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!

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Those who “cook”.

As I sat staring at the fancy menu card of a fine dining restaurant , deciding if I should eat my favorite John Dory in kafir lime or go for a healthier Couscous salad , my quandary was broken by a friend sitting across me, calling out to me . She thanked me graciously for the play date I had arranged for my daughter and her friends (her daughter being one of them). Suddenly, another mom, whose daughter had come over as well, asked me where had I ordered the food that the girls ate for lunch at my house from !

Quizzically , I looked at her and said I had cooked it , wondering in my head if her daughter , who had visibly made it obvious that she was enjoying the meal , had over eaten and fallen sick?! Thankfully , that was not the case .

She told me how her daughter kept raving about the taste of food in my house and how she loved the Smoked Chicken Pasta . I had started enjoying the conversation but what came next caught me off guard . She told me to ask my “cook” to give me the recipe which I could WhatsApp to her for her cook !!

I told her again , “But I cooked the Pasta that she had liked so much”! Suddenly , the look on her face changed. As if she thought I was unworthy of the chair I was sitting on at the restaurant ! “So YOU cook?”, she said . Almost beginning to enjoy the conversation once again , “Every single day !” I said . She muttered under her breath. “Who cooks these days? There are servants to do that . We can do much more than that “.

“I do!” I said. “I cook , not only fancy stuff but sometimes all three meals . I like to do that”! It’s a choice I made when I made a pantry on my floor . For the sake of my kids and my family . I love being in the kitchen . From buying groceries, to deciding the menu , to chopping the veggies and meats , to cooking it and putting it on the table – I love it all ! I simply love the look on my kids face when I cook them their favorite meals day after day !

What I love the most is when they do not hesitate to eat ghiya or tori only because I made it ! Or when they choose to eat something that didn’t turn out so good just because I made it ! It’s my moment of glory 🙂 even more precious than my Masters degree in Economics!

How I manage to cook all the meals between my work and my leisure time is a juggle I love to do .

Just as I don’t shame those of my friends who can’t boil an egg in the kitchen , I don’t expect them to look down upon my culinary skills ! Being a home cook , I absolutely gloat in pride when my friends tell me the Lamb burgers with caramelized onions and gherkins are the best they’ve ever eaten ! It’s my moment of glory ! I unwind my day in the kitchen and I love it . Not only do I love the appreciation and adulation that I get from people I cook for , it’s the satisfaction of creating something out of simple (and sometimes not so simple) ingredients 🙂 It’s almost like producing a piece of art , making a painting , writing a new poem!

And then there are some friends who would go an extra mile and ask me if I could pass on my recipes to their cooks ! Call and hand over the phone to their kitchen staff who I can’t explain my techniques to . I’m sorry , I just can’t ! The reason being that I don’t have a recipe for anything ! I cook as per my fancy and more often than not , it turns out alright .

I pour out all my emotions into the dish – my happiness , my good wishes, my extra dose of love – it all adds up !

The 1st stage of sibling love. 

I walk out of my daughter’s room, tidying up the pile of clothes on the floor, switching off all the lights, almost ready to start my morning on a sour note by screaming at the kids just before they leave for school . I take a deep breath ,look at the chirpy wall clock in her room. It’s 6.55 am, about 5 minutes away from my sanity being restored ! I choose to stay quiet . I hear unusual commotion in the living room.  Classic scenario – both my kids are arguing over who will sit in the front seat of the car next to my husband ! It’s a precise 3.5 minutes ride to the bus stop.  “Whose turn is it ?”, I ask. Turns out neither of them have finished their glasses of milk . Whoever finishes first gets to sit in the front. So today they ll have to resolve the matter by flipping hands or odds and even or Rock Paper Scissors !
Recently both of them separated their rooms . Since we have a strict “no maid in the house at night ” policy , I almost flipped when my son announced that he can’t share the room with my daughter anymore ! We were three sisters and we shared our room till I got married and moved to another city ! How will they bond ? What about all the subdued , confidential whispers at night between them ? What about the occasional secret talk about school gossip which both passed on to me in the morning ?!! What about the pillow fights which extended to my room and onto my husband and me when suddenly, a mundane Tuesday night, turned into a rocking one ?!

I ponder on that .

As long as she’ll continue to shower him with the same love that she showed while she ran to get his diaper rash cream while I was changing his diaper when he was a little over a week old and as long as he looks at her with the same adulation and respect as he did when she first sat up late at night to study for her exams ; As long as she continues to make sure he finishes his homework each day and he misses her each day when she goes on a school trip and runs to give her a tight hug the moment she returns ; As long as she keeps a seat for him each day in the school bus and he runs to give her her favorite chocolate out of the assorted bag , I know I don’t need to worry !

As he looks back from the last step on the staircase and calls out to say “Mom , it’s Friday today ! Can I sleep with didi tonight ?” , I smile and say , “I’ll think about it .”
I definitely don’t need to worry !

Work and Reward 

We believe in the “work and reward” principle at home! If you shut the lights of your room everyday without fail -you get a Hot Chocolate fudge on the weekend ; if you finish your dinner and get into bed on time – you get to stay awake longer on the weekend ; if you spend quality time ( NOT on their phone !! ) with the Grandparents – you get a big hug from mom . The list goes on ….
How important it is to teach our children the value of hard work ?! I truly believe that some habits when inculcated in childhood go a long way. My dad would come home in the evening from work and despite the staff at home ,it would be a pleasure always to run in competition to get him a glass of cold water fastest amongst us three sisters ! Whoever reached first , got the biggest smile from Dad ! That meant a lot . I remember I was never served water when I was growing up ! We had to get up , reach out and refill the water bottles once we poured out of them . The habit continues even now and my kids follow the same rules . 
Making their own bed , cleaning up after their friends leave ( sometimes, I even make their friends help in tidying up the mess at the end of a play date !) , getting food at the table from the kitchen, cleaning up the table once dinner is done , running downstairs to give some papers to their granddad , gives them a sense of pride ! They feel like they’ve put in their bit . It helps in building their self esteem . 

My son came home from a play date once and asked me a simple question .”Mom”,he said  ,” Are we poor ?!” Aghast , I asked him why he had asked such a question ?! He told me that his friend had told him that he doesn’t have to do any of his work ( from taking off and wearing his shoes , to keeping his things in order , sharpening his pencils for school , arranging uniform , etc ) because he can afford to have servants! 6 years old that he was at that time, it seemed logical enough to my son that his mum made him do all that and more for the simple reason that we didn’t have enough servants ! 

I clenched my fists, seething with fury , upset that I had made the wrong choice in accepting the play date invitation ,I spoke in a surprisingly calm tone and explained to him that there is enough staff at home but I still think he needs to do his work !  

I told him that he was the richest person if he was independent and did not have to rely on anyone ! He is the richest since he has immense potential in him that he can put to use !he can do what most 6 year olds cannot .  I’m glad he believed that . No further questions were asked after that ! 

It is so important to show your children the dignity of labor . Why is polishing your own shoes a big deal ? 

Why not make doing all these simple chores a fun activity ? 

Most of it can be taught by example . They watch more than we think they do . When kids see their parents working hard and earning their holidays and leisure time , they automatically connect as well . 

What it does most importantly is that they learn early in life that there are no free lunches in this world ! 

You work hard and you can party harder … we know it but it’s time to pass it on to our kids ! 

FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out 

Exasperated , I stare at my friend ,whom I’ve met for coffee . She checks her iPhone (Facebook) for the nth time and looks up and smiles sheepishly . She keeps looking at some pictures and comments on how “mean and conniving” her some friends were to have gone out to a certain restaurant without her !! They made her feel so left out .

Rolling my eyes , I tell her if she even touches her phone again , I’ll leave ! The next fifteen minutes are probably tough for her without her phone .She asks me if I’m invited to a certain sundowner party on the weekend and on my refusal that I don’t even know the person ,she frowns . She tells me , “you must socialize a bit more . You are too much of a loner “. and while I hear “loser” in her tone . I chuckle . For if I told her , I’d never want to associate with someone like that , it might offend her . I quickly change the topic and ask her what she’s planning to wear and the next fifteen minutes fly away while she blabbers about a gown from some designer ( I don’t know of !) and a new bag . Not able to take this boring conversation further ,I pretend it’s way past my self inflicted curfew time and get up to leave . She let’s me go with a promise that next time I’ll stay longer ! 
I sit back in my car and wonder if there is something wrong with my social skills ?! I just don’t enjoy frivolous conversations . Why is it that girls nights out do not mean drunken nights Instead I’m happy sipping my glass of wine with few good friends and talking about everything under the sun from spirituality to how amazing Lord Shiva is , listening to their dreams , discussing my favorite authors , even parenting tips !! These meaningful conversations bring a twinkle in my eye ! They are food for my soul . 
I remember , a few years back, we were plating food at a party , when a very well dressed woman in her high heels and pretty dress , shoved past my husband to reach out to the salad buffet . She almost dropped his plate of food on him as she jostled past unapologetically . We were standing with a friend and on seeing my husband’s obvious frown she winced . Not noticing that , he muttered something about her being so ill-mannered and immediately our friend almost chided him to not say anything because she was some socialite who had ” many ” parties and would stop inviting her ! Clearly , her fear of missing out was bigger than her sense of etiquette and definitely bigger than her friendship with us 🙂 
I love to meet people . It makes me happy . Who I choose to meet time and again mainly depends on the fact the meeting them liberated me for the hour or two I met them or I came back home with a baggage . Baggage of emotional distress sometimes even shaming . Needless to say , I drop the latter , easy to do so these days with just a delete/ block button on my phone book ! 

 

Why is it so important for some to be seen everywhere , at every party ? Why is it not obvious enough that the person who has “forgotten” to invite you clearly does not want to see you at his / her social do ?! Why are those hundreds of selfies with hundred different people more important than smiling at the other person in the eye and actually holding a conversation !! This one intrigues me 🙂 
It’s Saturday night and we have just come back from dinner out with the kids . They quickly change into their night suits and jump into my room . Saturday nights are generally “family time ” and we do everything from playing fun card games , buying hotels on Bond Street in monopoly , making teams for bowling while playing the Wii , and sometimes even pillow fighting ! I rush into my dressing room to change and call out ,” don’t start the game without me !!” I brush my teeth as fast as I can just in time to outdo my husband in storming out !! …..Am I also a victim of “FOMO”? I wonder ! 

Keep the Faith 

“Pray ? Well , Religion is Wow ! But thats what Grandmas follow ,right ? I’m too young for this . I don’t have enough time to fit in my daily chores , running around with my kids , my work , my household , my socializing 😉 , coffee sessions with my friends, doctor visits with my in laws . meaningful conversations with my husband , phone calls to my dad …the list is endless , where is the time ?! ”
You don’t have all the time , my friend , hence the need ! 
Recently , my son got promoted to grade 3 . No mean feat for him for he is as proud as his 8th grader sister ( who gets a CGPA 10 ) for getting all “above grade level ” marking on his report card . The teacher handed me his report card and after telling me his academic progress she told me how she had noticed a very positive change in him , he was less boisterous and very kind and polite to his friends . I was amused but delighted to hear about it and shared with her that we were practicing Buddhism at home and each time someone or something troubles him , he doesn’t sulk or brood anymore , instead he chants and prays for the other person’s happiness . It was difficult at first but he’s loving it now that he’s seeing the result in tiny victories when his friends keep a place for him in class , or when they offer him the swing instead of shoving or pushing him away ! But what amused me further was that the teacher looked a bit taken aback and said ,”don’t you think it’s too early” ? “Too early for what “?, I asked her .

Since when is it too early to love and be kind , when is it too early to teach your child to be honest and not lie , when is it too early to teach your child to be responsible for his actions ? Not too early at all I told her ! 

She smiled . 
I’m often told by my friends that “we don’t say anything to our child because they are kids “. My plea is you MUST because they are kids and u need to show them a way ! 

I choose to teach my kids to be better human beings and understand the philosophy of karma and of cause and effect ! I tell them to choose what is right and wrong for them . They decide . They make the choice . They make mistakes and then they own up because once they’ve accepted the fault as their own it’s easier to change it , we can always change ourselves , the power lies within . I don’t know many people who know they are wrong but don’t want to correct themselves . The problem lies when we don’t own our mistakes and blame others for what goes wrong in our lives . 
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 . 
We all have our moments of extreme pain and elation . In all those moments , I had Gratitude , I would thank all my Gods , but I never really got myself to have a daily prayer time . 

It was a busy life .I was always running around . 
How it started is a long story too personal to share but my faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism came with logic . It came with experiencing the Mystic law in everything I did . I took to it well, it was my religion , my faith ! 
What I’ve learned in this due course is -Don’t force or create fear for religion . -it is not religion but my faith in my practice of it ,that gives me the strength to achieve what I dream to get .

-there is always time for gratitude and faith . I took 5 minutes out of my 24 hours and I could fit in the work of 36 hours in that day ! Try it .

-it doesn’t even have to be a religion . Even if u have faith in yourself it’s good enough . Give yourself that time , meditate, relax do anything ,do something .

-but most of all , suffering is not a virtue , being able to stay happy in trying times is , be a good human being ;don’t suffer 🙂 
I have made a checklist of things ,out of which ,I like to do at least one everyday ! It’s a simple list : Help someone , smile at a stranger , yell at my children one time less than usual , not snap at the smallest things that irritate me , hear someone out if they feel like talking , chat up with the domestic staff ….. make a list . 

My faith in my Practice has empowered me to take on the challenges my life brings forth everyday and I am victorious more often than not ! 

So, Keep the faith ,my friend . Pass it on to your kids . You and I need it . The World needs it . 

Conversation with my Mom 

Mum do you remember the first tiny steps I took ? Now , I can sprint for 5 Kms in a spree !Mum do u remember how upset you were when I got a little scratch ? Now , I gave birth to two kids by a normal delivery !:)

Mum do u remember the cakes I would try to bake that wouldn’t turn out good enough to eat ? Now , I can proudly make batches of awesome flourless cookies !

Mum do you remember you didn’t like to see a single tear in my eye , Now I can cry some nights in a row and I still don’t feel free !
I need you in my sorrow but more so in my joys,

I need you to wipe my brow from sweat when I’m in pain ,

But I need you more when I achieve milestones , so you wouldn’t let me be vain .
I see you in my daughter’s smile and her beautiful hair ,

I see you in my son , in his honesty and loving care .

I see you around me in the freshness of spring , the cool breeze in summer , in the roar of thunder,

Where did you go Mum , I sometimes wonder !

I wish you were here to guide me once more ,I see u in the fragrance of clothes that you once wore !

You taught me to walk , learn , cook and be strong ,

It is from you that I learned to decipher the right from wrong .

You were a super woman in your own right,

I wonder when I’ll fill your shoes ;

Soon, I just might !

Wish you were around to see the mother that I have turned out to be ,

You would be proud Ma , so proud of me !

NOT Guilty

It’s 7.15 am and my kids are already off to school . Looking outside my huge French windows ,sipping my cup of tea ,I feel blessed . 
Random thoughts cross my mind and I suddenly get that feeling again – do I deserve this ? Life is good with everything I could ask for and more . Suddenly,the big bad G looms up ! Yes ‘Guilt” ! Am I really worthy of all this that I have – the adulation of my family , the financial security , the comfort of my home , a few, but very close friends that I choose to be with , I wonder ! 
Ever since I’ve been married I’ve heard it more than once that I must be the luckiest girl to have gotten married to my husband ! With due credit to the wonderful human being that he is , but here I wonder , I’m sure , I’m putting in something worthwhile in this relationship as well !! I take enough pride in the fact that he has always told me that I deserve it because I make him feel the way nobody can . Despite the tantrums and my occasional unreasonable behavior , I’ve put a lot of me into this relationship ! I always say that , and I maintain , a marriage is a constant journey of togetherness and both husband and wife have to balance it out ! It just cannot work out if one puts in all and the other just sits back to reap the benefits . I say “constant” because the moment you go lax or get complacent , it goes off track . Badly .It loses its charm , its comfort and the most beautiful part is that it starts showing the results as soon as you work back on it ! I work on this principle , I have done it right ! 
I started working with my dad even before I finished my high school . It’s been a long way since then but I still remember making his export documents at night after my school or college and handing them over to him first thing in the morning . A sense of pride on my face , waiting for him to raise his eyebrow in disbelief that I had finished already ! 🙂 From discussing the finances with my dad and now with my husband ( thanks to my degree in Economics ) , to going out shopping with my mum and now my daughter 🙂 , from loving my parents to bits and now respecting my in laws , from unconditionally protecting my younger two sisters in childhood (even now ! ) to fiercely guarding my kids and showering them with all the love that I hold , I have done it right ! 
My childhood friend is still my closest friend and I try and get in touch with her every few weeks . With growing up kids and growing old parents and household to run with my work in tow , it’s the best I can manage . I prefer to keep my circle tight . Not only because I can’t make friends easily but also because I choose to be true in every relationship I make . I guard my friends like siblings would , I love them like I love my family , I will stand by their side even if the world would turn against them but tell them they are wrong ,if I feel so , even if they are on top of the world at that moment . I may have faltered in choosing some ,but along the way , I’ve made a few but really special friends ! That is me and I have done it right ! 
As the part timer cleaning lady walks in I put my cup of tea down and I plead “Not Guilty”!

On turning 40 !

It’s been a hell of a journey already.

I don’t consider turning 40 a big deal or rather a big enough deal to go crazy and get my life off the beautifully comforting track it’s riding on .I ‘m a Taurean , you see, and I love stability !

So , what I do consider, is giving myself a few gifts that I deserve 🙂

On my 40th birthday I gift myself Acceptance – acceptance for who I am , for what I really am . I’m a daughter ,a wife ,a daughter in law ,a mother but before all that I’m me and I love being me ! I love who I am . Quirky , fiercely loyal , brutally honest ,and a foodie . Acceptance to believe – that I can dream ,believe in my dreams , and make them come true ! Acceptance that I don’t have to be loved back the same way as I love , acceptance I have to let go of toxic relationships , mean friends and opportunists !

I give myself the gift of Freedom ! Freedom from the fear to fit in into a household where I was an outsider , still am always will be ! Ive done my best , always have always will but I don’t need a certificate from anyone anymore – its not that I say it in defiance ,no , it’s freedom ! Freedom from the shackles of what may not please some because as my husband says “even if you are made of gold , someone will still find something wrong with the composition of it ” 🙂

The foodie that I am , I gift myself Choice to choose what I want to eat . To choose what I want to look like , not what looks nice to others ! Life is short ,I’d rather eat the cake than starve for a complete month to fit into that one dress to wear to someone else’s party ! I’m going to give myself the choice to exercise – walk or run if I must to stay healthy but I choose not to skip my meals anymore .

Most of all, I gift myself happiness! Happiness in my current state of affairs . Happiness in whatever I do . Happiness in my choice of philosophy of Nichren Daishonin s Buddhism which teaches me to start and restart each time I falter , “from this moment on ” . I give myself the right to be happy at all times for it is not in misery but in true state of bliss that I can create and add value to my life !

So no wild party , girls trip or flamboyant holiday for me on my 40th birthday ! Maybe a walk down the memory lane with Cherry blossoms in my sight , or a day off with my husband ( who also happens to be my best friend ) and my two adorable kids or sitting on my comfortable chair with a new book and my cup of favorite coffee . Maybe…. Because I choose to be me ! 🙂