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!

An ode to a fighter!

How could I stop myself from writing this sad yet inspiring story – story of a man who fought the fierce battle of life, all alone. For the cacophony of emotions, it triggered inside me and for the long lasting impact it had on me, it ought to be shared. It may serve as an eye opener for many of us – who complain of the problems so trivial, who end up being sad by the things so petty, who decide on quitting so soon and who keep finding negatives in every small aspect.

He is my dad’s friend, who happened to recently shift to Pune, to a society close to our house. Delighted by the news, dad invited him home for breakfast, last Sunday.

Man in his mid-70’s, he seemed quite cheerful, enthusiastic and active for his age. Friendly and extremely talkative facade of him made it easy to mingle and get the conversation going. One thing lead to another and slowly his story began to unfold.

He was diagnosed with rare type of cancer in its last stage and was recommended treatment only at a renowned hospital in Mumbai. He used to reside at a place, around 6 hours’ drive from Mumbai. Considering the heavy-duty aftereffects of chemotherapy, it seemed quite difficult to manage from a place so remote. But he decided to go for it. He would drive all the way to Mumbai, all alone, for his therapy, undergo the treatment and even drive back alone post the therapy (and I need dad to accompany me even to a dentist). Then he would take complete rest and rejuvenate himself for the next therapy session. This continued till he completed all his chemotherapy and radiation sessions. There were ups and downs in his physique, but he had no other alternative but to get up and get going in order to keep the physical, financial and mental equilibrium maintained.

There was more to add. Amidst all this, he lost his son in law, which imposed a severe blow on the family. Responsibility of his daughter and her young toddler came on him. Keeping aside his sufferings, he stood by her, moved in to her place to help her out and left no stone unturned to support her in her rough time. Meanwhile, he was diagnosed with another rare type of tuberculosis. This made it hard for him to swallow food, which consequently made him lose loads of weight, making it difficult even to stand on his own and walk. He would literally have to crawl around, in the house. But never did he give up. He kept going, continued his treatment with patience and finally after lot of struggle he recovered. He is now so fit, quite enough to start socializing all over again. The person who himself would have needed immense help some time back, now smilingly offers you help. And this is no hyperbole.

People usually get sideswiped only by listening to the word cancer. In addition to medical, need all the physical and mental support to get over it, and all this is quite explicable. But nothing could quiver this man’s spirit and strong will power. This strong will power helped him recuperate from all the grave diseases and situations life had thrown at him all at once.

The way he narrated his story with an unbroken grin and not even slightest hint of complain, spoke quite a lot about his positive and equally practical approach of looking at things. To accept what comes our way, work hard to get out of it and move ahead is what we can do, were his words.

How we look at the problems in our life and prepare our inner self to deal with them is of utmost importance. If we think weak of ourselves, weak we will be. If we think strong, strong we will be. If we think grave are the problems, graver they will be.

If we start thinking positively, in a strong demeanor and top it up with immense patience, nothing can stop us from adding a happy ending to our story.

Life doesn’t give us an opportunity to choose our story, it is the story that chooses us; but the choice of being a hero of it, is totally left to our discretion. Hats off to one such hero!