WHAT’S MY WORTH?

(Captured by Chiradeep Patra)

This picture was captured by me on 26th November 2014 at 7:44 AM in the morning. It was a beautiful winter morning and I took my Nikon camera and focussed this wrapper that was shining in the sun rays on a roof of a building adjacent to our flat.

What attracted me to capture this useless wrapper? It was the purple colour with its name ‘Cadbury – Dairy Milk’ printed on the wrapper and the golden sun rays reflected through it allured me to capture it.

As I was thinking about this image something struck me instantly. This wrapper of a very popular brand of chocolate looks so beautiful yet, as it was an empty wrapper it had no value. Probably, after capturing I never even looked back at that wrapper again. It must have blown away by the winter breeze the very next minute.

How often we find ourselves similar to that empty wrapper? Shining yet, valueless. Unless we have something to impart to others we won’t be valued. It is the combination of our willingness to learn and God’s grace makes us worthy of some value.

Keep pondering and keep reading,

Stay Blessed!

WHAT’S A HOME? – II

It was a breezy winter morning as Meghana stepped out of her house. She was fighting hard to keep her tears from finding their way down her cheeks. She hailed the first cab that she came across and got into it.

“Where do you want to go, Ma’am?”, asked the cab driver.

So frustrated was Meghana with her predicament that she replied absentmindedly, “Anywhere…to a peaceful place…a place of dignity and love…without mountains of responsibilities.”

The cab driver kept staring at her with a questionable look.

Gathering her thoughts and emotions, she told the driver of her destination and gave him the necessary directions.

It was 10 o’ clock in the morning – two hours since she had sent Manu and Kabir on their day’s schedules. She had deliberately given the cab driver, the address of a beach an hour’s drive away. As the driver made his way through the morning traffic, a flurry of questions fleeted within her.

What is robbing the charm of my marriage?

Am I not beautiful enough?

Am I not taking enough care of all of Manu’s interests?

Is my thought process outdated?

Or am I simply expecting too much?

Is it because I am just a homemaker, that Manu doesn’t think it necessary to respect me?

Do I not toil from dawn to nightfall to make sure that Manu’s and Kabir’s needs as well as their wants are satisfied? Isn’t that enough reason to get me the love and respect I deserve?

Or…or…is there someone else in Manu’s life?

Meghana’s head reeled at the thought. No…she didn’t want to permit such thoughts to enter her mind. She had developed a splitting headache by then. Her Google Map showed Blue Moon Cafeteria just five minutes away.

She asked the cab driver to stop by the cafeteria, paid him and sent him off. The cafeteria was almost empty, except for a young boy – probably in his late teens, engrossed in a novel in one corner.

She chose a seat near the huge glass window facing the street.

“What could I serve you, Ma’am?”, a middle-aged lady in the cafeteria uniform asked her politely with a welcoming smile placing the menu before her.

In no mood to return her smile, Meghana scanned through the menu and asked for a sandwich and a cup of coffee.

“I’ll be back in ten minutes, Ma’am”, said the waitress.

Not wanting to pick up her train of thoughts, Meghana looked out of the cafeteria window hoping to find something interesting…something that would take her away from her fears and worries. She saw an old woman leaning on a pair of crutches walk past, a small boy hopping and jumping happily holding an old man’s hands, a vendor trying his best to sell some articles of daily use at a cheaper price to passers by, a young couple walking hand in hand with the gleam of newly found love largely writ on their faces.

“Here’s your order, Ma’am”, came the chirpy voice of the waitress, startling Meghana.

“Oh!…Thanks”, muttered Meghana without a smile.

The waitress went away. As she uncovered the tray, Meghana noticed that there were food stuffs other than the ones she had ordered. Apart from the sandwich and coffee, there was a chocolate muffin, a cream roll and some star-shaped wafers. Underneath was a neatly folded cloth napkin with the words – “Shine as a light amidst the darkness”, stitched onto it.

Meghana waved at the waitress and summoned her to come.

“Yes Ma’am, how may I help you?”, said the waitress, whose name Meghana noticed was pinned onto her uniform.

“Er…I think there has been some mistake in serving the order. I had only ordered for a sandwich and a cup of coffee. But, there are some additional items in my tray”, said Meghana.

“Could I sit with you for a minute?”, said Shikha, the waitress.

Not prepared for such a question, Meghana forced a nod.

“My sweet Ma’am”, began Shikha, “you are beautiful. Has anyone told you this?” A faint smile formed on the corner of Meghana’s lips for the first time that morning. Her mind raced to the day when she had met Manu for the first time and he had said, “Meghana, you are beautiful – a marvellous creation of the Creator.” Oh! How she had blushed that day! She was about to break into a shy laughter when her surroundings brought her to the present. And gloom filled her face.

“What does that have to do with my order?”, Meghana retorted with irritation clearly evident in her voice.

“From the time you walked in, I noticed sadness in your eyes. I do not know the reason nor would I make you uncomfortable by asking you. But I want to share a slice of my life with you. Before that, just to clarify, these additional items are complimentaries that we at Blue Moon Cafeteria offer to our first three customers each day. And, you are our second customer for today”, said Shikha with a wide smile.

“Now coming to my story, I own this cafeteria”, said Shikha.

Taken aback by this piece of information, Meghana seemed to be visibly unsettled thinking that she ought to have treated Shikha better.

“No, nothing to worry about, my dear. I love to serve my customers along with my employees. So, I dress like them and behave like one of them. You can be at ease. This cafeteria was gifted to me by my father when it about to be shut down once and for all. Decreasing footfall of customers and dwindling coffers drove my father to such ill-health from which he could never recover. He bequeathed this cafeteria in my name”, said Shikha.  

Meghana pretended to be listening to her with interest…

Continue reading the next part HERE

MY SILLY SEARCH FOR ADVENTURES

I was a huge fan of “Famous Five” series as a child. It was a series of novels written by a British author named “Enid Blyton”. The stories revolved around 4 kids who were cousins and their dog. Every novel used to describe their summer vacations together at countryside of Britain. It was always a mysterious story where the five would go out on adventures and figure out something unusual which could be anything ranging from an illegal activity to haunted places. The five of them were always brave and ready to take on challenges. They had their cycles that they would use to go around places and they all loved their dog – Timmy.

Over the years of reading these stories, I felt so connected with these 5 characters. I used to think about them, dream about them and talk about them almost endlessly with one of my friends (Nupur) who was also a “Famous Five” fan.

We were living in colony of Government quarters then – IIP Colony. IIP is the name of institute where my dad worked. It was one of best places for kids to grow up. At outskirts of the city – surrounded by green trees, acres and acres of tea plantation around and the best part was that our colony’s boundary wall was adjacent to Rajaji National Park. So just a few kilometers away, we could reach a proper jungle that had real animals.

Me and my friend Nupur always used to talk about the Famous Five adventures and kept dreaming of having one such adventure ourselves. My dad was very fond of taking all the kids of our colony on excursions inside the jungle early in the morning. It used to be like project and it was a lot of fun. We used to go deep inside the jungle then used our sense of direction to get back home.

Nupur and I in a hope to find an adventure used to take our cycles up to the nearest point of jungle boundary wall and after jumping the wall – we used to cover some extent of the jungle. Just the two of us! But unfortunately (or fortunately) we never found anything illegal happening there or never encountered any animals or ghosts. Now when I think back – it was quite dangerous because in no time the jungle used to get really deep and anybody could get lost there. But we were just so eager to encounter an adventure – that we never thought of any of this.

Those were the stories that I grew up with and that I believed was a reality in some part of the world. Later our adventures completely stopped because there was news of spotting leopard around the jungle boundary. Security was tightened around the boundary wall to ensure the safety of residents and that brought all our hopes of finding an adventure and solving it on our own to a complete halt.

I believed that Famous Five actually did exist and Enid Blyton wrote their stories. I wanted to be famous like them, so famous that someday some author would also write about my adventures too.

OH!! SILLY ME!!

With all these going around me, I am unable to think and write anything. I have to cook, I have to go to the washroom, I have a book to finish, I need to eat my dessert, I have to finish that craft work, I, I, I…. Wait! She told me to take care of a certain thing. What was it??? Can’t remember…. (Mmm! She is so nice that she remembered to tell me to see through. She is so caring. She has a beautiful house and a wonderful interior. I love her vase and those beautiful flowers in it. She even keeps her kitchen so clean and tidy. How can she?) – All happens within the thought bubble. Just a small sound of the baby getting up. Done. All the pending chores go unattended because of the random silly thought about my friend.

Yes, yet again I wasted my precious hour thinking. It’s not only that I get thoughts about my friends and their clean houses but also other things.

Recently, I got my daughter’s admission done in a school nearby. Hence, I get thoughts many random thoughts about her school life. Some like,

  1. She missing me and crying
  2. Getting hurt while playing
  3. Doing some stuffs I never knew she could
  4. Speaking a full statement (she still doesn’t speak a full statement)
  5. Getting her friends’ home or going to their place.
  6. Studying and doing good and making us proud parents.

Many thoughts are happy and some painful. Still, anxiety and excitement takes a toll time and again. Another recent example of my silly thoughts is about yesterday night when I was preparing food for my husband’s colleagues for their potluck. I, constantly had a pinging thought about them, complaining that the food is not good enough and everything. Well, silly of course!!

This process of thinking and then dreaming and day dreaming about stuffs have been there with me since my childhood. When I was a kid, I used to think that I had super powerful eyes. I could see the sparkling things in the sun rays. Later discovering those were dust particles and everyone could see them. I even day dreamed of becoming thin and then becoming very famous for becoming thin all of a sudden. Well, it definitely never happened! I thought of killing all bad guys, who came to trouble my mother with one slap, almost every time we went to market. I even killed a man in my head, for talking badly to my father in front of me. I even thought of looking angrily at my dad, while I was being scolded, and then being scolded for not being attentive. I even thought that the moon followed us everywhere we went. I even thought it came from the devil to haunt us. I even had a mysterious hand which was under my bed, all ready to grab me by my feet at night.

These are a few of my achievement and they do continue till date. The only difference being that the thoughts have matured along with me. Now my thoughts are clear and they let me know my inner feelings. I get scared at times when I finish dreaming them. My God!! I can be very dangerous at times! Haha. Life is too short. Silly things make it worth living.

If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done – Ludwig Wittgenstein

A LETTER TO SELF – SILLY THINGS I DID AND WISH THAT I HADN’T

Dear Pradita,

I hope this finds you in good health.

I have noticed of late that you have been dwelling on your past mistakes as a child, when you see your own child making them. What can I say, genetics works in weird ways! You have been telling yourself that you hope your child does not make the same mistakes that you made. Well, that is what I’m writing to you about.

As your oldest friend and observer, I have witnessed each and every one of your silly mistakes and helped you get past them. Sometimes I may have forced you to commit those mistakes and then stood aside to watch you suffer. It was fun, but I’m sorry. I should have warned you.

A child’s beliefs are based not only on what they see and feel, but also on what they’ve been told. So, some silly story an Uncle cooked up on how clouds are made in a factory in the sky became a part of your belief system, till you grew old enough to figure out that the Uncle was only joking. Take care, therefore, that you do not tell you child such lies. You never know how far genetics may have affected her!

Then there are mistakes you made as a child because you didn’t know any better. Those added up to your belief system too and became your first life-lessons. Don’t get me wrong, dearheart, I’m proud of you… But some things you believed in and some mistakes you made were way beyond my comprehension. Here I present a list of those silly things, and I sincerely hope you have learnt from them and will prevent your child from following in your footsteps –

  1. Chomping on a fistful of chillies, does not prove you’re cool. It proves the opposite. Shame on you for falling for that trick. Full points to the naughty neighbour who goaded you into doing it.

  2. It’s -6 out there. It’s your first snowfall. We get that you’re excited. But, you do not thrust your hand into the snow with measly woollen gloves on. Also, if you did that, don’t bawl like a baby when your fingers burn because of frost-bite.

  3. Drying woollen gloves and socks (from your previous silly mistake) onto a coal-heated deghchi only gives you charred and crumpled wool… not dry gloves and socks.

  4. You do not grow a full garden in your tummy by swallowing a few fruit seeds.

  5. Yeah sure, bunnies look cute, but they can bite…ouch!

  6. Falling into a ditch is a common side-effect of cycling and letting your eyes wander from the road to the cute guy on the other side of the road. On the plus side, its euphoric when the same cute guy comes and helps you out, even if he thinks you’re an idiot to fall into a ditch in the first place.

  7. When you are only minus 5 feet, it’s very much possible for you to drown in the shallow end of the pool.

  8. There’s no point in showing some any skin in the middle of a bitter Delhi winter. Keep those tights and socks on, sista!

  9. Those sanitary napkins weren’t meant to wipe off ink splotches. Your Mommy lied to you. Likewise, those rubbery tubes aren’t transparent balloons…You get the rest, don’t you?

  10. Do not ever rub your eyes over hands that have been doing things with chillies.

  11. Those somersaults on TV are conducted by experts. Do not try them on your own bike and then cry about that twisted ankle.

  12. Cheating is not meant for you. You do not know how to cheat with stealth. You cheat like a sloth, then cry like a baby about being caught.

  13. When your teacher offers you the lead-role in ‘the’ school play, you do not turn it down to look gracious! There goes your possible-ticket-to-Bollywood!

  14. Likewise, in a rickshaw full of school-going kids, you do not offer your seat to a porky kid and then end up balancing yourself on an iron rod for the remainder of the 2-mile journey home. That’s not graciousness, that’s foolishness.

  15. On the day of an examination, do not trust anyone who asks for your pen/pencil ‘just for a minute’. AND REMEMEBER, you do not know how to cheat!

  16. You do not turn into a chicken when you get chicken pox. Stop freaking out!

  17. Mommy does not have eyes on the back of her head… Just very good common sense and a killer sixth sense.

  18. You do not grow old by staying in water too long.

  19. The moon does not have a giant bunny living on it. What’s with you and bunnies anyway?

  20. And finally… you do not get pregnant by watching someone kiss on TV!

Sincerely,

Pradita Kapahi

Blog – The Pradita Chronicles

IMAGINATION DOESN’T HAVE A HEAD AND TAIL… IT HAS WINGS

India has lost 5 wickets for only 132 runs and there’s another 178 runs needed to take them to victory. He has come to the crease after the fall of the fifth wicket. He is a good batsman but the bowlers were kind of too heavy on the Indians today. He started to settle down… but he doesn’t have much overs left to play slow and settle down… He quickly adjusted to the situation and has started playing freely. He’s very quick between the wickets and slowly he opened up to hit few boundaries. He was well supported by Ravindra Jadeja at the other end who knows how important he is. Now India needs 128 runs out of 7 overs. It looks impossible but as long as he is there nothing is impossible. He hits a six. That’s the first six he hit today. Once he starts hitting he is unstoppable. The opponents know it very well. He hits a four again. Indians fans are shouting and screaming his name all around the stadium. Its 22 runs needed from 6 balls. Jadeja is on strike and he knows how important to give him strike if the India needs to see the victory. Jadeja took a run and give him the strike. 21 run out of 5 balls. He hits a six, another six and there the third six. 3 run out of 2 balls.

“What are you doing? Did you finish the lesson…? Are you dreaming or what?” My aunt’s voice brought me back to my study table from the cricket field. I couldn’t give my team members an emphatic victory.

There were other times when I used to imagine myself to be a defense personnel and married. I would be assigned to solve a problem. My wife would be also part of the defense unit and we both would be on our bike to solve the problems that caused many suffer in the city.  I even used to imagine that our defense unit will be a private association and not part of the Indian Army. I used to imagine that I would be the second in rank to the commandant or boss.     

When I used to wake up from my sleepmagination I used to find myself struggling to even go to school regularly for my health issues. 

I still imagine a lot even now. But now I imagine some realistic stuff… like, meeting with Prabhjot and Aastha in Bangalore or arrange a conference for all of us to be part of with lots of food etc. I also imagine that my book or music album will be published and all will be appreciating it. But again when I come back to my reality I find myself right there where I was just sleepmaginating

We imagine what never happens in reality. Imagination doesn’t have any heads or tails but it has WINGS. So when we give air to the wings of our imagination by directing them well we become good writers and story tellers. I am an example picked up from that lot.  

Are you in your sleepmagination? Wake up and channelize it. 

Stay Blessed!

​OH WAIT! THAT WAS SO SILLY OF ME…

Our world is filled with people who try to look pretty serious on the outside, and some may be serious on the inside too. But I am definitely sure that all of them have been bugged by silly thoughts from time to time. And these silly thoughts are not restricted to a certain age group. I know that when we are kids our imagination is hyperactive and our thinking is completely independent of any world view, but even when we grow older there is always a kid somewhere within us.

Enough with the introduction now! Let’s head into few of the silly/stupid/weird thoughts I have had over the years.

The union with Vicky

I was may be 11 or 12 when “Small Wonder” used to come on TV broadcasted on the Start plus Channel. And I immediately took a liking to Vicky, the humanoid-robot created by Ted Lawson, and accepted as a part of the Lawson family. Well I accepted her too and was smitten by her.  Smitten so much that I even dared to kiss the TV while she was in the frame; of course nobody else was there in the room. And in my dreams I used to see this strange storm transporting me to Vicky’s world. The dream was always incomplete and the union with Vicky (in my dreams) never happened.

The thing with orange seeds

Now this is something which might be common to folks. When I was a kid, someone had told me that you should not swallow orange seeds or else an orange plant would take root in your stomach and soon you would be producing oranges. Well! The orange plant taking root within me itself was a horrifying thought which made me extremely careful while eating oranges. And the worst part was I actually thought it would work this way: “You swallow the seed and then you drink water, and the plant starts to grow. That’s how plants grow; water the seeds and they grow, don’t they?” One day when I accidentally swallowed a seed I got very anxious. I could not even avoid drinking water, but then when nothing happened and I learned about the digestive system my fears were allayed.

Coming to my fears: When I thought I was being haunted…

I was very tired that evening. The washing of clothes gave my back a lot of pain and my shoulders a bit of strain. The dinner was heavy. I gulped in 6 chapattis with a dry brinjal-capsicum dish. By 11 pm I left my chair near the laptop and fell on my mattress.  

I was in deep sleep when something started to move. I tried opening my eyes and I could see the figure right above me. It was waving as if chanting some spell on me. My legs had grown cold because of the ceiling fan. I remembered switching off the fan before going to sleep but now it was running in full speed. The figure drew closer to my face and I could hardly move an inch. I felt it almost caressing my throat as my breathing morphed into panting like a sudden gear-shift. 

As I tried to reach the figure with my arms suddenly the image became clearer. And with a sudden gasp I regained my senses and recognized the terror. They were clothes hanging from the metal-strip on the door. I checked my mobile for the time. It was 2:53 AM

Does our planet earth confirm to atlas?

Now I have a fascination with geography so when I finally got my hands on atlas and saw the map of different countries and continents, I always wondered if we really get high enough amidst the skies and look down from there will the countries actually look the shape they appear to be in the maps. I never dared to ask this question to my geography teacher.  May be I can go fly to the space one day and check that. And I also wonder how all that water manages to stay contained inside our planet.

Do people actually drink in office and that too during the day?

This happened very recently. I sat across the table of this officer who was having a conversation with my superintendent who sat beside me.  This officer seemed to be affable and jovial. I sat quietly listening to their conversation when my eyes fell on a drinking glass. It interestingly was half-filled with whisky-like looking liquid. Thoughts start racing in my head: “Has this officer already gulped in half a glass of whisky during office hours? Is this the reason he looks to be so affable and jovial?  Should I ask my sir if this officer has this habit?” I knew the answer to the last question was “No” and soon we left the table. I smiled at the officer as I got up from my seat.

Amongst other crazy thoughts why the “hotdog” is named so when it has nothing to do with dogs and is the “100ft road” really 100 ft long. That’s a bunch of silly thoughts from me.  May we enjoy a little silly side of things once in a while as we try to make sense of things happening around us.  Stay blessed!