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!!

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.

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!!!

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.

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!!!

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

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😊😊.