Age

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I recently happened to fill a form at some place. It asked for my age. The number 32 that I wrote with a fine tip blue pen was staring back at me. Occasionally smiling, but mostly staring.

32: ‘What? You haven’t realised yet that I have been tagging along with you since August?’
Me (embarrassed): Well I have. But this is the first time I have written it somewhere. So it suddenly struck me that you are here!
32: Doesn’t look like you are too happy about it!
Me: I am neither happy nor sad. I just feel you are quite a big number to tag along me now.
32: It HAS been a long way now right? Think about three decades. You can actually make the classical statements like ‘Bees saal pehle….’ and narrate your childhood now 😛
…….

This thread of conversations continued inside my head. Buzzing, thinking, reflecting and most importantly acknowledging the impact of 32.
This got me to think about age.
I am not someone who subscribes to thinking that age does not impact you. Of late, there is extensive discussion everywhere about how you should not let age affect your life choices – ‘you can do anything you want at any time of your life’ is the motto everywhere.
Sure you can.
But can you seriously ignore the impact that your age has had on you?

More importantly – should you ignore the impact of age? I mean, is it necessary to always ascribe a negative perception about age as having created limitations for you?

Let me explain in some more details.

I have realised that my health and body are different now than, say, 10 years ago – its foolish to believe that it isn’t. Or that it is going to remain the same forever – it clearly won’t.
There is a fine line between acknowledging that your body has aged versus using your age as a limitation for a new activity. Age is not a limitation for STARTING any new activity. However, how you execute the activity should be determined by your current age and state of body (level of fitness).

Something similar also holds true for mental and emotional age. Age ought to have an impact on your mind as well – and it is going to, only if you are not adamant enough about not letting age affect your mind! And I believe acquiring experiences with age SHOULD influence your mental framework and emotional definitions. I think it’s not admiration-worthy to think that what your approaches 10 years ago were haven’t yet undergone any refinements. Again this is different from being a ‘child at heart’. Being a ‘child at heart’ simply means harboring a fun, curious, simplistic and unassuming attitude at all the things you do – which is an excellent quality regardless of age. But it clearly DOES NOT mean continuing to take half-thought, hurried decisions or being ignorant of surroundings or creating stupid humor at wrong situations!

My point here is simple – I often feel age is misinterpreted. You may have misinterpreted someone looking at their age. OR someone may have misinterpreted you. You may have misinterpreted age as a limitation or even an excuse.
Again, there is no reason to assume that someone may not like doing something simply becuase they are not in the ‘classical’ age for any activity.
Age is impactful but it is not something to be judged on the basis of – for yourself or for others!
Age need not define a confinement for your thinking.

But age will have an influence. And if we stopped believing that the influence is always negative, I think we will get better at acknowledging age and enjoying it for what it is!

I think this is a good time to list down what 32 actually means to me, in my current state.
Everyone’s 32 may not be the same, so I would love to hear what your age means to you.
32 is family responsibility
32 is becoming the decisive generation in the family
32 is life without grandparents
32 is enjoying crisp morning walks
32 is yet, also enjoying late night parties 😉
32 is health issues
32 is altered metabolism
32 is unicorns and dreams
32 is the start of career and family dreams
32 is flexibility
32 is realising that altering paths, in life or in careers, is totally ok
32 is having been through childbirth
32 is making bucket lists
32 is letting things take their own course
32 is defining needs
32 is realising that family is EVERYTHING
32 is fun
32 is loosing the need to fit in a crowd
32 is making allowances for mistakes – yours and others
32 is not too late to learn anything
32 is officially 10 years out of college
32 is not associating with current music trends
32 is more nostalgia than living in the moment
32 is defining priorities
32 is comfort in your own self
32 is appreciating and thanking your body
32 is a quest for wisdom
32 is wanting to learn something new everyday
32 is loving your baby above everything else
32 is appreciating biological clocks and body changes
32 is retrospective
32 is financial investments and plannings
32 is planning
32 is motherhood
32 is calling it ‘priorities’ instead of ‘sacrifice’
32 is valuing parents
32 is reading between the lines
32 is knowing what you hate about yourself
32 is poor at keeping in touch!
32 is often fast weeks and months that just zap by
32 is evaluating current fashion trends before adapting them!
32 is speaking free
32 is appreciating honesty
32 is a grey world – not black and white
32 is planning to write ’32 about 32′ but exceeding it anyways!!!
Above all, 32 is 32. 32 is not 19; and 32 is not 40. I want to be 32 when I am 32 – do you want to be what your age is?

The choice of becoming a parent

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A few days ago, a discussion at office sparked up a thought in my head. I would like to discuss it today. The discussion was about adapting to changes in life after having kids and why we have kids in the first place 😀 If any of you have had clarity about this aspect in your lives, I would love to hear!

I realised that I myself have probably not given a clear conscious thought as to why did I feel like having a baby 3 years ago. I mean, having and raising a baby is no easy task. Especially in today’s world, where the spectrum of things that you can explore and do by yourself is so wide; the idea of signing up for something that deprives you of this ease and freedom is enough to dissuade many from getting into parenthood.

So there must be some reason that makes us add something which gives us sleepless nights, endless jobs to take care of, makes us rework our career plans, steps into EVERYTHING we plan and do in our daily life (I mean EVERYTHING) and gives us a never ending responsibility for life?!!! There surely has to be something that goes beyond all this right. Is there? Or is there not?

Today when my daughter is 22 months old, I certainly know there is a lot more to it. However, when we decided to have a baby, I had no idea how the journey was going to be!

So why did I decide to have a baby?
Was it because we were already married for 5 years and it was the ‘next thing’ necessary? – Clearly no!!
Was it because of family/society pressures? – Thankfully no!!
Was it because my biological clock was ticking? – No, not yet!!
Was it because I needed a change in life after a major milestone of life after completing Ph.D ? – No! There could have been several other ways to achieve a change in life!

So what then?

I decided to recap and flashback.
I realised that I had always been clear about wanting to have a kid of my own. I knew that at a stage where time commitment for career can be relaxed a bit, I would become a mother. I had this in mind even before making any professional choices. To be honest, it was even before I could finalize who the father of my kids would be!! Much before I met H, I knew it was always going to be –> build a career foundation –> then have a baby. I have never been from the clan who thinks the sooner you have kids, the better; and that your career will grow ‘in the background’. No, I have never been supportive of this. Thankfully, when I met H and we got to serious discussions, we shared the exact same opinions about this. So the question of whether we want to get into parenting was always a yes; the only critical aspect was identifying the suitable time. However, the question of why did I or we choose to have a baby still remained unanswered!

What is it that we gained?
Or the more correct question is – what was I trying to gain 3 years ago when I decided to be a mother?

After a bit of pondering, I think the answer was actually very simple – the underlying parenting instinct is a strong universally conserved emotion that was the chief reason for this decision.

Deep down, we all want to take care of something so badly that we cannot handle any discomforts to it.
We all want that little something that we can be completely ‘responsible for’ and ‘in-charge of’.
We want to be able to influence and raise someone by yourself – with all your creative freedom.
We want to be given the magical power of being able to be influential and mould someone’s life, be someone’s unconditional love.
We want to be someone’s purest love with all security.
We want to be someone’s in all it’s entirety, to be irreplaceable!

We all have that desire of parenting. I think it peaks sometime around when we are in the quarter life-thirties crisis! Some, like me, choose to have a baby around this time. I have often seen that several couples this age also tend to adopt pets and raise their pets with the same emotion. Not just couples, several single men and women also adopt pets and raise them. I don’t know how many of you have noticed this, but the number of people who declare themselves as parents of pets has risen immensely in the last decade. Some of us take up a very serious hobby/passion or build an organization and nurture it with the same emotion. Some of them even say – This company is like my first baby! To me; these are all manifestations of the same parenting instinct.

A BIG difference in raising your own child is undoubtedly though, that the level of dependence on you is extremeeeely high! AND it’s a no-rest-no-vacation job; much unlike pursuing your passions like your child – where, well, lets be honest – you can at least have a cup of coffee undisturbed 😀

But either ways, I think the parenting instinct put us into this. It definitely put me into this.
And with the parenting instinct also came in the very practical considerations of having a baby while you are young and fit enough to physically endure carrying a child and also do all the literal ‘running around’. And like what I described earlier, the very important consideration of having sufficient time at hand to take care of the baby; and also a sense of having completed one foundation stone of career and financial plannings.

So, 3 years ago I decided to have a baby because I wanted to parent someone and I wanted to do it when I have enough time and fitness at hand to take care of him/her! Yes! I think I finally have my answer – and it was so simple!

So did I end up achieving all that I sought to? I did, and in fact I got much more!
That having a baby is the most magnificent sort of happiness that you can ever get. The little one, the innocence, the affection, the feeling of belonging – is priceless!!!
It is also something that puts you in a fantastic self discovery and introspection mode because you now know that someone is looking at your life and learning to copy you entirely!! It helps you in time management, makes you responsible, fiercely independent and of course, PATIENT!!!
However, I also learnt that it comes with a price. A price of your priorities, time, career paths, vacations, everyday business, relations, mental health, physical health – and the freedom of smallest things in life such as sleep times or even going out!

So, when you have a baby, you are signing up for the entire package – remember that the best things in life ARE going to come with a price. I don’t want to play the diplomatic mom and tell would-be moms that its a superb smooth happy journey once you get into it. It’s a superb journey undoubtedly, but it’s not going to be super smooth ever. But that is the fun and amusing part of it for me as well – Like they say, motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing in life ever!!!

Richard Dawkins has told us about how the selfish gene wants to procreate so it can stay alive and in circulation in the gene pool. I am glad that for this, the selfish gene has chosen the cutest path ever. Whatever made the gene so selfish, thank you!! I owe my little bundle of joy to you!

Dosa, a baby and a stranger

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My baby is 1.5 years old. Whoever has traveled with a baby knows the sweet and not-so-sweet sides of it. We recently started traveling with J after she turned a year old. This story is about our recent trip to Chennai and Pondicherry in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India.

So little J loves south Indian food since the first time she tasted it. Much unlike her father who is a fan of butter coated parathas and chhole from the up north in India, she is actually more like her mother in this regard and has developed a taste for idlis and dosas and appam and pongal; all of which come from the south of India. So,on this trip to South India I began my regular routine of traveling with J – packing dried roasted powders that can be cooked up by adding milk/ water, dry snacks, fruits and so on. I was not very concerned about finding food for her since south indian food has always been her favourite.

On our very first day in Pondy, it was around 7 pm and I sensed that she was getting hungry. I knew the solution to her hunger – dosa! I called up the room service and asked them to send in a dosa, with extra instructions of making it crisp – just the way she likes it. I hung up and told her that a dosa is on its way and saw her eyes swell with happiness. Sorted.

The room service guys brought in the dosa and I started feeding her small portions of it. But much to my surprise, she just wouldn’t eat it! I tasted it and saw that it tasted all right. In fact pretty nicely made. Then why wouldn’t she eat it. Second attempt. Failed. Third one. Failed. Fourth attempt with a reluctant switching on of Baby TV. Still failed. Now she was also getting cranky so I stopped all attempts of feeding her. Decided to pause feeding her, finish up our dinner and then try feeding her somthing again.

We all went for dinner to a nearby place which was at a small walk from the hotel. All through the walk I was constantly pondering over this. Why wouldn’t she eat something that she otherwise loves and so easily eats at home?! I couldn’t enjoy my food at dinner since I knew my baby was hungry for a reason I could not understand.
On our way to dinner, J came with my mother-in-law (MIL). MIL told me- ‘on the way J saw a roadside stall selling freshly made dosas and made me stop there. I asked her if she wants to eat a dosa there and she has agreed. Lets try on our way back’. I saw a ray of hope; I gobbled my food and we took her to the food stall that had caught her attention.

I saw a young girl in her twenties there. A very cheerful girl, smiling. Standing behind a hot stove and besides a big bucket of dosa batter. One after the other she was churning out dosas and looking at her, J was giggling. I asked J- ‘who is she?’. She answers- ‘Tai’ (elder sister in marathi). ‘What is she making?’ ‘Dosa’. Eyes twinkling. The lady there cleared the pan and sprinkled water. A sizzle. J giggles yet again. She spreads the dosa batter and J starts saying ‘dosa, dosa’. Smiles again. I ask J – ‘Do you want to eat the dosa that this tai is making?’ ‘Yes’ she answers. The girl at the dosa stall also sensed something funny happening. With her rudimentary english and my lack of Tamil, we hardly had a language to communicate 😀 but somethings dont need a language. This was one of those. I asked her for a dosa for J, and asked if we could just stand there watching. She agreed. She and J exchanged looks and smiles. J is not someone who associates with strangers very easily, but with this girl she did.

And then it dawned upon me. J likes dosas not just for the entity; but also for the process associated with making it. She literally connects with the dosa making and dosa maker emotionally. Even at home, when I make dosas or chillas for her for dinner; she sits with me through the entire process- making the batter, heating the stove, spreading the batter, cooking and serving the dosa – and then she eats it!
The dosa brought by the hotel room service clearly lacked this entire experience and no wonder then, that J just could not associate with it!

This young lady at the dosa counter gave J the entire dosa experience that she wanted and she also connected with J. Like I said, there was no language medium. But more often than not, especially with babies; the best communication happens without words! J loved the dosa and had her fill. We stood there watching our new friend make dosas and serve several other people. J was at her chattering best now. ‘Humpty Dumpty’ she said, pointing to the egg stand when her friend was making momelettes to serve others!! J was happy and so was the young girl – and I was amused and relieved!

For the next 3 days, every night when I asked J what she wanted for dinner, her answer was always tai dosa! Which meant dosa made by her tai (elder sister) 😀 Every night my MIL and I took J to the dosa stall, and fed her her dinner having so much fun watching the young lady make dosas.
This girl at the dosa counter is also a very cheerful lady and always served us with a smile. In the span of 3 days, she also developed a fondness for J. In fact, the moment she saw us approaching, she would actually put aside her waiting customers and give priority to my baby!

I cannot thank this lady enough for keeping J’s dinner sorted during our trip. Every mother has this biggest concern all the time – of feeding her baby good food! So once that is sorted, a mother can enjoy other things- That is exactly what happened to me!

I am also very positively amused by the kind of defined preferences that J has. At a tender age of just 19 months, she is able to distinguish food ‘experiences’ and not just go by food for the sake of food! Which sometimes as a mother can make food management difficult, but on the side of emotional and intelligence development of a child, its a big plus indeed and makes me proud!

The last night of our trip, I paid her the final twenty rupees for that day’s dosa. She smiled. I paid her for the dosa, but she actually gave me something way more that I cannot ever repay – the joy and security of a happily fed baby to a mother 🙂 Thank you, stranger.

The dosa lady 🙂

Some days

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Some days I wonder and let my thoughts linger

And on others I get rid of my thinking cap

 

Some days I rush into organization

And on others the clutter just doesn’t bother me

 

Some days I love being active throughout the day

And on some others a couch potato life I enjoy

 

Some days I envy and I worry

Think too much and compare too much

And on others letting go is so easy

 

Some days make me furious and fuming

And on some others, it just doesn’t matter

 

Some days get me excited and thrilled

Dressing up, adding colours to the day

And some others are so dull; even my coffee yawns back at me

 

Some days I admire and am grateful for the life I have

And on others I just cannot stop cribbing

 

What is the magic that sets apart some days from the others?

Some days things matter, and on some others they will not?

Our state of mind dictates it all

Tells us what to take seriously and what not

 

I give in to moods too much I realise

Old habits die hard, my father says

Remembers the first complaint about me from kindergarten

She’s very moody they told him

I laugh as I see my 8 month old following suit

Will history repeat, will be fun to note

 

Right or wrong? I contemplate

On this difference in my responses

On giving in to moods

On having a different mood every day?

 

Only being a human, I assure myself

After all, who but a human has mood differences I ask?

I ain’t no machine

Or a computer program

Where the same input gives the same output all the time

 

I cannot predict you, my better half laughs

Heck, I cannot predict myself I say – and join in his laugh!

 

I will live the present mood

Allow it to shape my day

And create a memory of this moment

The way it is, impulsive, without any predisposition

 

I cannot give in to one state of mind forever

Cannot make it platonic ever

I cannot have just one mood

Because I am a human

I am a human.

 

 

 

My favourite things – Day 7: The beauty of eyes!

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And I am down to the last of my list of favourite things from this compilation. This one is again a concept as well as a thing, more of a concept. And is probably the most favourite concept based observation for me. This one is looking at eyes and appreciating the beauty of what they are conveying!

Look into my eyes, you ll see

What you mean to me…..

Said Bryan Adams so many years ago. This is one example of one song which discusses the role of eyes as something that is a straight gateway to what the mind is thinking. The eyes as mirrors of the soul have been an inspiration for many poets and writers for very long. And of course for mere observers like yours truly as well 🙂

A little baby’s eyes full of innocence

A child’s eyes lit with curiosity and amusement

A teenager’s eyes shouting out admiration for role models

A parent’s eyes full of pride and content at their kid’s achievement

A lover’s eyes with overflowing passion

A friend’s eyes while playing a prank on his best friend

Anyone looking at their dreams being fulfilled

An elderly’s grateful eyes as a young girl helps her cross the street……..

And so many more examples! The spectrum of emotions that eyes convey is exactly as wide as that of emotions that exist in the human mind.

Aren’t these some of the most beautiful things you have seen ever? They are, undoubtedly, for me! There is something so peculiarly wonderful about a person’s eyes conveying just exactly what is on their mind, with all the precision and detail. For today, I will confine myself to discussing the positive things that eyes convey; since this one is titled my favourite things. Of course goes without saying, that eyes also convey all the negative emotions in a person’s mind as well.

I love to look at a person’s eyes when they sparkle. And I love to read a person’s face and mind through what their eyes are conveying. Biologically, this is such an interesting thing. I mean anatomically eyes are the same in every emotion. Unlike body language, there is no structural change to eyes when there is a difference in emotion. It’s not as if the pupils look any deflected or differently located when the person is happy or sad!! 😀 Yet, even subtle changes in moods are reflected through some change in your eyes. It’s just so fascinating and beautiful; almost miraculous!

I think the reason that eyes appeal to me as such an expressive medium is because of their pure honesty. A person may be able to hide his/her thoughts or emotions through changes in words; but cannot do so when it comes to eyes. And I must confess, this is also one of the principal reasons why I end up making first impressions about people through what their eyes convey 🙂 AND as an extension of this, I end up making impressions about artists based on how they depict the subject’s emotion in eyes.

To understand the real honest innermost response of any person to a given situation, it is the easiest to just observe their eyes. Happiness, dislike, anger, fury,admiration, secrecy, lies – all will shout out to you. And this observation and interpretation forms one of the most enjoyable one for me!

Well Shakira may say hips don’t lie. But I guess even in the seldom times that hips may lie, a person’s eyes won’t 😛

 

My favourite things – Day 6: A hot meal

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Day 6 : A hot meal

The next thing on my list of favourites is a hot steaming delicious meal!!

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Here I have a special emphasis on the temperature of the food being consumed. I really love to devour into a plate of food that is sizzling or steaming; essentially straight from the wok or oven!

Having been a foodie since I can remember, food in general is a BIG love of mine 🙂 People who have known me since childhood remember me as being a kid with food and eating always on my mind – and this is a consistent part of me even now. But within this love for food in my mind are some slight finicky requirements which are essential for me to enjoy food to the maximum extent. And while flavours, salt balance, colour and aesthetics of food are important to me just like to others, the temperature of the food is also a consideration I have.

The joy of having food which has just been cooked and served to you is unparalleled. Barring desserts of course, all other food items that we eat, I prefer to eat them just after they are done cooking. I could definitely blame my mother and my grandmother for spoiling me on this habit since they were the ones to provide this kind of steaming hot food to me since my childhood – but hey it has been drilled in my system, and is here to stay now 😛 And in fact I am thankful to them for introducing to me a way in which the taste and nutritional value of food emerges out to be the highest!

An ultimate scene of enjoyment of food in my mind would be this kind of a hot meal in cold surroundings i.e. primarily during rains or winter! Be it breakfast or lunch or dinner or even a casual snack. Be it a simple meal of roti with vegetables and dal, or an elaborate one with several courses, it is undoubtedly enjoyed the best when it is served to you in a steaming state. The sight of steam erupting from the food contributes to not just its aesthetic appeal, but also makes it very appetizing for me! Digging into food while its’s hot leads you to be a part of a mini struggle while balancing its temperature and the one suitable for your mouth – and I absolutely enjoy it. The mini juggle of sorts, adjusting portions of food so that they don’t burn your tongue  – all are little parts of enjoying hot food – and I so love it!

It is exactly this kind of obsession with having food hot that makes me dislike carrying lunches to work. The thought of eating food that has been wrapped inside a claustrophobia inducing tiffin box/packet, with all it’s freshness lost, with a small amount of dehydration having set in, and mostly – GONE COLD, is a major turn-off for me! I carry lunch to work only because convenience and the nutritional and taste value of home cooked food is still a high enough factor 🙂 Sometimes you have to choose convenience and nutrition over your itsy bitsy definitions of perfect enjoyment!

We are taught to say a prayer and thank God for the food we eat before any meal. It is something that we do since we start talking. Since growing up, I have a personal addition to this prayer for a hot meal. In addition to thanking the Almighty for giving us the food, I also thank Him for letting me enjoy the luxury of having it hot and steaming 😉

The weekend cracks in soon. For all those who have to eat cold lunches throughout the week, you won’t have to do so for the next two days at least! If you are like me, wishing you more of hot meals your way – Bon appetit!

 

My favourite things – Day 5: Conversations!

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Day 5: Conversations!

Today I will be writing about the fifth thing in my list of favourites. Today’s ‘thing’ is a concept as well as an activity. This one is about having great conversations with people and all that I enjoy about it!

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So a conversation is classically defined as an interaction between two parties. We could go on to classify conversations a bit more depending on the nature of the parties involved – conversations with self, with people, with things, with God, with pets. In today’s age, we have another kind of classification depending on the medium used for conversing – in addition to the classical conversation of talking in person; it could as well be a typed (written) conversation through letters or through chats on devices over the internet; or over phone.

What I am particularly trying to describe today is the simplest form of conversation that involves interacting with a different person through talking. The bare essentials of conversing in my opinion revolve around this simplest definition, and this is mainly what I enjoy the most as well 🙂

I like to talk to people about their lives, their stories, my life and stories as also general ideas, concepts, information and philosophies. In our everyday life and routine, we have general casual conversations that involve discussions about stuff, as also emotionally intense comforting conversations. I enjoy both kinds, and there is definitely a lot to gain and learn from each of them.

In the real sense, I love knowing people itself – knowing their life, their everyday routines, their choices – and the best way for me to do so is through talking to a person itself. Here it’s not simply strangers that I am talking about. Having a good conversation lets you know different facets of the personalities of your closest relations, parents, friends, spouse or even children. What is interesting is that a conversation is a great way of getting to know a person, as also getting to know yourself. In a way, the way you converse tells you a lot of things about your own self – so it’s a learning exercise on your side as well! The next important thing that happens through conversations is you get to exchange a lot of concepts and ideas and also gain newer perspectives by listening to what people have to say about a particular concept. Innovative ideas, brainstorming, trouble shooting all are easily accomplished through a single good conversation. I enjoy all these aspects of conversing with people, and thus an enriching conversation is one which either i. takes you closer to knowing that person ii. Takes you closer to knowing yourself iii. Leads to exchange of ideas and gives you new knowledge iv. Provides a new perspective of thinking.

To me, the entire experience of a conversation is important. By that I mean, it’s the other person’s words, use of pauses, body language, other distractions, gestures which are all equally important in conveying the overall theme of a talk. I especially like to pay extra attention to the choice of words, construction of sentences, and peculiarity of unique words used by that person. And of course, to what makes that person laugh.

An underlying unwritten necessity of a good conversation for me is actually two things – honesty of participation in the talk and lack of judgmental attitude towards the other person. The kinds of conversations that I enjoy are the relaxed ones which involve these two factors. It’s fun to converse with introverts and extroverts alike if these two aspects are taken care of 🙂 Some great memories of conversations that I have had include ones with a friend during evening walks, with cousins and friends when I have visited them in a different city, with my father on the day before my wedding, with my better half during our initial days of knowing each other, with a stranger old lady on a flight, with an elderly uncle in the waiting room of a doctor among many others!

I recently read about the concept of a ‘Human Library’ which is based on ‘reading’ a new person through conversations with the person and listening to that person’s story. I absolutely loved this concept, and am looking forward to participating in something of this sort J Who’s up with me on this?

My favourite things – Day 4: Colour assemblages

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So coming to day 4 of the weeklong writing challenge. The next thing on my list for favourite things today is more of a concept than a thing. And that is an assemblage of colours. I love to look at sights of a host of colours put together in one place. Or maybe in one frame of viewing. These could be natural, like the hues of colours in the sky, or of different coloured flowers or plants or leaves. Or more often these could be of human creation and origin. For instance, coloured items on display in shops, coloured architecture, a painters colour palette and so on. I think it is one of the most positive and soothing sights for the eyes to look at. A splash of colours, vivid or pastels, is still a very beautiful thing to look at 🙂

Today I thought it would be nice to let some pictures do the talking. So here are some pictures of colour assemblages that I have taken at various places and stages 🙂

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A colourful door (Udaipur, Rajasthan, India)

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Market scenes (Rajasthan, India)

 

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Puppets (Rajasthan, India)

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Colourful buildings (Lavassa, Maharashtra, India)

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Buddhist prayer flags (Langza, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India)

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Random buildings (New Jersey, USA)

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Palette and artwork by yours truly 🙂

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Coloured pieces of paper!

My favourite things – Day 3: Shopping for stationery!

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So back to the writing challenge after an intense weekend! How are you guys doing? Hope your own recollection of your favourite things is keeping you happy and enthusiastic enough to enter into this new week 🙂

So the next thing on my list of favourites is shopping for stationery! Anyone who knows me even a bit knows this aspect of my life; and so, must have definitely seen this coming 😛 Today I am going to talk about a kind of shopping that totally makes me go crazy and out of control – shopping for new stationery!!

stationery shopping

I share a very positive relation with stationery. I am a stationery freak. Stationery hoarder. Stockist. Addict? Yes possibly. Stationerphile – if this word exists 😛

Every time I see a shelf with neatly arranged stationery, it makes my eyes sparkle. The sight of colour-sorted, type-sorted, price-sorted, size-sorted stationery items is one of the most pleasing human-created orderly sights ever! Pens, pencils, markers, erasers, paper clips, files, folders, sticky tapes, notebooks, notepads, staplers, highlighters and on and on and on the list could go. I love to look at each of these items in a stationery shop. And what I love even more is to be able to procure each kind of these items 😛

Colourful stationery items with pastel shades are just so adorable! Add to it faces of kawai characters or elegant prints or cute cartoons and the adorable factor doubles!! I don’t think I can ever get enough of this 🙂 I shop for stationery at almost all potential locations. I definitely visit stationery stores very frequently to stock up on new stuff. But in addition, I also get tempted and buy stuff from local grocery stores, or even small photocopy centers which sell basic stationery.

organized stationery

Organized stationery in stores (https://in.pinterest.com/pin/500251471090325752/)

When it comes to stationery, there are two main types of people – those who buy it for pure need, and those who buy it for its need, beauty, elegance, appearance or simply, existence 😀 I am totally the second kind. Need is often not the sole reason for stationery shopping for me.

Typical mind conversations when I am in a stationery store:

Me: ‘That notebook is adorable. Look at the colour of the cover page! It’s size is also perfect to fit in into the drawer at my desk’

My mind: ‘You already have a notebook that is ‘perfect for the size of that desk’

Me: ‘Yes but that notebook is ruled. This one has got blank sheets. So I can write and/or doodle and draw in this’

My mind: ‘You have already bought two doodle books specifically for ‘doodling’.’

Me: ‘But see this one has pages that don’t blot with ANY kind of ink. Those doodle notebooks are suitable for only certain kinds of pens of mine’

Tada!! Reasoning meter rings loud!! Beep beep!! ‘Suitable reason for splurging for stationery found’!! And the notebook finds its way into my shopping bag!!! Hahahahaha

This is just one example of one stationery item. God has very kindly bestowed me with this fantastic quality of managing to find reasons for buying any kind of stationery under the sun!! If there is one thing that I will always want to buy more of in my life, it is stationery and craft material. When I was little, I was always told that this phase of being uncontrollably in love with pens and pencils is a child phase and when I grow up, it will get replaced with clothes or makeup or jewelry or bags or hair accessories. Alas. I am still waiting for any kind of phase replacement. Or maybe I am still waiting to ‘grow up’:D

I attach a lot of personal importance to stationery. And I unknowingly end up judging people on the basis of how they treat their stationery! Well yeah you can go ahead and laugh at this; but it does happen sub consciously! If you ill-treat your pens, chew on your pencils, lose the cap of your pens, don’t bother enough about your books, fold your notepad sheets carelessly, I am going to keep giving you sermons about it.

So do I end up using all the stationery that I stash and hoard? I actually do. For me the joys of stocking up on stationery and also getting to use it are almost comparable. So I essentially don’t behave simply like a hoarder. Also, using my stationery respectfully and ultra carefully is one way of showing my love towards it.

Coming to think of it, I have various stages of my life so far, characterized by memories of specific stationery that I mainly used around that time!! Each of these stationery possessions make me go nostalgic and back in time when I purchased it, or used it extensively.

Not surprising then, that the yellow 0.5 mm pencil that I used when I first wrote in notebooks with at age 6 is still one of my most priced possessions 🙂

My favourite things – Day 2: Tea!

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So coming to day 2 of the writing challenge. I am in a bit of a rush and also a bit unwell today so this post might seem a bit incoherent, but nevertheless! The whole point of a writing challenge is to write no matter what; so attempting the same 😛

The second item on my list of favourites is our good old everyday beverage – tea!! It’s a beverage that I will not refuse when offered, ever 😀 My everyday necessity, my comfort companion, my pacifier in times of sadness, and most importantly my remedy for a lot of illnesses. All this and much more – summarized in a single three lettered word – tea 🙂

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Tea time!!

My association with tea started off in childhood when asthma was a regular visitor in my life. My parents were advised to make me drink medicinal tea aka tea with ginger, tulsi, honey etc as a home remedy when I would get congestion of breath and clogging. I tasted tea as a medicine to begin with, and since then there has been no looking back! This medicine infused tea was a major relief in all my childhood asthma attacks, and led me to build a very loving relationship with it. Soon after, asthma was now in check, but tea became a permanent resident in my life!
Even at this very moment, as I type the word T-E-A, it brings a smile to my face. The slow boiled infusion of tea leaves, milk and sugar in water cooks up an aesthetically as well as gustatory pleasing experience known as tea drinking. Having had a lot of tea enthusiasts in my family, I was introduced to different kinds of tea as per each ones preference. My grandfather loved the English style of light tea with a mild infused flavor of tea leaves and very less milk in it. While my brother loves the really strong flavoured tea that has a sumptuous amount of spices (chai masala) with tea leaves. My father on the other hand, has been a frequent traveler to Japan, China and Korea – and likes green tea from different sources. Me? I just love tea of all sorts!! 😛 I love a slightly mild tea as a regular everyday drink. But on special days, or on winter days, I like green tea with different flavours. And when it is pouring cats and dogs in the monsoons, I relish tea with a really strong flavor of boiled leaves, lots of ginger and lots of spices! I love to sit with my hands wrapped around a warm tea cup. This beverage is my companion, my confidante, my friend and my everyday necessity now 🙂
Years later, I got married into a family where tea is exactly as much a necessity in all days and events as I like. And needless to say, some of the best bonding times that I can remember while being new in this family were all centered around tea time!
To me, tea making is like an art. It is a ritual. It is an investment. It is not something that you do ‘in the background while doing other things’. No. It deserves that bit of time to get its proportions correct. To get the aroma in place. And to get the maximum of the tea experience.
I cannot yet remember an occasion when tea has not been a companion. It has been so in good and bad times alike.
Feeling unwell – Have a cup of tea
Feeling rejoiced – Celebrate with a cup of tea
Angry? Had a fight? – Calm yourself with a cup of tea
An experiment gone topsy turvy in the lab? – Just forget it over a cup of tea
Having friends or cousins over? – Make tea
Alone at home today? – Again make tea!!
Important work discussion – Over tea!
Chat about personal life – Again over tea!!
A stop in any journey – Calls for a tea break!
The completion of a task / journey – Have tea!!
I have honestly lost track of the number of events that tea has witnessed with me. Probably every event of my life – everyday and every special day 🙂
I must confess here, though, that honestly I also love the beverage cousin of tea – which is coffee, to a comparable extent. But the relationship I share with coffee is a bit different. Coffee is a drink for special occasions, for special conversations. It is not something that contributes to my ‘everyday’. It is like the stilettos you will wear for a party, while tea is your everyday no-heels chappal which carries you to all places during the day. So while coffee is special and beautiful; tea is ordinary everyday comfort and so maybe ahead of coffee by a small margin in my life 🙂

 

desk with tea

Work desk scenes 🙂

To sign off, I think a very unique contribution of tea would be worth a mention. Having had this background of a nearly inseparable love and affection for tea, my dream date while learning to dream about love – was of having a cup of hot chai in the cold rain. Now imagine my dismay when I fell in love with the man of my dreams a few years ago only to find out that he absolutely dislikes tea!!!! All my dreams about sharing moments over tea, romantic conversations over tea were not happening and seemed far from reality. And as we started with discovering a contrasting opinion about tea, we went on to realize a contrast in preferences and opinions about almost everything under the sun! Now, to be honest, I was initially sad about this fact. But subsequently I got over this and realized that the difference in choice over tea was actually conveying a larger message to me. And that was of letting a person be, loving and accepting him/her for what they really are and accommodating habits that may be way contrasting to mine. In a way, I learnt this through tea, and I am grateful to it for the same.
And now the end result? The best tea I have had is the one that my husband makes for me 🙂 Even though he doesn’t have it himself! Customized, with the exact proportions of ingredients and just the way I need it. Tea forms one of the ways for him to express his care, love and understanding. And being someone who is hardly expressive through words, I love this form of expression that he has, through the perfect cup of tea – made at the perfect time for me 🙂

I cannot thank tea enough for this very very unique contribution to our relationship 🙂