A small, fighter of a plant

Last year, a friend of mine gifted us with a small plantlet. A beautiful little plantlet. The kind I hadn’t seen before. Looked exotic. Looked beautiful. Snap dragon it is called. I was thrilled. Who doesn’t like beautiful, little flowering plants? It upped the ambience of the house a notch.  And I’ll give my friend that. Seems like she had put quite a lot of thought in to this wonderful gift. When you are just starting off in a new country, in a rented place, small additions like these are really what make a house look more like a warm home.

This small little plantlet grew, flowered and bloomed. Small, pink flowers whose petals opened like a dragon’s mouth. Each time we saw a new bud popping, we ooh-ed and aah-ed. We marvelled in its beauty. If this plant was a girl, it would have felt vain over how beautiful it looked. At any point, it would have 10-12 flowers in full bloom and half a dozen or so of buds waiting for their moment in glory. The contrast of pink and green. What’s not to like? The plant grew in size. We kept trimming away at the dried, withered edges. It was branching out so fast, that within no time we had to tie a thread around the little stems to keep them from bending sideways from the weight of the flowers.

Then came winter. The plant withstood the stormy winds as it did the cold, harsh weather. That little thing fought with all its might. It did start looking a bit dried out and worn out, and showed a few signs of fatigue. But we kept trimming at the dying parts and kept watering it regularly. We kept it alive.

Until that day came. We were visiting India for a month and needed someone to look after the precious one in our absence. I left the plant in the good care of a dear colleague, who promised to water it every other day. A little water every other day, is all the plant needed.

Upon my return, when she handed me the plant, it really looked miserable. It looked like it couldn’t bear to be away from us. My colleague did her best and watered it regularly, but it seemed to have worn out tremendously. It looked like it was dying. My colleague blamed herself to my dismay. I scolded her for blaming herself. It wasn’t her fault. She watered it regularly. That’s all we asked her to do.

With a heavy heart I brought it home. It was hard to see it go. My MIL suggested that we try one last resort. We trimmed the whole plant down to bare minimum. Until what remained of the plant was just its small little stem. Withered flowers, fallen leaves, dried out stems lay in a heap on the carpet.

We hoped it would survive, we hoped it would bloom back to life. But we were not convinced. It looked too weak to survive. Mentally, we had given up on it. We kept it out in the balcony, but rarely spared it a second glance. We watered it occasionally. Nothing seemed to change for the first three months.

But that little plant hadn’t given up its will to live. Miracles do happen. After about three months, we noticed it was looking a little greener. Little grown up than it had looked in many months. It looked like it was alive. Within weeks, we saw new stems branching out. It was looking fuller, it was looking healthier. We waited and soon we were greeted with new buds opening up. And before long, the little plantlet was blooming with flowers once again. It is now about eight inches tall, but has four flowers in full bloom and five buds ready to shine. It’s beautiful again. My home is a bit more cheerful once again.

Why am I sharing this story? Because every time TCG and I look at this plant, we are awed. We are fascinated. We are humbled. We are surprised. We are amazed at this little plant’s fighting spirit. It’s will to survive against all odds. It’s strength to face the winters and brave the storms. Little it may be, but look how much LIFE it has in it. It reinforces our faith in ourselves.  It reminds us never to lose hope. It proves where there is a will, there is a way. It reminds us who the BOSS is. It tells us not to fret the small stuff. It teaches us not to be disheartened by minor setbacks and disappointments. It enlightens us and makes us wiser. (It made us feel guilty about having thought once that it wouldn’t make through. )

When a three-inch brazen looking stem can spring back to full life with it’s fighting spirit and zeal to live, who are we to give up, make excuses and feel doomed over small set backs.

A small plant. A BIG teacher.

I wish this precious one always survives.

For those who want to know how a snap dragon plant looks like:

Image Courtesy: Easy bloom

Image Courtesy: Easy bloom

 

 

2013

I know this is a month too early. But this is as good a time I would get in the next six weeks (Yes, my big trip home back is finally here and you don’t expect me to blog during my vacation, do you?) and I cannot say good bye to 2013 without this post.

This is a post reflecting on the year that went by in such a rush. I feel like paying homage to a beautiful year that is (was) 2013.

Some much needed pondering on the hits and the misses (not too many thankfully). Things that went well and things that didn’t quite turn out as desired.

This post is a summary of sorts that I can attach to 2013 much for my own keeping than for anything else. Something to read on, years from now, when fading memories would need a refresh.

So here goes.

2013 started with a bang for me, as I gingerly entered marriage-hood.  Far from being the demure, shy, nervous, unsure bride, I was more like a confident, relaxed bride who was a tad bit bored of answering the question about post-wedding jitters and difficulties settling-in in a new family. Which should go a long way in saying about what kind of people TCG and my new family really are! Even if I counted my blessings each day (which I do), it wouldn’t be enough. They welcomed me in to their home and their hearts and strangely I never felt out of place.

February had me bidding farewell to my family, my city, my country and all that I had cherished all these years of my life. I thought it will be very difficult, I thought I will break down at the airport and it will turn out to be quite a teary good bye. But much to my utter, utter surprise, I was able to hold up quite well and so was my family. They didn’t cry, at least not in front of me; and I hope they didn’t later. I guess it was the initial excitement of the new life that awaited me. But as time went by, their absence has been a constant hole in my heart. Not being able to see my family has been the hardest part of 2013. Thanks to Skype, I am surviving. I am guessing farewell this time around is going to be a lot more difficult.

I spent about a month in Singapore with TCG’s family much like an Alice in Wonderland without the husband around. It would have been ideal if he was there too. But there is nothing to complain, it was time well spent, and there wouldn’t have been a better time than this to be inducted (very formal but a befitting word) into the family. I had a great time discovering Singapore and my new family.

I flew down to be with TCG in March and oh boy has it been a roller coaster or what! My world changed. From a crowded, lively, vibrant, hot, humid, vast, fast and cosmopolitan place that Mumbai is, I was suddenly in a windy, cold, sparsely populated (anything is compared to Mumbai!), small, compact, laid back, slow and relaxed place that Wellington is. Both cities worlds apart from one another in character and strength. From living in an apartment to living in a house by the sea. From aircons to heaters. From summery, cotton clothes to multiple layers of winter clothes. From rains and floods to EARTHQUAKES(?!). From being a friendly, lively, and social Mumbaikar to an awkward immigrant in Wellington who was trying hard to get her head around the place, its people, the accents, the overwhelming newness. From chaat, vada pav and samosa to cheese, crackers and wine. From having a flying career in Marketing to starting from scratch all over again. Has it been easy? Hell no. Has it been interesting and educative? OH YES!

With 2013 I have truly grown a year wiser.  The time I spent with TCG getting to know him, is the kind of time you want to save in a special place in your memory. The time I spent with myself, is the kind I have never spent in all these years that went by; may be out of lack of options, but best time nonetheless.  It’s amazing how much you grow and learn when you are away from your nest.  Qualities you never knew you possessed, show up. Things you never knew you were afraid of, are discovered. Strength you never thought you could muster, pumps in your veins. In the past nine months that I have been in the New (Zea)land (haha, did you see that? I crack my self up sometimes), I have learnt so much. The whole new world opened up for me. I was like a frog in the well, and now I am a frog in a new well.  I feel I have grown as an individual, (re)discovered my passions, spent a lot of time blogging and cooking, travelling and exploring this wonderland that is New Zealand.

About New Zealand – Oh it is so beautiful! You have got to see it to believe it! Cities here have the best of both worlds – comforts and luxuries of a modern city and unmatched scenic beauty of a country side. Tall, glossy, glass buildings on one side, and trees, plants with hundreds of colourful flowers on the other. It’s like viewing a bustling city and vast patches of greenery in the same frame. A place is known by the kind of people it has. People make places. And after spending almost a year in this beautiful country, I can safely say that Kiwis are a lovely bunch of people. Warm, friendly, smiling, greeting, cheering and easy to work with.

Flying back home in a couple of days feels like coming a full circle, like fully completing a whole cycle of transition. 2013 feels like a dream. Could it be that I am actually dreaming and when I wake up I would be the old-me once again? Do I want to be that old me? Not sure. But what better way to end 2013 than celebrating with family and friends?

Thank you 2013. Thank you for being so awesome.

Mumbai

Mumbai

Wellington
Wellington

Time, where are you racing to?

It seems like 2014 is in a big rush to make its grand entry and is determinedly forcing 2013 out of its way. Poor 2013 seems to be making a hurried exit. Can you believe it? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we finally got a hang of writing 2013 in the dates instead of 2012 and now soon we have to start writing 2014. Phew!

Oh time, please slow down!

Though personally, I am hardly complaining, the sooner the time passes, the quicker I would be in India and sooner I will be seeing my loved ones. But keeping that one selfish wish aside, can I just ask you to slow down just a bit? What is the big rush?  If you continue at this hurried pace, my month long visit to India will turn into one hell of a whirlwind trip. It will be over, no sooner than it starts. I can already feel the post-holiday depression, even before the holiday begins. It will be over too soon. There is so much to pack in so little time. It is too depressing to think about how it will end. No, I am not letting my mind stray in that direction, at least for now.

You will get where you want to get sooner or later. So please, will you stop sprinting? And you are especially nippy on the weekends. No sooner than you arrive, you prepare to leave. Soon in February, you will tell me I am 27. What?!!

For the last few weeks I have been observing how quickly you are moving through the work week too, not just weekends. Monday through Friday in a wink of an eye. This is my third week at my new job and I have hardly had any time to think, pause and reflect. And after work, there is house and husband to look after. Fresh meals to be prepared every single day, not because I have to, but because I want to. I have hardly had time to breathe, forget checking personal mails or reading my favourite blogs.

Truth be told, I am actually a fan of these fast-type days. I love it when time does that. Consumes you so wholly, that you forget to keep time of time. I love being busy, I love being occupied. It is the slow, uninspired days that I dread the most.

Living in New Zealand has given me enough time to pursue a dual life. A life after work. Life that begins after office hours. And I don’t mean a life of wild partying (never had a life of wild partying anyway). I mean that window of a couple of hours  in the evening that gives you time to pursue your passions, your hobbies, your dreams, things that you want to do more and more.

Cooking it is in my case. No two days pass by without whipping up something new. Not a single phone/Skype call is complete without endless discussions on food. This is one passion that runs through the family and we are the family that discusses lunch at breakfast and dinner at lunch. And not to forget the snacks in between. And we never get tired of this. Guess what am I thinking about in the 5-7 minutes of free time that I might get at work? Food. I think of what is in the fridge and what is in the pantry and what can go with what and result in to a good dish. Suddenly out of no where, a new recipe would start taking shape in my mind. And once it is in the mind, it has to be on the PLATE.

Away from home, there is absolutely nothing that can fill the void of family and friends, but when life gives you lemons, you try to make lemonade out of it. So I can hardly complain about my less-than-active (almost defunct) social life in New Zealand. I have heaps of time, and I make most of it by doing what I do the best. Who knows, few years from now, when I look back, this is the life I would look upon, this is the time I would miss.

P.S. Thoughts about having a food blog are making more and more frequent appearances in my head than I would like to admit.

I wish I could dance

There are so many things I wish I knew. And topping the list is ‘dance’. I wish I knew to dance. Dance beautifully and gracefully.

To save myself from the awkwardness of dancing at my own wedding, I tried to learn a small jig. But I wasn’t able to lose myself in the music. It showed on my face that it didn’t come from within, that I was slightly hugely uncomfortable. It showed that my moves were learnt and rehearsed. It showed that I was trying too hard to remember my moves rather than just enjoy the dance.

Dance is such a beautiful expression of joy, freedom, happiness, passion, fun, and all kinds of emotions. I imagine it to be being so liberating. It’s is the most elegant outlet to all the pent up energy, isn’t it? And it is so glamorous. I wish I knew to dance. I wish I was not that awkward. I wish I was more flexible. I wish I didn’t have any inhibitions. I wish I had started very early in life.

I wish this was me

I wish this was me

When I see others dancing, losing themselves in music, enjoying, twisting, turning, making graceful moves, exuding joy and passion, expressing themselves through their dancing eyes…I want to be that person.

When I see couples waltzing away in their beautiful shimmery costumes…I want to be a part of that couple.

When I see someone surrendering to the music, I want to be that person.

When I see someone dancing to celebrate their victory, big or small, I want to be that person.

When I see someone burning the dance floor with their scintillating moves, I want to be that person.

When I see someone’s dance holding the entire audience enchanted and captivated, I want to be that person.

When I see a lady sexily moving her belly, I want to be that lady.

When I see a child pulling off very complex moves so effortlessly, I want to be that child.

When I see Bollywood heroines dancing their way to glory, I want to be that heroine.

But most of all, when I see someone losing oneself in dance so much, totally oblivious to the people around, and only focused on enjoying, I want to be that person the most.

I wish I knew to dance.

Some beautiful quotes on dance:

“We should consider everyday lost in which we don’t dance.” -Neitzsche

“Dance is a little insanity that does us all a lot of good.” -Edward Demby

“Dance isn’t something that can be explained in words. It has to be danced.”  -Paige Arden

“While I dance I can not judge, I can not hate, I can not separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance.” -Hans Bos

“Thousands of emotions well up inside me through out the day. They are released when I dance.” -Abraham Lincon

“If I can not dance, I shall die!” -Anna Pavlova

731 days

My day started with a pleasant realisation that took me spiralling down the memory lane. A notification from wordpress that said I completed two years of blogging today.

2 years. 731 days. Many hundred hours.  And just as many memories. Days of lows and highs, joys and sorrow, exhilaration and tears.

So many things happened and so much changed that I feel compelled to stop here briefly and take a stock of things.

Two years ago when I gingerly began this journey, I was at such a stage in life, that I had completely lost my mojo. Plagued with self-doubt and confusion, I had completely lost faith in my decision-making abilities. I wanted a space to rant and vent my thoughts, a place where I could momentarily lose myself and escape from the normal go-to-office-come-back-home routine. A goal, a purpose, a thing…a ‘something’ that I could call my own. A ‘something’ that I was doing for the pure joy of doing, and without expecting much in return.

I knew nothing about blogging. Truth be told, I wasn’t even that much of a reader of other people’s blogs. I had just heard about wordpress being one of the new blogging platforms. I joined wordpress, because everybody else was joining blogspot. I didn’t know how to set it up or how it should even look like. I didn’t know that I could have chosen a name, other than my own, for the url. (Now I am stuck with my own name). I figured everything on my own, one small step at a time. I didn’t know if I will survive for long. And I definitely didn’t know if I will find any readers at all. The day I got my first comment (other than that of a friend’s), a first follower, I swear I could have jumped with joy. Even today, almost 15000 hits and 600+ followers later, I still feel the same excitement with every new comment and every new follower.

I survived. 731 days later, here I am. Blogging about life in general. My life, my observations, little tid-bits from Here and There. And it is so humbling to know that there are people who like this space, people who diligently read, who take their precious time out to comment each time I post something, who wait patiently for me to come back and talk when I disappear for days, sometimes weeks at a time. People who are patient, forgiving, encouraging, and motivating. People who have written in to me saying that they love to read my simple blabbering. Many lovely readers who have sent me texts and emails saying that they relate to what I write; that the easy-breezy nature of my blogs occupies their time when they want to relax and unwind.

And wasn’t that my only aim in the first place? I never wanted my blog be a place of serious discussions, arguments or grave topics of national/international interests. In my mind, I always pictured my reader reading with that tiny little smile on his face. My reasoning, very simple as it is, was that there are enough complex things in this world for a person to dodge. Let this place not be one of those. And your repeated trust in me makes me believe that I may have somewhat succeeded in this…umm this endeavour?! I thank you all for being a part of my journey and for being such a wonderful, motivating audience.

Even now there are days when I feel why bother, why write, is it making any difference to anyone, would anyone care if I stopped writing? After all, I don’t have a subject-specific blog. This is just a place for random musings. May be I should stop. But eventually, I always come around from these thoughts and remind myself that it doesn’t matter how many readers I have. What matters the most is that I write for my own joy and my peace of mind. This one thing I started in times of adversity has seen me rise from the lowest pits of darkness to the happiest days of my life. This blog has been my true companion. And as long as my heart is in it, I shall continue my affair with allthingsworldly. If I do stop, it will only be for the right reasons.

So what really changed in these 731 days? A LOT.  My life did a 180 degree spin. And of course the biggest has to be my MARRIAGE. I met TCG and knew instantly that he is the answer to all my prayers, and didn’t waste any time in making my moves on him and hooking up with him. Took a sabbatical from work, enjoyed that little time off with my lovely family before the D-day. 2 months later flew to NZ and crooned to a smiling TCG at the airport Saat samundar paar main tere peeche, peeche aa gayi…main tere peeche, peeche aa gayi, much to his amusement. Slowly setteled in to the ‘Kiwi” way of life, spent copious amounts of time looking for a job and landed one. Travlled through NZ, marvelled at the beauty surrounding me, basked in the sun and the sand, braved the winter, the storms and the earthquakes. Missed, missed, missed my family, my friends and my hometown Mumbai.

But the most satisfying part of this journey has been self-discovery. I finally acknowledged to myself that I love being in the kitchen. I love cooking. And I love dreaming about what my future may hold for me. I have spent half my waking-hours in the kitchen in the past many months, whipping up desserts, baking, cooking and trying my hands at many cuisines. There are so many new tastes that I have picked up, and so many new additions I have made to our diet in the past few monthts that I hadn’t done in all these past years put together. And it really helps that both TCG and I are always open to  experimentation. TCG is always very appreciative of my experiments in kitchen and hence I am always looking forward to try new things…for him.

For me, cooking is therapeutic, it gives me a high. It truly makes me happy. I always loved cooking but discovered this passion only lately. And it has all happened in these most wonderful 731 days (Things I am grateful for Reason: #23).

Secret Scrolls

A Secret Scrolls message from Rhonda Byrne Creator of The Secret
From The Secret Daily Teachings

Faith is trusting in the good.

Fear is putting your trust in the bad.
May the joy be with you,

Rhonda Byrne The Secret… bringing joy to billions

Time will tell

There are so many things that we experience on a daily basis. And so many of those things happening to us make no sense at all at this point. There are so many things that scare us, make us unhappy or sad. And we often ask God, “Why me?” Some things feel so horribly wrong and some grieves are so unbearable – totally out of our league of understanding.

Yet in the long run, everything makes sense. Every experience, every moment, every day is intricately woven into a larger scheme of things that might not make any sense to us in present. But when we look back, things that made no sense in past, questions that had no answers, many missing pieces of the puzzles from the past have slowly fallen into place for us today or they will eventually fall into place when the time is right. It is very hard, but sometimes all that is required of us is to just trust in time. Don’t we often think back on some chapters of our life and say, “Thank God it happened that way”?

Things that are beyond our understanding today are also happening to us for a reason. A reason that only ‘time’ knows. Just like those things in the past that make sense to us today.

Let me give you an example. You woke up with a start, only to realise that your alarm had conked off and you have slept past your bedtime. You hurry through your chores, cursing the damned clock and rush out to catch your daily bus to work,  only to realise that you have missed the bus and now you will be undeniably late to work. You curse some more. But in a dramatic turn of events, you find out in the afternoon that the bus you missed in the morning met with a fatal accident. Now you thank your stars. Thank God, I wasn’t on that bus.

I am using such a dramatic example only to drive home a simple point. May be you weren’t meant to be on that bus. You felt that you were doomed in the morning. But by afternoon, ‘your alarm conking off’ and ‘you missing your daily bus’ make sense to you. When you look back on events, you are able to connect the dots.

Now that doesn’t mean that every time you will miss the bus or every time you will fail at something, there would be such a dramatic reason behind it. The reason might be big or small, but we must trust that it has happened for a reason.

Only if we could sneak a peek into our future on a whim, so many of our present queries will have answers, right? But things wouldn’t be half as exciting. What fun it would be to know everything today anyway? Knowing everything in the present might, in fact, be too overwhelming for our little mind and the information overload might just crash it.

So just like we never question why happy, pleasant, good things are coming to us, we should also try to come to terms with the unsavoury experiences. Because they are also happening to us for a bigger reason that will reveal itself later. They are also playing a small role in the film that life is! History is a witness to how some of the most unpleasant events in the past have acted as triggers and given rise to something so beautiful.

It is my feeling that Time ripens all things; with Time all things are revealed; Time is the father of truth – Francois Rabelais