Friday, June 30, 2017

Lessons to be learnt from elsewhere in our World!

A friend recently asked on Facebook - "Share any ideas or practices you admire abroad and wonder why we don't follow the same in India as well... ? This could be in any sphere..."

Here are a few from the top of my head and from the zone I am in right now -

1. Pick up poop after their pet child. 

2. Segregate garbage at home. 

3. Keep even surrounding areas clean 

4. Have a 911 and one that works. 

5. Have para medics and performing para medics 

6. Have museums, libraries and other public places with clean bathrooms, devoid of mostly any stench. And women don't have to hold their needs for the whole day or drive to a Five Star to use a clean facility.

7. Are far more women friendly - even for single travellers - than we can ever dream to be. 

8. A million times faster Net speed. 

9. Variety of produce - even if it is just cereals or flavoured cheese - is just mind-boggling 

10. You don't have to be a millionnaire to get a private pool installed at your place. Even something like BB&B or an IKEA will help you self-install one.

11. Those lovely flower boxes outside every window across Switzerland, France and Germany....

12. Lower taxes

13. More Government accountability

14. Roads, hospitals and other public conveniences of a certain standard that we completely lack.

15. No overflowing public trash places.

16. Less contaminated water and foods.

17. Have a police force that works

18. Have cleaner, beautified public places, yes even that little patch of green or the corner Cafe

19. Dignity of Labour

What are your inputs?

Picture courtesy - Google Images

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Our Santorinian Island in the heart of a Tropic City!

Situated in the mostly hot and sultry Delhi, the sizzling Capital City of India, our little home island of white and blue attempts to offset some of the heat with its Grecian white exterior blended with the cool, calmness of the Santorinian Blue.

The idea is to be a balm for the eyes and the soul.

To soothe! To create serenity! To offer a soft, reassuring sensory touch!

We shine in our twin hues
of spartan white and lush blues,
We are enveloped in the bliss of green
every twig and that dangling leaf 
sparkle in the Sun's sheen,
We offer solace to the passing eye
and bring a smile to all those who go by,
The birds home in, the peacocks and squirrels too
It's a sanctuary of peace and love
This, our house, in shades of white and blue!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The flavour at Lucky Manzil is still Peaches & Cream!

And when God gives you a deluge of peaches, you make Jam. And perhaps pies too!!!

The Ripest Peach by James Whitcomb Riley

The ripest peach is highest on the tree — 
And so her love, beyond the reach of me, 
Is dearest in my sight. Sweet breezes, bow 
Her heart down to me where I worship now! 

She looms aloft where every eye may see 
The ripest peach is highest on the tree. 
Such fruitage as her love I know, alas! 
I may not reach here from the orchard grass. 

I drink the sunshine showered past her lips 
As roses drain the dewdrop as it drips. 
The ripest peach is highest on the tree, 
And so mine eyes gaze upward eagerly. 

Why — why do I not turn away in wrath 
And pluck some heart here hanging in my path? — 
Love's lower boughs bend with them — but, ah me! 
The ripest peach is highest on the tree!

Peach Jam, Peachy Pie and Pics of Jam and Pie are by Karuna Dayal.

The other pictures are thankfully mine.

The Wishing Ladders at Ibaadat!

When Ma used to live in those neat and lovely Cantonments where Daddy was posted, she inculcated a habit of beautifying even the surrounding areas.

This little habit has crept into my DNA too, and I endeavour to assume ownership for cleanliness and upkeep of just a bit larger periphery around our house, no matter where I stay.

I am sure there are other people who do this as well.

But there is always a set of people that will attempt to discourage you and rain on your parade. Just a few days back, one of the RWA Officials interjected and wished to put a brake on my beautification drive citing security concerns as the main reason.

So, here's sharing with you, my mass threats to the Colony security placed strategically around Ibaadat!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Religion must unite. It cannot divide!

This was on the evening just before Eid in 1972. Close to midnight, Ma and Didi were bent over the Sewing Machine and the Embroidery set to finish stitching and dressing up a lovely lace Frock in Green that I was to wear the next morning.

Ma had started a fine tradition at home, ever since I came along into their lives. I was made the happy Guinea Pig at every festival and was all dolled out in the dresses and designs Ma and Didi crafted out. No festival was given a miss - yes, even Guru Purab or the lesser known Goverdhan Puja.

But this Eid was going to be special. Our next door neighbours, who had become very good friends of the family, were Muslims. So it was going to be a more intimate celebration for all of us, rather than a cursory greeting or a mandatory get together for all officers and their families at the Golden Keys Club of the Cantonment.

The Green lacy dress was very pretty and it set my mood for the day. From morning we looked forward to a day of fun and frolic with treats passed around, a huge bowl of Seviyan sent across to our house by our Muslim neighbours and yes there was going to be a rich repast for dinner to be enjoyed jointly by the families.

Almost all of my schooling, but for the two years in a Kendriya Vidyalaya, took place in convents and I do not recall if any of the Brothers or Sisters or the Mother Superior tried to convert us to Christianity. We, as kids, willingly, tip-toed into the School Cathedral, fooled around with the Holy Water dispenser and knelt and prayed to God in the astonishingly sublime silence. To this day, my last prayer of the day is the one I learnt in school and includes Christ; but that is only because I find it to be the most concise and all-surmising expression of Gratitude to God of any form or shape.

Ma, the ruling body at home, made sure that we celebrated all festivals at home, with the same fervour and gusto. On Christmas Eve, we had stockings tucked under our pillows which we opened with special glee the next morning, to find bags of goodies and gifts.

Under her, this excitement went across all religions. Ma even brought in local festivals from stations Daddy was posted in. There was never a dull moment or lessening of rejoicing spirit almost all through the Calendar year.

Yes, we are practising Hindus. I have been a Shiva Bhakt all my life and I have always upheld that my religion is much like all other religions; and above all it has taught me respect and compassion. None of the scriptures I have read, have ever told me that I have to hate the other religion to love my own.

So it is very difficult for me to see all this polarization happening in my country. The Us and Them divide, the closing in and the shutting out. That is not the Country I grew up in and this is not the sentiment that I will allow to malign my view of my nation.

A very Happy Eid EVERYONE!

Picture courtesy - Google Images

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

There is this one other person you must trust your life with!

We have been told, all along our growing up and grown-up years, that we must trust two people the most in our lives; much more than our parents, our children and our spouse. They are the family doctor and your legal counsel. 

They both must know everything about your life, your lifestyle, your secrets, your clandestine rendezvous, your excesses and at times even your abstinence; for them to be able to help you have a smooth ride on life’s highway.

The other person to be placed on the same plank of trust and reverence just has to be your hairdresser. 

As you close your eyes and entrust your crowning glory unto him, you must have faith that he will never be careless, disinterested or otherwise engaged to snip the glory off your crown – billowing or receding, black, white or grey, straight or curly, long or short. That he will pool in all his years of experience to give an independent identity to your hair and the style it embodies.

You must have a mutual admiration society going on with him so much that he teases and cuts, snips and coiffeurs your mane in such a manner as to frame your face in the most suited manner. That, with just a few rapid strokes, he makes you look younger, thinner, prettier in real time much more than Photoshop would virtually.

And once you find such a superstar, never ever lose him. 

You can still replace that doctor or the lawyer!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day to all the great fathers out there!

Fathers are meant to be those rocks who we can lean on with all our troubles.

Fathers are our spot of Sky who we can look up to for all our personal philosophies.

Fathers are the solid ground, the foundation which our identity stems from.

Fathers are like the big ocean into whom we can drown all our sorrows and who in turn will always promise that tomorrow will be a better day, regardless.

Fathers are our first dance partners, our first playmates, our first story-tellers, our first teachers - for all that school stuff and for the lessons from and for life.

Fathers are the buffers who come between us and the strict, disciplining Tiger Mom telling us that "Mom is right" and telling Ma "to cut us some slack."

Fathers teach us all the games - Football, Badminton, Carrom, Chinese Checkers, Dumb charades, Tennis and more.

Fathers buy us our first costumes, order the bespoke velvety wine-coloured one-piece that we had set our hearts on and take us for our first swimming lessons.

Fathers take us to their offices, on those 'Daughters Day outs,' and lending their stationery and their coloured pencils allow us to spend a delightful day drawing our funny looking creatures.

Fathers take us out to our favourite places, buy bagfuls of our favourite eclairs and chocolate gold coins and jujubes and cold drinks, even when they are on the last dollar at the end of the month.

Fathers take us for walks and holding our tiny hands in their giant palms teach us character and confidence, telling us there is nothing to be afraid of.

Fathers learn to make those late night fluffy omelettes for us when all the cooking they know is how to boil water and poach an egg.

When coaxed, fathers belt out a ditty in their rich baritone, making such wonderful music that will stay with us for our life.

Fathers, as the real Superman of our lives, stand between us and all our fears - rational or irrational - of heights and darkness, of inner demons and outer villains.

When alive, Fathers are our pillar of strength and sustenance - emotional, physical, psychological.

When retired to that place beyond, fathers are our guiding light and the lucky star who we can wish upon and seek light from each time we hit a low!!!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Ma - the ingenious Service Wife!

She had the "winner's" DNA written all over her. I wonder where she got this zeal to ace anything and everything she undertook. But Ma was numero uno most of the time in the family, in her circle, dammit, in my circle too, in the Services Wives Club, in the whole Cantonment during Dad's tenure at each station and so on..

From my toddler time memories I remember Ma's Garden being the best, laden with fresh organic vegetables and a smorgasbord of such a variety of flowers that her friends were always taking tips from her, and the GOC's wife would send her Assistant to Ma knowing that even when there were no flowers to be found around, Mrs. Dhir's garden would not disappoint. Early on, I saw Ma being invited to hold special classes for Army wives on how to make jams, preserves, pickles and spreads.

And boy, was she ingenious! With fruit from the Guava tree, for instance, she would get down to make Guava Jelly, Squash and round it off with Guava Cheese so that not much of the fruit went to waste.

The same story went on with all her other pursuits - cooking, baking, knitting, embroidery, photography..... She could pick up a weave just by running her two fingers for about two minutes on the pattern on a Pullover worn by a co-passenger.

And she was a big one on Creativity! She liked being inspired, but I think she liked being inventive far, far more. What's more, her takes and versions always paled the original.

In the early 70s, at a time when we as a society were still not particularly inclined towards letting a lot of air, sunlight and the outdoors come in and blend with our home architecture (particularly in the North of India), she designed her dream house with beautiful grills and big, big windows.

Amidst all this, I think the finest lesson that Ma left for me and one that I should endeavour to make my own is that; Mrs. Dhir seldom let her spirit settle down and sit smugly on past laurels.

She had this childlike curiosity and enthusiasm that made her try new things, create magic in her soul's sandpit and yearn to fly off to such wonderlands where her imagination took her.

Remembering Ma for her sheer brilliance that shined through a persona that was steeped in humility!

Today, I try to keep the memories and her memorabilia alive!