Sunday, 27 July 2014

Beautiful Reflections... Multiple Reflections...

Location: Gurudwara Betma Sahib, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India

Monday, 21 July 2014

My list of smiles...

There are things in life that can add zest to my life at any moment. These things are the seemingly small things, at times taken for granted in the race of life. These things make me smile... they make me happy... they energize me...  
  1. Seeing my children happyThe smiles, the contentment on the faces of the kids is a confirmed stress-buster. Add to that they push you to do better, to put in more effort, and to leave a better place for them.
  2. A good bookAh... the pleasure of reading a good book. The wonder of knowing fictional characters, of feeling their pain, of laughing at their happiness. Living another life, knowing it inside out. And to admire the way the words weave a realistic nest of stories... As I said, the pleasure of reading a good book...
  3. Planning a vacationThe thoughts, the planning, the visualization of going on a holiday, of relaxing, of taking a break... the planning feels like a holiday in itself...
  4. Doing nothing... once in a whileThe choice to leave all the work, all the chores, to vegetate for a while. I love it... once in a while. It's like ignoring all that lies around, pause things and come back with full force again.
  5. Most importantly, faith in GodThe superior being, who loves us, cares for us, and does it all for a reason. Who listens to us, and we can hear him too, if we believe. Just the thought makes me smile.
    When Voltaire said, "If there were no God, it would have been necessary to invent him", he knew exactly what he was saying.

After all the serious contemplation, I sign off with a Haiku on Zest...

Zest with magic five -
Family Friends Holidays;
some Books and Solitude


Zest is all in the mind. A positive mind makes for an energetic and enthusiastic person.

My first thought when I think about being positive has to do with how to avoid being negative; how to not let my energy be drained by useless, parasitic thoughts.

  1. Five years from now
    The first question I ask myself, when faced with a problem, is whether its outcome will impact my life five years from now. More often than not, the answer is no.
    Use then use every moment judiciously...
    John Wooden did say - "Five years from now, you're the same person except for the people you've met and the books you've read"
  2. Talk it out
    I just don't keep it bottled in. Discussing any issue usually puts things in perspective. Our minds have a tendency to blow things out of proportion. Give the thoughts some airing, and they make more sense.
    There is an old saying - "A problem shared is a problem halved".
  3. Is it terrible?
    Again, perspective matters. I watched an episode of 'Grey's Anatomy S8' recently. In that episode, when the really terrible stuff happens, the characters realise how loosely they use the word 'terrible'. Don't let the troubles be blown out-of-proportion.
    Supporting this is a quote by Gordon B. Hinckley - "It's not as bad as you sometimes think it is. It ALL works out. Don't worry."
  4. Count your blessings
    I remember the good things in life. The zeal for jumping the hurdles with a smile comes back.
    And I quote another inspiring quote, this one by Irving Berlin - "When I'm worried and I can't sleep; I count my blessings instead of sheep."
  5. This too shall pass
    If nothing else works... Well, this too shall pass, is always true.
    Give it your best shot, and then wait for it to pass.
    "Remember no matter what...
    How good it is or
    How bad it is.
    It won't last...
    Life is forever changing...
    This too shall pass away..."
Believe... Belief shows the way...

Zestful Dreams - some possible, some not...

Give me books - all that I need
Add to that, some time to read

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To open all locks, find me a key
Zest is all about being free

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Throw in a vacation to brood and just be

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Good food is needed for a foodie like me
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An awesome ride to bounce back with speed
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Books with time; freedom's key;
vacation to relax; car of speed;
some good food too I need
to add zest to life... I believe!

One of the dictionary meanings of the word 'Zest' is 'Passion'. So obviously what is needed to add zest to life is to do what one is passionate about... easier said than done.
So it is the small things that one enjoys that bring back the energy and enthusiasm to life.
I recently read somewhere that the Law of Time is flexible. Time can actually be stopped temporarily or accelerated. That is where I got the idea of asking for time to add zest to my life. It is supposed to be possible... I wonder how, though...

So, books and time; freedom to be; vacation (again time comes in); good food (always makes me happy). The car comes in because I know, once I have relaxed and enjoyed at a slow pace, the speed will be welcome.

When I dream these dreams, it feels like rebooting my system. Take a break, do stuff I enjoy, and come back as if all fresh and relaxed and gearing up for the fast-paced part of life - which I enjoy too.

“If you have zest and enthusiasm, you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind.” – Norman Vincent Peale

"In bad times and good, I have never lost my sense of zest for life" - Walt Disney

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Two images of flowers...
One from nature...
One made from Paper and Plastic (by my daughter)

Thursday Challenge: "FLOWERS" (All Kinds, All Colors,...)


The fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji's words about Golden Temple, Amritsar

"Dithe Sabhe Thav Nahin Tudh Jeha"
(Of all places that I have seen, none compares with you)

Amritsari Kulche With Lassi

McDonald's Pure Veg Outlet near Harmandar Sahib

Bullet Marks on Wall at Jallianwala Bagh


Punjabi Jutti

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Practical Art...

Thursday challenge - PRACTICAL (Anything tool or thing that you might use most days,...

On way to Amritsar, Punjab from Delhi, I clicked these photos. 
Practical Water Storage turned into Art...

The Storage tanks being made -

To view images on this theme from around the world or to participate in this challenge please click here

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Pain of Untimely Demise...

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Early death - reminds me of a beautiful poem my grandfather used to love, and recite.

The poem is about a young, blooming flower being plucked.

फूल की फरियाद 
(Phool Ki Faryad)
(Flower's Complaint)

क्या खता मेरी थी ज़ालिम
तूने क्यूँ तोड़ा मुझे
क्यूँ न सारी उम्र ही तक
शाख पे छोड़ा मुझे 
(Kya Khata Meri Thi Zaalim
Tune Kyun Toda Muje
Kyun Na Saari Umr Tak
Shaakh Pe Chhoda Muje)
(O Sadist, what was my fault?
Why didn't you leave me on the branch
to enjoy my entire life?)

जानता 'गर इस हँसी के 
दर्दनाक अंजाम को 
मैं ह्वा के गुद-गुदाने से 
न हँसता नाम को
(Jaanta 'gar Is Hansi Ke
Dardnaak Anjaam Ko
Main Hawa Ke Gud-Gudaane Se
Na Hansta Naam Ko)
(Had I known the painful outcome
of my happiness/beauty;
I wouldn't have pretended to be happy
when the wind had playfully tickled me)

शाख ने आगोश में 
किस लुत्फ से पाला मुझे 
तूने मलने की खातिर 
बस्तर पे ला डाला मुझे 
(Shaakh Ne Aagosh Mein
Kis Lutf Se Paala Mujhe
Tune Malne Ki Khatir
Bastar Pe La Daala Mujhe)
(The branch reared me in it's bosom
with such relish
You strew me on your bed
just to abrade me)

मेरी खुशबू से बसेगा 
बिछौना रात भर 
सुबह होगी तो मुझे तूँ 
फैंक देगा ख़ाक पर 
(Meri Khushboo Se Basega
Bichauna Raat Bhar
Subah Hogi To Muje Tu
Faink Dega Khaak Par)
(Your bed will imbibe my fragrance
throughout the night
In the morning though
you will throw me away like useless ash)

देख मेरी हालत 
बदल जाने पे है 
पत्ती-पत्ती हो चली
मुरझाने पे है 
(Dekh Meri Haalat
Badal Jaane Pe Hai
Patti-Patti Ho chali
Murjhane Pe Hai)
(Observe my condition
it's about to change
Each petal is going to

जिसकी रौनक था मैं 
बेरौनक वो डाली हो गई 
हैफ है बच्चे से 
माँ की गोद खाली हो गई
(Jiski Raunaq Tha Main
Beraunaq Woh Daali Ho Gayi
Haif Hai Bachche Se
Ma Ki God Khali Ho Gayi)
(I was the radiance of the branch;
it has become lackluster.
It's sorrowful - mother's lap is deprived
of her child)

तितलियाँ बेचैन होंगी 
जब न मुझको पायेंगी 
गम में भँवरे रोयेंगे 
बुलबुलें चिलायेंगीं 
(Titliyan Becahin Hongi
Jab Na Mujhko Payengi
Gam Mein Bhanware Royenge
Bulbulein Chilayengi)
(Butterflies will feel restless
to find me gone
Moth will cry dejected
Bulbuls will scream)

दीदा हैरां है 
क्यारी बागबां के दिल पे दाग 
शाख रोती है हाय-हाय 
गुल हुआ मेरा चराग 
(Deeda Hairan Hai
Kyari Bagban Ke Del Pe Daag
Shaakh Roti Hai Hai-Hai
Gul Hua Mera Charag)
(The gardener is upset
her heart smudged
The branch howls
My precious light is lost/dead)

मैं भी फानी तूँ भी फानी
सब हैं फानी दहर में 
मगर इक क़यामत है 
मरगे जवानी दहर में 
(Main Bhi Faani Tun Bhi Faani
Sab Hain Faani Dehar Mein
Magar Ik Qyaamat Hai
Marge Jawaani Dehar Mein)
(I am mortal, so are you;
All in this world are mortals;
The catastrophe is
the untimely death of youth)

शोख तूँ सुन ले 
समझ ले मान ले 
दिल किसी का तोड़ना 
अच्छा नहीं तूँ जान ले 
(Shokh Tun Sun Le
Samajh Le Maan Le
Dil Kissi Ka Todna
Achcha Nahin Tun Jaan Le)
(Shokh says, listen,
contemplate and agree;
it's unfortunate
to break someone's heart)

Excuse my very amateurish translation.

The poem is as was recited by my grandfather. There could be mistakes.

If there are any mistakes either in the poem or in the translation, I would appreciate if you mention so in the comments.

Please also comment if you like this blog :)

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Strength to Enjoy Life...

What is strength measured in, I wonder, as I ponder over 'Mardaani'.

Mardaani... (Image Source)

Somehow, the word reminds me of Rekha in a Sari, hair open, on a horse, wielding a sword - akin Rani Laxmibai, I guess.

What is outwardly apparent is the physical strength. But is it enough, if not supported by emotional toughness?

I can't think of a female I know who has wielded a sword or even a stick, for that matter. Never had to (fingers crossed!), but strength some of them have had in bounds.

One such person is my aunt, Preet. And this is Preet's story.

Preet's a good girl - that's how her mother always talked about her.
Born in 1950s India to Punjabi parents, who were 'refugees' in 1947 when they came to India from Pakistan. (Preet's father would, once in a while, rant about having been called a refugee in his own country - but that story is for another time, another blog-post)

When she was born, the family was still struggling to make a living in post-independence India's capital New Delhi. The struggle didn't last long. Soon they were part of the blooming middle class.

With three brothers - two elder and one younger - Preet was the only daughter in the family.

Fond of studies, but just as interested in domestic chores, and religious beliefs and rituals. As I said before, a good girl...

Fast forward to today, decades later, she can still rattle off definitions and answers she had learnt in her school and college, verbatim. People say she's got a photographic memory.

Back to the days of her youth - she usually topped her class in school and college, cooked well (though not always), stitched clothes, learnt religious scriptures.

Preet - the first girl of the family to go to college. As good a student as she was, her elder brothers' support certainly helped. The three siblings were even able to convince their conservative father to allow her to go to a three-day college trip to Simla. Reminiscing about this trip is something she enjoys doing till date, and she does remember so many small details, it is surprising.

Preet had fun, with her friends, when possible. She would find happiness in the small things - go out with friends for an ice-cream, watch a movie with them (this was extremely rare though). The Simla trip was certainly the high point.

She never rebelled. According to her, she never wanted to. Life was good.

Graduation degree in hand, she did what was expected next. She got married.
A few 'spicy' (her description, not mine) encounters with in-laws followed, which a couple of years later resulted the expected progression of moving out of the joint family.

Their apartment was always maintained to perfection - well, she said it was always perfect, and her husband did too.
The ideal family with two sons, both pampered a little. No tuition for her kids - she loved helping them do their homework - and was always vocal about her pride in doing so.
And a loving, but a little over-possessive husband.
Preet had it all - and since she believed she had it all, who is anyone else to judge her.

Why did Preet start working?
Well, the practical answer is that both her children were teenagers now. She had lots of free time.
Her husband, who had always appreciated and complimented her 'intelligence' (again, his choice of word, not mine), encouraged her to start a boutique - a small shop where she sold dress material, employed tailors to get dresses stitched to order.
That is the practical answer. I have always believed that it was God's way of helping Preet prepare for the times ahead.

Within a year of the boutique opening, Preet's husband died. He had been unwell for a couple of years. Confusing diagnosis and deteriorating health made way for a painful death.

In her 40s, Preet lost her husband.
One child was in college, the other still in school. Considering the sheltered life she'd always had, most people expected her to be shattered.
In her 40s, Preet came into her own.

Over a decade later, she manages her business with an elan that defies her earlier ambition-less choices of life. The fact that she had dabbled with stitching long back gives her an edge over her competitors.

Her confidence is such, that one's first instinct is to accept whatever she comments, as truth and nothing but the truth.

No grudges against God (she is as religious as ever), no 'what ifs' cloud her peace.

Preet - a lady with the strength to face and enjoy whatever life surprised her with and the ability to be perfect at whatever role time expected her to play.

No sword wielding, I know. Strength, certainly!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Bookworms - socially incapable nerds? #BookWorm

Disclaimer: This blog is written by a bookworm. And this bookworm is proud to be one.

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I have been referred to as a bookworm often enough since, what seems like, forever. I refer to myself as a bookworm at times - one word that explains my hobbies, and priorities.

A bookworm is a person who enjoys reading.

As for being a nerd, one of the definitions of 'nerd' is 'a single-minded expert in a particular field'.

Now to the Indispire topic - "Are kids who read books treated as socially incapable nerds?"
My counter-question is "Are kids who read books socially incapable nerds?"

Reading is, among other things, about escapism. So, if a person, who likes being alone, uses reading as his/her escape route, is it reading that is leading to a lack of social skills?

I am an ambivert - with more characteristics of an introvert. (I am thankful for the day, I learned the word 'ambivert'. I never understood whether I was an 'introvert' or an 'extrovert' before I knew this word). I choose to read when I am alone, and at times, when I have company too.

Assuming one is an introvert, and chooses to read instead of socializing. Is reading promoting is introversion? Or is it just a vicious cycle?
In either case, reading is not responsible for one's lack of social skills.

It is single-mindedness that makes a person a nerd, not books or computers, or whatever else he/she may be single-mindedly interested in. That answers my question ("Are kids who read books socially incapable nerds?")

Now to the question from Indispire- "Are kids who read books treated as socially incapable nerds?"
I can just think of one answer -  'Kuch toh log kahenge, logo ka kaam hai kehna' (People will say something or the other, that's what they do)
It's a cruel world out there. The world of youngsters is especially ruthless - it saddens me, and honestly, never ceases to surprise me.
A small percentage is part of the in-crowd, the rest are treated like either like nerds or something else that can make them equally insecure.

It's food for thought for another day, if the in-crowd is as secure and happy as they seem to be.

So, what kids who read are treated as, is not important. What they feel about themselves is.


What I learnt while writing this blog -
One of the meanings of 'bookworm' is 'the larva of a wood-boring beetle which feeds on the paper and glue in books'.

Youth and Books... #BookWorm

According to a survey by The National Youth Readership Survey, National Book Trust, 2010, three fourth of total literate youth (13-35 years) in India do not read books other than their textbooks.

That doesn't sound good - 75% of young India reads only when they have to. Leisure reading is obviously an unacceptable hobby for the majority.
By the way, is 35 young? Well, the survey considers them young. And being around that age myself, I am more than happy to go along with that criteria.

I couldn't find any such previous survey.

The Indispire topic is "Reading books has reduced dramatically in today's youth..." Has it? How do we compare it to the reading habits of yesterday's youth?
Go back a couple of generations (the generations with no TV) and were the kids reading more? If I see the elderly around me, my answer would be, I don't think so.

The article I got this information from, does not mention any such previous survey, so there's no way to compare, whether kids now are reading any lesser than the ones of previous generations.
I am reading... (Image Source)

When I was in school and in college, hardly any of my friends were interested in reading books for leisure.

There has been a drastic change in how the youth spends leisure time.
Blaming TV, computers and smartphones is the easy thing to do. In my opinion, what has taken a back seat, thanks to all the electronic gadgets, is outdoor activity.

When Chetan Bhagat wrote 'Five Point Someone', suddenly there was a surge in youngsters reading. He wrote about something they could relate to, and he wrote in a language they understood easily.
The tragedy is when such reading is looked down upon.
I see it as a beginning. Starting with reading what one finds interesting (and easy) and later moving on to more variety.

The first book my son read was 'Diary of a wimpy Kid'. I had been trying to get him to read on his own for years (I have a bookshelf full of unread Roald Dahl books, abridged versions of many classics, etc.).
Finally he came across a book he enjoyed. He could relate to it and he found easy to read... a start, as I said. Now he is reading 'Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix' - the fifth book of Harry Potter series. (I feel so happy and proud)

If parents spend their leisure time reading books, there is a higher probability of children seeing it an option. Reading, like any other good habit, has to be inculcated, usually by example.

Leisure reading is to be enjoyed. All the other benefits of reading (knowledge, better concentration, improved vocabulary, etc.) are just positive side-effects that come with it.
Don't judge what one reads. Give access to good reading material. And let's take another readership survey a decade later.

British Council: Trends in Indian Reading Habits

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Another peek into Harry Potter's life

After years, JK Rowling has given us another peek into Harry Potter's life.

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Written as a gossip column in 'Daily Prophet' by the bug, Rita Skeeter - 'the bug' is what I always think of her as - it is posted on

Obviously written by Skeeter's Quick Quotes Quill, we get a gossipy glimpse of what is happening in Harry's and his friends' lives. Harry is 34 now with a few grey in his hair.

Some of what is written in this was known to Harry Potter fans before, as it has been mentioned by JK Rowling in some of her interviews, and interactions with her readers.

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The much-hated (and rightly so, I believe) journalist, Skeeter, speculates about problems in Harry's marriage and Ron's marriage too. She gossips about the next generation, brings up the supposed rivalry between Ron and Harry, and describes Hermoines as a cunning femme fatale.

We get to know about achievements of members of Dumbledore's Army, with Skeeter's comments thrown in. Obviously as Harry Potter readers, we know that anything negative said by 'the bug' has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

In the end, there's mention of "My new biography: Dumbledore's Army: The Dark Side of the Demob" to be released on July 31. Should we look forward to another dose of Harry Potter news on July 31?

About 1500 words by JK Rowling, and it feels like we know what is happening with Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Krum and a few others. If we can't have another Harry Potter book, bring on these glimpses... it feels like reuniting with old friends, even though it's a quick get-together.

Dumbledore's Army Unites - By JK Rowling

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