As we celebrate Navratri and Durga puja these nine days bring back a lot in retrospection.  
My mom always told me that the Navratras right before Diwali were not just fasts for penance. They were a festival that has to be celebrated. 

As I grew up, I understood that these fasts marked a change of season and we observed fasts to get our body detoxified and to acclimatize to the change of food, weather etc.

We pray to the Nine different forms of Goddess Durga and thus observe each day worshiping her different manifestations. 

We, as women, are all in some way or the other,the new age manifestations of the Goddess herself. A woman is capable of adapting herself to bring out that in herself which she is herself not aware of.

She is “Sailaputri” being the daughter of Himalayas when her resolve to get something for herself is unbreakable and she achieves what she determines to get no matter what hardships come her way . She has the power of Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva.

She is “Bhramcharini” when she knows how to protects herself and can defend herself from the vultures of the society. 

She is “Chandraghanta” when she’s braver that most people can imagine and can fight any demons inside or on the outside .

She is “Kushmanda” when she brings a ray of hope in her life when everything seems to be falling apart at the darkest hour . When she reaches out and encourages her spouse in terms of financial bottlenecks , her kids in terms of study pressures , friends in need of her moral support giving encouragement and happiness to all around her.

She is “Skandamata” when she is in charge of her family and guards it against all evil. She protects and fights for her family , her kids and her happiness selflessly mostly putting herself as a shield to shelter her loved ones.

She is “Katyayani” when she is a daughter to her parents and loves them respects them and takes care of them in spite of all odds. She becomes the daughter that Sages wish to be born to them.

She is “Kaalratri” or the Goddess Kali when she forgets her physical being and fiercely fights for her right and protects that what she believes in fearlessly, leading to triumph over all odds and evils in her surrounding. 

She is “MahaGauri” when she is beautiful ,intelligent and calm. When she knows she is a reliever of all sufferings for those who believe in her . She is supernatural. 

She is “Siddhidatri” when she blesses her unborn in pregnancy. Also when her healing touch just blesses her child and all pain vanishes away. When her mere hand runs through the husbands hair in her lap and stress gets busted.  

She is all of the above . 
She is in every woman.

She is YOU. 

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It was a lovely spring afternoon almost enticing one to run out of the house and go outdoors. I sighed as I got into the mall mentally making a note to check the compulsive shopper in me,to not enter any shop but the one I had planned to since I had to buy a gift for a friend. I made a quick decision to go walking to the next interconnected mall only because I could feel the fresh spring air in my face. It was that kind of a day!
As I waited patiently for my handbag to be scanned for security check, SHE walked in,smelling heavily of Gucci “Guilty” , and my olfactory acuteness recognizing it in a jiffy made me turn back. I could not help but notice the “fake” Birkin bag and the almost gawky, too-big-for-the-face sunglasses that she wore. Still waiting for my bag to be handed over to me ,I gave a feeble smile which she ignored , eyeing my 3 year old tote bag almost as if she looked down upon my sense of style! 

I rolled my eyes as she hurried jostled past me to enter the mall as if something/someone was waiting for her inside and would die if she didn’t reach in time! As she walked past me I wondered if I should be judging her for carrying a fake Birkin bag in a color that even Jane Birkin would cringe at and Hermes would be probably ashamed to make or should I be admiring the confidence with which she looked down upon my old but clean and definitely real LV tote which maybe out of fashion but is still very functional nevertheless!! I instantly went into the self corrective mode. I don’t have a right to judge her I told myself but the fiercely indignant inner self nudged at me and said neither did she have a right to frown at me in the face!

It’s so easy to set rules and boundaries for ourselves but when we feel helpless with our surroundings sometimes it leaves us distressed. Why did her disapproval matter to me? When we evolve as a human being, we break free from certain standards set by others and incessantly follow our path of righteousness. So when people misjudge, you walk away without explanations. When certain friends back stab you, you cut cords without confrontations. When people value others on the basis of things they own, you run away from them in the opposite direction. When liars lie on your face looking in your eye, you ignore them rather than prove the truth. When people make mistakes, you don’t gauge the extent of their delinquency ,you let karma take its course. 

Because sometimes it’s ok not to be the harbinger of high moral righteousness for the simple reason that the other side is just not humanly evolved to understand it. But most importantly because, Karma is a voice that doesn’t use words. 

It’s always watching ! 

What happens when the soul leaves the body? It moves on but those attached to the person are left bereaved and aching. Those left behind grieve for 13 days in bereavement. They relive the moments spent with the departed person, lament for moments wasted , cherish for what was special and those who are lucky feel no regrets.

It is in such times that you realize that those people who help you tide away these initial days of loss are not there to share your pain or sorrow (because that is your own) but to make you understand the ways of the universe. 
When someone consoles you and walks out of that door to live their normal life (and why not ?! – not questioning that !) they actually teach you that the loss will remain but the crying will be replaced by smiles at the fond memories that you may have created with the person who has left and the ache will be taken over by the satisfaction that you were there for the person and you did what you could towards that person. 
These days of mourning allow us to look within us and understand that we are all different human beings with varied levels of sensitivity. The degree of sensitivity is different because of how much we’ve actually fed our soul instead of our ego. It lies in how we would want the world to perceive us instead of how we perceive the world . It dwells in being able to give what we would’ve wanted to receive in such a situation. 
These days also allow us to understand that the Universe conspires to show us the reality which we normally ignore or overlook while we are busy in our regular lives. It shows us that only by loving the living will we be doing our karma. Because there are signals everywhere and if we ignore them, we shall be going against the law of nature. Even the universe gives up if we don’t accept it’s signals. Being receptive will show us how to unravel a lot within and outside. We also understand how strong we are physically and emotionally. 
It is in such times that you realize that some connections are those with your soul not just the physical you . They may have gone but the memories remain fresh forever as long as you remember them and not just your loss.
But most importantly, these days of mourning actually prove the much cliched saying that ‘life moves on’ because it does… earlier for some later for others but it does……

I came across an interesting piece of information on the internet about a candy store for adults . It’s made like a very “sleek and futuristic” pharmacy and claims to have “sweet relief for everyday pains”.

“What a brilliant idea”,I thought! Imagine finding therapeutic relief in picking up jars of candy! Fun !! If only life was so simple .. but then …is it not?  

So, what are everyday pains? 

Sometimes they are the mammoth burden of social pressures that we choose to carry on our tiny (or not so tiny!) shoulders. 

They are the self inflicted punishments which we give to ourselves for no fault of ours.

They are the shackles of our inherent nature that we go in tandem with and seldom try to defy. 

They are the little white lies that trouble us as we clearly see through those saying them. 

They are the moments when we lose our self esteem at the hands of others who find solace in putting us down to be able to rise up in their own eyes. 

They are the repetitive nature of events that unfold time and again to remind us of the small minds we are sometimes enclosed in. 

They are the grimaces we carry , they are the shame we inflict upon others and let others inflict upon us, they are the guilt we so easily accept in our lives when we are happy almost as if to be happy is sin and to suffer , a virtue ! 

The list is endless but it’s the sweet reliefs that I feel like focusing on. So what is “sweet relief”?

It lies not in resorting to over indulge ourselves in desserts when we are stressed but to find our strengths when we are put down . It is in empowering those around us even when we are being bowed down by others . 

It is when a mother in law breaks the rule of “treating” the daughter in law in a way different from the way she was treated when she was younger and has chosen to be kind and loving to the new bride rather than seek revenge from her for every disgrace that she was inflicted upon years ago.

It is when a sister chooses to love and respect her brothers wife so that it is different from what she was served when she got married.

It is when friends who are going through troubled relationships do not draw daggers at those who are not!

It is when siblings don’t worry about what inheritance they have to share but continue to make sweet memories that they started creating the day they got together!

It is when a loving husband sits on the kitchen slab offering moral support to the wife who is doing the dishes when there is no helping staff at home.

It is when kids pitch in with the mother by helping her serve dinner and clearing dishes and then rubbing mom’s shoulder when she’s finished her hard day.

It is when friends empower each other by not ganging up against one who they feel threatened by but understanding that we all have one thing in common that is “everyday pains” and the “sweet relief” lies in being nice once and reaping the result multiple times because goodness is like an echo which comes back many times multifold. 

Let’s break the vicious cycle of inflicting hurt onto others because we are hurt. Let’s be kind, Lets love anyway, because that’s what should be our therapy for “everyday pains”!! 
P.S. Also, because candy gives me toothache;) 

As I stare out and admire the bauhinia tree and it’s beautiful shades of green, I wonder if it will stay the same in this heat. As peak summer approaches, so does the most awaited summer vacation. It starts with a much needed break from school which turns into a nightmare routine of watching endless television, messy rooms , umpteen play dates and playing virtual sports since it’s too hot to go out!

I remember the summer afternoons that we would spend as kids. All the cousins gallivanting around the safe haven of one house after another, getting into one gate and then getting out of the other connecting house, ravaging through the larder for snacks and munching on anything edible that came into our sight, surprisingly right after lunch when the moms would take their afternoon siestas! The sun did not bother us. We were not worried about wearing sunscreen if we stepped out at 4 pm . We would sneak out of our house with our swimming bags behind our back, get together and go to the club for a swim followed by oil dripping fried sesame vegetable toasts and Goldspots, sign on our Dad’s account and head back. And then when we got back home more often than not, mom would be in the kitchen cooking the evening meal and we would not be scolded until dinner time more so for having left the house door open behind us in the afternoon than for actually stepping out. 

The days we did not go to the club for swimming, we would all gather together and get wet under the sprinklers in the garden or directly by the thick black garden hose. There was no difference between our bath water and drinking water. I clearly remember drinking water from the garden hose!  

Those were simple days.Evenings were spent playing carom board or strolling in the garden while the elders talked over tea and biscuits! Ah, that childhood seems to have gone by too soon….

As I notice my kids fighting over the remote for the second time in the day, I put down my book, get up from my chair, and turn off the motherboard and ask them to go out and play. It’s only 5.30 pm, they both screamed in unison (laziness is something they are definitely in tandem with each other) “it’s too hot,Mom!” We have a heated conversation (aka argument) for about 3 minutes and eventually (as usual) I win and literally throw them out to play in the driveway – the only place they can play in, since the nearby park is infested with mosquitoes and other people’s guards and drivers. 

I run back into the kitchen to quickly make some lemonade and send it out. I take a deep breath, look outside and wonder if I’m being too harsh as a mother . The beautiful bright pink flowers in the garden glisten in the evening sun and shine on, and I know my little flowers er my kids will be just fine! 

My experience 🙂 for the past eight months with Buddhism 
When I was a kid , I would see my mother pray for almost an hour every morning . Apart from fasting on random Mondays ( so that I get a “good” husband ) . I didn’t do much . I remember fasting all day , cribbing how difficult it was to only eat sweet stuff all day and waiting for the clock to strike 12 midnight ,keeping my cheese sandwiches smothered in mayonnaise ready so that I could pounce on them! I did not know I was doing anything wrong , I had full faith in my faith ! 
When I got married my mother in law prayed everyday for an even longer time . I remember she took me to her little temple and handed me a religious book and asked me to learn the prayer . I could not , I still don’t know it . I resisted . I just could not understand how reading a few lines from a prayer book made me a better human being . For it was in my actions that I had to show my values and take responsibility for my household . 

Am glad I did just that . Accepting and loving my new family was my faith , my religion . 
 Eight months ago , when I started practicing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, I was a complete mess . On the outside , I should have been happy since I had it all – a lovely family , financial security and independence that most women crave , but on the inside ,what was lacking was inner happiness , the freedom to be happy when everything else around me didn’t feel so right ! The practice has given me that and much more ! 
my faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism came with logic . It came with experiencing the Mystic law in everything I did . I chanted and I got the wisdom to handle situations and adversities smoothly . Initially Circumstances did not change but my outlook to them changed . I chanted for everything from my kids doing well in school to victory for my friends , their jobs satisfaction , their children , victory in our family settlements,

Harmony in Family relations and saw positive results . I started with my daimoku for gratitude everyday for all the beautiful things in my life ! All the things I had taken for granted became things I was greatful for . 
I’ve always felt that I don’t have a very strong “friendship karma ” . I always lamented about how my friends who I was fiercely loyal to ended up back stabbing me ! When I started the practice , I thought of improving my friendship karma . I made the Gohonzhon my friend . Not only did it become my friend , it became my philosopher and guide too ! Each time I would chant , I forgave those who I felt had wronged me , understood that I had completed my karma with them and it was time to move on . They don’t trouble me anymore . I learnt that I have to continue being the loyal friend that I am , but because of the practice , now I’ll only attract my tribe ! People who will support and empower me . I’ve made some awesome friends ever since I’ve got into the practice . I got the wisdom to choose my friends . 
My greatest victory has been in rediscovering my passion for writing . I write poetry and a blog . It just liberates me . I feel so much lighter, happier and although I do face daily challenges , My determination is to strive to polish my soul everyday by chanting in sync with universe and to follow the Mentors guidance in every sphere of my life and reach my goal to be happy at all times 🙂

After much cajoling and a promise to buy her a bar of chocolate later, my four year old niece sat in my lap and blabbered on about how much she loved Elsa, the Disney character from the animated movie Frozen. She went on and on about how happy she was that I had bought her the night suits that her mom promised she could wear the next day after they were washed . Little pleasures! It was all going very well until, as an eager-to-please adult, I told her I loved Elsa too. She replied suddenly getting upset , “No massi , you can’t like Elsa, she’s mine!” She told me how she didn’t approve of her best friend liking Elsa too because she loved her and only she could like her!

So I smiled and told her, “I like Elsa because you like her”. She looked visibly relieved and answered “No,You choose your own princess”.”Woah!”, I said “Then I like you, you are my favorite Princess!”

“Choose your own princess” sounded convincing enough ! Just as you choose your own bag, choose your own dress and choose you own indulgences!! I wonder how sometimes we, as adults, fail to follow our own choices and make those (the choices) of others around us, our own!
So when a friend tell me how her sister-in-law pesters her husband to buy her a new bag that her best friend just bought, I get confused. Is it a whim to buy a bag or a race to compete against her own best friend that the poor guy has to bear the brunt of?! This is the same person who will ask her child to compete against his/her peers and ace a singing competition just because it’s the “in” thing to do even if he/she is meant to be a super tennis player !

It is one thing to admire and appreciate the other but it’s a totally different ball game to try and ape and get the same thing. What may look good on someone may not look good on me! What may be good for someone may not be good for me! In fact, can not be . We are different human beings, programmed differently, that’s why we are called individuals. Think and act individually!
It’s so satisfying if we choose what We love to do , love to buy, love to possess! It gives us wings like nothing else can- that thought, idea or thing is our own!
So next time you see someone wearing the ring that you simply love and can’t stop admiring -appreciate it , maybe even drool over it but choose your own princess !!

            As I make my first cup of tea in the morning , I wonder if I would have things any other way . Life is good because I made it so . I strive each day to keep my family and most importantly me happy ! I stand up for what I believe in .I filter out thoughts and people alike if they trouble me .
I’ve had some major fallouts in relationships because I’ve stood my ground.
Friendships turned sour because I refused to let go of my self respect. For things that mattered , I’ve swallowed my pride and apologized instead of choking on the guilt. Some of my closest relationships have died down because I refuse to lower my moral standard. I have moved on because I have realized those associations are not meant for me.
Clearly when you talk about others behind their back and then post pictures with them you are not my cup of tea!

When you are not loyal enough to stand up for your friends,you are not my cup of tea!

When you tell another persons’ innermost secrets to a random person and still don’t own up to it , you are not my cup of tea!

When you mimic a person with special needs and enjoy the audience, you are not my cup of tea!

When you mock at another person’s achievements just because it makes you feel better about your failures, you’re not my cup of tea!

When you don’t look after or offer moral support to your parents when they are ailing ,you are not my cup of tea!

When you choose your friends not on the connections of your heart but on the basis of their social standing and net worth, you are not my cup of tea!

When you form opinions about someone on the basis of what another person thinks, you are not my cup of tea!

When you don’t appreciate others when they deserve it because it makes you feel small, you are not my cup of tea!

When you scream at your wife in front of friends, you are not my cup of tea!

When you let your kids turn into bullies just to hide their own insecurities,you”re not my cup of tea!

When you get so wasted on a Friday night that you can’t realize who your husband is and jump on mine, you are not my cup of tea!

When you try to repair your broken life by shattering mine, you are not my cup of tea!

When you choose not to work but put the blame on everyone else around , you are not my cup of tea!

When you don’t value friendship enough to apologize and bask in the shadows of your ego, you are not my cup of tea!

When you use me only as a baggage dump for all your emotions and party hard with others , you are not my cup of tea….

Give yourself a chance. Stop hanging around people who pull you down . Take a detox.
Choose your cup of tea!

P.S: For those who prefer coffee , the medium roast blend is simply divine….. ;)!

Lessons from school. 

This was almost 6 years ago but I remember it clearly.
It was a busy day at school . PTMs always are . The school was bustling with parents and kids . Why do people get their kids along at Parent Teacher meetings I wondered as a “family” -the mother, the father,the school kid in uniform and their toddler -all in a row, jostled past me .

 It’s amusing sometimes to see how much effort people would make to dress up for the Parent Teacher Meeting for their children . I saw this mother dressed up in a lovely sundress; I would wear it on the beach I told myself minus the high heels that she’s wearing.

 I sat at the back of the class , watching the teacher pour out one complaint after another at this mom who was constantly pulling at her short cotton dress (hoping it would get longer!?) visibly looking agitated now. It was a distracting sight . I looked at the adorable handmade craft work all around the class, trying to find the little kite my daughter had colored so diligently amongst all others and then at my watch.It had already been 15 minutes and the teacher was far from finishing her interaction about how indisciplined and uncouth the child was ! Considering the fact that these were grade 2 students, I found her rather cynical. Luckily , I was next. There it was, I could spot it, my baby girl’s little kite just beside the class cupboard colored a bright red! After another round of finger pointing from the mother to the teacher about how she could not discipline her child enough at school , it got over when the teacher said she could understand where the child’s agitation was coming from ! The mom stormed out , but not before she put her sunglasses back on from her head. I caught her eye and she waved at me as if nothing had happened. 

Phew! It was my turn at last! I sat next to the teacher confident that I would not hear any complaints ! What came next was a surprise. “Mrs. Kapoor”,she said,”Your daughter is a very sensitive child”. Instantly, I told her “Ma’am, I’ll look into it. She is sensitive indeed. I’m going to work on it and make her tough”. What blew my guard off was the smile on her face when she said,”Please don’t work on it at all . We are blessed to have such kids”. She went on to narrate an incident that had happened in school . Apparently , there was a new admission in class who was a girl with special need. The kids were not being able to understand why she was any different from them and were picking on her. She was getting edgy day by day and not being able to retort back, she had started hitting the other kids in her defense. One day she held my daughter by the throat because she tried to stop her from hitting a friend. Not only did my brace little girl manage to get her hands off her throat , she even got her to apologize to her friend. She promised her that she would be her friend if she stopped hitting other kids. The child agreed since my daughter was one of the few kids who never troubled her . My daughter chose not complain to the teacher but the other kids narrated the incident to the supervisor. Things improved in the class. Most of the other kids followed suit and started playing and sharing their Tiffin with her in the recess. It made me proud . I was humbled by the way my daughter handled the situation. This sowed the seeds of a great friendship. Eventually the girl left school because the parents moved out of town but as long as she remained in town, my daughter was always the first one for her birthday invitee list!

Our children go to school to learn to be ready for the society therefore academic progress is just one aspect of developing them . The most important one is to teach them to be good human beings and that has to be taught at home first .

It doesn’t always work in their favor and sometimes they get bogged down a lot . As a mom I support them but give a realistic picture to them. The society does not agree with most people who think differently but what better way to live life than living by your freewill and not following what others do blindly . 

 What better way to teach them than by example. 

How do you feel ? 

As she handed me over a beautiful box of hand written letters for me to read for each of my different moods ( when I’m happy , sad, angry etc) my daughter asked me ,”so Mom ,how do you feel on turning 40?”
I looked at her , smiled and said,”I feel blessed”.

As I turned a year older this weekend , I was overwhelmed by the love and affection that was bestowed upon me ! Some simple “happy birthday” wishes and some elaborate blessings adorned my Facebook wall , what’s app messages , phone calls, lovely fresh flowers , handmade cards, gifts, birthday greetings that spilled over to the next day and the next!
“I feel humbled”. As much as I was delighted by the adulation I got , I was also humbled to see that I was an important part of so many people’s life. I am an expressive person but sometimes take a back-foot when it comes to expressing it on social media . I take this opportunity to thank each one of you !

“I feel liberated and freer”! As we reach milestones in our life , we get a clear understanding of what we are meant to do in life. I feel free to do things I could not do when I was younger. Free to write poetry and mean every word , free to make promises because I can fulfill them , free to love the right people because I have so much to give but now it’s only for those who deserve it !
“I feel prettier”! I have always been stick thin to the extent that I prayed every night to put on weight ! 🙂 you see , fat was in when I was really thin ! And then it happened and then I was struggling to lose weight every single day , joining dieticians who wouldn’t let me eat ,going crazy. I don’t struggle with that anymore , I eat healthy but I eat ! Occasionally, I do eat the piece of chocolate that I crave for or butter chicken / dal makhni with Parantha that I so love ..but what makes me feel good is the fact that I love the reflection I see every morning in my mirror ! I am content with what I am 🙂
“I feel wiser”I could choose my faith .My greatest weakness (maybe strength !) has always been my lack of submission to something that I cannot comprehend.So along this path , I ve disappointed people in my life who have expected me to follow certain religious practices or avoid certain things because of lack of complete belief . I feel wiser once I’ve decided my connection to the Universe is through Buddhism .

“I feel I have changed”. It hasn’t happened in a day ! It’s happened over a period of time . Its a transition of my soul . It’s a constant evolution and I am loving it . It doesn’t always follow my freewill but it’s taking me on a path where I feel happier . Or is that I’ve always been this way , I’ve just accepted it now !

I hope you feel it too . Till then and thereafter ,stay blessed!