There was one moment when I wondered if I had done the right thing by filling the form. And there was another moment when I realized that one moment of hesitation was not worth it at all because of course, I had been right. There was only one word for it. Perfect.

Two cabs accommodating laughter and gossip, titbits and tales, texts and the people writing them. Two sauces – red and white, mingling with mouth-watering pasta and eye-watering jokes. With the two arguments over the double cheese pizza and the extra mayo-ed nachos. Two hundred party venues being looked into before homing in on one- the one with the best deal, the best time and of course, the best people.

Three a.m. meetings where brainstorms would occur at the speed of light and ideas would be debated with religious gusto. Three a.m. confession sessions at the Top of the World where intimacies invited confidences and secrets were traded in the hallowed institute of trade.

Four thousand emails skyrocketing into the inbox. Four hundred aspirants to be answered to. Four and twenty articles to be written. Four thousand messages to sift through and apprehensions, turmoils and uproars to be contained.    

Five people sitting side by side in guest lectures, noting down moments and their significance, noting the similar-sounding words like distinguished, esteemed, welcome, campus and leadership, but in essence recording mainly the five million expressions of the ones sitting right next and secretly laughing at their inane comments. Five people taking down notes and one clicking away the five pictures to go with them, but mainly just filing the pictures away in the memory cabinets for flicking through them some time in the future.

Six we were and six we are. I know that six is the devil’s number. And I think it fits us perfectly well. Because we are devilish. Devilishly good together.  

(The above reference would only be clear when you have spent two years (or even one, for that matter) in the sacrosanct precincts of the Media Committee at IIFT and discovered a kind of religious fervor in the writing of a blog, the organizing of chat meets and of course, TEDx or even answering aspirant queries.)  
It is a brand new year and I was just thinking how to give a new start to this blog. But then I realized that my blog, much like my life, has been a series of fits and starts. Perhaps that is how it is supposed to be.
My writing has been pretty scattered the past year what with verses written on tissue papers, short stories noted on cellphone, and blog posts on the university website. As a result, this space got easily ignored. Now, as I begin the end of my journey at IIFT, I decided to bare my thoughts here on this old space of mine.  

Blood is made of a red substance; they call it haemoglobin.
But madness is made of a substance which they haven’t named yet.

It is made of songs sung tunelessly in the dark streets around Sanjay Van. 

It is made of dreadful PJs that emerge from minds that don’t know how to crack jokes because they haven’t learnt the art of laughter. 

It is made of steel. Steel bars of the benches where we sat for hours that disappeared in the web of time. 

It is made of power banks. Power banks that we snatched from each other because our phones were never fully charged. 

It is made of khakras and theplas that they brought every time they came from home. 

It is made of chairs where we sat and sipped bournvita. 

It is made of crumbs. Crumbs and remains of the rusk biscuits that accompanied the bournvita and the tea. 

It is made of chilli potatoes. Chilli potatoes and paneer tikkas that we ate at buffets where we gorged till food threatened to kill us. 

It is made of hands. Hands and legs which moved in every whichever way when we danced inebriated with laughter in the atrium. 

It is made of wings. The wings of wisdom that we saw everyday as we devoured the sunlight while walking towards the ice cream stall.
Our madness is made of a million things. Bits and pieces. Bits and pieces of rights and wrongs, dread and jubilation, thoughts and sensations. Some tiny and some long. Tiny moments snatched in an eye-roll and long hours spent studying presentations.

They say blood makes you related. 
But they don’t know that madness makes you family.
“They have silver in their hair, gold in their heart… and magic in their hands.”


Or at least in my grandmother’s hands. This is not just because every dish she prepared made my taste buds go ‘this is nirvana!’ or even the simplest tea she brewed was so much better than any I ever had so far. It was because her hands worked magic on my hair. Every afternoon when I came home from school, I would get over with my ablutions, and before mother could place my bowl of rice in front of me, I was off to see grandma in her room, where she sat caressing her tresses with oil. My grandma had luscious, beautiful, wondrous, jet-black hair. She loved to tell me her story of her Rapunzel-like long hair and how when granddad’s parents came to see her, the first thing that amazed them about her was her hair. They asked not one question after that. And just like that, their marriage was settled.

“They liked your hair so much that they wedded their son to you?” I had asked incredulously.
“Absolutely!” Grandma had answered with that beautiful laugh of hers and the familiar twinkle of her eyes. “In those days, one’s hair was one’s pride.”
“It still is.” I had said. “But hardly anyone has the kind of black hair that you do.”

But it was evident why that was the case. Grandma oiled her hair daily, not missing even a single day. And that is what she had done to me as well. Every afternoon, I would sit in front of her, my arms around my knees and my mane spread out. Grandma would then run her old veined hands over my hair. First slowly, and then with a little emphasis to ensure that every strand of my hair got the massage and nutrition it needed. She took care of her hair like a plant, watering (oiling) it, and helping it grow by nurturing it carefully.  No wonder I too had long, black and shiny hair. Not just because of my genes, but because Grandma had put so much effort into caring for my hair.

She always insisted on coconut oil. She said it was the best oil for one’s hair.

“What if my hair is oily or say, dry and flaky? Isn’t there supposed to be different types of oil for different types of hair?” I would ask when I entered adolescence and saw my peers doing all kinds of things to their hair and feeling just a little bit left out.

Coconut oil is the best.” She would say with a finality that no one could contest. Parachute was her constant. And consequently, our staple.   
“Come on everyone! Be seated quickly!” I ordered.
Mom, dad, grandpa, my little brother, uncle, aunty and their two daughters were all seated as per my instructions. We were going to witness something today.

“What is it? Will you tell us?” everyone was asking.
“Just wait and watch.” I said and switched on the video.

On came all the snaps that we had taken at different times in our life – right from when we were tiny tots to weddings, birthdays, celebrations, occasions all the way to our current year. There were also photos from times much before we were born.
“Who is that?” My cousin exclaimed at a black and white photograph of a beautiful woman with long black hair that reached her knees.
“That is your grandmother, kid.” Grandpa said fondly, a tear escaping his eye. “This was the picture I had taken of her when we got married.”

Everyone gasped in surprise.

“How did you arrange these pictures? They look ancient! And so beautiful.” Mom lauded my efforts, making me blush.
“This picture relived all those moments again.” Grandpa said a little sadly.
It had been three years since Grandma had left for her heavenly abode. I still remember how we used to celebrate Grandparents’ Day when Grandma was alive, with all due ceremony, cake and music and good food…

But ever since grandma’s demise, this had seen a cessation. There was no more celebration, no more cakes, no more laughter, no more good times on this wonderful day.

But this time, I was determined to celebrate Grandparents’ day. Because I am sure that’s what grandma would have wanted. Because she would have liked to see us together and happy. Because it was simply the time to #LoveJatao.
So, I had done all I could to gather our fondest memories and to relive all our cherished times.
I rushed to the kitchen and brought out a tray. In memory of Grandma, I had arranged a cake, with ‘To our favorite Rapunzel and her Prince’ etched on it in lovely pink icing.
Grandpa had tears in his eyes. As I fed him a piece, I’m sure I heard grandma’s beautiful laugh somewhere. She was still with us.


Happy Grandparents’ Day!
Hope you cherish these moments with your grandparents forever!


#LoveJatao #ParachuteAdvansed #BlogAdda
I look forward to hear from you how would you celebrate Grandparents Day. Do share a selfie with your grandparents on Sept. 10, 2017 on Twitter or Facebook with #LoveJatao & tag @blogadda to win a goodie from Parachute Advansed.

I saw her sitting in the room, coiled up in a corner, while her mother wiped the floor of our house. I was too hungry so I rushed to the kitchen, got myself some garlic bread with jam and was about to get back into my room when I stopped.
She was a little girl, barely nine years old. She must be hungry too. Thinking so, I got her a plate full of bread slices with jam smeared on them. “Have it,” I pushed the plate in front of her. She got up immediately, sprang to full attention and stared at me like she had never seen me before.
“Don’t you like bread?” I asked her to which she nodded, took the plate from me and began eating. It made me really happy for some reason to see her eat.
After that day, I met her again two weeks later when her mother brought her to our place once more. “Sit,” she instructed her daughter, who crossed her legs and sat down on the floor, staring at the wall as if it was the most interesting television show possible. But as soon as she saw me, her gaze locked on me as if I was now the most interesting phenomenon in her life.
I guessed she wanted something to eat like the last time, so I foraged around in the kitchen and arranged some stuff for her. She looked at me intently and then began to gulp down everything on the plate. What a sweet hungry girl.
“Taaanku.” She said to me.
“Thank you, you mean?” I asked her.
She stared at me as if I was speaking in an altogether different language, which I now realize I must be.
“Do you go to school?”
She shook her head. I frowned. How come her mother hasn’t enrolled her yet? She is young surely, but old enough to be in a school.
But there was no point in asking her why she hadn’t been put in a school.
“Do you know how to read?” I asked her.
She nodded vigorously. I was kind of surprised. I supposed she was being homeschooled.
Just then, she picked up a newspaper lying nearby and raised it high in front of her. She then began to speak. And speak gibberish she did. She pretended she was reading the newspaper. She went on for about five minutes without stopping. She spoke nothing of any sense whatsoever. I couldn’t help but crack up. She looked so adorable, so sweet and yet so stupid. But what caused me astonishment was her confidence. She was speaking like she was spouting some high-profile news items, probably replicating people she had seen around her.
And then it struck me. What was that advert I had seen regarding Nihar Shanti Amla Oil? I dialed 8055667788 and took the phone to her. It was Nihar Shanti Amla’s new concept – Pathshala Funwala. As soon as she got hold of the phone, her attention was completely diverted. It was as if I didn’t exist. After about three minutes, she handed me the phone urgently, pointing to the buttons. I put the phone to my ear and realized that the voice was asking for an option to continue the English lessons.
From that day onwards, whenever she came to our house, I would call up 8055667788 from our landline. When the English tutorial by Shanti Amla called back, I would give her the receiver. She would then spend hours listening to the lessons.
One day I saw her on the street, walking with her mother. I had gone to the market for groceries.
“Hi didi! How are you?” began a chirpy voice.
I turned, saw her mom as taken aback by her words as I was. I stopped anyway and greeted her with a smile.
“Do you go to school now?”
I had talked to mother regarding her schooling and it came out that they were not planning to send her to an educational institution but after we coaxed her mom to do so by offering to pay for her school fee, she had started going to school.
As they say “If you change nothing, then nothing will change”.
The sweet girl nodded.
“She is the best in English in her class, her teacher told us that day. All thanks to you, bitiya.” Her mother said to me, overwhelmed with joy.
I waived away the thanks.   
“She really loves the fact that they call her Shanti Didi now!” exclaimed her mother happily.

Then it struck me. Her mother’s name was Amla and hers Shanti. Talk about coincidences!

“I am blogging about Pathshala Funwala by Nihar Shanti Amla Oil in association with BlogAdda

Source :

My granny is a typical Indian grandmother. Refusing to go for anything apart from what she has been used to since the beginning of time.

“It’s not possible. I have too much work.”
I could have laughed at the ridiculousness of her statement. Work? Really? She would give that lame an excuse?
“And pray tell me what may that be?” I turned to look at her, my face all smiles.
She gave me a stern look and said, “You have no idea how much work a home requires. You won’t understand. You are way out of it all now. Always outside for work and studies. You won’t understand. “
“At least tell me, no? I will try to understand.”
I was so looking forward to this conversation. It was going to be so much fun.
“Please, please, please. Pleaseeeeeeeeee…” I began ranting the way I used to when I was a kid and wanted some particularly stomach-upsetting delicacy.
“Well, it’s not rocket science. The house requires maintenance. The daily puja, cleaning, washing, cooking… “
“Which is all done by the respective maidservants.” I cut in. “But go on.”
She glared at me.
“You leave them women alone and they will flutter about, sit all day in front of the television and do nothing. They are the biggest shirkers possible. They-“
“Okay okay! I totally agree. But nothing will happen if we seal the house and go for one month. No need for cleaning. You will be free from any responsibility. At least for some time.”
Granny clearly wasn’t convinced. “Listen. I will tell you what to do.” She began. “You go to Germany. Do that cun-convection-whatever thing and come back and then we will go to Sagar Ratna and have a huge party.”

It was all I could do not to burst into laughter. Only granny could place a meal in Sagar Ratna over a Europe trip.

I knew this would be both entertaining and exasperating. But I had only so much time. I had to get my point across.

Convocation, granny. It is my convocation. And you know how much I want you to be a part of it. I won’t accept any of your reasons. You must come. You have to come. I assure you, you will love it. I will be wearing the graduation robe and the special square graduation cap. Don’t you want to see me awarded? In front of so many students and teachers and their parents and well-wishers? Please please please don’t say no. I have been planning this for ages. And didn’t you say you wish I hadn’t gone to Germany alone? Now I’m taking you. I wouldn’t be alone anymore.”

Granny’s face was working furiously. I knew in her heart of hearts, she wanted to be there. But she just didn’t want to leave the country where our family had lived and perished. She saw herself as a custodian of that legacy. And she wouldn’t give it up. At any cost.

“You know I would love to. But seriously I can’t leave everything and just go. It doesn’t work that way. And you are talking about this chilly country. The temperatures go negative. You yourself said that. How will I manage?!”
“Oh granny granny granny! It will be spring this time of the year. It won’t be cold. Winter is gone. And summer will be here soon. There will be flowers and sunshine and sparkling lakes. It is all very pleasant indeed. You will love it. “
“But beta… I’m not used to the environment. I don’t even know the language. What will I do there? “
“But I will be there with you, all right? Just come. You won’t regret it. I promise.”

For a long time, she busied herself with putting things here and there. Cleaning the spotless vase. Wiping the photo frame and staring at the family photograph. Tilting the clock. Smoothing the cushions. In short, doing anything she possibly could in order to avoid answering me. There was no need for any such work but granny has a habit of fussing about things. It was not that difficult for her to come. But the real reason she didn’t want to go was –

“I don’t like the idea of living in a foreign country. This is my birth place. I want to live here. I don’t want to live anywhere else.”

I knew this was the actual reason. She just hated the idea of being in a ‘foreign’ setting. She was a woman who was born in the pre-independence era. Although by the time she grew up the tensions had ceased, she was still not very comfortable with the idea of settling in a different country.
I respect her choice. But I wanted her to witness my convocation and experience the joy and pride on having raised her granddaughter single-handedly into a winner. I had just finished my graduation and had come top of the class. And I wanted gran to witness this achievement and feel proud of her own efforts. I wanted to tell her how much her toil, struggles and sacrifices meant to me. Without a family and no one except granny to call my own, I had never imagined reaching where I had reached and achieving what I had achieved. To convince her to let me study abroad was a gargantuan task in itself, but she had agreed eventually and had extended whole-hearted support. It had been tough though to leave her here. All alone. But it was turning out to be tougher to take her abroad. 
But then I had to give it a try.

Source :

“I am not asking you to live there. We will come back next month. It is only a matter of a month. You will see me convocated and we will tour a few places in Europe. Germany. France. Eiffel Tower, remember? And Italy too.The Leaning Tower of Pisa! It really leans to a side, you know! And there are beautiful cathedrals and so much more that you would love to see. It will be a nice break. “

Granny’s eyes were shining. She was feeling proud already. But the doubts lingered inside her.

“Let the butts go into the ashtray. Here is your ticket. We are leaving next Friday.”

There went my master stroke. I had carefully chosen the date so she wouldn’t have any cause to protest. Only a stubborn unchangeable stance could help me win this battle of negotiation with grandma.
Source :
And so on a sunny Friday morning, I stowed our bags into the cab and waited for grandma to finish staring at the door of our flat.

“It’s locked. The lights and gas are off. The maids have been informed. The milkman and the newspaper guy have also been instructed. The neighbors have been told. It’s done, granny. Time to leave.”
“This is the first time I’m leaving the house for so long.” She said, staring wistfully at the boarded doors and windows.
“Oh heavens!” I sighed. “I should have taken you away ages ago!” 
Saying so, I ushered her into the cab.

As the cab zigzagged its way towards the airport, I felt light. Much lighter than I had ever felt on leaving India. Because most of the times, I felt guilt overriding me that perhaps I was selfish to leave granny all alone in that flat. 
But then I had my ambitions. And I know granny wanted the same for me. 
But no such feelings that day. I was feeling happier than ever. I couldn’t wait to take her to my university, and sightseeing across Marienplatz and Deutsche museum and maybe Lake Starnbeg where we could do some boating…

“I don’t much like these stuck-up air hostesses, acting all polite full of lofty words…”

There went granny and her complaints!
We had barely gone through the security check when granny had come into her element. 
Oh well, it was just the beginning. I was expecting this.

“…and mannerisms like some robots or dolls. No genuine feeling-“
“Namaste!” A woman greeted us as we boarded the flight.

I almost choked with laughter when I saw the surprised expression on granny’s face. Despite herself, she smiled at the air hostess. Being an Indian, you can’t not smile or return the greeting when someone says ‘namaste’ to you. It’s kind of hard-wired into your being.
Thank you, Lufthansa. I chuckled to myself.

We stowed our handbags in the luggage area and sat. I made granny take the window seat.

“You will see Lotus Temple from above.” I pointed towards the window. That cheered her up considerably.
“2 Veg meals,” I answered the air hostess as she asked for our meal preference.
She smiled and went away.

Next time when she came, I was ready. Our tables were down and I had convinced granny that if she didn’t like the food, we could send it away and get something else instead.

“What else will they have? Apart from bread and cheese and wine?” she said aloud, rolling her eyes.
I blushed a little, hoping no one would think we are stereotyping Europeans.

“Here,” the woman came again and handed us our meals.
“Any drinks? Tea or coffee?”
“One tea, and one orange juice,” I told her.

She promptly handed out the drinks, gave us a winning smile and went on ahead.
If granny didn’t like the burger, I had decided that I would swap it for some instant noodles. One can’t go wrong with noodles, you know.

Before I had finished my thoughts, a delicious scent wafted up. To my utter surprise and delight, I saw granny uncover chapatti, rice with palak paneer and raajma. A tiny curd sat in the corner as well.
Wow. That was decidedly Indian. Since when though, I wondered.

“Indians have gone everywhere, haven’t they?”
Granny asked me while mixing the rice and curd together, once she was done with the other dishes.
I chuckled.

“Was the food to your taste, granny?” I asked her after she had finished.
“Not bad,” she said, wiping her mouth neatly with the tissues.
“Well, shouldn’t be since the likes of Kunal Kapoor and Vinod Saini prepared today’s meal.”

I gleefully watched granny’s expression change to astonished admiration as I showed her the facts written in the airline magazine. I had often seen her hunt for Kunal Kapoor’s recipes on Youtube and watch similar cook shows on TV. She definitely held these culinary giants in high regard. After all, they were the pride of the food in Leela Palace. 

The best part was post this incident, granny was all praise. By the time we land, I was sure she will give her best smile to the flight attendants. Because, and I was so happy for it, she was really enjoying the entire experience.

Her fears of everything foreign had thankfully been hugely quelled, thanks to Lufthansa’s homely care. Later, as we laid back, granny watching a Bollywood flick on the entertainment TV with earphones plugged in, her expression all serious and her eyes earnest, I couldn’t help but feel proud that the airlines and perhaps the world was turning out to be more Indian than I thought.

Dreaming of the impending graduation ceremony and laying my head on granny’s shoulders as she flicked back and forth through the various things to watch, I dozed off contentedly. 

The flight had been a good start to our Europe trip. It was then that I decided to write something for Lufthansa Airlines. After all, the airlines managed to cheer my granny up! What could be a bigger achievement? 

As my eyes closed of their own accord, I started dreaming of all the places I would be showing to granny- all the beautiful mountains, lakes, palaces, museums, castles and cathedrals in Europe. Aah…that was a pleasing prospect. Germany, wir kommen!

~This post is part of the #MoreIndianThanYouThink activity by Lufthansa in association with IndiBlogger.~
Author Focus 
“Mock, Stalk & Quarrel”

Satire is a kind of poetry in which human vices are reprehended. Or so John Dryden said. What I like best about satire and sarcasm is that they tell the truth, which is why anything even remotely connected to satire piques my interest. 

Mock, Stalk & Quarrel, a collection of satirical tales, identifies powerful voices that can wage an ideological war against issues that matter. Twenty-nine voices, indulgent, tolerant, amusing and witty, were chosen to create this collection. 

This is the book I am talking about:

You might not want to miss the launch of this exciting anthology. So, those in Delhi on 25 November, you might want to drop in to the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi for the launch.

For those not being able to attend, do not despair! We are organizing a Kolkata launch on 26 November, 2016.  

Tête-à-tête with Amrita Mukherjee

Dostoyevsky said, “Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.” 
Let’s hear it from one of the authors of the book- Amrita Mukherjee.

Something about our Author-in-Focus:

Amrita Mukherjee has worked in publications like The Times of India, The Hindustan Times and The Asian Age in India and she has been the Features Editor with ITP publishing Group, Dubai’s largest magazine publishing house. An advocate of alternative journalism, she is currently a freelance journalist writing for international publications and websites and also blogs at Amrita’s debut novel Exit Interview earned the tag “unputdownable” from reviewers and readers alike. 

     1.     Please tell us something about yourself. 

I am a non-conformist, hyper extrovert and positive person. I take a keen interest in other people’s stories and my friends often joke that you never know when you find yourself in Amrita’s fiction.
     2.     When and how did you start writing?

It was a strange juncture in my life. I had lost my brother to cancer, my son was born 20 days later and I had quit my well-paying job after a few months. To grapple with my emotional turmoil I started writing my first book Exit Interview. And my late brother always said I would write one day. It was a way of honouring his memory probably but I hadn’t thought so much then.
     3.     Any challenges that you faced while writing?

My son was 10-months-old when I started writing. So the story had to flow between diaper changes, bathing and feeding time. I was gone the moment I heard him cry when I came back I had lost the plot. I had to start all over again.
     4.     What do you think about the future of writing/publishing industry in India?

Chetan Bhagat often gets the brickbats because many people claim he’s been selling mediocrity but I feel he was the one who allowed Indian authors to dream and opened up the market for Indian writing. Now publishers are willing to take up manuscripts by Indian authors and with new publishing houses coming up the possibilities are increasing. I particularly think Readomania being a comparatively new publishing house is bringing out phenomenally good books and these are the kind of books which you would want to keep in your bookcase and read again and again.
     5.     What do you think is the need for satire in today’s time?

The times we live in we need satire to keep our sanity. We live in such insecure times that we really don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and hit us like a bolt-from-the blue. Did any of us think that one fine day at 8pm our Rs 500 notes would become defunct? I guess that’s when you need satire to look at a serious situation with a tinge of humour and survive through the process.
     6.     What do you think are the easiest and the hardest thing about writing short stories?

If you have the story figured out you can actually finish it in two days but you haven’t then God help you. You might keep struggling with it for months and still not get it.
     7.     Any writing rules/rituals?

I try to create a structure in my notebook or in my mind before I start writing. I also keep notes sometimes of incidents, happenings, research that I would want to include in my future stories.
      8.     Tell us something about your story in MSQ. How did it come about?

I was working with Dipankar Mukherjee, the owner of Readomania for my next book. He told me this competition Mocktales is on and asked me to send a story. I had never written on a theme so I wasn’t sure how I would fare. But an incident had happened in Kolkata around a woman in shorts when this idea came to my mind. My story is named The Dress Code.
      9.     Tell us about your previous work.

By God’s grace my debut novel Exit Interviewpublished by Rupa Publications in June 2015 was well received and critics and readers said it is “unputdownable”.  It was on the Starmark Bestsellers List for months and did well in Dubai as well, where I lived as an expat. The book is based on the life of a woman journalist who moves through the ups and downs in her life as she travels from Kolkata to Dubai to Egypt.
      10.What is your current project or your next release?

My next release is a collection of short stories published by Readomania.
      11. Trivia:
     Favourite food: Crabs
·        Fave books and authors: Keeps changing but Chander Pahar and Hungry Tide are my all-time faves. I love Ruskin Bond, O’Henry and Jeffrey Archer.
·        What makes you happy? A hug from my son.
·        What gets you angry? Disrespect.
·        Your best piece of work till now…I guess yet to come.
     12. How do we connect with you?

Twitter: @amritamuk

     13. Any message for the readers?

It is wonderful people still read despite such busy and stressful lives that we all live in. And I would want to thank my readers for all their appreciation for my blogs and my first book that enthused me to keep writing. 
Scene : Morning.

Action : Get up.

Decide whether to rush to class sans breakfast or get late after having some breakfast. Because let’s face it, you are never going to have the best of both worlds. At least not I. Not in this life.

Once you miss breakfast, all sorts of cravings start sprouting within you. Although half your mind is on your rumbling empty tummy, it is still better to attend the class and procure some attendance, especially when it’s a strict prof you are dealing with.
Come the first break and you start piling on junk, starting with maggi, and moving on to eclairs, patties, hotdogs, mouth-watering samosas and what not. By lunchtime, you are full of stuff that hasn’t sated you and yet, you are hungry.
So, my first chhote kadam towards health was…yes, having breakfast.

Although it was a Herculean decision to part with sleep, a little tweaking, a little extra prep at night (setting my bag, clothes and doing all those things I used to dutifully do while in school), a little will power (which is strangely difficult to summon at such times) allowed me to somehow create a semblance of jentacular balance.
The second effort was not an effort for me at all. I don’t particularly like elevators, being a big fan of open spaces. So, choosing stairs over elevators came naturally to me.     
The biggest challenge though was eating better. If there is something I can’t compromise on, it’s delectable mouth-watering junk food.

I discovered a little workaround. And it’s on the very lines of the above paragraph.

Eat at the mess. Even if the gravy seems full of water. Even if the chappati looks shapeless. Even if pizzas equate to heaven. 
Have the mess food. Choose health more often. Reduce a lot of eating out. I know it’s easier said than done. I haven’t been able to manage it either. I am not proud to admit that. But trying does count, right?

There is something though that I did manage. It was to have meals on time. You see, skipping is a sin. 

Skip rope, not your meals.  
Now we come to the king of hearts. 
:drum roll: 
The Happiness Quotient. How much is yours?
You know people have ample stuff to say about happiness. They talk about it, discuss it and search for it everywhere. But happiness is not a shirt button that has rolled under the bed. This is something I remember reading a long time ago.
Happiness is really being okay with everything. Those tales of it being a state of being are actually true. You know the oil drops theory, right? Take care of the drops of oil while touring the mansion. To make it clear, just chill. Whatever happens, all is well. It will always be. Or at least that’s my mantra.
And if you wish to make your heart go on and on, just like that famous Titanic song, then you must must must find your own ways to revamp your lifestyle. 

If I can find these teeny tiny ways, you, my genius friend, can surely come up with better ideas and ways of being active, healthy and happy.
Dear heart, keep beating on…
~I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association with BlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.~

Some would say that I have gone crazy over autorickshaws while some might go so far as to purport that I want to do a Ph.D. in the subject. But I feel that sometimes plain and unhindered observation gives you a profundity of knowledge and insight that even a degree would only theoretically claim to do. Add to the fact that there are such a multitude of vehicles flitting about on the roads ( even on the pavements as a matter of fact ) that I couldn’t help but enumerate and curate the kind of autorickshaws that most arrested my attention. Here goes my list :

The Bride

The Bride is not a regular sight and I consider myself fortunate to have taken a ride in this chariot of an auto. Well bedecked with sparkly lights such as those lit on Diwali, its ceiling and walls are bedizened with white and fluorescent bulbs in intricate patterns, some of which arabesque and some depicting birds. This auto is best ridden at night when one can see it in its full splendor. I actually requested the driver for pictures and managed to click a few for my albums.


The Posterboy

This is the most common auto that nearly everyone, except those who have never stepped into an auto, ( do such people even exist?! ) must have seen or ridden in. This auto has its walls covered with posters of actors, most of them belonging to Bollywood beauties. I guess they are meant to be eye candy for the driver if not the passengers.

The Rapper

One day, my brother and I were running late for an appointment and started quarreling with each other. As if on cue, an auto appeared and without another thought, we hailed it and got in immediately, determined to reach our destination the soonest possible. Just as the man revved up the engine, music began blaring from the speakers. That’s not the wondrous part. Every driver listens to music; that is a given. But the astonishing aspect of this one was the ambience. It was not just the speakers that were effective (although the music was booming as if in a recording studio) but the choice of music itself that most took me aback. I had expected regional songs or old Bollywood numbers (of the time of one’s grandparents’) or at best, recent Bollywood songs, but never did I expect him to play the latest US top 50! My brother and I looked at each other, our mouths hanging open in surprise. All through the ride, we sat enraptured, singing the raps of Eminem and Snoop Dogg in our heads.

The Reader

This may not come as a shock, for many people are spotted steeped into the pages of the daily papers but what was bewildering was that the driver was reading an English daily and that too none other than the Hindu! My respect for him instantly skyrocketed. 

But then, considering the amazing stories of a rickshawwallah’s daughter cracking CA or an autowallah’s son being enrolled in the civil services, this should not come as that huge a surprise.

The Superman

It was one of those days when I had taken a seat in a shared auto and had prepared myself to sleep. Hardly had I slept a wink when a jerk jolted me awake. The auto I was in was whizzing past cars, trucks and bikes. My eyes opened up a little wider. All the vehicles were mired in heavy unyielding traffic and could only take tiny steps forward but our Superman was weaving through the narrow passages between automobiles, making ways where none existed. He went right and left, and right and left, zigzagging and swerving with ease while we rocked on our seats, holding on to the handles for dear life. At one point, I actually pleaded him to go slow, citing the cliched phrase-’better late than never’. But the man was on a roll. 


He gave me a funny look as if the word ‘slow’ didn’t exist in his dictionary and continued with his stunts (probably inspired by action flicks). I think there was a certain moment when I was led to wonder if I was part of a fast-paced action movie while praying fervently to the gods to help me reach safely, even if an hour late. As if he had read my mind, the superdriver made a dashing halt, almost with elan, nearly throwing me out of the auto, kind of signalling that it was time for me to get out. I paid the money and quickly crossed the road. I didn’t want to be in Mad Max’s way.

Tap your right foot. Now your left. Right again. Left. Right. Left. Left. Left.
But I seemed to have only left feet. My first dance class was a lesson in coming out of my shell. My dance teacher was an unbelievably patient woman. But she had no idea how unbelievably shy I was. She started with the simplest steps. Easy footwork. Easier than march past, I would wager. And yet, every step seemed heavier than the last. A week went by and a month. I had started staying back after the regular dance class to wait for mom who would pick me up. Meanwhile, my dance teacher would tell me stories. Mythological tales, stories related to the dances we performed, and any other stories she may have told her kids when they were my age. That was the part I loved the most. I would later develop a mad obsession for stories and books. But right then, I liked to listen to her and think and imagine. Soon, she had started telling me a story related to every dance. You see, every dance we performed had some significance. They were mostly Krishna Radha tales or Meera Bai songs or old fables and the like. Once I had been inducted into the story, the song seemed to come naturally to me. Suddenly I was not so conscious of myself anymore. Much to my surprise, I discovered that I had lost sense of my body and knew not and cared not how I looked while I moved. I moved the way the song beckoned. My dear dance teacher had finally made a little dancer of me.

So, when she went away to settle in another city, I was sorely heartbroken. I knew then that no other teacher could ever teach me the way she did. No one would tell me stories or painstakingly position my arms to get the postures just right. I was on my own now.
But I didn’t want to give up on it just yet. While in secondary school, I joined another class. While making my way through the swampy waters of class X and XII, I left dance again. Then I got myself enrolled in engineering. And almost immediately after, got back to dance. After my regular college classes, I would attend the dance class for an hour and a half and then head home. The arrangement drained me of energy but enthused me with a mad passion. I achieved Visharad in Kathak dance form as I finished my graduation in computer engineering. Pretty coordinated that.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
Although my introversion persists oxymoronically with my freewheeling dance fantasies, I have discovered a latent desire for classical dance in me. Something about the elegance of Indian classical dances enthralls me. I have never really gotten over my dance teacher’s stories or her graceful moves. The desire to emulate her and perform as gracefully and beautifully has remained and persisted.

Yes, that’s me.
The architecture of ancient buildings and the murals and paintings on old monuments make me wonder about the movements of the yesteryears. I am literally gravitated to the past. I feel the need to discover the most ancient dance forms of India. I wish to capture them as precisely and fully as I can. I want to visit the various gharaanas of Kathak, the temples of Bhartanatyam and the multifarious places in India where the classical dance forms originated. I wish to see the various forms in action. I want to bring to life the most antediluvian Indian dances possible and collate them in my blog.
In profile

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
― Rumi

Dance represents a zeitgeist, a revolution. Representing the spirit of the times, it takes one to an entirely different era where every movement mirrors an ideology of the society. Dance is expression and innovation combined. It is the largest and the most accurate mirror of one’s culture. Dance is love and life in action.
As Voltaire said, “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

I am blogging about my dreams and passions for the Club Mahindra#DreamTrails activity at BlogAdda. You can get a Club Mahindra Membership to own your holidays!
10 ways to avoid the Snooze drug

  • Coffee. Tea. Yes, some of those well tried-and-tested stuff before classes. They work like a charm.
  • Eat. Yes, eat. Keep some biscuits and snacks handy and stuff them into your mouth the moment you feel your control slipping.
  • Drink. Water. Like every five minutes.
  • Talk. Chat. Keep blabbering. It’s rare to find people falling asleep while in the midst of a conversation.
  • I saw a fellow friend wet her handkerchief with water and dab her eyes with it. Have never tried it but seems like a good idea.
  • One way to find out if you are drunk, sorry, sleepy is to write. Work your pen on paper. If you find yourself inventing vocabulary, making strange connections or anthills and going past well-defined lines, you know your zombie mode is on.
  • Use your five sense organs as far and as much as possible. Touch, smell, taste, see and hear. Any of the faculties stops responding, you know it’s the sleep drug at work.
  • Sit on a blunt nail. It might scratch your ass off but you are less likely to sleep your way to oblivion.
  • Pinch, punch, hit. Do whatever to distract yourself. Remember the sleep mistress is sly and easily inviting. She is sexier than you and has the upper hand. But you got to keep yourself from succumbing to her evil clutches, right? So be the Sati Savitri of Indian mythology and bring your Satyawaan back.
  • Take a pen and stick the pointy end into your palm. Just take care not to create a hitting rhythm that might lull you off to further sleep.

Some victims and their complaints/comments:
“The visions merge so seamlessly from one form to another that it becomes impossible to distinguish between sleeping and waking hours. Until obviously someone clicks an embarrassing picture of your tongue lolling out of your mouth and your head thrown back in some weird posture of slack.”
“Sleep is a bitch. Whether you sleep for six hours or one, eight hours or none, nothing can ever stop you from dozing off in classes. I wonder why people bother with sleeping pills. They should just enroll for some course and attend classes again.”

Look out for other ‘sleep special’ posts ahead!