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 !!

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            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!

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 !