Nature has always been my best friend. It has amazed me many times, inspired me in numerous ways. There are many lessons we can learn from each and every element of nature.

Gardening was always my thing. I vaguely remember, may be I was 8 years old when I first started making pits, sowing seeds, covering them with leaves so that birds don’t eat them off, feel happy when they bud, water them, feel pride when they grow up to become big plants. In my childhood we had a big garden with a variety of plants and trees. A stroll through the garden was not just making my lungs healthier but was soothing my soul too.

Plants are the first and foremost from the beautiful nature around us, where I get most inspired from. I can spend hours and hours staring at them, don’t ask me why.

(Image Sources: Google Inc.)

It is very interesting how plants teach us valuable truth of life. A seed to germinate requires perfect moisture and temperature. Adverse climatic conditions or due to seasons, or natural calamities, if the seed could not germinate, it would do so when the conditions are right. In life if we wait with patience and look around for opportunities, there is always a new beginning. Post germination, a plant needs nutrients and minerals, likewise as humans we need nourishment and care. There may be many obstacles in our path, fight through them.

When plants are young, they are very tender, they also suffer from pests at this stage, utmost care is needed during this phase. When we are re-bouncing from pain or grief, we are weak too, this is the stage where we have to hold ourselves and grow stronger. Remember, it is the struggle for existence that makes us stronger.

(Image Sources: Google Inc.)

If a plant is infected, we cut off the branch to not infect the other branches, similarly we have to recognise what is bad and get rid of it at the budding stage. That reminds me of pruning, every gardener knows the importance of pruning, in life it is some times very important to pause or take a back step, this helps us in attaining a better understanding and clarity. We may be cut back by others, see the positive side of it.

Every day, when I see the plants in my balcony I do not see much change in them, in fact the change is non noticeable. Over a month or so, when I see new flower buds, new branches is when the progress becomes evident. In life we may not see progress everyday. Over a period of time when we look back in life, there are achievements, new stages of life, changing careers, we would have lived through many hardships and yet are surviving. That’s progress !!!

There are a variety of plants, ornamental plants, fruits, nuts, root vegetables, aromatics and spices. Each one is unique and is there for a designated purpose. We are made to serve a unique purpose, never compare yourself with others, they are serving their purpose which may be different from ours.

Do you remember the tree which offered shade last summer? Do you know from which grape yard the delicious grapes you had for supper came from? or the tree from which the wood used in your house is made of? All of our basic amenities including air we breath, food, toilet paper comes from plants. Selflessly plants are serving us, yes, they are completely self less, they never demand or ask us anything in return before helping or even afterwards. I do not think we value them as much. Even when others do not value the love or care we give them it is important to continue to give. Being able to give selflessly is the best gift ever. Don’t be greedy.

As seasons change, circumstances in life change. Being able to endure and adapt is the key. We may not be the driver of the change or in control of it, in which case the best thing to do is to accept, if not agree to it.

When I travel to other countries, I try to study the life cycle of plants specific to that region. The climatic conditions of the region aid to the survival and growth of the plants. Especially in countries where there are 4 seasons, some types of plants start withering earlier than others, but by the time it’s winter they are ready to embrace the snow. I wonder if plants have a kind of conscious that we aren’t aware of, which helps them adapt so well with conditions of the climate.

(Image Sources: Google Inc.)

In Europe, during summer they grow colourful flowering plants, they look so beautiful hanging in the patios, on the railing of balconies and in the parks. They are seasonal, so they cease to exist by the time it’s winter. We are in this world for a limited period of time, when it’s our turn to make someone happy we should, in deed we should look forward to such opportunities everyday.

So, plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

-Jorge Luis Borges



An year ago around same time, I was at my hometown. There was a TV commercial which made my dad’s head turn, he looked at us (me and my sister were lazing on the sofa), and asked “What is that ?”. My sister was the first to react, she started in an exclaiming voice and said, “That’s iris scanner papa. To unlock the phone you just have to see into the scanner and boom it unlocks the phone in a ziffy !!”.

I jokingly told my dad to buy the phone to which he wittily replied saying I should be the one buying such phones. It was the Samsung S8+.

Oh!! In olden days … (as per my father) 

There were books, journals, magazines, weekly and monthly issues. While embarked on a train or bus journey we used to take some books or buy news paper on the railway platform. For the latest happenings in the country or even our county we have to wait for a day for the information to be presented to us in the form of  newspaper

There were landline phones, though the name sounds funny, they are fixed devices. To be able to make a call, we either have to be at home or find an STD booth. While walking along the streets we used to remember where the STD booth’s on the way were so that we can contact our family in emergency. When we shift homes changing the connection means raising a support request, wait for at least 2-3 days until the connection is moved to new place. If there were rains or huge winds, the lines used to go bad making the phone dead.

To apply for jobs we have to wait for the circular to be published in the newspaper, or there were special job vacancy catalogs which we could buy in book stores. 

Fashion magazines were the only go-to for latest fashion trends. Word of mouth was a great advertisement tool back then.

To listen to our favorite songs, we have to wait for a week so that the music show/dial-in program will be aired. Even the radio had programs solely based on latest songs. Entire family gathers near the radio for the program eagerly waiting for it to start and sing together, it was such a fun waiting for those songs.

To pay the electricity bill, we have to collect our bill, take proper change (as in dime/paise), stand in the queue to pay the bill. If there is any discrepancy or mistake it takes days together to get it corrected. It is similar case for bus or train reservations. All of this has changed due to technology… 

He took a pause and said, “Life is so convenient now, we don’t have to invest so much of time on all these important things. Auto-register for payment of the bills and we are done”

Really, life is very convenient now. Let me give you my own example.

(Contd.,) Few months later, I was looking for a phone with a good camera. Due to my health condition I was no longer able to carry any weight on treks, carrying my body from one place to another was very tough. So, I decided to replace my DSLR with a phone camera. I wanted good quality pictures that look good even on a 32 inch screen. After several options I resorted to buying the S8+.

Before buying the phone there were several thoughts. Mobile phone is for the purpose of communication and staying connected. There is only my family and couple of other people whom I constantly keep in touch with. Do I need to spend a hefty amount of money for this ? The phone cost was 1000 US dollars and it sounded like a waste of money. May be I could put the same money to better use ? After a lot of debate, finally I placed an order, the phone arrived after 3 days.

Right from the day I unpacked the gorgeous box it came in, I fell in love with the phone.  If I keep the camera aside, my phone keeps me engaged all day long. Though my sole purpose of changing the phone was for camera, the Quad HD screen makes reading enjoyable. Now all my educational apps are on my phone, so is my kindle. Some book I start reading on kindle follows me on the phone app, I can read it anywhere.

Since the amount of calls/messages I get is very less, one fine day I decided to mute all the notifications from social apps. Twitter, whatsapp, Linked-in – name any network, it would be on mute for notifications. I thought I might feel lonely but strangely I did not. Instead the notifications from other educational apps keep reminding me of the projects I need to complete, lessons that are still pending, approaching target date for exams – wow, I am enjoying all these completely. Somewhere inside me I felt these apps are better than me in making a schedule, they make a schedule and I have to stick to it, simple..  

My phone takes care of almost everything for me, starting from water intake reminders, step counter, bank transfers, bills, weight management, sleep measurement. With secure payment I don’t even have to carry my credit card, I can tap my phone (Magnetic Secure Transmission) and be done with the payment, this is more secure than swiping a physical card.. All the documents I may ever need are securely stored and are always with me. This saves a lot of time that I can invest on doing productive work that can make a difference some day.

All the tasks that used to consume so much of time and travelling to many places now happen in the vicinity of home, right in the palm. The device that is so sleek is very powerful, we have to use it the right way !!! 

“Mobile phones are misnamed. They should be called gateways to human knowledge.” – Ray Kurzweil



Couple of days back I was watching a show, a reality show where a single girl/man is given a chance to choose their future partner. In the process of finding the right one, often they develop strong feelings for many. When we can interact with another and completely understand them, it will be very obvious to like them if we admire their personality, qualities, how compassionate they are, how caring they can be. It is very difficult to not love. The girl has to let go of all the men to be with the one she sees her future with.  She goes through  emotional turmoil before she can and also often after she makes the decision.

One question was on my mind, “Can a person be romantically in love with more than one person at a time?”. Quite a lot of religions, castes around the world allow polygamy, to be legally wedded to more than one person. In earlier days, kings had many wives, did they not love everyone of them ? May be they did, may not be equal love for all of them, they cared to a great extent.

The girl on the show while eliminating a man said, I love you very much and care for you, but right now I am not in love with you. I did not understand the difference, as usual my quest started on the internet. A lot of people are also really confused because I have found contradictory answers on several websites.

Love is the most cherished feeling in the world, who doesn’t want love? The problem is, we want everything of the person we are in love with, but reality is quite different. They love many others, they do have many significant people in their life. I am not specifically talking about romantic love here. Have we not encountered siblings being jealous of each other as they think parents love the other more? When we can love many other people, they can too, we should not think selfishly.

Siddu (whom I mentioned about in the article) was my best friend. He became very busy right after we were out of college as he started his own company. There was not a single day when he wouldn’t have messaged, a week we haven’t talked over skype. Any time we were in the city together, we wouldn’t go back to our respective destinations without meeting. If anyone asks me if I had loved him, of course yes, but I never developed any feelings for him, either romantic or brotherly, he is my friend – plain, pure and simple. I was not his only friend, he had many friends, he cared for them as much as he did for me.

We find soul sisters, soul brothers outside of our family. Does that in anyway mean we do not love our siblings ? Or our siblings have never fulfilled our needs, hence we needed a brother outside? I heard this concept from someone I don’t actually remember, it is very hard to love a person without having feelings(romantic), hence no girl can have a soul brother. Wait, that’s absolute nonsense. We do not develop romantic feelings for everyone we love. I have soul-brothers. They cared for me the most and they do even now. Romance is not the only feeling we can develop outside family. Are all my male friends my brothers, sorry No, I cannot develop brotherly feelings for everyone too. Every type feeling is very sacred.

Akshay, one of my friends always sounded disturbed when we talk in the group about our families. I never dared to ask him what the problem was. One day he told me what it was, “I lost my mother 6 years ago. My father married another woman. I do not talk with her, somehow I am unable to see her in the place of my mother“. In the entire conversation he used only ‘she’ and ‘her’, never mother. I can understand the struggle he is going through. “Does she never ask you to call her mom ?”, “We don’t talk Aastha and that’s it”. He was a little frustrated. “No one can take any body else’s place, do you know why? Every one is special. She cannot take your mom’s place, she can make hers. But that can happen only if you allow it. You are not going to get mom back, at the same time no one can take away the love you have for her. Try to give your new mom some place, have a good conversation with her, if you cannot do it on your own, take your brother along with you. Give her one chance, that might change what’s bothering you into something that comforts you“. It took around 6 months for him to accept her, but once he did that there was no looking back. He calls her mom now in our conversations, that makes me happy.

In the process of restricting ourselves that we cannot love more than one person, we have overly complicated “love”.  It is also not true that once we develop feelings we will never fall out of love. Many of us would have read in books that true love happens once in life time, there is only one soul-mate who is made for you. If we really go by these books, half the marriages would have never existed. It is the value that we add to our lives which is very important.

Special people and special bonds happen by virtue, Lucky are those who have people to love and be loved. This week we are going to learn of such special bonds and what difference it made to us. It is going to be a lovely week … 


I do not know how many of you follow politics, most of the conversations in and out of the House of Parliament now a days have foul language. Using Fu,  Bas, Bit* etc., has become normal.  Heard of Gordan Ramsay or watched his cookery shows? They are full of beeps, in fact more beeps than words. He is considered one of the best chef’s but his language isn’t any close to even good. He runs into foul-mouthed arguments with contestants over petty things. It is a family show which kids can watch too (I thought that was the intent when the production started) but even adults take some time to get adjusted to it.

The very first encounter with foul words I could remember brought a laughter.

Few years ago, I created my Facebook account. Yes, the well loved social network where people share most about them and spend most of their time with. As you can guess I was one of the late adopters of Facebook. When I signed up, I gave my first name and in the second name column I gave a series of asterisks. Naturally I forgot about that account for few days. Couple of weeks later, one of my cousins called me to check if the account he came across was mine. I told him that I created one a week ago, he screamed at me and said, remove the asterisks from your name, that can give a very dirty impression of you. What’s dirty in that? The tool wasn’t allowing me to use an exclamation mark, I said in a casual tone. I had no idea he was serious, was under the impression that he was pulling my legs… Later on he told me to find out the meaning myself, who else would help but Google 😁

After spending some time on the internet, got a gist of what that means… Symbols can be used for such bad meanings, really wasn’t aware of this.

There is a proverb in my native language, an English translation of it would be, “If your husband calls you bitch, even the beggar would call you so

I have listened people using this proverb many times, but bad words for me are only restricted up to proverbs. They are used to convey stronger meanings to have an impact. I have never heard abusive conversations or usage of foul language either in my family or in my locality. It is true that I have not known such language until few years ago..

As I stepped into the real world, I realized it is quite common for people to use such language and a lot of them consider it to be cool… Anger, frustration are mainly the causes, strangely the other times it’s the closeness and love. Really? One must be sorry to be calling their friend bitch.

What does it take to be called a bitch in real sense? For a woman it’s an extreme insult, no matter whatever the reason is, nobody has any right to say so. Having faced such name-calling, I cried my heart out, months of sleeplessness, as such I couldn’t forget it till date. When I was branded a bitch there wasn’t a reaction in me, I stood still like a rock, unable to move. 

The other person isn’t any stranger, I have known him for over a decade, cared for him the most. I have never even had the slightest of guess that he would insult me before so many people. Few days later he said it was his love that made him say so. Well, if that is what is love, I am sure nobody would want it. Can the use offensive names to win an argument be justified in the name of love? I never responded to him, or would want to anytime in future. I can never degrade myself to use such language even if I was deceived or hurt brutally.

Many think usage of these “cool” words makes their version of argument heard, attracts attention of the audiences. I would shut myself off from such conversations, let it make me look arrogant. Let alone uttering those words, I find it very inconvenient even to listen.

I won’t say people who use that language are bad, they may be very good, but to be able to make meaningful, rich and loving relationships it is important to use respectful language. When we are good at heart, why don’t we try to use the best words our language has to offer to address beautiful people who make us happy and make our life a boon? 




I am not sure why our brain remembers the most embarrassing moments so well, whenever someone asks me of mine, this particular one I am going to write about stands out.

One day after office, I had been for grocery shopping. Yeah, one of those days when I get to return back from office while the sun is still out there, it’s a rarity. Walking towards the breakfast cereal section, my eyes were rolling over tier after tier of various varieties of stacked up cereal, for my favourite Apple honey almond muesli. I think they were out of stock, so I picked up some other flavour. I was engrossed in reading the ingredients of the pack, when a hand landed on my shoulder accompanied by a greet, “Hey Aastha, long time, how have you been ?”.  Overlooking my shoulder, I turned around, before I could respond, she said, ” You haven’t changed a bit …”

In response I greeted her back, with out taking her name. Hell, my brain was very busy trying to connect the information stored in neurons, failing to reconstruct the memory of her, coming up with several other questions in the advent of her identity. 

My inner voice chipped in, “Aastha, you know her quite well. Please, please, please try.. I am sure you would recollect. Is she from school ?”

Me: “I don’t think so. I remember her with the exact same face I am seeing her now, which means I have met her most probably after my late teens ?”

Inner voice: “Sure, sounds very true. Some coaching centre ?”

Me: ” I don’t remember, but that sounds untrue”

Inner voice: Job interviews ?”

Me: “No way, I have attended only two interviews till now, one when I was in college, I haven’t made any new friends during the interview process. Second one, I went alone, met no one and all the interviewers were men”

My brain was confused between me and my inner voice. Meanwhile the girl was also talking. I was secretly wishing that she mentions some one or some experience so that my brain can create the pattern and connect the dots. I was smiling (such a fake smile which I am totally not used to), I was feeling quite uncomfortable to have not remembered her. She was taking my name again and again making me feel really bad. 

Inner voice: “Is she from your current work place ?”

Me: “No, that can’t be”

Inner voice: “Now, please you have almost ruled out all the possibilities, she remembers you and you don’t.. “

Me: “Really, is that it ? I have known her for a long time, it is definitely not that I met her once or twice”

She was wearing her ID card ( she must be returning from work too ), damn it, it’s flipped on the wrong side, I was praying while we were walking around that her ID card flips so that I can read her name. My stupid thoughts are making me all the more ashamed. First of all, I do not remember her name, then I want something to remind me of her ??? This continued for around 10 minutes. By this time, my guilt took over me, I didn’t want to waste any more time, but ask her.

I started with an apology,”I am really very sorry. I know we have met several times, I know you well too, but I am not able to recollect your name. Kindly can you please remind me ?” She smiled, then she started laughing. May be it was my facial expression. ” Hmmm… We started our career together and worked for the same company, we stayed at the same place too”. All the memories came back to me in no time. We talked for some more time, I apologised again before we departed. How didn’t I notice the company name written on her ID Card tag, that should have reminded me. I have not just forgotten her name, but how we were connected too.

It was the most embarrassing moment, I can never forget it as well, including the color of the dress she wore 😀

Once I realised that I am very bad with names and how embarrassing it can be,  I have made some modifications.

  • I sincerely tell them before hand if I cannot recollect who they are.
  • I pay attention to the conversation, when someone is being introduced.
  • I started storing contacts in my phone along with the relationship.

Forgetting names is not a serious illness or anything. Our brain has got better ways to store faces than names. Facial recognition is what many species including humans use to identify similar species as well as things. If someone says they have a pen, we can visualise it, but if they say it’s a Parker pen, our brain runs us through the different models Parker has in market. We are naturally not wired to remember names very well. Having said that, there are two types of people, who can remember names well and others who don’t. Undoubtedly, I belong to the second type. Some have a flashy memory, they never forget the name of the person they met even if that is only once. I wish I had one too !!!!

The ‘oops’ moments are very funny, yet they make us aware of something we haven’t known. What’s your oops moment ?


Degree awarded to state topper has been reclaimed by the educational board.

It is not just her topper position that was reclaimed, but her exam result itself. A student who has almost never passed any previous exams with average marks becomes a state topper, there is every reason for the Education Control board to scrutinize the result. What they found out has surprised a lot of people outside of Bihar (a state in India), but not the Bihari’s.


For the people of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, this is nothing new. Look at the picture, it clearly depicts the college management, lecturers are all part of the mass copy that has happened. This is not confined to one state or India. Check on the internet, there are brilliant ways that students have formulated using which they can cheat in exams.

When I read this news for the first time, there were a splash of memories that came back to me. I was involved in one such cheating in college. I don’t want to boost about myself here, I was one of the well performing students in the class.

In our university, we have a percentage of marks for internal examinations, as such securing a good score in our university is very tough. People struggle a lot to get an average score. The internal exam marks constitute of 20% of the total, hence students find that an easy route to secure a pass mark.

I hardly used to talk with anyone in the class. Once, in an internal examination, I felt a pat on my back, unintentionally I turned back. The guy who had the roll call next to me made a gesture to open up my paper for him. Firstly, I was surprised as this is the first time anyone has requested me for such a thing. On the second, the guy is very silent, I was wondering what made him do so. Before I could react there was a second pat on my back.

I had two options, either to help him ( help is not at all the appropriate word), or to complain to the invigilator. I was quite scared to complain because boys have gangs, if at all they want to take a revenge on me, I would be in trouble. Should I succumb for the fear of them ? My brain said “No”. But the heart said, “The guy is so soft spoken. He scores well otherwise, you don’t know what problem he had because of which he couldn’t dedicate time for preparation, you should consider”.

While I was quite uncomfortable, I did re-position myself so that my answer sheet gets visible to him. It was one of the most fearful moments, after the exam, I had no hesitation to tell the guy not to repeat this again. Believe me, it was tough to tell that, but it was tougher to be cheating.

Sure, I was not benefited from cheating, but there isn’t anything that makes me feel what I did was right. At the same time I didn’t know if I was wrong. Few days later, after the results, the guy left a note asking for an apology, thanking me for the deed. I felt ashamed, that ‘thank you’ felt like a burden. I haven’t done any thing great to be thanked for, may be I shall be punished instead.

I was guilty, even today when I get reminded of all the episode, I feel very guilty too. For the first time then, I learnt a lesson that has never let me be a part of anything that can cause someone to be cheated. 

Do you think the teachers, or the college are solely responsible for the mass copying? No, not at all. Parents and elders at home have to keep an eye on the kids. Are they really preparing for the exam or are they making copy scripts ? Now a days there are more innovative ways – ultra violet pens, wireless invisible ear buds, spy pens.. 

If a student can channelize his energy on finding out the best way to cheat and not get caught, imagine what he can do in future ? If he does not resort to cheating, would the education be worth to serve back the society, would it have the required quality, I doubt it.. 

It’s better to loose with dignity and honesty than to win by cheating  – James 



Last week has been a lot of travel for me… One of the hops I had was at hometown.  I only had time to visit my parents for a few hours. As we were talking about some family related matters, my eyes fell on the iPad.  

As I picked the iPad,  my dad thanked me to have bought it because my sister stays occupied all  day with it.  It was his dose of sarcasm for me… Deep within I wondered if I made a mistake, I bought it for my mom and not my sister … 

It was evening and was time for me start…  I wanted to setup my mom’s account for the ipad, as I was browsing through the apps, my eyes fell on some games my sister has downloaded, I started to play. I am not at all a pro at games, but since I’ve played these earlier I was able to solve some puzzles easily.  

My sister said, “Why don’t you download the games on your phone, after you are back from work, you would start reading. Anyhow you don’t watch TV as well, it would be a good recreation to play for sometime”. “No, I won’t download any games and I really don’t want to”, my reaction was almost immediate, she frowned with a startled look on her face.  I locked the iPad, threw it on the bed, picked my bag and started walking towards the gate.”

My thoughts were particularly disturbing me, I was worried about my sister all the more as my past rekindled back. I boarded the bus and in no time the past started a playback….

It was 2010 or so… I was working in Bangalore… I clearly don’t remember if my work load was less or I was not finding any thing interesting to do, there were two games I used to play. I was crazy, like that’s the first thing in the morning, my break time deed, the last thing before sleep.. I used to play even when I had to cook or while eating, weekdays, weekends, well it never mattered. Those days the mobile phones were not so powerful, so I had to use laptop to play.  The burden of carrying the weight of laptop also was absolutely fine, my obsession was so much.  

One day, one of my colleagues asked me what in the game is so interesting that keeps me hooked. All of a sudden I felt ashamed. There were so many thoughts rolling over.  “Why have I become so addicted? What on earth was I doing? How can I be so irresponsible and not value time?” I am sure would have wasted few 100 hours of lifetime on completely useless, worthless games. 

I had serious guilt of what I have been doing. I don’t know, I really don’t know how I got addicted to those games. What is important was not ‘how‘ but ‘why‘? The revelation hit me hard, I am trying to kill my loneliness with those games. As they say, “an empty mind is devil’s workshop“, since I have moved out of my city, my friends, my usual badminton routine, morning jogs, I had to do something to fill that time, but disgustingly I chose gaming. That was quite a shame.. 

I realized how addictive I can be to something that can keep me hooked, can make me forget my present purpose to get carried away. I found my biggest weakness, Addiction. Every opportunity I encounter creates the fear of addiction, it can be an object, pet, books, junk food and hold on, I get addicted to people too! There are some good addictions and not so good ones… 

I have very little control over myself (some people who know me would think this is so untrue) 😛 . I am known as strong willed and determined person, in reality I am weak and that constant fear makes me or rather warns me to stay in my limits … I have some principles set and make every attempt to live by those. Because of the fear of addiction, I cannot afford to miss on life. Reading books is a good addiction but only when I choose to read good ones. So, it’s the choice that makes the addiction good or bad. Too much of anything is bad.   

When in doubt I ask myself two questions:

1. What is the gain if I choose to do it ?

2. What is the loss if I don’t ?

In practice, I try to keep it simple… One of my dear friend made an offer few months ago. She said, “Hey, there is vodka at home. Anyhow we are meeting tonite, my family is out of town. Don’t think otherwise, I know you don’t drink, but do you want to try ?“. I refused her offer in a polite way but I know the truth. If I ever agree to taste it and happen to like it, that’s all.. I am over and done. I might end-up being a drunkard. If I share the reason to her, she may easily be able  to convince me, that’s when principles come to rescue…

Fear shall never stop us, fear is that caution to give it a thought and proceed. The consequences may differ based on our choice, but it is our conscious choice.