Buy local!

We have guests visiting tonight and panipuri is one of the items on the menu. The task of making it is assigned to me, so I started by jotting down the items to buy – puris, panipuri masala, dates, tamrind paste, black salt and the star ingredient “pudina”.

I had a free day today and dad had lots more veggies to buy, so I decided to accompany him to local vegetable market. Being Sunday morning, the market was heavily crowded. We somehow managed to snake through the crowded lanes and collected all the fresh veggies we needed for the day.

After staying in US for some time, this was my market visit since quite long. Scorching sun, jam-packed lanes, heavy bags made me ask dad why don’t you just buy from nearby dmart or bigbazaar.

Pop came his answer, if everyone starts thinking like you, how will these people’s efforts pay off? You will buy comparatively stale and frozen/preserved veggies from the big brand stores at higher price and bargain with these local sellers for Rs 5 or 10. They really have no big investments and profits, they work hard and provide you farm fresh veggies and feed their families on day to day gains.
I could not agree more when I recollected having paid Rs 20 for even smaller bunch of pudina which was here at just Rs 5.


I decided to join dad for the market trip whenever I am free and made it a point to never bargain. Buy local, eat fresh and help those working hard for their living. If we leave behind trifle comforts offered by air-conditioned malls, won’t it be a complete win-win?

Me time!

It was knackering and irritable Friday. It started with literally dragging myself to accompany a friend for breakfast and then just managing to skip everything else after – lunch, afternoon tea and conversations with fellow colleagues.

I spent the day like a fly on the wall, blankly staring at either the cellphone or laptop screen and trying to appear busy in something in order to avoid conversations with those around me. When clock hit 5, i just grabbed my bag, didn’t even entertain the thought of walking till the busbay to catch office bus, booked a cab instead and hurtled home straight.

This was not normal me. The normal rambunctious me would never have skipped participating in games, would have already made plans for the weekend with gusto and would have enjoyed the Friday to the fullest.

The project had closed down 2 weeks back and the new project was yet to begin, which meant there was no work pressure, neither was the physical stress to blame. But there was surely something going on in the mind since few days, which was beyond comprehension, at least at this point in time, but was definately weighing on me like ton of bricks.

It was past 11.30 pm, but I could not fall asleep, there was lot of restlessness which was keeping me up and stressed. I realised I needed to get over this snake bite and the only person who could expel the venom out of me was me myself.

Ideally I would have headed for a long walk to be able to talk to myself and clear up my mind. But today I was totally drained out and additionally at 11.30 pm I was not sure how safe the streets of Pune would be to walk alone. So I just wimped out and decided to drive instead.

Watchman stopped me at the gate saying 1 lane will be closed for road repairs post 1 am and I may not be able to drive back in till 6 am if I don’t return by then. I thought to myself “that is ample time” and just thanked him and left.

Roads were all calm and quiet with very few vehicles around. Perfect crescent moon, clear sky, bright stars and slight chill in the air made up for an apt setup for me to clear up my mind and soul. The peaceful drive was helping me gradually remove all the chaos from my heart and fill it up with freshness and newfound zeal. It seemed as if moon, stars and the quiet were all there to give me my confident self back.

I could see my irritated face slowly morph into a  smiling one and I realized it was now good time to head back home. On the gate watchman waved back asking “Madam, did you get what you were looking for?” and I happily nodded.

The much needed “me time” had served as catharsis for me. I was glad I did my “me time” therapy on time and didn’t spend the weekend sulking.

Exam fever!

My cousin is preparing for his higher secondary exams, considered one of the bookmark stages for all the students, at least in India.
Exams are just round the corner and he is on his toes, mugging up, writing down and revising dozens of king size books.
His waking up at 4 am took me back to my study era, which was almost more than a decade back from now.
I would need revision of the entire syllabus, a day before or on the day of the exam, otherwise my short term memory would hit me real hard.
This would mean very very scanty to almost no hours of sleep, the night before the exam.
Waking up at 3 am was the toughest part, specially in the coldest of the winters, when everyone else around you is snoring at their highest pitches, snuggled in a warm blanket.
Why God why only me? I would always feel, but did I have an option, of course NO.
I remember, the revision schedule used to be so tight, that even a 10 minute snooze would mean 1 section is missed, and if the same one made an appearance in the question paper, there would be nothing more to regret.
Making tea used to depend on the revision speed, if it happened to be on target or ahead of it, only then would I get the tea. Yeah, I was a strict supervisor to myself!
Finally an hour before the exam, would come the wind up list, or sometimes 2nd revision of the most important items, and this sometimes was extremely rare phenomenon, especially in the engineering days, when there used to be too much on the plate to digest even once.
Then there used to be a special checklist of items for just 10 minutes before the exam time – this would usually comprise of the formulae or numerical stuff which I knew my volatile memory would not withhold for too long.
Finally after entering the examination hall would come the few minutes of relaxation to the over dumped brain. Only for the few minutes till answer sheets were circulated, could the brain heave a sigh of relief.
Then came the real moment when question paper would land up on desk – hands, eyes and brain would then be the heroes of the battlefield. They would fight a war to put up all the efforts on the sheet of paper, as this one sheet of paper would be the deciding factor of the entire journey ahead and the destination.

Today it has been almost 11 years to my service, but I remember, until recently, I would wake up to the nightmares, of today being the exam day and I have not studied anything.

Gone are the days! But unlike the rest, I surely don’t wish to revisit these set of days again. Although I agree, they had a charm of their own, I would admit I am happy that they are gone.

I am happy, to be on the otherside of the wheel now, where I get to snore to the highest of my pitch, snuggled in a warm blanket on a cozy winter morning. Ahh, that blessed feeling and to add to it, tomorrow is Saturday, so no alarms too.
Happy weekend to all!

Letting go!

Today as I let you go,
I have absolutely no ego,
No fretting over denial,
Just a number less to dial.

I instead feel so clear,
Back to my own, carefree attire,
Free to be as I desire,
Unbothered if you would admire

No mind games, to please you
No false hopes, to seek you
No finding ways, to cross paths
No waiting for your text backs

Life is as simple as it should be
Today as I let you go
I feel so light and free
To be once again back to real me!

Not so good friday!

Some days are just annoying, irritating, exasperating, infuriating, tiring and maddening. Each and every task you take up or that falls upon you like Newton’s apple, has to go wrong. Are the stars to blame, or is it the wrong note set at the very start of the day, that propagates throughout the day, spoiling it in its entirety? Whatever be the reason, today was one such day that pestered me and forced me to rant about it aloud.

The day commenced with mild headache. It was probably the consequence of browsing through the mobile phone, as soon as I opened my eyes. Oh, but don’t I do the same everyday? Yes I do, but who knows, may be today I opened my eyes some degrees wider, a second or two before they could accurately adjust to the pricking bright light :|. I soon realized, this headache is not letting go of me so easily; it is here to stay.

Why do people eat apple in office bus? Can’t they spare 5 minutes from their super tight schedules and eat it at home and then board the bus? Or can’t they just excuse me and find any other seat that is not in close proximity to me? That crunching sound is too irritating and believe me, I could hear it even with my earphones on and songs played at highest possible decibel, my phone could emit.

Next, I met an annoying person at the bus bay. When your head is being continuously hammered from inside, all you wish for, is silence and peace and not any infuriating conversations.
Waving at me from a distance, I could actually envisage him saying “Hello, I am here to spoil your peaceful walk to the office building.” After an obligatory Hello, I said I have an important phone call to make, thinking he will walk away and leave me alone. But No! He decided to ignore my ignoring him and continued to walk. Plus, I had to make a forceful call to someone too.

Headache was now getting increasingly onerous. Checked my bag for a packet of Crocin tablets, but there wasn’t any. Hurtled straight to the chemist shop in campus, only to find it closed, scheduled to open 2 hours later, leaving me with no alternative but to bear the pain. Coffee, food, eye exercises – nothing could budge the pain. It probably loved being my companion.

Why are all the meetings planned far away from your building only on the day you wear heels? Wearing a pair of heels in a frenzy, proved to be completely dreadful today. Meetings with insufficient lead times, make your planned work go for a toss. Plus, when you have headache and leg ache they seem even worse. Additionally, if they end up handing over no brainer documents and sheets to complete, nothing can sound more terrible.

Needless to say, all the additional work made me stay late at work. At the end of the day, I was so knackered that I couldn’t even entertain the thought of hitting the gym. Guilt and regret that comes from inability to go to gym, when the scale has just started going down is beyond explanation. Hope those who have gone through this will agree.

To end the day on a less negative, if not on a positive note, I decide to grab a soothing cup of frappe from nearby coffee shop. Ah, but there is a fly in the ointment yet again! There is no one to serve me, the person supposedly has gone to collect a courier. I am sitting here, waiting for him, for more than 20 minutes now, penning my painful day down, but there are no signs of his return. I think, I should just leave now and accept today is not my day.

The day was a far cry from conventional Friday. Though it was an awful day, upcoming weekend appears to me like a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope it helps replenish my levels of positivity.

Destiny!

Today post workout, I start feeling a bit dizzy. I think of just giving up on the long walk to bus bay to catch office bus and decide to book a cab instead, to quickly reach home. Gym is around 5 – 7 minutes walk from office gate, so I just book the cab, as I head out of the gym and start walking. As I begin walking, the feeling of discomfort starts growing and I finally decide to sit back and relax for a while on the nearby bench and not create a scene by collapsing somewhere in the middle of the road, that too in office premises.
Cab has already arrived, I get call from the driver “Madam I am here, I can wait for maximum 5 minutes. If you don’t come by then, cab will be cancelled and amount will be deducted.” I tell him to cancel as I am unwell and cannot reach in next 5 minutes for sure. He calls me again in a minute. “Madam there is some problem with the mobile application. I am unable to cancel, but I am gone, amount will be deducted when my application starts responding.” I say okay and disconnect.
I drink some water, relax for a while and then head straight to the cafeteria. I feel better after eating and it is almost the time for the next bus, so I finally take the next office bus to get back home.
After I reach home, I get a call from an unknown number asking if I am okay, as the cab I had booked has met with an accident. Taken aback by the news I answer “I am okay, I had to cancel the cab as I could not reach in time.” I am not in position to ask any further questions and I just hang up.
I don’t have any more details on the gravity of the accident or where it took place, all I know is I was blessed and saved from a mishap today and that the “destiny” has played a major role. I realized that the things that you are destined to, do happen no matter how hard you try to stop them from happening and vice versa.
I was saved from an accident, while I was disturbed by a mere feeling of discomfort. I did learn a lesson for sure, to not moan about petty things in life.
To believe in God; he does see a bigger picture, while we all can only see a limited part of it.
Sometimes the reasons behind certain circumstances in life aren’t revealed in a jiffy, but in longer run as the truth unfolds, we do realize that everything happened for good. Trust His decisions and gracefully accept what is in the destiny.

Ginger tea..!

Written for ttt_official’s poetry promt ‘Ginger tea’.

You heal my heart,
broken totally apart,
like hot ginger tea,
on the red throat be.

With the warmth you give,
all the cracks you sew,
my heart does renew,
To explore horizons new!

Out comes your caring anger,
Like spicy side of ginger,
when I deny getting through,
how can I then, not improve?

You know me inside out,
There is no doubt,
I love you too,
You are my mother true!

Unclosed chapters!

Some chapters in heart remain unclosed,
Pages rolling back and forth,
Bringing back the memories old,
Some unwelcome, some totally worth.

Familiar perfume or line of a song,
Is totally enough, to drag you along,
To people or places, you did once belong,
Giving you joy or hopes forlorn.

Scenes keep playing in a single skit,
Sulking or blushing, like a teenage kid,
Your face looks flat or completely lit,
Memories are sweet, some bitter bit.

Chasing old chapters is not a good bet,
They are to be browsed and then sinply left,
If you dwell in the past, you will surely fret,
Leave them behind, foot forward you set!

Forest crazy!

“Hey, you know what – choti mada has started showing up with her cubs. They are around a month old”
off goes my WhatsApp message to some of the friends along with a picture of gorgeous female tigress with 3 cute tiny cubs – one trying to climb her back and 2 others trying to figure out the best possible pose to drink water.
Quick comes the reply “I heard Mahaveer female has delivered her new litter back in December, but no news of her sightings. Hope she starts showing up too.”
Another reply pops up with a heart melting video of a magnificent tigress Junabai with her 4 cute cubs enjoying bath in an artificial water body.
Some other friend quickly adds me to another wildlife enthusiast group on Facebook. I too start browsing it for the recent sighting updates without wasting a minute and come across a photography contest going on, in it. I dig my ‘Google photos’ reserves for the tiger images I clicked in the past, tweak some images here and there and post them off.

This is how the summer typically kicks off for me now-a-days. If someone happens to check my WhatsApp history and Facebook activity for April they are sure to certify me “crazy” and I don’t deny the fact that they would be 100% correct. I did really have whirlwind romance with these beautiful forests and my “craze” for them has surely stood the test of time.

As the summer starts ticking in, enthusiasm of going to forest starts taking over. Scorching heat makes the animals come out looking for water which increases the probability of sighting, not only tigers but also leopards, bears, jackals, deer, wild dogs, elephants and many more animals.

The bookings are all ready by this time as they open 3 months in advance and usually get full the very day they open. This does signify that I am not the only crazy one around. Yes this beautiful flora and fauna have several fans all around the world and they don’t fail to make umpteen visits to the forest to witness it’s beauty.

So, I have two trips (5 forest rounds each) planned to 2 different forests in central India – one at the end of this month and another in mid-June. The shopping/renting of the photography gear is in full swing. Keeping track of the recent sightings will continue.
Looking forward to some of the best sightings and then I am sure I will have a lot to prattle on, after I am back.

The Homecoming..!

Fed up of the days mundane,
She fancied the idea of change,
To quit the life so sane,
Pack the bags and simply escape.
where no place shall ever seem silly,
She found herself drifting already,
China, France, Vegas, Italy,
Each one seemed fresher than lily.

Dancing on the tunes of “Niagara falls”,
“Maid of the mist” was on top of all,
Exploring the botany in the “Central park”,
Till the legs ached and it was dark,
Lights on the “Brooklyn bridge” shining bright,
“Time square” still gave it a tough fight.
Could “Statue of liberty” be missed at all?
Manhattan skyline standing tall.

The skyline reminded her of Mumbai always,
“Marine drive” on the rainy days,
Shopping like crazy on “linking road”,
“Juhu chowpatty” and the street food,
Watching the sun drown in the deep sea water,
Catching the local train to get home faster.
Mumbai girl can find peace nowhere else,
She realised, here itself her heart dwells.

Wanderer at heart, she would never stop roaming,
But there always has to be homecoming,
Combing the beautiful memories through,
One has to join back routine with energy new.
For the change once thought,
Has to be again sought,
Else it will be permanent too,
To be a routine, boring true.