Monday, 30 April 2012

Gossiping- An Overrated crime!

( The inspiration to write this piece is no particular incident or person. I wrote this when I read a quote in some newspaper and realized that I agreed with it at many levels. Gossiping has so many taboos attached to it that while everyone LOVES it they never love to admit it. Why! is what I do not understand)

The quote that triggered this post:

Anyone who has obeyed nature by transmitting a piece of gossip, experiences the explosive relief that accompanies the satisfying of a primary need.

So True!

I am not ashamed to admit that I indulge in gossip. And I am a strong believer of the fact that no matter what they say, every one who is breathing, has indulged in gossiping! So why deny it? Worse, why label the "gossipers in the public eye" as evil? If I am not causing any apparent harm to anyone-like maybe divulging personal details or maligning the person's public image or creating my own instances using my wild imagination- then why not? Now you must be wondering that what kind of gossip will I call legitimate. Well...the one I do! 

Is there anything known as-  The Harmless gossip?

Technically, my kind of gossip is harmless. Its an exchange of "views" between 2 parties involving the 3rd party, with a mutual agreement between party 1 and 2 that this "useful conversation" will never reach party no 3. So if it is never supposed to reach the gossip's target- how will it affect him/her?

So my kind of gossip is this. Its an exchange of views with a trusted partner who obviously feels the same way about my target, based on absolutely correct, authentic factual events! I will not add a thing or two in it from my end to pep it up, but yes I will definitely form an opinion based on what I saw and heard. Read on for some simple rules and regulations one can/should follow so that this activity remains joyful:
  1. Be consistent-- Not in the act! In partners- I have a set of fixed partners in crime and its been years that I have not increased this number. Its important to have a circle of such partners like one for family members, one for neighbors, one for college friends...blah blah
  2. Be safe-   I hate it when I hear that someone was gossiping about me! So I apply the same rule to my own targets. All I mean to say is- do not take pride in this. If you are a known gossipmonger then you ll scare people away. Be fun- not scary :). Be Nice - not mean :)
  3. Be professional- I never- not admit- that I enjoy gossiping. Doing so will clearly limit my sources of information right? I have now admitted it on my blog- does anyone need any more proof that I am very professional about it?
  4. Stay truthful...not to anyone yourself!- If you have the audacity of blurting out something about someone, stay ready to admit it, if confronted. If you don't have to eat back your words, you are a fun gossiper because again....your intention is not malicious!
  5. Relax...DONT be desperate- There are people I know who seem to be on the prowl all the time! Like they will be paid by a mafia for every bit of information they fetch. Its sad to see them live like this. My advise (again unsolicited) if you think you are smart, don't imagine that others are fools.
  6. Dont be embarrassed or better....dont be a liar!- I hate those who say- "We dont like to gossip!". Please do not lie people. Gossiping is not a crime ( again if you are aware of what you are doing it for). You have all done it in your own little ways so please introspect and then judge me.
  7. Be fair- I also have a rule- If Ill gossip with you- I will never gossip of you! Especially not with the person I gossip to you about. I mean, its illogical to do that right?  So choose gossip partners with quite a serious " screening".
  8. It should not be a ritual. Its a healer!- Gossip is not a daily ritual for me. Its very therapeutic hence its only for a reason.
  9. Be realistic and not fatal!- I have 2 BIG  "secret" sounding boards in my life. These are the 2 people who, like a sponge, have retained so many of my "venting sessions" and are so disinterested in the news I give them that they hardly think about it again! So when there is a real "sleazy and explosive" bit of news, I use my reliable sounding boards and serve the purpose of- " Mann bhi halka ho gaya, kisi ko pata bhi nahi chala"
  10. If you are apologetic about something, why do it?- It takes a coward to "talk ill behind someone's back". And it takes strength to admit that while ill talk about you, I will maintain yours (and mine) dignity and integrity. 
In Oscar Wilde's words: 

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about"

I am sure many of you reading this have "gossiped" about me at one point of time in your life. All I want to say is: do it healthily by basing what you 'discuss' on actual facts and not indulging in something that satisfies JUST your creative state of mind. I promise, I always do the same :)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Blanked out of a mother's dictionary...

They say a lot changes once you get married. True....
How come they never tell you that the WHOLE changes once you have kids!!!! Exaggeration? NO!!

I realized that there are so many regular phrases and words that have completely evaporated from my life..... Some are listed below but deteriorating memory is also a side effect so I will have a sequel of this post in due course. Such mundane things they are that someone without kids cannot imagine this could be true!!

  1. Weekdays and Weekends- There is no distinction now between the two! They are both the same, absolutely same. Its funny how difficult it was to explain to Viraj the other day that on weekends- "you have fun because you have a holiday from school and papa is off from office". He turns around and asks- You have an off from?? "Nothing my child :("
  2. Friday Evening adrenaline rush: Dont you have that fun churning in your stomach when its Friday evening, you are in office,  there is little work on your desk and you are mentally preparing for all the rest, movies and catching up with friends you can do in the next 2 days?- Thats all vanished from my life! I sometimes have sense of Fridays when there is a Parent-Teacher meeting next day and I have to "Dress up" for a change
  3. Monday Blues- No need to explain what this is and how you all must be thinking- "Parul thank god you do not suffer from this!" but again- If you were in my place even Monday mornings would look bearable- Now imagine!!!
  4. Bad Hair days- I sometimes have good hair days and those too are disrupted by people around me asking:-" Kahin jaa rahi ho kya?". Noooo...why cant I look normal on some days!!
  5. Vacations to Mountains- I got married in the peak of summers without realising that this would mean having an anniversary too in peak of summers year after year :( .That is not too bad huh? I could always take to the hills? Nahh!! I have 2 sons and 1 husband who have motion sickness and what does that translate to?- NO vacations on the mountains- EVER!!!
  6. Parlor Visits- These are now marked with 3 levels of approvals
    1. To Kids: Can mamma go away for a few hours? You will not trouble papa? See its his weekend so you should let him watch TV na?
    2. To Saurabh: Please let me go. They wont trouble you. Okay ill come back as soon as I can.Okay think about it 
    3. To Mother In law: Will you manage kids? Yaya I ll be back soon. Ill ask Saurabh to help you Ma, but you know him:(
    4. (By the time these approvals are granted, I dont want to go!!)
  7. Random Channel surfing- You never know where Mallika Sherawat is asking men to get wet! You never know where Kancha cheena is hanging Vijay's father on the tree!! You never know where a maid is shown kidnapping small children in Crime patrol- Basically dont channel surf!!
  8. An empty Bed- Really what is that? Been years when Saurabh and I have not slept with all of us looking like a sandwich!
  9. Salary- I no longer wait for month end for an SMS that tells me that an amount has been credited for all my hard work. All those raise hands who get such an SMS even without the hard work.
  10. Increment letter- I have no clue when I got the last one. But this is compensated ably when kids win certificates at school for various competitions I help them prepare for :)
  11. Clubbing- Oops- Is it still called that? 
  12. Mush- Saurabh and I do not need it any longer. All we need now is an opportunity!!!
  13. Junk food- "Lead by example" is what our pediatrician was telling us the other day while I could see a box full of pastries on his desk which he patted and said- " Kabhi kabhi its nice to take this stuff to kids"
  14. Coke and Pepsi with every meal- I did not learn how to guzzle down my Pizzas, butter chicken and Shwarmas without a glass full of chilled Coke or Pepsi. Now Saurabh stares at me when I ask for it as kids will pick this "bad" habit or I revolt and drink it in a steel glass which kills half its fun already :(
  15. The word- F. O- Look left, look right, look up and look up down. No kids in sight? Quickly say F. O!!! Phew......- So much trouble for such a harmless vent of emotions which cannot be replaced with any other suitable word!!!
  16. Face packs- If you cannot exercise point no 6, at least you could apply face packs at home? No baby I cant!! Why? - " Dadiiiiii.....Mom is scaring us!!!"
  17. Pin Drop Silence- In fact I might go deaf now if I ever experience it again in my life!
  18. Mom's Love- Its the truth! She has stopped caring for me totally. She ONLY loves my kids!!!
  19. A routine call to Saurabh- Suppose the weather is good and I generally feel like listening to his voice and telling him I miss him........" Mom I want to say Hi first"...." Mom I also want to say Hi"....." Mom give the phone- I must tell him how Bhaiya beat me up". In the end Saurabh will ask me-" Why did you call? Sambhaalo unhe yaar" :( 
  20. Guess the last word that's completely out of the window for me by filling up the blanks in these songs:
    1. O mere, Dil ke .............
    2. Mera ....... Vain sab ujda
    3. Mujhe neend na aaye, mujhe ............ na aaye

Monday, 16 April 2012

Nadaan Parindey....

Remember , I took more than usual time a few days back for my blog entry and promised that I will explain the delay. Well here is the reason. 

What comes to mind when I ask you to imagine Pankaj Udhas sitting on a stage, harmonium in hands, shawl around his neck singing something that makes Amrita Singh and Sanjay Dutt cry in the audience? 

Most of you must have guessed the song. The ghazal, no doubt, is a legendary contribution by Bollywood to the particular emotion it tries to evoke. For me that song never really meant anything. I liked the lyrics, the melody et all but never really related directly to it as I was not the one it addressed - ( Trust me I still cry when I hear Babul Ki duayen leti ja as it did address me once in my life)

But strangely a few days back I went through a phase which made me refer to this song again and again and again! 

I lost my 95 year old Grandmother last month. She died a natural death, quite usual for her age. The fact that she was absolutely hail and hearty till her last days, does make us miss her a lot but because of her age, the family has definitely come to terms with her passing away easily. What truly is inspirational is that she did not die a lonely death too. While she lived with one of her sons, her other sons and a daughter spent her last 20 days with her. As the second generation, me and my cousins ( who were blessed enough to be with her when she breathed her last) witnessed a range of emotions just looking at the generation before ours- Our parents.

Even at her frail age I saw her children and their spouses desperate to have her around. I saw them listening patiently to her Doctors and holding on to every positive word he uttered. I saw them quietly shedding a tear when she suffered and secretly praying that no matter what, she should not GO. There was nothing we could do as Grandchildren except for run around our parents, help them with physical labor, calm them by arranging things which could lessen their mental stress and of course pray along with them.

This experience gave me a huge insight into my own relationship with my parents. How many times I have kept the phone down on my mother because I was busy with my kids. How many times my brother has refused to accompany our father to an acquaintance's place because he was busy with his own friends. When I saw that last moment of my Father's mother slipping out of his hands, I realized, he had just let go of a very important person in his life. At the same time I was proud that he will not regret not being there when she must have yearned his company the most.

The question that stared me is what can I still do to not let my parent's living moments slip out of my hands? The least I can do is be around them whenever they need me! They will never say they will need us because they want us to live our dreams and grow out and find our own lives but will I ever be able to see myself in the mirror if I will not be around when they DO NEED me? No! For the first time in my life I felt it was not my parents who were lucky that their son and daughter are just a few hours away from them ( being in the same city or country) but its us who are lucky to have made this choice and be able to reach them when they will need us the most- when they deserve us to be around! For the nth time in my life, my parents led by example and gave me a big lesson by just being what they are.

At the other end there are many people I know who went through the same grief as we did but understandably could not transcend the physical and geographical boundaries to share this experience of ours. To every such person I know ( and may not know...), these lines are resonating endlessly in my head:

" Aaja Umar bahut hai choti....
          Apne ghar main bhi hai roti"

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Planning a trip to Vaishno Devi? Some free advise which I wish I had gotten earlier

Most of you must have been there or planning a trip there or dream of going there or heard of people going there or wondering whether to go there- I think I have exhausted all possibilities of making my point that please read this post for some observations and pointers which will help you -if you GO THERE!!

First things first (Read: disclaimer): This is not an attempt to discourage anyone! These are real  and serious observations from my recent experience hence honest advise- take it if you please and leave it if you think you are smarter ( visit the shrine and I bet you ll agree with most - actually everything- that I am listing below).

  1. When to go?
    1. Non Rush Time!!!- I did some hardcore recce to find out ( for all of you!) that March and December are best times to go as kids have exams then and parents are busy buttering the goddess at their homes. I went in April and braved close to 80 thousand people to reach up, make darshans and well... come down!!
    2. When you have confirmed travel bookings- Both ways!
    3. When you have at least 2 days for this visit- I attempted a single day Up and Down trek and have serious doubts on my IQ levels!
    4. When there is a serious need!!! 
  2. When not to go?
    1. Summer vacations
    2. Months following exams- April, January etc etc
    3. Long weekends ( oh wotta mistake I made!!!)
    4. Navratras ( Trust me!! Dont!!) 
    5. When you have wait listed train tickets- Even if you know the  Railway Minister , dont trust him to sail you through the quota to get your tickets confirmed! Because if he ditches you- Dude- you will see hell and come back!
  3. How to climb up the trek?
    1. Helicopter services- Avail of it. Bookings open a month in advance- Avail it!!!!!- this is the bestest option and please don't talk about any less devotion just because you did not walk up!! (Atleast dont tell me about it)
    2. Pony ride- it will churn the contents of your stomach like a grinder, give you serious back troubles- but its still better to ride them at least till a place called Ardhkuwaari- Not because they will tire you less ( you will be equally tired if you walked) but because when you are on the "Ghoda" you have the right to push people from behind using your pony's head ( The pony owner knows this trick very well as they pushed me a lot saying- Madam Side dey side dey)
    3. Dont be tempted to use the stairs or okay- use them and apply for 4 days chutti from work when you return!
    4. Palki- The flip side of this option are: 
      1. They charge you a bomb (understandable). 
      2. They stop innumerable times to take rest (this too understandable).
      3. People who are walking will always look at your face when you pass them ( Do not worry- Even if they judge you and think- Oh he/she is young enough to walk, they are actually Jealous of you!!)
    5. DO NOT ( read again) DO NOT make the mistake of climbing up in the afternoon if you are there for summer months- More than the pain in the legs, the sun on your head will kill you!
        The scorching sun can make you wear even your underwear on your head!!
    6. What will not work while trekking?
      1. When you are planning the trip and express apprehensions on how you will climb up, people will say- Oh you will see people older than you climbing and this will encourage you to climb- trust me it wont!! 
      2. Too much intake of water and aerated drinks- They bloody fill up your stomach and slow your speed- The liquids that might work, are not allowed :)
      3. Dont sit too often to  take rests- It sounds silly but this really works!
      4. When you are on your way up, don't be jealous of those who are coming down thinking- Must be easier to slide down. NO! Its tougher to come down!! Don't believe me? Try for yourself and see!
      5. Never ask a Pony wala or Palki wala- "Kitna duur hai bhaiya?"- He will always say- "Bas thoda sa aur!". And never ask a person coming down -" Kitna Duur hai?"- He will always say- " Abhi to bahut hai!!". Basically keep walking!! ( Why will you walk? I told you earlier not to)
    7. Must haves...
      1. Company that keeps you motivated
      2. Footwear that does not bite
      3. Ample time that keeps the burden of rushing through things off your ( tired) shoulders.
      4. Guts that help you sail through the utter chaos and mismanagement (I have been to the golden temple and Tirupati Balaji Temple and thus qualified enough to assert that what happens at Vaishno Devi is avoidable!)
    8. Planning to take kids?
      1. Load them on the pitthu ( Men who carry them up on their backs)- They walk faster than you so even if your kids cry, vomit, pull his hair- You wont be able to see it. Better than carrying them yourselves and getting into their bad books 
      2. On second thoughts- DO NOT take the kids!!!  ( I am already in my kids' bad books so I did not take the risk of making our relationship worse)
      3. If you HAVE to take them- read point no 1 under this head!!!
    9. Get ready to hear these words very very often and incorporate them frequently in your speech when you are there!!
      1. Mata Rani Ki Kripa- " Mata rani ki kripa se pahuch jaoge Bhawan tak beta, ghabraao mat", " Mata Rani ne bulaya hai, zaroor tumhaare train tickets confirm ho jaayenge", " Mata rani sabko darshan dengi beta- so let me push you back in the queue and meet Mata rani first!!"
      2. Jai mata Di- Tired?- Say Jai Mata Di!, Waiting for over 2 hours in the queue?- Say Jai Mata Di!, Calling home? -Instead of Hello, say Jai Mata Di!, A group of people blocking your way on the trek?- Say out aloud- Jai Mata Di!( yes it works as a horn too)
    10. What kind of people you may encounter on the trek?
      1. Reebok/Nike Promoters: Recognise them by their suave white Tees , sippers and shoes. They always look very serious about their walking and walk past you almost suggesting- " Hey loser. Walk faster"
      2. Memory Capturers- As it is people are going through so much but there will definitely be many who will take frequent breaks to click each other's pictures! Best pose is against the rocks. So many people will walk in between their cameras and the poser but they will not give up! They might actually gesture you to stop ( like you are strolling in the garden and will not mind disrupting your pace) and CLICK.
      3. Honeymooners- " Mata rani ke asshirwaad se hamari shaadi ho gayi- Chalo vaishno Devi1"- The wife will always be hanging on the husband and their journey of fulfilling the seven promises will begin here!
      4. Morale Busters- Suppose you are sitting on a bench and figure out that the person next to you is on his way down- Dont ask him stupid questions like- " Upar bahut bheed hai kya?" or " Bhawan Kitna duur hai?"- Because this is his time to take revenge! He will always answer-" Arre Sir bahut bheed hai. Badi mushkil se darshan hue" or " Arre abhi to aapne chalnaa shuru kiya hai!!"
      5. Give Uppers- I belong to this category as I actually GAVE UP in the first kilometer itself. Dont look at these people eye to eye- They will hypnotize you with their "Giving up attitude"
      6. When you are in the 'final' queue also people will push you!! Try telling them- "Bhaiya dhakka mat do, ab to aap Gufa ke andar tak aa gaye" and they will say- JAI MATA DI !!
    11. Mode of transport to Jammu?
      1. Take a flight to Jammu- Shorten the ordeal as there will be a lot ahead in the name of ordeals!
      2. Obviously the next best option is a AC travel by Train but ONLY and ONLY if its confirmed both ways! - I relied on false promises of people who were getting my tickets confirmed and ended up in a Sleeper Class ( during peak rush) and literally walked on people to reach my seat. There were 6-7 people on 1 berth and when you asked them - "Aap kaise bina reservation is train main aa gaye?" They will say- Jai Mata Di!!!!
      3. Volvos are good options too but again- Use confirmed tickets!!
    12. Finally the best piece of advise is the one that the Shrine board has themselves printed on the walls- (They have Live web darshans here!! )Wish I had taken it seriously!!!
      Take this notice seriously! They mean it when they say it!!

      Monday, 9 April 2012

      I am a woman living in Delhi- Thats enough introduction to my vulnerability!

      There is a story you all must have heard about a king whose life was in a parrot. Anyone who harmed the parrot was actually hurting the king. Whoever has ever known my father knows that I am his parrot :)

      I haven't been living with my brother, Rahul, for almost 7 years now but every time he has to go out for a wedding, interview or any other event, he calls me ( wherever I maybe!) to ask what he should wear :)

      Saurabh- my husband- says that my smile can melt his worst fears away. When he enters the house after a long day at work, the first thing he looks for, around the house, is ME. In his words- he is because I am.

      My sons ...well they aren't a part of my body or blood- we are connected by our souls.

      These are the 5 men who have made me the core of their lives and I reel in this pride every single minute of my existence!
      I am sure every woman who is reading this has a set of such men around her and every man has a woman who is driving him like I drive my men.

      Even with so much care, protection and love around me I am very vulnerable. Very insecure. Very suspicious and yes very scared. It is because I have to deal with many other MEN who may or may not harm me. As girls we are fed with innumerable tricks to take care of ourselves when we are on our own. From pepper sprays to "you should learn karate!" to "dont step out when its dark". I am not sure how many of these tricks will work when the day comes to use them.

      I do not want to rubbish Delhi as a city in this post as this maybe the story of women in any part of the world but yes, being in Delhi definitely adds a little more caution in my tone. Its all because I have for all my life-" Been here, seen that"

      Everyday things that make me cringe in my skin and ask- Just because I am a woman?

      • I often take Radio Cabs to travel around the city for work and when the driver shuffles between songs to arrive at the 'perfect one' before starting the car and the choice is: " Pare ho ja Jatt nu sharaab chadh gayi" followed by " Tip Tip barsa pani, pani ne aag lagayi" - I do feel like jumping off his cab :(
      • My father ensured I drove down myself to college and not take the (in)famous Blue Line buses but in an instance or two when I took them and a 50 year old man pressed himself against me only to say-" Kya hua Beta?" innocently (when I looked back at him to ask what he was trying to do)- I did wonder if he is worthy of calling anyone- 'Beta' :(
      • When I see news stories of the 5 friends who have been caught because they got together to rape a woman in their moving car and I see them standing trying to hide their faces but smiling when a giggling cop pulls their faces up to face the cameras- I can see no remorse in their postures or any anger in the cops! Its all a tamasha which further humiliates their victim and well....scares me to hell.
      • They say my clothes can trigger impaired chemical reactions in a potential rapist's thought process! Oh how conveniently I am to blame yet again for corrupting an otherwise 'innocent' man's mind- I am sorry Dear Rapist- so it is NOT your fault huh?
      • Why have the recent developments in my city made me so cautious that I invariably keep looking into cars that have slightly tinted glasses to check if they are not all men with one woman and hoping she isnt trying to reach out for help :(
      • Even when I am on a busy road or market or street and I see someone leching at me, I cannot expect any other man to help me, so I should not even ask for it- Worse is that the man who should help is already victimizing me in his head by assuming that I am provoking his lecherous counterpart :(
      • Why is it that being a mother of 2 sons, I sometimes thank my stars that Ill be able to leave them alone in the house after a few years if I have some social engagements in the evening but it would have been impossible if I had a daughter? 
      • If I am coming back from a meeting and I am being driven alone in a cab, why do my father or brother or husband take turns to call me and check how far I am from home? I am sure they want the Cab driver to know- We are with her :)

      Monday, 2 April 2012

      How to keep your wife grounded- the Saurabh way...

      My husband is a man of few ( or is it NO) words. Poor thing's lack of a functional vocal chord is often misunderstood for his arrogance. He is a kind of person who will utter every single word after he has mentally rehearsed it for a good 10 seconds. Now marry him off to someone who utters the entire sentence and doesnt care to think about it even after 10 minutes. Marry him off to someone who often completes his sentences because she is too lazy to wait for him finishing it in  his own sweet time!

      I am sure by now you are pitying him for his choice of a spouse ( yes he chose me!). But read on to find out how I am the actual sufferer as he maybe short of words but never short of his one liners!!
      Learn a trick or two from just a few instances of how he keeps his " every chirpy", " ever eager" and " please appreciate me or okay atleast talk to me" wife GROUNDED!!!

      •  When I say the most abused 4 words  said by every wife when she has gotten ready to go out somewhere
      Me : How do I look?
      Saurabh : Even if you tried hard you cannot look ugly. So never ask me again and every time!

      • When I have cooked something nice for dinner
      Me: How is it?
      Saurabh : Do you know how to cook bad food? Har roz poochti ho!

      • On my birthday, our anniversary or any other 'occasion' where expecting a gift is not an offense!
      Me: I hope you have planned what you are buying for me!
      Saurabh : Babyyyy.....sab kuch tumhara hai. Alag se kya kharidna!!!

      • For our kids
      Me : See how well behaved they are! You must commend me for all the good habits I am putting into them
      Saurabh: Yaar they are my boys. Genetically they cannot be ill mannered!!

      • For Nevaan
      Me : Thank god he eats everything
      Saurabh : Mera beta hai

      • For Viraj
      Me: He is such a picky eater :(
      Saurabh: Tumhara beta hai !!

      • When one of his relatives gives me a compliment
      Me: See! that one said I am such a nice daughter in law
      Saurabh : Kamaal hai ! Why else did I marry you?
      • During a fight
      Me: You dont love me or what?
      Saurabh : Is this the right time to ask me that?

      • After a fight
      Me: Atleast Say sorry!
      Saurabh: Sorry? Me?? Shouldn't you say it???

      • When I posted the last 4 blogs and got tremendous response and encouragement from everywhere
      Me: Makes me so happy . I am so full of confidence to carry on....
      Saurabh: Arre kamaal hai! Uday Chopra ki tarah baat mat karo
      Me: Uday Chopra? He just gave one hit!
      Saurabh: Oh yes, you are Vivek Oberoi right now!! Teen chaar hits and you are flying!!