TAME YOUR TONGUE

Give thy thoughts no tongue” – William Shakespeare

It is said that half of a person’s beauty comes from their tongue. An amazing truth about the tongue is, it takes years to learn how to use it but a lifetime to learn when and where to use it.

Here’s a free verse poem on the tongue:

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moist and pink
it’s a small soft flesh
without a bone,
but sturdy enough
to twist the words and turn

smitten by the briney
winds of the sea
it licks the lips with haste,
savours the flavour
beackon for more
it lives mostly for taste

but don’t be fooled
with its smooth texture
if you haven’t seen
what it can do,
it’s as mighty and evil
as one can get
tongue is a powerful tool

it speaks your mind
also your heart
sometimes chatter idly
bringing on mischief,
or time the words
to persuade a crowd
and if it slips
can ruin the world

nerves make it dry
otherwise drools amply
it’s an organ of flair
Connoisseur in matters of taste;
it bends and curls
in raspberry twirl
when it devours another lips
always willing to assist
in matters of the heart

hold it, bite it
if you’re feeling too sharp
tie it with words
it’ll mock your heart
maybe it’s forked
making you lie
put it in your cheek
it’ll play the part

don’t let it go astray
tame it with care
teach it the language
of fairness and quiet
it’ll know what to speak
when and where.

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EVERY NOSE IS BEAUTIFUL

God made us so beautifully. He has given us enough to survive in this world and feel its beauty. He has gifted us with different body parts and has assigned a specific work for all of them. Even if one is completely different from other body parts, it is equally important.

Out of all the sense organ, the nose is the only one that is capable of smelling and performing the process of breathing. Doesn’t matter if the smell is pleasant or not, the nose never fails to perform its duty (except for the time when you have nose congestion). Even if, out of frustration you say, I don’t want to live, your nose won’t stop breathing. Such a dutiful organ nose is.

In schools, we were taught idioms and phrases based on the nose. For example: “don’t poke your nose”, “keep your nose clean”, “keep your nose out” and many more. Have you ever wondered why?

In my perception, the whole idea of using nose in idioms is to highlight and compare a person’s behaviour. Also, according to me, these idioms were made to remind people of how an ideal person should behave. For example: what’s the need for interfering in other’s matter unnecessarily? This is similar to not being satisfied with the amount of air we are breathing in and out and trying to inhale every single molecule left in the air.

Now, let us move to an incident of my life that is closely related to my nose.

I am a person with small and a little fat nose. Though it looks good on me (I am proud of it), I have gone through so many bizarre comments. Even today, I go through the same.

When I was a kid, one of my relatives would consistently say, “Oh what a pity, such a lovely face but ugly nose”. She would repeat this comment twice a day (this continues till now). Other people considered it as platonic. My aunts did the same and this would upset my mom and my grandmother. These two ladies would massage my nose to and forth every day, in the upward direction, just to make sure my nose looks good to people. Thank God! my nose remained the same.

Since I was a kid, my mind developed a mindset that my nose is ugly and people with the long, straight and thin nose are the only pretty beings. I had this mindset until I was in class 11th. Shocking, isn’t it? I guess I am not alone in this world to hear such things.

One day, one of my teachers said, “hey girl, you have such a pretty and cute little nose. I have never seen such a cute nose”. I couldn’t believe my ears. A quick question went through my mind, “was he saying the truth?  But my nose is not at all pretty. How come on the earth he found it cute?” That one compliment changed my mindset and since then, I consider every nose as a beautiful and unique one. Moreover, I have people in my life who admire my little nose. I love those people.

Big, small, crooked, fat, thin or flat, all noses perform the same job. Owning a straight nose won’t supply more oxygen to your lungs as compared to the person having a crooked or small nose. So, it is better and advisable to accept the fact that every nose is beautiful and functions similarly.

And those who get to hear this type of blabbering should say to others, “keep your nose out of it!!”

DID I REALLY HAVE A CADBURY CHOCOLATE 20 YEARS BACK?

They say a simple Hello could lead to a million things. Well, in my case it led to nothing but a little embarrassment. It happened in my own wedding. Yes, you heard it right, it happened in my own wedding. I was supposed to be the center of attraction but I became the center of embarrassment, at least for a moment, if not more!

I was all decked up in a heavily gold – embroidered saree, layers and layers of makeup, a fancy hairstyle weighing more than 2 kgs and all sort of gold ornaments from head to toe. Thankfully, the major part of the traditional wedding was over and we were only left with accepting best wishes from relatives and friends. You can call it a mini reception event. With all the tiring ceremonies from early morning, changing sarees five times (yes, we need to change 5 times as per the tradition), and countless relatives, friends and well wishers buzzing around us, I was looking for someone who can get me a bite of a snack and a sip of water. How cruel is it to make the bride and groom eat the last in their own wedding? Whatever!

To add to the frustration, I was getting overwhelmed by the unending queue of well-wishers waiting to come on stage and greet us. With my energy levels going down to bare minimum, my patience was on the verge of betraying me but there was no other option than bearing that plastic smile while many aunties, uncles, mom’s friends, dad’s friends, sister’s friends and God knows who all were busy shaking hands and blessing us. In all this commotion, I clearly remember that at times I really used to get confused whether the people greeting us are from my side or my husband’s side. Well, you can’t blame me for that, after all, Indian wedding’s guest list does include who’s who!! Endless introductions like, ‘This is my school friend’ or ‘Meet my boss – I worked under him from 1994 to 2000’ or ‘Meet Mrs XYZ – she is the aunty of ABC who was in your school, 2 batches ahead of you’ (What?? Why did you even invite her? Oh yes, she must have invited you in her son’s marriage!) by my parents were making me go bonkers. The only relief was either of them was present alongside on the stage to receive guests and introduce them to us.

But there came a moment when my husband and I were alone on the stage and a group of ladies walked in. I was flashing a ear to ear smile (that’s what a bride supposed to do, right?) and was thinking these ladies seem to be my husband’s relatives (obviously, because I couldn’t recognize them). To my horror, the ladies walked up to me and the comedy show started.

One of the ladies seemed like a leader of their group and initiated the conversation

“Hello!!”

“Hello Aunty!”

“Congratulations!!!”

“Thank you Aunty!”

“My God! You have grown up so much!”

I was thinking to myself – yeah, obviously, I wouldn’t be getting married otherwise! But I reciprocated with a very humble smile.

You were so small when we saw you last. You remember I had given you a biiiiiiiiiiiiiig cadbury chocolate. You used to accompany your mom sometimes to work!

I was like, “Oh, really? That is so sweet of you Aunty!” But obviously, who remembers a cadbury after 20 years!

And then came the most embarrassing question –

Do you remember me?” Aunty was so pleased with my polite response to her memory of cadbury that she was almost certain that I have been thinking about her all through my childhood, adolescence and now “grownup” (as she referred to me some moment ago) phase.

Bang on! I got a hint that I am in trouble now. My eyes were frantically looking out for my mom, while my right hand was still held by Aunty as a gesture of a handshake that started right with a hello!

Of course Aunty!” I replied (not so confidently) because I thought telling her upfront that I don’t know who she is would sound too rude.

Awww, so sweeeet….” said Aunty pulling my cheek

Arrrghhh… who pulls a cheek of so called grown up girl??? More than that, I was worried that she might just pull out a layer of my makeup. Anyway, I thought, the worst was over. – Aunty was pleased with my response and will soon end the conversation and and proceed towards lunch. But I was wrong! Prompt came her next question and it felt no less than the bomb attack made on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Tell me, who am I?

OMG!!!! I really didn’t know who the lady was. All I could figure out was that she was some colleague of my mom, that too from very early years of her career. I didn’t know what to say. How I wished my mom would have not moved from my side! Since I was on my own, I made some feeble attempt.

Well, Aunty, I remember but I cannot recollect…” (What??? Did that sentence even make sense?? What was I saying???)

Aunty was having fun watching me get embarrassed and my husband couldn’t stop giggling. I had no option but to call out for my mom!

Thankfully, I saw my mom reappearing on stage and I heaved a sigh of relief. Then the formal introductions happened and finally the Aunty was satisfied that I finally really recollected who she is and she gladly proceeded for lunch though the truth was, I was still in haze to understand who that aunty really was. Thank God, other ladies from the group were not as enthusiastic as her to test my memory and just chose to be the spectators of my embarrassment rather than embarrassing me more!

I had gone pink in the face and warned my mom not move from my side until the reception is over.

What I learnt from that incident is that some guests can be difficult and tricky to handle. But being sweet to them doesn’t help. Instead, being honest can make it easier for you!

And, I would like to make one request to all of you. If you are going for a wedding of someone in distant relation or acquaintance, please, please introduce yourself to the bride and the groom. For God’s sake, do not quiz them about your identity, they have bigger things to think about!

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN …

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 ?

THE DAYS I WISHED TO HOLD ON TO

Complete Sleep

Unfinished glass of milk

Scattered toys

One-eyed Doll

Broken toys

Tireless cars driven across the window panes

Dirty legs imprinted on beds

Water guns showering on everyone

Undone homework

The days of my childhood- I wish to hold on to.

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Childhood is the wonderful era in anyone’s life. An era that we cannot go back to but be a witness in our own kids. Memories are created by us, but least remembered by us. When I tried to recollect my own memories, it seemed like I have forgotten what my childhood was like. Then I gazed across my living room watching my kids play brought back thousands of memories with my little brother.

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If I could go back to those days, I always treasured some special moments like

  • the first doll
  • tents inside my home
  • the rainy day boat making
  • the fresh smell of the books
  • the adorable pencils, erasers and cute lil sharpeners
  • the afternoon lunch  surprises
  • the first time I ever got to buy myself a snack from the canteen.
  • my first ink pen
  • My first watch
  • My first Barbie-like doll .( Barbie was never affordable to us then)
  • My first train journeys wherein I used to get a chance to much on every snack that was sold.

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Yes , I too thought the same, even though we never had a car.

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Memories were endless. It was refreshing indeed to be able to recollect a few of them. To me, the first watch is something I always treasured.

Every day, I was grown up watching my dad with his watch. He used to wear them all along – like during his lunch, dinner, work, walk, sleep etc. I was so fond of watches then. But yes, like all other kids, I never knew how to check the time.

When I was in smaller classes, my mom used to get me those fake watches with those flashy screens, which becomes dead in a few days span. I only had the first few day hype for it.

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I always wanted a watch like my dad had- those silver straps square dial totally looked elegant. When I was in the third standard, my parents gifted me a black strapped square dial watch with a digital screen.

It was the happiest moment for me. I slept with it, ate with it and I did almost everything with it in my hand, that finally, I got those strap marks imprinted on my wrist. Still, I was indeed very happy. I had that watch for years and years when finally my parents got rid of it and brought me a new one with the similar look.

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Even now, no golden color or attractive watches take my mind off, because I still cherish the beauty of  “my first watch”, and nothing can beat it.

Looking back,

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We just lived creating memories.

 

THE INNOCENT LOGIC

“A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.”

My sister still calls me a monkey. For her, I am the naughtiest, mischievous and cutest brother in the entire world. Whenever there is an opportunity to talk about me she never misses out on the chance, talking about my mischievous acts. I will present to you all, one such act of mine which is often discussed in my family. 

I was five years old, used to hate milk and to avoid drinking it I used to tiptoe and empty the tumbler in the garden and silently keep it on the table pretending I finished it. My grandmother always used to keep tabs on me and she found it pretty soon and she made it a point that every day I will drink in front of her. For few days I was left with no choice but to oblige her, but then I managed to escape her keen eyes and this time I chose to hide the tumbler in her old wardrobe, it went for two days and on the third day, her room and wardrobe totally stink. She went totally mad running after me and I managed to escape and later I employed the best defense a child can think off, kissing to cool her off and promising I won’t repeat it. 

Pretty determined not to do the same mistake, the very next day I hid the tumbler in my uncle’s bookshelf where he used to keep his office materials, and I left for my school’s Annual Day function, graced by the presence of the then famous Telugu film Director (Dasari Narayana Rao) I participated in nursery rhymes competition and won second prize, during prize distribution I literally snatched my prize from chief guest’s hands even before he could give it to me only to show that to my friend Divya(she is cute) embarrassing my parents with that behaviour of mine. After reaching home everyone was determined to teach me a lesson and my grandmother took the lead asking, “you promised me that you won’t repeat the same mistake,” and I quickly countered saying “yes, and so I hid the tumbler in uncle’s shelf instead”.

22Totally irritated she warned me that she will send me out of the house if I keep behaving like this. Insulted, I took few sandwiches from the kitchen and wrapped them in a handkerchief, tied it to the end of a stick and walked out in anger thinking they don’t want me at home, I will go away. Luckily even before I could cross my street, a known person found me and brought me home. When everyone found out what really happened, they were in a state of shock and couldn’t actually scold me. As for me, I happily sat in one corner and finished those sandwiches. 

Now whenever they discuss or narrate this incident I feel embarrassed and ashamed of my own stupidity. I often wonder what would have happened to me if that gentleman didn’t spot me ? My innocent logic could have put me in deep trouble. The lesson which I learned was not to repeat the adventure which I undertook years back. 

OVERCONFIDENCE TOOK ME TO THE DOCKS!

They say, the biggest mistake a person can make is saying that one has not committed one. This is the Ugly Truth as we all have been in situations where we have made errors. In some cases when we look back on these errors we reminisce about the amusement that these incidents had given as they were not really errors in the strict sense of the term. My teenage years are enriched with moments like these when I was learning the basic rules of life and living in Kolkata. Now, when I look back to those stupid undertakings of mine the feeling of regret is not felt. Rather I am able to laugh my intestines out. I would take pleasure in sharing one such incident of my life.

Back in 2008 when I was studying in the 11th standard, my sisters and I decided to go shopping for Christmas. I had reached the age where my parents decided to allow me to travel by myself. I felt like a free bird basking on my new found freedom. I knew my limits though. So it happened that we decided for this outing. Our parents were engaged in work; therefore they were not able to accompany us for this venture. I, being the one familiar with bus routes (or so had I thought) took charge and the responsibility of guiding my girls in the right direction. My parents however put their trust on me.

We reached the famous Esplanade of Kolkata and our shopping went on in full swing. We were just not getting enough of ourselves being indulged in these exciting transactions. However, after buying almost a mammoth share of the market it dawned on us that we might be getting late as we had a one and a half hour journey to return back home. We made our way by the Press club and waited for our bus to arrive. Now, there are many buses that would take us to the place where I live but they go by different routes. We usually take those buses that travel through simple and direct routes and avoid those that go roundabout. Then, I was only aware of the bus numbers that a person wanting to go to my destination would board. I knew nothing of the variation in routes. Moreover I didn’t care to notice the places it went through.

One such bus arrived. I led my sisters to it and boarded it. We were very happy as we didn’t have to wait longer for the bus. As the point from where our bus would have taken the direct way to our destination arrived we were oblivious and calmly sitting on our seats. Instead of taking the bridge toward Khidderpore market the bus took the flyover off Hastings towards Fancy market which was the way to the Khidderpore docks. My sisters were unaware of the routes as it was I who was opportune enough to know the routes.

 A sense of nervousness struck me as the bus approached and left Fancy. I kept quiet, trying to get a grip of the way we were heading to. Suddenly I could see vast areas of clear sky and I knew we were heading towards the docks. The bus was almost empty and it was then that my sisters too started to panic. I was in a dilemma as to how I would strike a ground and how would I calm my sisters down. I gathered up my guts and asked the bus conductor if this would take us to our destination and how. To my horror he said it would but it would take an hour or half more. It wasn’t much but at that time staying out till late was a big thing as my parents had started to allow us by ourselves. They would be furious to know about this and I could lose their trust. But the bus conductor was truly god sent and he advised us to get down and take a bus back to Khidderpore via Fancy. We had indeed come along way. We got down near the docks and the place was really eerie back then with huge brick walls on sides. The place was not safe for women either as the infamous alleys of Kolkata was out there. The three of us stayed close and waited for a bus to take us backwards. After a wait of 5-10 minutes we boarded a bus that took us safely to our destination.

Looking back at this incident makes me think of the number of stupid mistakes that I made in my initial days. It gives me matter to engage into amusement with my sisters when we have Adda sessions. But it has definitely taught me to observe everything when I am out of my house especially the names of the places written on the header and body of the bus. I also take the liberty to ask the bus conductor the nitty-gritty of the routes of the bus before boarding it. However, this was one funny mistake that I won’t regret.