get up to her feet. The touch of her hands made me go all giddy, and my head was floating in la la land. The touch of her hands was so soft. She wore a lovely frock. Her curly hair fluttered in the breeze; her dreamy dark-brown eyes, and a small mole on her right-cheek mesmerized me.

I enquired if she was all right as we introduced each other.  As she went her way I asked her to be careful but I hoped she fell again and I was there to help her. The few days after I met her my mood was in an uplifted state and I was all happy-happy. The beautiful weather augmented my emotions further and I felt a connection while listening to the love songs on the music channels or when played in my cassette-payer.

On the weekends I would be off to the church compound waiting to get a glimpse of her.  I would be impatient when she would not show up, and when she did, I would be irritated seeing her with her friends, as this made me hesitant to approach her. After a lot of trial and error and with help from my resourceful and useful friends I found her alone in the compound one day. Her bicycle was parked, and she was offering a prayer in front of the grotto.  I waited and when she spotted me she gave me a smile.  I wanted to dance at that moment. Had I been in my room alone, I would have, but I was out, and I did not want her to think of me as a buffoon.  We went to the nearby thela-walas and munched on bun-momos, jhal muri , and the kulfi ice-cream. What a day it was.

Three months had passed since I first saw her, and during one of our casual walkabouts she informed me that her family had to move as her dad was being transferred. I secretly wished to change things and make her stay. Alas! I could not do anything about it and a reluctant good-bye exchange followed.

Years later I spoke to her. She had grown up to be even more beautiful.  We kept in touch for a while and then she informed me she was seeing someone else.  I quietly moved on with my life, holding on to those wonderful memories of innocent crush,  times spent on cycling, making fans from dried leaves, feasting on ice-cream, tamarind-flavored jhal muri, and yummy bun-momos. 

On a lovely February day my ears sometimes scan around to listen to a bicycle crash, and in the eyes of my mind I see a beautiful smile.

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CRUSH THAT WAS CRUSHED😦

Hi Everyone,

(Note: No character judgement please)

It was in the year 2000, I was in 10th class, an important stage in the school life of any Indian student.  The all important board examinations were awaiting me.  Rigorous studies, extra classes, tuitions and the 24*7 parents surveillance.  Huff😩.   And it was during that hectic period I saw him!   My first crush 😇.

There was a video game parlour just a few steps away from our home.  During summers when I was roaming in my balcony trying to memorize my lessons I saw him there with his friends. Oh my God! How handsome! Was looking at him and then suddenly out of nowhere he looked at me.  I stole the glance at once and pretended that I was busy with my books. Come on guys I felt shy😉.

And the trend of seeing each other, stealing glances  (me only, never wanted him to know that I was looking at him but irony was that I knew that he knew that I was staring at him).  And this sequence followed all the way to my bus stop as well from where I used to board bus to the school.  It continued till 4 months before my mom noticed one day our hide and seek.  It was during one day when I was returning to home and at the bus stop  I found him and both of us staring, turning and staring again.  Twist in the tale: my mom was behind me which I didn’t notice and my love story (probable one😃) was in full swing.

For the strict person my mother is, was fully prepared with the volley of questions, I mean fire balls.  “What do you think you were doing there?”, “Is this your age to do all this?”, “Who’s that boy?” (This particular question came quite late and to be frank I had no answer to that, till date), “no one in our family have done such things” and the wind was in flow😩  I was terrified “Oh God! How come she knew about this and what I have done”.  The only words that escaped my lips along with tears that rolled down my cheeks “mom I didn’t do anything, please don’t tell this dad” I pleaded her.

I don’t know if she has discussed with dad or not.  I was petrified with fear, waiting impatiently about the moment when my father would boom angrily at me.  But surprisingly nothing happened, neither that day nor later.  He never questioned me.  One thing was evident with this incident that my father trusted me completely and it was on me to never let the trust shatter that he had in me.

One more thing that happened after that day, I came to my senses – I have to study hard and it’s the only thing that I am supposed to do at that stage of life.  Love can wait.  After that day I avoided looking at him (I know it’s tough😕).

One thing that registered clearly in my mind since that day – parents can be strict, angry at you but their love for you is not that they would show you all the time in their words.  It is something to be understood.  And their trust is something priceless that should never be broken.

It’s my story about my crush that was crushed,  do you have a similar story?  I am all ears.

RECIPE FOR FIRST CRUSH, SERVES ONE

I was 10 yrs old, stupid, silly and with a head full of imagination. I was hanging on my gate on a summer vacation afternoon and saw a family move their stuff the house next to mine. I watched with feigned disinterest as the furniture was moved in. By evening the family that was going to reside in that house came in a Maruti 800. Out came the mum, dad and three sons. I watched their procession inside the house, holding their suitcases, bedding, baskets and bags. All three sons were dashing, smart and adolescent Punjabi boys. The parents moved in snobbish, and so did the sons, but my eyes were fixed on the youngest one.

He was dribbling a basketball with loads of attitude as he went inside. My heart fluttered, and I didn’t know what this feeling is called. Time went by, and their home became a fortress no one could breach. They installed high iron gates and higher walls, no one could peep in. The family hardly ever interacted with us all in the lane. We used to make fun of them and called their house a citadel. The boys were never seen playing outside or on streets. But whenever I got a glimpse of the youngest one I ogled him open-mouthed.

He had greenish blue eyes, hardly seen in us Indians and very fair-skinned with a golden tinged wavy hair and wore awesome jackets, glares, shoes. He was older to me by some three yrs and a complete rogue. I gathered all the information about him that I could from bits and pieces I overheard. His school, his coaching centre, his friends, what kind of student he is and so on. I came to know he isn’t academically bright and not a stand out in sports. We were both growing, and soon he gained height and started looking even more devilish. I timed his comings and goings and hanged around the gate to see him. My only wish to talk to him once and be noticed.

My father used to throw huge and lavish birthday parties for me. Everyone was invited from relatives to business circles and from friends to neighbours. But I would wait for him to show up, cause I know he will shake my hand and give me the present and wish me. I dressed my best possible and acted cool. But the moment he came up to wish me the world dissolved. He always gave me a smile with attitude my heart would go mmm mmmm.

Then came the day I had to sell tickets to the school carnival. I had to go to all homes but chose his home first. I rang the bell and stood with bated breath. I know aunt hates visitors, but the urge to see him was strong enough and I kept my pride aside and stood to wait. A maid came and told me no one is home. I was going back with a sad face when I saw him walk towards me. He talked to me and bought one ticket for himself. I was about to faint, he was talking to ME! Reluctantly I went to the other houses long after he went back inside.

Few more yrs passed, and he became even more handsome. Girls ogled at him, and I heard he became a playboy too. But still. The crushed common sense wasn’t ready to let go. One day he came home in a red car. It was the first time I had seen such a car in real life. It was no less than a Ferrari to me. Winged doors, two seater, open hooded, red sports car. He and that car were made for each other. My heart nearly stopped when he got out and removed his gloves, helmet and goggles. From that day it became my only hobby, to watch him zoom away in his car.

Years kept rolling by, and one by one each son got married. I won’t lie to you all, I felt jealous when he got married. I thought his wife wasn’t good enough for him(though she was more educated and it was a love marriage). Soon enough he had two kids to himself and my life too got busy and never I thought of him much. But then last year, the brothers got separated and made nuclear Homes, he left the street and bought home in next colony. I won’t say I was heartbroken or sad, but I felt a little bit of my innocence and childhood fantasy leave with him.

This is what is Crush I guess. A cup ☕️of Infatuation infused with a sprig ☘of Obsession. Boiled in the cauldron of 😍Admiration and stirred with the ladle 💖of Romance. Simmered on the fire 🔥 of Passion and spiced 🌶with Innocencece. Served along with Fancy 💄And garnished with Silliness🌹.

Time Taken: A Youth

Serve Hot !😉🍵

REACTION ON THE 11TH BIRTHDAY EVENING!!!

During our childhood days, being mischievous kids, me and my younger brother were both noted of doing mysterious works in our home.  And the greatest story from those memory lanes is on my 11th birthday evening when I ran away from my home.

Yes… it’s true! Keep reading to know the complete story.

It was 8th January 2000, on my 11th birthday early evening hours I was playing with an unripe Guava inside my parents’ bedroom. Suddenly the Guava slipped from my hand and hit my Mama’s dressing table mirror and the mirror broke into pieces. As a result my Mama scolded me and started throwing at me a bag of words. But from all those normal words one line was too heavy to digest – “Just wait, let your dad come from office. You will know who he is!” And it was a big bang on my head. My brain stopped working. I started thinking that today would be my last day on earth. I have to do something to hide myself from Dad. But nothing came to my mind except one – “Avinash, run away from home. It can spare you from your dad.” So, without delay I ran away from home. After sometime my Mama started searching for me everywhere but didn’t find me anywhere. Then with my uncle’s help she started searching for me in nearby areas – asking people, elaborating them my appearance but everyone’s answer was ‘No.’ Meanwhile my uncle stopped at a petrol pump to refuel his scooter and as Mama was standing outside the petrol pump looking at every nook and corner of the road for me, suddenly her eyes fell on me and she shouted ‘son… son… here I am’. When I saw her I started running in the opposite direction with fear and anxiety. But somehow my Mama caught me on the middle of the road and hugged me tightly with tears pouring down from her eyes, puffing with tight fist, and lips uttering a single word, ‘Beta… I love you. Don’t leave me. Your Mama is with you nothing is going to happen to you’.

Often when I am alone I visit my memory lanes and come across this story, it truly makes my heart heavy and head hung low with the love of my Mama. I feel ashamed of the mistake that I committed that evening. What could have happened to me, if Mama wouldn’t have found me and brought me back home! My story would have been so different than what it is today!

The above story portrays a beautiful message to about the current topic “Response over Reaction”. As you saw in my story there are couple of major reactions than responses. Firstly, my reaction after breaking the mirror was completely negative and wrong. Secondly, my mother seeking  me was absolutely a positive response on her part. That day my Mama could have done the same thing what now you and me are thinking “Slap on my face, twisting my ears and bringing back to home, teaching some more lessons” but she didn’t do that. She LOVED me in spite of my off-road work and CORRECTED me despite all odds.

Every day we come across different reactions and also give away some. Reactions will always be there consciously or unconsciously but the questions arise here are… ‘Does the story end there???’ ‘Does the other person’s heart feel comforted with our reactions or responses???’ ‘Do my responses in different reactions strengthen my relationship with him/her???’

‘Tell them the truth in love’ – The Bible

Truth is the Content and Love is the Approach! Never forget that…

Keep thinking!!! Keep discovering the answers!!!

QUIETENING POWER OF MY QUIET TIME

Man has evolved throughout the ages.  We have been governed by our emotion and instincts. While emotion can be defined as a complex set of feelings resulting in physical and psychological changes that influence our thoughts and action, instincts are results of an environmental trigger occurring in order to satisfy internal drives. It was instinct which caused man to discover fire and it was emotion that made him create and protect a family. True that his needs were what he was aiming to satisfy. Though we have learnt and unlearnt ways to combat our instincts and deal with our emotions there is a fine line where we tend to confuse between the two. We use our emotions to react to situations as though they are our instincts and continue doing so for a prolonged period till they become a way of life. This is how we acquire an identity for ourselves and get to be known by it.

I was very infamous amongst my family and friends regarding my vicious anger. Most people haven’t seen me in this manner but my close ones have already borne the brunt of it. Such was my all-consuming anger that it was unable for a person to be around me when I was in that frame of mine. I would become spiteful and would end up hurting people with the most savage words. I had frequent fights with family and friends and after which I had a tendency to build up a wall around me, cutting people off and refusing to communicate. If you have known me as a person you would feel how different it is from the person who I am. Yes these bouts of anger happened almost twice a year but throughout I used to react offensively to situations. I reacted and overreacted, overthought about how I reacted and felt terrible, down and disgusting. It was these people who loved me to the core and would never think of abandoning me and I hurt them.

While I was in this frame of mind I thought whatever I was doing this was the only way of asserting me. There was no way I could make people understand my point of view. I was breaking under stressful conditions in the professional arena and hell broke loose in my personal sphere of friends as well. It was only because of the fact that I had begun to idolize myself. Therefore how other behaved in front of me used to be of first priority. I sought to be impressed by others around me. I thought if this particular person offended me it has to be the end of him/her in my life. I wasn’t responding, just reacting.

But the end of my foul behaviour had to come. I had the ugliest of fights at home at the end of 2016 on a petty issue where I thought I have been disappointed in my own family. Terrible thought, isn’t it? I too lost a couple of friends. It dawned that I had been going on offending people, depressing them, hurting them. I was crest-fallen. A throbbing pain shot through as I realized my position. I cried nights in repentance. I had a sort of epiphany back then where I realized the real source of the troubles. It was the absence of quiet-time in my life. I was so engaged with other things even spending my leisure time watching television and surfing the net that I had completely lost the time of meditating and introspection. I wasn’t reflecting on who I am becoming and thus the change of course.

This quiet-time that I am talking about is an evangelical term which we use in our community to introspect about the kind of person I am and how do I strive to be better with people around us. This is an individual session where we meditate, reflect and pray about our shortcomings and positives. The quiet-time proved to be really beneficial to me as it was informative. It made me learn about the various ways in which I can view myself and others around me. It encouraged me when I was crestfallen and strengthened me to face difficult situations with vigour and zeal. I learnt to attach less importance to my being and tried to consider others equal to me. There are still moments of misgivings but you know, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

My quiet-time really helped me a lot and gradually I am learning not to react in situations rather being resilient is what I would like to focus on. There are a lot of dynamics involved though as understanding and accepting the perspectives of people while maintaining your own without asserting yourself is not a cakewalk. Therefore in moments like these I remind myself of the quote I once read: “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future”.

ARE YOUR EMOTIONS RUNNING THE SHOW ?

Six months ago….

After a long day at work, I was waiting for my manager in his cabin. It was 8.10 PM and I was in a mood to close the 1-1 as soon as possible with him and get back home.

He came in, was quite serious. “You seem to have lost your rhythm at work. You have grown to be irresponsible. You haven’t been concentrating on the quality and there is no transparency with you. I am forced to question your dedication, commitment and your willingness to work along with this team. I was not expecting this from you.” – This was only the gist of what he said. It was one-sided conversation for more than 40 minutes, all of it in negative and I did not utter a word in-between.

By the end of the conversation I was feeling as if I am dead and strongly felt the need to introspect. If my manager is saying all this, there must be a reason. I couldn’t sleep the entire night; this is the first ever time he has displayed disappointment. In fact, the very first time anyone has, in my entire career. I was very upset with myself.

After a couple of days of this conversation, I was at home when my phone rang – my manager. It was almost 10 PM and I wondered what complaints he has at this hour of the day, “Please, not again!” was my thought.

“I am sorry Aastha. I am quite disturbed from the day we had our 1-1. I am very sorry for all that I said. Can we meet for lunch tomorrow?”, said he. I agreed.

Our conversation during lunch the next day:

Him: “I didn’t mean to hurt you or I never meant anything of what I said. I tried to irritate you a lot during our last 1-1 and it was deliberate. I was studying your facial expressions and expected you to react and at least defend yourself. Why didn’t you react?”

Me: “You were giving me feedback. Either you learnt about me from someone or you have observed the change in me over time. Negative feedback isn’t bad.”

Him:  “You weren’t even angry. I could guess you were upset, but that’s all. I am actually confused now.”

Me: “What is that you are confused about?”

Him:  “If the same would have happened between you and your Architect?”

Me: “Now, I understand where you are coming from. I would react and I have reacted too”

Him:  “Why didn’t you react in the conversation between us?”

Me: “That’s because I respect your opinion”

Him: “You came and told me that you lost your temper. I also got to know that you apologized to your architect for the same, but I fail to understand why is it that you cannot handle him ? You are quite balanced, this is surprising to me.”

This conversation triggered a lot of thoughts in me. Yes, I do agree that I lost it, lost it completely. I have been listening to continuous blames and taking a lot of insult. This wasn’t in a closed room or a face to face discussion, but a lot of people were involved. Lack of trust can piss off anyone and so was it with me. A fine mix of all of these feelings boxed in me over a period of time result in the ‘REACTION’. I was not happy with myself, but what’s wrong with me ?

If we observe carefully, very often it is the person or the place more than what he/she said. Either we love the other person and weren’t expecting such statements or we dislike the other person and cannot stand what he/she said. If it’s a public place, that’s worse. In either of these situations, we are on extremes. Because in ‘that moment’ our response has nothing to do with logic, understanding or intelligence and everything to do with emotion (insecurity, anger, fear, resentment). We don’t actually think, consider or plan, we just react. When our emotions are so deep rooted it is hard to not react. It takes time to gain willful control over our emotions and more importantly holding on to the impulse to not react.

“What made me react ?” –  This is the very first question we should be asking ourselves when we realise we reacted. Once we know the why’s that have been controlling our emotions, it is easier to handle them. Find out your why’s, that’s the key !!

I asked myself if there is anything I can do to make the situation better ? Once I realised that my architect is hopeless, I gave up on him. I barely talk with him, I don’t find it very necessary because it is impacting me in negative ways. My life at work is more sorted out now and to my surprise my architect came back to me asking, “Why haven’t you been voicing out your opinion, you should”. I know his intentions, and I am not gonna fall prey again …

Let’s be a little honest here, even after we react, we try to handle the situation by responding. Because a thoughtful response is the only way to make things better. As we learn this, we would tend to prefer responding than reacting.

​RESPOND BEFORE YOU THINK OF REACTING

Parenting is an ongoing challenge, a learning every day. Right after my elder son turned 2, my voice became high-pitched. No matter how much you try, kids DO NOT listen to you until you shout. Having an experience of teaching pre-primary children for over 3 years, and having professional qualification in Pre-Primary Education, I am quite aware of the behavioural and temperamental issues of the kids. But, when it comes to your own child, I feel all the experience and studies go down the drain. So, basically from the terrible 2 to fiery 5, like most of the mommies, I feel myself doing herculean tasks every now and then, especially after having my second baby.

It was one of those days when I was sleep deprived, physically exhausted and mentally strained. I decided to go outside for a walk in the fresh air, along with kids. I just fixed up my all-the-time-messy hair slightly and was applying lip balm on my chapped lips, when my 5-year-old said, “Mumma, make-up isn’t necessary, we aren’t going for a party”. Lo and behold! I just lost my control and slapped him, thinking that how dare the little kid even say a thing like this to me. Shouts and cries followed a few moments and then finally we went out. I realised how badly I had reacted. I could have told my son about the difference between getting ready for a party and getting ready to step out of the house. But, I used the short-cut and lost my temper. Whenever I behave this way, I repent and shed silent tears. Immediately afterwards, I apologise to my son and tell him that I love him. And like every little child, he behaves as if nothing has happened, because of his unconditional love. 

It is very easy to vent out your anger on to your children. All the stress, both physical and mental, primarily releases on the kids most of the time, which is wrong. I agree that little kids drive you crazy and you go bonkers due to their obstinate nature and never-ending demands. But, we need to understand that they are kids after all and hence cannot behave like adults. Patience is the key, I know it is a bit tricky, but then reacting instead of responding isn’t going to make things better. Kids need your time and attention, so listen to them and respond before you think of reacting.