Tuesday 10 November 2015

30 Things That Indicate You Are Woman In Her 30s

Cutting a 30s birthday cake gives a very mushy feeling. The size of cake gets smaller to hold a big bunch of candles; the guest list is strictly filtered to rope in a close few (shouldn't sound shocking if 'close few' conspires to just the husband and children); loud bhangra numbers get replaced with soft romantic salsa to dance on and at the end, spending cosy, precious time with oneself sounds a much dearer option to playing silly party games.
If you could relate to half the way I have felt in my recent last birthdays; Lady, you bet you have entered your 30s!! Trying to figure out my mid-age frets, frights and favourites, I landed up jotting thirty things that indicated I had pretty much arrived there - in my "thunderous thirties"! Have you too? Try ticking this checklist -
1) Your hair has begun to gray but you are wise enough to have found a way out to camouflage it by now. Quite likely, your hairline has also receded by a centimeter or more but you've deftly picked up a hairstyle to hide the pull back.
2) You have developed a paunch which you badly want to burn away, but the worry of which you would not exhibit in public. Rather, like a prudent lady, you gracefully choose to speak of it as an inevitable symbol of a beautiful growing up process.
3) You know the importance of black, dark colours and flowing fabrics in your life. And if you happen to be slightly style-conscious also, in most probability you would also know which stripes to pick from - longitudinal or across!?
4) You have at hand a pill to pop-in for some or the other medical reason - thyroid, calcium, iron, a nutritional supplement or a precautional sugar-free!
5) You are considering cornflakes, oats, muesli or daliya as replacement of one of your meals.
6) You've arranged for tracksuit, walking shoes, a treadmill/cycle (maybe) or have decided to hit the gym more than once but most always have failed to stick to the regime, and which you promise rework on the next week onwards.
7) Justin Beiber maybe a heart-throb of millions but makes a hopeless bachelor. George Clooney may be quondam and taken, but then 'old is gold'.
8) You are under a loan, mortgage or paying EMI that just doesn't seem to get close to ending.
9) Your cherished dream-destination is no longer an exotic land across seas but a quiet revisit to the place where you spent precious time of your childhood.
10) The scariest thing to think of is not ghosts, thieves or calamities but a call in the middle of the night from your parents who stay far away from your place.
11) It is embarrassing but delightfully silly to find younger boys going gaga over you. In such a case, age is seriously just a number!
12) You have considered supporting a charity, a cause or an NGO.
13) You have revived an old-forgotten childhood interest or hobby and are working towards it with child-like passion.
14) Things which you had always thought of as looking dreadful in your vanity are now must-haves - like deep red lipstick, indigo nail paint or neon slippers.
15) Your sex life is happier than ever. By now, the experimenting phase is almost over and you know what you want, from whom you want and how you want it.
16) By far, you have had at least one dental-filling or root-canal treatment done.
17) The honey-coated glorifying words which once were 'thank you' or 'please' are now replaced with 'it's benign' or 'normal report'.
18) Your book-shelf has at least one bestseller on optimism or inspiration.
19) Your children think of your dresses and head-gears from schooldays (in photographs) as a vintage collection of antiques.
20) You hardly recognize new celebrities and faces on the block except the ones whose parents were once your favourites. For the rest of the crowd, you seek your children's help.
21) You have learnt to take vitriolic comments from others with a pinch of salt, and use it as an appetizer like a pickle. Keep bringing them over dear in-laws, over concerned neighbours or corny bosses!
22) You've decided to do away with silly but precious belongings which you'd treasured in secret chamber of your wardrobe for years.
23) You let your children follow their heart and fight the world if they try stopping them.
24) Your personal diary has more of mini interrogative sentences that simple statements. Why me? What now? How far? Which way? Will they? Won't it? Who next?
25) Strangely, when everyone else's best time to work is day long; your precious me-time is either the wee hours of day-break or past-midnight.
26) You have developed zero tolerance for eve-teasers who you are no longer hesitant to grab the collar of, give back a cold stare or punch nose in public. The dude must be fixed, is all what runs in your head.
27) You are desperately trying to be able to learn the art of weeding out people from your life who pull you down, leave you with negativity or get nagging. Life, you realize, is too short to spend with morons.
28) Away from the real-time buddies available on facebook or whatsapp, you consider looking for and reconnecting with true old friends, who you have let vanish in thin air, racing against time.
29) You style your way! Even if the entire world is going nuts about some crazy fashion statement, you decide to follow your own. Those who do not appreciate are free to tread different way.
30) Marriage and children may be important but nothing is as important as time-for-yourself, looking for which you are on a perpetual hunt.
Looking back to my recent past years, I have come to believe in the old age tenet - 'growing old is a choice - either get better like wine or fret with a whine!' However, when in 30s, the choice is easy - it depends on who is asking.
Happy Growing-up, fellow dames-in-thirties!

_ ________________________________________________________________________

[This post by the author was first published on The Women's Web and later republished on The Huffington Post.]

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Durga Pujo Memoir Of A Non-Bengali

Come October and arrive nine days festival and six days holidays! Getting a break as long as one full week from routine humdrums of boring daily life! I would be crazy if that wasn’t a reason good enough for me to rejoice during my schooldays! Growing up in the northern plains of Allahabad and almost having zero connection with Bengali tradition, the only enchanting part was to make the most out of Durga Puja holidays, which usually came after harrowing half-yearly examinations.

While few non-Bengali parents sat zeroing upon some exotic travel destination to hit during this rewarding week, mine wisely made it a point to make us experience every bit of the festival, year after year, in a manner no lesser than a Bengali would. My allegiance to the festival thus started.

The visuals of the Pujo times during those days stand crystal clear in memory. Our good old small city stood decked up with Puja Pandals at every second open clearance. I was told each Pandal was endorsed by a core committee of Bengalis who worked for months to bring out the best out of Pandals, embellishing it with vivid architectural styles, breathtaking creativity and scheduling daily events with fun-filled programmes comprising of contests, quizzes, Robindra-shongeet and showcasing talents that lasted entire nine days. The nag to put up the best show was driven by motivation to win the rolling trophy for 'Best Pandal' in the city.

While some Pandals were aesthetically crafted with customary Bengal motifs and designs, many were innovatively inspired from current happenings around the world.  It didn't surprise me to note new additions almost every next year, like Pandal themes on ‘Tribal Welfare’ in which Devi Durga wore the Garo mini skirt, one supporting ‘Mission Go-Green’ donning Devi’s dress in leaves and shoots, a Pandal displaying life-size cut-outs of freedom fighters and one even flaunting Bollywood  with Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai’s posters all over the marquee. 

As night fell on the Pujo Pandal, it incarnated to a literal cultural hotspot. Full of energy, high-end fashion, food-fiesta, music, late-night fun mood, jabbering and gossips, our otherwise complacent city jostled with joy all night long.  It is hard to believe that with overcrowded venue bumming with high spirited people, how a sense of discipline always took over and there was hardly any pushing or manhandling while trying to catch a glimpse of Maa Durga’s protimaa.

From my back to back visits to Durga Puja functions, I have come to deduce that food is central to a Bengali as much as dressing-sense is. Visiting a Puja Venue and coming back without having popped in paani puri or jhaal-muri or Indo-Chinese chowmein from the street vendors queuing the roadside, meant a disgrace to the Bengali tradition of ‘must-have reech phood’! Whenever I bumped into a Bengali friend who would have made her temporary home for six days in one of these Pandals, the first question she’d ask was  not how fascinating did I find the Puja but whether I had tried the famous phish chop, roshogulla and bhishon bhalo coffee from one of the stalls?

Nevertheless, while most Bengalis in the Puja venue were found chatting and gossiping about their ‘Baadi’ and ‘Saree’, my eyes enduringly came to rest on the beautiful ladies and girls around. Each one glowed with the precisionist perfection of draping a sari, putting on big bindi, wearing ethnic pieces of enviable jewelry and eyes highlighted with kohl, yet the most outstanding piece of their look would be a spark of grace, punctuated with spasms of boisterous laughter. Bengali women may not be the most beautiful on earth but they are certainly endowed with hypnotic looks which usually brims over during the Puja period. Of course, all this apart from the month long preparation by them which includes an exhaustive day and night  therapeutic shopping done for themselves and the whole bunch of family.

Though the occasion would be deeply religious, the Puja Pandals offered the best meeting places for would-be couples and dating pairs, sometimes even sparking matrimonial connections. Is it difficult to guess that where young girls and boys looking their best get together for nine days and nights, it will be just about the Puja part?

On the sixth day of the festival, when the public would get to see Goddess Durga get unveiled the first time, a strange excitement took over. Suddenly the frivolous fun and merry making changed to a deeply devout and gratifying experience. My favourite part of the Pujo was always eating bhog served at noon and watching the dhakis beat their drums and do dhunuchhir naach with  torch lit with a frgrant dhun that filled us all with mystical aroma. The rhythmic beating that gradually rose to a high crescendo filled me with immense powerfulness, bountiful love and ecstasy. A kind of pleasure that can only be best felt! Six days slipped like sand from the hand as if we lost touch with time, immersing ourselves in joyful days, wishing it never got over.

Alas! Amidst pompous fanfare and women playing sindoor, suddenly came Doshomi, the time to let the Goddess go. When I sat on the ghats of river Ganges watching the last rites of Visarjan, my attention stopped at the beautifully sculpted face of Goddess Durga. How behind the drums beaten by dhakis, her beautiful big eyes, wavy black hair and crafted lips gradually sank under water to melt into a muddy mesh, leaving behind everyone somber in goose-flesh. There on the banks of river Ganga, were hundreds of teary-eyed worshippers half drenched in the holy mud, bonding with each other through strings of rich cultural unity, hardly caring who was a Bengali or non-Bengali!

_____________________________________________________________________________ [Originally published on The Huffington Post].

Friday 2 October 2015

What Really Works - A Cleanliness 'Abhiyaan' or Self-driven Cleanliness?

Cleanliness's first birthday season has arrived. One year ago when Mother India gave birth to its newest baby with a sacred mission - "Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan", dreams of a messiah mission refuelled our dying hopes to tidy up our literally grim background with delight. We joined hands together crossing all boundaries of caste, religion or creed, to unite for our common birth right - hygiene. The idea was to explain the lessons of meticulousness and etiquettes to friends, neighbours, subordinates, children. Well, actually to anyone but 'me'.
Within days of inaugurating the cleanliness drive by Mr. PM, offices, schools, institutes and homes emerged on streets with a broom stick in hand to sweep off dirt under one's feet, so what if it was tossed off in the neighbour's garden? Women association and ladies club tightened saree-pallu around their waist posing for epic photographs in groups displaying their commitment to keep their premises clean, least caring that back at home when they are off their saree and make-up, some would not even think twice before throwing away kitchen junk out of their window to add up to the already piled up garbage hoarded on public street? It was amusing to find employees cleaning up dump of office files as if it was an year end appraisal target which if not done before midnight of the D-day, would lose its significance by next morning. By the end of few hours, or few weeks for some truly sincere ones, the cleanliness love affair dissipated beneath routine habits which obviously had little concern for keeping premises clean.
In fact, the most serious ones emerging in the entire cleaning business were little children who wrote essays, made collages and spoke extempore on the topic, educating the society around. Ironically, they were also the ones who knew least about some 'policy driven mission' and yet knew most about the simple habit of cleanliness. While the elders had to be forced to go through an instruction manual pointing 'Do's and Don'ts' of keeping clean, focused around a government directive, the little ones effortlessly took care to stick to a hygiene rule-book they had never even read about. My four year old child held something tight in her hand for five jolly good hours while on a trip to Munnar until she spotted a dustbin and wanted us to stop the car. When asked why, she said she wanted to throw the toffee wrapper in the bin. Isn't it appalling to know why when a four year old can understand, appreciate and follow the simplicity of a good habit inculcated, a grown-up adult must need a mission or a drive to get reminded of the same?
The question, however is, even if the noble government attempts to play a motivating Uncle Sam, how far will a 'drive' change the habits of self-driven people who have in all these years adopted shameless display of untidiness as their way of life? Is it a wonderment any more to spot the front door of a car speeding ahead suddenly fling open, driver's head pop out of it like an action movie thriller sequence and the hero shoot a file of gargled red tobacco from his mouth in place of bullets, sometime hitting and sometimes missing the person passing by on a two wheeler? A country in which urinating in open streets in full public galore considered a much healthier option to holding it back for a couple of minutes until reaching a public utility? Blowing nose or coughing without putting hands on mouth in railways, metros and buses, quite often right on the face of the nearest neighbor sitting by, unapologetically done by even the most educated and well-employed of citizens? Littering parks with eatables, spitting at tourist places, leaving filth behind in hotels and restaurants and worst still, not caring to flush out one's own shitty remains in public toilets are few common examples from daily life. We insist cleanliness is godliness but do we really care to spare our beloved God's abode in temples from filth either?
How strange is it to know when these highly qualified individuals cross the boundary of their motherland to step in some part of America, Europe or Australia, they adopt a different avatar altogether by suddenly becoming well-mannered, sophisticated gentlemen and ladies, following rules of the land like primary school babies? Perhaps they know that pretending to be naïve in a foreign land will either have them penalized or get them behind bars, even to the extent of being shown a return visa with no-thanks slip. Exactly opposite of what happens in our dear country where despite being caught and frowned upon, one can easily get away unabashedly.
If one wants to witness a live case study of our callousness towards tidiness, consider taking one train journey on a general seat. Why just general, consider sleeper or any of the AC tiers only to find that the legendary Indian Railways is the most vulnerable victim of our heartlessness. While sixty plus is to four already an alarmingly low number of toilets provided by the, its pathetic usage by people renders it distressingly unhygienic. Who cares about reading the instruction board put in toilets, when shit and quit is the rule of the rail set by passengers themselves? Using latrines when the train is at halt is obviously far fetched and much difficult instruction to follow, let alone scribbling names on walls, tearing off seat's leather even sticking chewing-gums on ceilings or fans?
So while PM and his army do commendable work in constructing multitudes of toilets, cleaning river Ganga and sanctioning crores of money for furtherance of the cleanliness cause, little is anticipated to change unless people are ready to change themselves. Drives and dialogues get delivered only with discipline. Penalty or incentive may catalyse the need to stay well behaved, it is however either the habit that one inculcates or the concern for fellow community members around that makes the big difference.
Those who keep dogs as pets would know that with proper and timely training, even an animal with lesser white matter in the brain follows etiquette of tidiness without much fuss. Why then the ones with highest of intellect need to be driven by a top-down rule-book approach and why not concern and care for each other's right to clean space be the driving force? 'Tis time we think!

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Do women want to be treated specially or equally? Do men know the difference?

Women! The most talked about, debated, interpreted and empathized lot in the country. As if she was a newly arrived accessible-to-all product in the market! Almost everyone around seems to be having an opinion on her. Why just opinions? Many actually have an unverified judgment to pass about her being. If she stands for other women, she could be a fame-hogging damn feminist and if she condemns them, she may pretty well be an enemy of her own clan. If she’s well-read and voices boisterously, she is a maligning image to traditional sophistication of Indian woman persona and if she is illiterate, she is a self-proclaimed victim who deserves to suffer in wrath. If she looks hot and sexy, she quite possibly is an over-ambitious vacuous girl who uses her body for malicious favours from successful men and if she is laid back in bed, darn her for not satisfying her man’s desires.

Nevertheless, this article is not a rant about what laments have been put by society on women since ages but about why such laments have been put on her without her consent or approval? Did anyone care to ask her when and how far a victim she considers herself to be? Or did we rather believe the media circulated stories, word-of-mouth or the exceptional wisdom by self-established advocates of womanhood who claim to have read her mind and have spoken on her behalf?

High time! Let’s bust the myth. Most of the women I have known, from school to employment, from middle-class homemakers to liberated young lasses, from empowered ladies leading NGOs or start-ups to the ones who are marginally labeled off as hailing from ‘underprivileged society’, have mostly been mettlesome women of steel and valor fighting a hard day’s battle but without any dash of self-pity. Even the ones who tire day-in and day-out to get daily meals for the family by doing dishes in others’ households when their drunken husbands lay off under sun, refuse to think of themselves as a ‘poor wretched thing’. They work hard and inspire harder their children to redefine their forthcoming future.

So even when women do not feel as victimized, as weak or as slanderous as she is made a subject to talk about, the stories of her pain and discomfort do more rounds in our society than the tales of her courage, strength and endurance. The worrisome question is why at all do we want to see women as utterly victimized and marginally unsecure section of the society who can hardly fight a battle solely on her merit? Is she really that frail or does thinking of her as ‘weak’, when she is not, act like a soothing balm on a patriarchal mentality of a nation?

In a way, the proposition that women desire to be “treated equally” is actually downright ridiculous. It assumes that men are born or become superior to women who need to be pushed upwards to match their level. Which is also to assume that men and women are like rats and cats in a race who eventually have to battle each other out to reach the finishing line first? Seriously hilarious an assumption to start any emancipation from!

A woman is like a special piece in a big jumble puzzle. Special not because she is an alternative gender but because every other piece in the puzzle of society, including a man, is as special and important to arrive at the best fit. The very question of an equal, similar looking, ditto piece just doesn’t exist!

Most men know this. Those who do are the ones who have helped women complete their struggling journey in a most dignified manner in past many years otherwise there is no other thinkable way in which the race has progressed so far helping and nurturing one another.

And of course, there are men who don’t know. And also some who don’t want to know. Such number may be miniscule. Like men, who want to live in a self-spun myth of masculinity in which women will be the ones who would always perform Karvachauth for their long life, tie them a Rakhi pleading their protection or be the carrier of their surname’s legitimate child in their womb. There would always be few macho men who would not squirt an inch to ill-treat, harass, exploit or banter women to establish their supremacy and some who would not mind taking avatar of a Messiah on constant alert to save the poor, hapless fairer creatures. Honestly, it is best to let them be and move ahead with the progressing ones.

So what if a certain group distorts the puzzle of gender balance, has it not always been a few good men who have changed the rule of the game?

Women are as much a smart player. I refuse to think of my gender clan as self-pitied, victimized or sufferers of someone else’s malice waiting for positive discrimination to change their lives forever. To voice or assert for rights of one’s dignity, safety or opportunity is not the prerogative of any gender in particular but rather a movement of humanism. No matter how much level playing field one may fetch for women, she never aspires to be known for her gender but be valued for her ability, competence and courage.  

And like it is said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Both men and women know that just right.
[I’m blogging for the India Today Woman Summit 2015 #WomenPower activity at BlogAdda.”]

Sunday 26 July 2015

VIP (Culture) Stands For Very Irritating People

[Photo courtesy: The Indian Express, VIP lane leads to traffic chaos]

Recently when an elderly couple, one of who was a 67-year old differently-abled wheelchair patient, was denied entry to the VIP lounge at Udaipur airport without any justifiable reason, huge annoyance floated throughout the country. Many media giants including NDTV expressed their solidarity in raising a common voice for the common man against burgeoning misuse of VIP culture in India, who tend to forget that 'With great power, also comes great responsibility." The question, however, is this -
Who is a VIP?
Who is this new breed of species in India whose every second of life a precious holy water which must be protected even at the cost of public discomfort? Whose every glimpse a precious blessing for the common man who must stay stuck in traffic for long hours before the Majesty's convoy passes by? Who is this 'very important person', who when not even around, is reserved a special room in his commemoration, prohibited from use even by the most needy?
While we thought the country is divided into caste, creed, religion, colour or gender, here's an addition to its rich classification. The common versus the very important person! Depending on how the VIP is using tag bestowed, the 'I' in the word often gets replaced with impolite, idiot, imbecile or irritating. VIP is a species of its kind. One could be an admirable minister, a bureaucrat, a corporate bigwig or a media giant in professional life but the moment one steps in public domain, the VIP puts on a typical avatar so that he can be easily identified even in a crowd of millions.
How about taking a look at the characteristics of this peculiar species that India has bred since the time British left us obliging in their pious hands?
VIPs use divine vehicles. No! It's not a meta-airplane that descended from the clouds above for this special person but the same ordinary SUV, car or jeep that one spots in a local market's showroom or in any of our homes. What gives it a divine touch are the red, amber, blue beacons and flashlights donning its roof tops which whistles, glows and clears way for the red carpet on road. Just one 'touch of glow' on top of vehicle and suddenly one can see convoys adorning roads, barricades erected, cops running in action and public waiting like helpless mute spectators. If there's no beacon, a flag of some national or local political party serves the purpose as deftly. Coupled with intense honking and reckless driving, even their chauffeurs begin to think of themselves as no lesser a Supernova.
VIPs love their family like no other. Wife, children, close kins and distant relation or whoever? Our special person has amazing qualities of doting. While most of benefits and privileges are meant for effective official discharge of duties, the VIP magnanimously distributes all to his close ones. Office vehicles, special passes, reserved seats, bodyguards, tickets, tours and even an admission for children in colleges through backdoor special permissions? Not a big deal when instead of the VIP, Mrs. Minister or Mrs. Bureaucrat (who otherwise is Mrs. Nothing herself) cuts the ribbon at most inaugurations on his behalf.
VIPs believe in leading. Without an exception, these meritorious individuals lead us everywhere. They are the first ones to grab a seat in stadium, block a space in parking, book special passes to entertainment, seek appointment from doctor and sadly, may even claim entitlement to a prospective patient's bed in star-hospital, emergency or no-emergency. It could well be the reason why nobody has ever seen a VIP waiting for his turn in a public toilet like any of us?
VIPs love God or vice versa. Whatever be it, there are sufficient reasons for us to believe in the strong bond of affection between God and VIP. Right from the time they are offered special entry to religious places to overlooking worshipping queues to special darshans for their well-being and prosperity. At a scared place where everyone is presuming equal before the Almighty, our special one is anointed the blessed soul and savior of mankind by the very pujaris. who eagerly give them special attention.
Finally VIPs, like little children, love stickers. If you find it difficult to identify this species on the basis of characteristics discussed a while ago, feel free to spy their cars. There you go with the Eureka moment! Bharat Sarkar, Pradesh Sarkar, District Administration, let alone Judges, even advocates of Supreme/High or any petty court, flaunt stickers all over! And why not? Isn't bypassing rules no more than a silly child-play to some?
Strangely, nobody has a clue how 'genuine' the VIP is? He could actually be a person of national asset who deserves a special treatment or he could be just a funny muse making mockery of his post? Whatever specie he is, let's accept, it is we who help breed the VIP culture. How some of us brag around in our social circle about knowing some high profile VIP or having links with him? How some want to get even remotely associated with VIPs in order to receive smattering spillovers of their privileges? How few of us do not hesitate bowing before them to get favoured out-of-the-way recommendations, only to oblige later?
But lo and behold! After all, ours is a culture in which we believe in preserving our nation's rare wonderment even at the cost of our lives. We have been protecting old historical monuments, dolphins, Indian vulture, tigers and other rare species with much commitment, patience and zeal. How about including VIPs, eh? 

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Is It A Toilet? Is It A Canvas? Is It A Dating Site?

'Modern art' clicked during a trip to Amber Fort, Jaipur

Like any other date, 18 April passed by. But not before it was celebrated with much fanfare and media attention across the world as 'World Heritage Day". There were seminars, heritage walks, quizzes, interactive programmes, slogan contests, a Twitter trail of hash tags, pictures flooding Instagram. It seemed as if everyone had a stake in saving our ancient heritage sites and historical monuments.

But even as diverse voices chimed as one to commemorate our glorious past, the chorus felt like a dirge. An obituary. It was as if a monument in its death throes was witnessing from its half-grave the soft pastel wreaths being offered as a mark of respect along with a few kind words in remembrance of its erstwhile stardom. Listening to futile prayers to "let's keep it alive forever". Now that we did our bit in paying condolences, may its dear soul rest in peace while it actually rests in pieces.

As an avid traveller who has traversed the most difficult roads to scale the heights of our country's majestic forts, I can vouch that we are too rich to ever get ripped off our national heritage. No matter in how bad a shape we leave our monuments, their ruins will speak of its grandeur and legends of bravery. Unless of course we try to overwrite these legends with our hastily scrawled names and doodles.

The moment you enter an old monument, somewhere in the corner of the entrance you will spot welcoming graffiti carved on the wall by a former visitor. Most likely, the graffiti will be a proclamation of profound love for his sweetheart, often in the form of a heart pierced with Cupid's arrow etched with the names of our very own Romeo-Juliet, or perhaps excerpts from an open love letter mostly ending with "I luv U". At times, you might discover a tourist's knowledge of human anatomy, especially genitalia. Whatever form it takes, there will always be an indelible mark of a tourist's courteous presence.

As you tear yourself away from these modern-day murals and advance towards the dark and begrimed rooms, you stagger under an olfactory assault. While the tourist guide narrates legendary tales of the fort and insists that you go deeper towards the corner to get a feel of the monument's earlier magnificence, all you can think of is the ammonia flooding your nostrils. And then it dawns on you. The ammoniac smell originates in the now-dry urine of those who came here before you. Maybe they just couldn't wait to use the public utilities just a few metres away from the site.

While government authorities take special care to place specific signboards instructing tourists to follow certain guidelines, the rebellious child sheltered within an adult mind immediately pops out to break rules. If the sign warns not to pluck flowers, somebody will pick their very own bouquet. In signboards apprising "Do not scribble on the walls", "not" will be scratched off. At places where "Do not touch the wet paint" is subscribed, impressions of palms like dirty X-ray bones will be imprinted forever. A "Photography Prohibited Area" will be illuminated by flashes from hidden mobile cameras and in all possibility, most selfies will be clicked in "Danger: Stay Away" zones.
There are other pastimes too. Visitors to heritage site seem to have a great proclivity for spitting out great gobs of reddish brown paan masala (tobacco) commixture freshly prepared in their mouths, staining the walls in a botched water-drop fashion. Noses are blown and mucus ejected at the mere hint of a scratchy nostril or throat. Such emergencies cannot be postponed until reaching a toilet or bin.
Nevertheless, whether these heritage buildings may or may not be human friendly, they are indeed the most serene abode to monkeys, cows, stray dogs, snakes and bats. The authorities also usually let them be, which is why we were shocked when recently the parliamentary standing committee banned the daily procession of some 150 buffaloes across East Gate and VIP Gate of the Taj Mahal in a concerted effort, fearing it could dirty a world heritage site (read, it could impede VIP visits).

And why just animals? The sequestered rooms, secluded gardens and dense bushes in the vicinity of old dilapidated monuments offer young couples a safe and secret dating place, where they can easily meet or mate, away from the eyes of a cynical society. "It must be a rabbit," you hurriedly tell children straining to see the cause of the commotion behind the rose bushes. Then for fear of causing embarrassment, you take a different route.

We hear that the recent earthquake in Nepal savaged many monuments of historical significance, and we once again paid tribute to their dear departed remains. Perhaps we didn't realise that whatever happened was just nature doing to them for one day, what we have been doing bit-by-bit for years now.

[This post by the author was originally published on Huffington Post.
Incidentally, this  post also got chosen as best pick on Blogadda's "TANGY  TUESDAY" series. ]

Thursday 14 May 2015

Battling Workplace Depression
(Originally published at India HR Live)
It was late in the evening some days ago when I received a call from a local hospital informing that a family friend had been admitted to its  Intensive Care Unit in a frayed mental condition, perhaps in a failed suicide attempt. This ‘friend’ was rather my husband’s colleague..... Read More

 The Bugs Of Negativity
Eeewww! What the hell! Get these bugs off my hand.’
Anything other that you felt looking at this picture?
Just in case you happen to be amongst the exceptional lot who don’t mind such a creepy sight, let’s be honest enough to confess – “For how long?”
Exactly! Not even a day!....... Read More

Just Let Go

One: “My best friend back-stabbed me? I can’t believe it. For a single bloody project in office she used MY collection of data and put it all up for her credits. Bitch! You gotta pay back someday soon.”

Two: “Richard thinks that he is the only one who can cheat on me? This is what I get in return of all my loyalty and love for my husband in all these years? Wait till I wash his dirty linen in public. He can’t inflict hurt and leave. Just like that!!!”...Read More

“A year from now you may wish you had started today." ~Karen Lamb
And before I felt it was going to be too late, I picked up my pen. With infinite thoughts running in my head and numerous write-ups stacked in personal diary, I wonder what had I been waiting for so long? ... Read More

(Originally published in the Times of India web - 'Rest in Pieces')
In one month of lockdown due to Cornoa virus outbreak, I have complained around every important activity ....... Read More.  

8 Ways to identify Covidiots around us
(Originally published in the Times of India web - 'Rest in Pieces')
I always believed that the world is full of idiots. Until Corona outbreak happened! ....... Read More.  

Neat, pristine, illuminated with countless dazzling lights all round the clock, long unwinding byroads rendered so clean that they give back a mirror reflection, a waft of pure air, no traffic rules yet ..........Read More

Neat, pristine, illuminated with countless dazzling lights all round the clock, long unwinding byroads rendered so clean that they give back a mirror reflection, a waft of pure air, no traffic rules yet ..........Read More

(Originally published in The Huffington Post)We live in the glorious times of the Buddha. No, I have not lost my mind. Neither do I have a time machine that can take me to the 6th century BC. I write today because everywhere I look I see representations of the Buddha—tokens and tokenism. ..........Read More

(Originally published in The Women's Web)
There were times when thinking of monsoon brought before us imagery of joy. Of dark clouds overshadowing the sky, intermittent break of thunder claps and benevolent downpour wetting not only the land but also soaking us deep within for relief from fierce summer. .........Read More

(Originally published in Women's Web)
Asha is not keeping up well. Any of these days could be her last. Dressed in a yellow tee and petticoat, she is hardly able to hold her lean and tender body all by herself and rests it against the love of her life, her man, who sits beside her all day long, all night long ....Read More

(Originally published in The Huffington Post)
To a woman who is a fashionista, my wardrobe might look a tad boring. ..........Read More

For the last one decade, like dedicated patriots of the country, this year again we chased the newspaper’s international section to follow the fancy dresses Aishwarya Rai, Sonam Kapoor or Mallika Sherawat flaunted at the mighty 69th Cannes’ red carpet. ..............Read More

(Originally published in Women's Web)
Don’t worry about your daughter’s schooling. Merit and talent never go in waste.” Those were the parting words from my kids’ previous school principal .............Read More

(Originally published in Women's Web)
In the middle of an important official meeting, my mobile gives three continuous beeps..............Read More   

Attending an Indian Hindu wedding is like being a part of cast of a fully fledged Bollywood blockbuster. The show begins with thumping sound of loud music and ends with baraatis burning the dance floor hot. .............Read More  

(Originally published in Women's Web)
"Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are…” Brilliant nursery rhyme to begin with pre-school toddlers telling them that there are millions of tiny little stars up in the sky above that glitter ..............Read More  

(Originally published in The Huffington Post)
Cutting a 30s birthday cake gives a very mushy feeling. The size of cake gets smaller to hold a big bunch of candles; the guest list is strictly filtered to rope in a close few (shouldn't sound shocking if 'close few' conspires to just the husband and children); .............Read More 

(Originally published in The Huffington Post)
Come October and arrive nine days festival and six days holidays! Getting a break as long as one full week from routine humdrums of boring daily life! I would be crazy if that wasn’t a reason good enough for me to rejoice during my schooldays! ..Read More 

Cleanliness's first birthday season has arrived. One year ago when Mother India gave birth to its newest baby with a sacred mission - "Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan", dreams of a messiah mission refuelled our dying hopes to tidy up our literally grim background with delight. ......ReadMore

(Also published in The Women's Web) 
Women! The most talked about, debated, interpreted and empathized lot in the country. As if she was a newly arrived accessible-to-all product in the market! Almost everyone around seems to be having an opinion on her. Why just opinions? ......ReadMore

(Originally published on The Huffington Post)  
Like any other date, 18 April passed by. But not before it was celebrated with much fanfare ...... ReadMore  

(Originally published on The Huffington Post and re-published at Chaiwallahs Of India) There is something typical about early mornings in most Indian households. ......Read More

(Originally published on Huffington Post)
Aha! That time of the year is once again here when the machismo of Indian men gets so built up that it sexes ..... ReadMore

(Winning entry at blogadda.com)
I was twenty one when I got married. Too young even by modern Indian standards but then, it appeared as the only cure at that time for a young girl ... Read More

(Wining story at Writingcash Contest and also picked up by Blogadda for its Spicy Saturday)
It was raining heavily. The pitter-patter ..... Read More

Until an year back, the above lines were no more than a passable quote for me. I thought it was the most overrated ‘lecture’ one could get to keep reminding ourselves that we were alive. I mean, of course, we were ‘alive’! So what is the big deal in it? ... Read More
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...