Archive | September, 2012

Conquest

27 Sep
The first seed of tension was planted in my mind, and I was beginning to feel a little tensed… My tenth standard board examination results would be out tomorrow. But my state of mind was nothing when compared to what my mom, dad and sister felt…They were all hysterical from the past one week. My mom was accusing my lack of seriousness in studies and was chiding me for her guessed, prospective dismal result of mine. She was sure my results would be something so bad, that the whole family would have to evacuate the home, in order to ‘survive’ in the society & escape the ‘shame’. My kid sister would nod in assent whenever my mom accused me of something that led her to the conclusion that i would have surely failed my examinations. Without her knowledge, she would instinctively imitate or mimic my mom’s various expressions, on her face too, as she watched my mom. Her expressions ranged from disappointment- on thinking of what might be my results, horror-at the thought of what she would have to tell our relatives who would enquire about my results, anger- for my sheer disinterestedness in the whole topic, and still according to her, being kiddish & immature.
My dad was never a fan of ‘noisy families’… He preferred to downplay his emotions, emotions that were almost the same that mom felt, but his expressions of it were definitely of lesser intensity in comparison. My sister would cast looks at me that made me feel, as if I were the only sheep to have been born black in our entire family & its tree. Dad would suppress himself from praising & commending me for a petty job that was well done. His appreciation was only 20per cent of what it otherwise would have been, but for my impending, & according to my family-a sure ‘doomed results’.

proud to be the black sheep! 😉

It was getting increasingly difficult for me to get used to this strange tensed atmosphere at home. I wished I could go away somewhere, only to return after my results were announced. People at home were looking at me as if I were an escaped convict, who forced them into allowing a place for himself at their home! It became so bad, that I would sometimes feel guilty to even ask for a second helping of my favorite dish, wondering if,  the crime I had committed (prospective guaranteed dismal result), deserved a sumptuous meal in return. My mom ensured I felt that way. I spent several sleepless nights wishing I had studied a little better, rather, i had studied at least. Wishing I had heeded my mom’s constant warnings of my bad results thereafter, which she successfully made it sound like an oracle or something, wishing I had not bunked classes & tutions like as if I was studying in kindergarten…. But, I was ‘I’ after all. Seriousness about something was never that came to me at the drop of a hat. I wanted to take everything easy and used to chill in the face of a monstrous problem which was threatening to bite my head off. One of my pastimes was to worry & tense people up, to give generous gifts of ‘tension’ to people, but would never accept any gifts myself, of the same kind.
I concluded by thinking that my results would be the price I would be paying for being such a mischievous monster. I decided to take it and face it like a war martyr. I kept thinking of reasons ‘valid’ for a student to fail, or rather the ‘eligibility criteria’ (set by the elders) needed for an acceptable failure in an examination. Some of my options were: Very bad health, health so bad that i needed hospitalisation; Lack of peace of mind- thanks to parent’s constant quarrel at home, wrong totaling by the examiner-will apply for re totaling, favorite child of bad luck-good luck has deserted me; put up a ‘miss goody two shoes’ act- wear an expression of oppressed and harassed girl on my face and blame my monstrous, mischievous kid sister with a straight face for foiling my exam preparations; rubbish aside the very university and tarnish its reputation so much that, the mark statement that it would issue soon, would hold no value to the ‘wise’ elders….
Was still contemplating about the criteria, when I fell asleep. I dreamt an escapist dream of sleeping through my day of results and waking up, like Sleeping Beauty, only after my results were out and after me declared a pass candidate. The next day when I woke, I realized it was the ‘D day’. I had woken up on a wrong day! Damn these good dreams into the deepest lava pit of hell!
I heard from my room, mom and dad fight it out amongst themselves as to who should go to check out my results. My mom didn’t want to and neither did my dad. The tension would be too much for them to take, watching other joyous parents kiss with pride, their ‘passed-the-exam- with-flying-colors’ kids, fearing other known parents who might read the disappointment and horror on their faces as they checked my results out, teachers surrounding them to enquire my results, and then having to hear their versions of the various reasons why I failed… My kid sister watched them enthusiastically, her eyes filled with appreciation at the source of her entertainment. Dad flung his hands in the air, as if to dismiss the whole issue and then passed the verdict that mom had to go. Knowing my dad too well and seeing no sense in arguing any further with him, my mom was clearly defeated. Trying to make best use of her, now left  time, she scampered off to do an elaborate pooja to God, hoping to invoke all the Gods sitting in heaven and to attract their attention to this one mortal of all the billions of other species that existed on the planet. I perched myself on the sofa hand as my sis examined my face and the expression it wore- as usual misinterpreting it into what she wanted to see. This time, she wanted to see the guilty look of a ‘soon-to-hanged’ convict on my face. I glared at her, so that she would stop her pea brained examination & (mis)interpretation of the way my face appeared to her.
Mom hurried out from the pooja room, cast a look that confirmed my sister’s interpretation. I was indeed ‘soon-to-be-hanged’!!! and this was why my sis looked at me that way too, searching precisely this expression to appear on my face.
Dad preferd not to look at me, as he knew I was capable of melting his hostility with one ‘i’m-sooo-good-yet-misunderstood’ look. He continued moving around the house doing nothing really. I knew he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I pretended as if I was unaffected by all the hostility in the air. I picked up the day’s newspaper, lied down on the sofa and browsed through it. There it was, a news heading that read: “SSLC results out. Girls score over boys yet again!” I hoped I was in one of those ‘girls’. There were pictures of students flocked around the notice broad that contained their results. There were reports of students who committed suicide because they could not live through the tension and stress of waiting for the unveiling of results. Too late! I thought. They could have learnt a thing or two from me on how to remain unaffected by all the chaos around you, like a dew on a lotus leaf. If all else failed, i decided, I would set up my own coaching classes and serve the student community at large, by honing their survival skills during the wait period for their results. Maybe I could teach them some breathing exercises, ‘result’ yoga (like ‘power’ yoga), recommend hilarious books that would keep them occupied for months, organise a fun ‘who cares about the results’ trip etc. I was still thinking of various options when i slept again, much to my dad’s disgust, who expected me to sit up, trembling from toe to head and bite my nails!
The next thing i heard was a shriek let out by my sister. I decided to continue my nap as i assumed it was a shriek/exclamation of horror that she had just emanated on knowing my scores. But then i heard chorus of laughter and celebration. I turned to my other side, and concluded that my family was just affected by mass insanity, insanity that was an after effect of horror and disappointment. Too bad for them and too good for me, I thought, relieved 🙂
Then my mom jerked me up from my dazed slumber and made me sit up. She hugged me, her eyes filled with tears of happiness and her expression when interpreted, read: ‘i knew you would not let me down’. My dad shared that expression with his wife. Ahaaa? after me enduring so much? Couldn’t you have not worn those expressions before? She then exclaimed as she unhugged me:  “You passed and that too, passed in first class!”.
What!? I then, out of guarded curiosity, enquired about my detailed results. I was satisfied with my score. I mentally thanked the examiners who corrected my papers, for being extra nice and kind to me. I requested God to grant them an extra dollop of happiness from my side, this summer. My sister’s face was filled with so much happiness that I wondered from where all that came from, which was no where to be seen just a few hours ago.
I now carried myself like a ruthless emperor who had just expanded his kingdom by one hundred percent and was awaiting a huge celebration for this accomplishment. My parents continued to make me feel that way and sure enough, we had a grand family party that evening, to celebrate my new conquest!
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Listen to that ‘song’, what do you think it is about?

25 Sep

Who doesn’t love the sight of birds? What is an early morning or late evening without their happy chirps and twitters to start & end the day with? Our heart leaps in joy each time we catch a glimpse of migratory birds soaring above our heads or a flock of parakeets fly by with their unmistakable, shriek calls. It makes us happy, because we know these birds are happy too, happy to be flying, happy to with many others of their own kind.  They’ve got neither bounds nor limitations. They are free to go & fly to anywhere, they need no VISAs. The vast planet is their home, unlike we ‘humans’ who have divided the land mass into bits, given them some names and then claimed them as mine & yours. Their freedom is so much more than what we are entitled to. You can’t even stay on a foreign land, a day more than for what you have been granted permission for.  Yet, with such limited freedom, compared to what the other inhabitants on this planet enjoy, ‘freedom’ matters & means a lot to us. Confinement is considered as a ‘punishment’ in our hypocritical world of ‘humans’, a punishment for a wrong doing or for an act of crime. And even this, receives a lot of flak from the ‘human rights activists’ who term it as cruel and what not.

The other day i happened to pass by a pet store, which I’d rather term as a ‘torture chamber for animals & birds’, for the other name is way too misleading.  In that dingy, stinky place, there were several glamorous looking cages that housed many an exotic birds that were chirping in panic & distress. Chirping for help, to be released, to be able to take to blue skies once again, to snuggle & sleep with its family at dusk on the cosy branches at the tree top…

In the human world, evil deeds & crimes like murder for instance, are awarded with a lifetime’s imprisonment. What crime or wrong have our little feathered friends’ committed then, to deserve a lifetime’s confinement like this? That they are beautiful, peaceful, have done no harm to anyone, they have sweet voices and peppy chirps? Is that what they are being punished for? I see a tragic humor in instances when i see people decorate their bird cages with colorful ribbons, bands and stars, etc . Does it mean anything to the bird inside, would it feel proud & happy, that it has such cool looking ribbons tied to its cage? What is it to the bird? A highly decorated prison? That’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t matter if the prison has been made of gold with diamonds studded into its bars. A prison is still a prison, and it’s still a punishment for anyone behind it. When people say that their caged birds sing, i ask them, do they really ‘sing’? or are they crying? What songs can your caged birds, with their wings clipped, probably be singing? Ever paused to think about it? They are all singing sad songs in there, song of loneliness, of being imprisoned for life, calling out to their other friends who are free and flying, wanting to join them. Do you think waking up to these songs everyday fills your atmosphere with positive vibes? Get a reality check as early as it can get. If your birds like you so much that they actually are singing out songs to keep you entertained, then please carry out this test, which will help you know what they truly like or love, for that matter. Open the doors of the cage, and wait. This, i assure you, would be the shortest wait of your lifetime. Do you think they’d stay in there even for a few minutes on realizing they’ve been given a chance at freedom? That’s what they want & that’s what they truly love, ‘freedom’, just as much as you love & want yours. For God’s sake, birds were never created to entertain us, to sing out songs for ‘us’! How would you like if an alien from another planet found you beautiful & your voice very melodious, smuggled you out of your home one night, took you back with him and kept you in a well decorated cage made of all platinum? And each time you cried to be let out, cried for freedom; the alien would enjoy it as a beautiful song from you, worth hearing to again and again and again. That is what you’d be doing these winged jewels, if you keep them captive. What sort a mind would then seek pleasure in keeping caged birds?  Only the selfish & unevolved minds.

How different are these birds from us? Aren’t they social, just like us? In fact they enjoy greater freedom than us, ‘cos they can fly off to countries, stay there for as long as they wish and they need no authorities to grant them ‘passports’ for their journeys. ‘Freedom’ means a lot more to them and is a lot ‘stronger’ term for them, than what it is for us who can only enjoy limited freedom. It means everything to them. Don’t they have families and don’t they painstakingly build nests to which they fly back to, each dusk? Don’t they want to make babies & take care of them? How different are they from us and how can we hypocrites set dual standards then, one for our own kind and one for anything that is defenseless, voiceless or cannot speak up or fight for its rights? Why do we have the tendency to take for granted, anything that isn’t human? They may not be humans, but they still have lives that they wish to live the way they want to & are capable of feeling the same emotions that we do. Compassion towards all creatures, is preached in every religion & here, legend has it that even Sita (Lord Rama’s wife from the epic ‘Ramayan’) was not spared for keeping a parrot caged for many years. She too was made to face a painful separation of many years, from her loving husband Ram, as a consequence of keeping this bird in solitary confinement. Legends apart, it’s time we humans practiced ‘Compassion’ as our one universal religion, by which our planet would highly benefit from.

No animal wishes imprisonment, no animal or bird looks forward to die in imprisonment or die. They all fear the same things that we do. Prisons are a human invention & should be best used for humans only- the actual evil doers of the planet, not for any other life, incapable of anything even remotely evil.  Even the so called ‘cruel’ lion, hunts only when he’s hungry, never for game.

A word of caution for those of you considering freeing your caged birds due to a change in heart or whatever may be the reason, please do your home work carefully before doing so. Releasing birds that are not native to your place will only end up making your bird quick snack to other predatory birds. For example, releasing a budgie (which is native to Australia) in India, would kill it in the first few hours of setting it free, because they have lost the art of surviving in wild, since most are bred in captivity. Even those smuggled from their original places can’t make it here, as this is a complete alien place for them. However, rehabilitating & releasing a rose ringed parakeet in India is fine, as it belongs here. Exotic bird trade is a vicious cycle out there and only when the demand ends, so would the supply. Hope it won’t be too late by the time this realization dawns upon all men & hope our future generations, don’t get to see our animals and birds only in books or recorded documentaries. In order to change this sorry state of affairs, we need to bring about a positive change and that change should start from our homes. Let’s pledge never to keep any life caged and educate our near and dear ones about the same, for it is but a sin to take away from anyone, something that is not yours to take- be it ‘freedom’ or be it ‘life’.

To freedom! May all birds fly free and sing songs of bliss & happiness, as they fly!

Wings are for flying…

Staying safe matters!

23 Sep

Stay safe!

In a country like ours’, I’ve always wondered why some women are targeted when it comes to eve teasing, ragging or misbehaving. India, is a land of strange contradictions. Here, people worship gods in the form of a woman, yet, as in other countries, cases of women being exploited is also no less here either. This cannot be generalized though. Back in college, I always used to feel very sorry for the girls who were the victims of ragging. But it was not until my best friend was at the receiving end of this menace, that I decided to study this problem more seriously. And when I did, I realized that many of these instances of eve teasing, molestation, etc., could have been avoided if only the girls involved, handled the situation better. ‘Woman safety’ now mattered like never before. This write up of mine is for all the women out there and for all the men whose lives are incomplete without their mothers, girl friends, daughters, wives and sisters. In other words, a woman completes a man.

Without sounding preachy, I would like to share with you girls, some time & eve teasers tested Dos & Don’ts. Let’s start with first things first.

1. Dress fashionably, not vulgarly

Many a times, your elders at home would have advised you to dress appropriately, because you are a woman (like as if we don’t know it already) and that we come with some limitations of our own. I have hated the term ‘limitation’ each time it was used. Is being attractive, a limitation then? No. But, we need be our best judges to decide how much & what kind of attention is a healthy attention, depending on various factors like local mindset, morally sensitive areas, work places etc. Admit it girls, men find us irresistible. It’s therefore on us to ensure just how irresistible we want to be or appear. I strongly believe that a girl can look vulgar even when she’s draped herself in a saree or look elegant & decent in a pair of denim and a tee, depending on how she is wearing them. Your style of dressing must draw appreciative looks from men, not lust filled ones. Remember, it’s NOT cool to have guys ogling or letching at you. There’s a thin line that separates being sexy from looking vulgar. Dressing up in a sexy way when you are with a group of your trusted friends, is completely fine. But doing so, when you have none to keep you company (esp. a man) & have plans on staying out late into the night, can be fool hardiness. It’s like inviting trouble with a welcoming red carpet. This is not a great idea, even if you plan on taking a cab back home, ‘cos the drivers of these cars are not immune to seduction. There have been several instances of cab drivers molesting their women passengers and worse raping and murdering them thereafter. Therefore, try not to invoke the lust monster in men who mean nothing to you.

2. Avoid conflicts, when time is not in your favor

Try and avoid conflicts or heated arguments with cabbies or auto rickshaw drivers, especially when you are alone or when late at night or when both. Getting into arguments with men like these are to be best avoided, esp. when late in the night, as most of these guys would by then be intoxicated and could retaliate by inflicting physical harm to you. During any heated argument, people always try to identify the opponent’s weakness, so he may get a chance to win against him. In your case, you are a girl & just like how strength & weakness are two sides of the same coin, you are currently on the ‘weak’ side in times like these, and these men know it. Prying in groups, cab drivers are best left alone. During a verbal conflict with them, they could gang up on you and if one chooses to slap, the other might try to physically abuse you, just so you may want to end the argument and leave the scene at the earliest. At times like these, even if you are right, it’s best you don’t hang around to prove it. Not unless you have somebody with you, again, preferably a male companion(s).

No. I’m not asking you to back up like a coward. I’m just asking you to use more of your grey matter where you can’t match the brawn. Instead of taking on the mob at midnight, quietly jot down the cab number & the driver’s name (in case he’s flaunting his name badge) and get him to books in the sanity of the day, which should not be very difficult at all. If they thought they were smart, show them who’s smarter. Real strength is all about conquering your weakness and your limitations.

3.  Make eye contact

When in crowded public places, there are high chances that you come across all sorts people. Of those some may also be perverts, you never know. A study has shown that by establishing eye contact with people, you are sending a sub conscious message to the other person, that you do not perceive them as a threat. When public speaking, the speaker is often advised to make eye contact with his audience, as doing so will immediately put him at ease. The same needs to be applied here too. In case, you feel uneasy about the presence of some guy or the way he is looking at you, never ever escape looking at him. Instead, hold your ground and meet his eye. The message would be delivered to him, in bold letters- that you don’t fear him. This works more often than not, ‘cos the more you avoid him or try to run away from such guys, the more you come across as a weak, meek girl who is easy to be messing around with. And pervert men would want a girl just like that, some one who fears him, for they see it as an act of submission. Making a direct eye contact with such guys will immediately destroy any such misconceptions that he might have.

4. Avoid wardrobe disasters

Okay, this might be too direct & straight to the point, but there’s no point beating around the bush either. Be careful with how & what you wear on the inside. Wear lingerie that actually serve it’s purpose. To throw better light on what I’m trying to arrive at here, picture a rainy night, a girl wearing an ill fitting bra running behind a bus, desperately trying to make it into it.  Also picture a pervert at the same deserted bus station. Can there be a more disastrous recipe for trouble? Well, I don’t think so. Please remind yourself that not all men you come across are gentlemen. Had it been so, then the world would have been a better place to be living in. There are also men around you, who could get titillated at the drop of a hat. Take care to avoid getting their unwanted attention. So, ensure your brassiere fits you fine, without allowing for revelations of any sort and also be very careful with see through dresses. You might not want men of all types to get a sneak peek at what you actually look like underneath your clothes. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you…

5. Be defense-ready

If you happen to be a working woman, and traveling back home at nights are a part of your job, then taking adequate precautions help. Never take yourself for granted ‘cos you are too precious for the ones who love you. Women are so busy making lives around them better, that they sometimes forget to stop and think about themselves. This way, they fail to take care of their own safety. So, pause and introspect- are your safety measures up to date? Learning martial arts or self-defense techniques are a biggest blessing to a woman. If not trained in these, then always carry a pepper spray with you, because trouble is famously known for coming without a warning and then you’d better be safe than sorry. A Swiss knife is also another great must have to ensure your safety. Just keeping them in your bag & forgetting about it, would not serve the purpose. Use it and practice using it skillfully, get your aims right. Get used to carrying them in your bag, so you wont forget about their existence in the face of a molester or a potential rapist. The saddest thing to happen would be to carry a pepper spray but then forgetting to use it, just because you were either too scared or shocked to use it!

6. At college

As much as you are eager to make that first, right impression on the first day of your college, going over board by dressing up revealingly can have just the opposite effect. Not only would it make you more susceptible to ragging but also you’d be drawing unwanted attention from your seniors. Dress in way that is both fashionable and decent. The big boys would then be wanting to take you home to get you meet their mommies instead of visualizing you naked or violating you. Look at the seniors and establish eye contact. Never shy away from making an eye contact. I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again- making eye contact is a very powerful aspect of body language where you are actually communicating a sense of confidence about yourself. Make sure that eye contact does not in any way appear hostile, but instead should express friendliness and feminine vulnerability. This will make the big, bad boys want to protect you, rather than trouble you. A complete contradiction! I knew of a certain girl in my college, who had mastered this art. She courageously approached the gang of seniors (much to their amusement) who she had mentally perceived to be a potential problem & complained to them, of a certain guy who was stalking her around. That was it, the hearts of these big, bad guys melted in an instant, like butter on a heated pan and the same guys who were once casting dirty & lustful looks at her, now felt very protective of her. She did it, she had conquered their lust and made them her friends! Sure enough, the guy who was stalking our girl, received a warning so menacing from this gang of seniors, that he dared not defy it. Talk about felling two apples with a single stone (since i happen to be an animal lover, i chose to change the popular adage to something that sounds less cruel).

7. Respect morally sensitive places: how much is too much?

When visiting morally sensitive places like temples, churches etc., ensure you dress appropriately. You, like many others would have visited such places to pay your respects and offer prayers with a peaceful mind. Dressing revealingly at such places is a big no-no, for it is seen as a mark of disrespect to the holy place. Remember, when in Rome, dress like a Roman. And for the sake of the God inside, you are not there to grab eyeballs or as a show stopper! If you want such attention, then such holy places are not for you, you need to hit the ramp. You could be an object of distraction to the women and an adulteration in the minds of men who are at religious places.

You also need to be sensitive about your dressing style when visiting a rural place that is less exposed to fashion. In such places, even a little skin show could cause quite a flutter and titillation, causing unwanted troubles thereafter. For them, even little is too much, as they are not exposed to latest fashions trends and skin shows. Respect their views and culture by dressing sensibly.

8. Never be a silent sufferer

Almost every woman i know of, has been a victim of physical abuse or violation at some point of time in their lives. While some choose to suffer in silence (in the names of shame & embarrassment) and encourage the exploiter, there are others who do not take things lying low. There was this friend of mine, who was once traveling in a sleeper bus. Much to her shock, after the lights of the bus went off, she felt a hand creep up from behind her and feel its way up to her chest. Never the one to keep quiet, she pinched the violating hand so hard, that a part of his skin was peeled off and a seesh of pain escaped from him, before he quickly withdrew his hands off her. As expected, sensing larger trouble, the faceless molester, alighted the bus at the very next stop. She was one of these rare types. Many other girls are too shocked to react and suffer silently at the hands of their molester, if cornered. This is the worst thing you could do, ‘cos you are encouraging and emboldening your molester. Never allow a molester to violate you. Raise a hue and cry & yes, scream. Draw every possible attention of the public that you can on the cowardly molester. It will give a message loud and clear to him- that you are ‘no meek weakling who’ll take things lying low’. This will not only scare him away but will also discourage him from making future such attempts on other girls. Let the episode remain in his mind as a bad memory forever, so he’d dare not act fresh with any other girl again.

9. Safe with a stranger

There will always be times, when you might have to travel in a cab or a rickshaw alone. If this also happens to be an unfamiliar route, destination and your driver happens to know that, there might be a chance for trouble. At times like that, you make a note of the vehicle number and message the same to your loved ones back home. It is the wisest thing to do. I remember reading in a daily, about how  a rapist cum murderer was nabbed after the cops found his vehicle number text-messaged by the victim to her friend. The poor girl had payed with her life, but she ensured many others did not suffer the same plight by aiding his capture. Some women help save lives even in their deaths.

Never trust a stranger, no matter how straight he appears on the exterior. Do not reveal too much about yourself, too soon to a new friend or an acquaintance. You never know how this information could be used. Also, refrain from talking loudly (even over the phone) about your personal life, like you being home alone or sharing your address, mobile number etc., in public or while commuting in a public mode of transport. Not only would you appear too dumb to be true, but it would also prove suicidal .

10. Dealing with abusive men in your life

He could be your brother, boyfriend or your husband. If these men in your life are abusive to the extent of doing physical harm to you, then you need to be doing some serious thinking about the whole relationship & it’s future. ReaL men never abuse their women. But, should you happen to be in a relationship with one such a guy, and should there ever be a fight between the two of you, then never chose a secluded place to resolve your issues. Most women care about what others think, worry about the embarrassment that follows ‘cos of yelling in public and therefore prefer fighting it out in private, but when in an abusive relationship- more seclusion only means more harm and battering. Always choose to resolve your differences in a place where there are many others around you guys too. Just so that, in case your fight takes an ugly turn, there would be people around to either come to your rescue or make your abusive man conscious about his wild ways. A dinner in a restaurant, a play ground would be a better location to take your hatchets out & fight, than at deserted places or in the privacy of your home and later find yourself with a broken nose, a twisted arm, or worse. These same abusive men would be forced to curb their anger or instinctive, brash behavior when amidst other people, whereas there will be no holding them back, when they are assured of all the privacy in the world.

Break-ups are another instance that call for women safety. It is best done in a place where there are others around you both, for most of the times, couples don’t part after planting kisses on each others cheeks. It usually follows after a heated exchange of words, blame-game etc. Some possessive boyfriends simply won’t let you go and can threaten you of dire consequences, should the break up be initiated by you. If the break up is eminent and you have made up your mind to part ways with this man, then do it on a very diplomatic way. Do not hurt or bruise the male ego, as it would only make him want to settle scores with you. Spite would be on top of his mind and an angry man is a mad man. Never insult your ‘soon-to-become-Ex’, as parting words are the words that will remain in the hearts forever. Ensure these words don’t sting or belittle him, so he would not want to seek a vengeance.

Every woman is gifted with a sense that actually alerts them to any dangers or threats. Never ignore that. Stay in touch with your gut feeling, ‘cos it knows what is right for you and can actually save you!

All you lovely, gorgeous women out there- Stay safe, stay blessed! You are but the sunshine of this planet.

Note: This post is intended for Indian readers & is with relevance to Indian mindsets & it’s conservative cultures. The same may not be true with reference to another nation.

Angel departed…

22 Sep
It was a time when life meant simple joys and fun. Introduced newly to the big bad world, it was a time when I had just joined college. Ever wary to make new freinds, i was always on my guard to give anybody an access to my private life. It had always been a strict: ‘Trespassers will be shot’ for anyone who dared coming anywhere close to my private den.
She must have been something, if I had decided to take her for my friend. It was Salma, a gawky looking, average IQed girl, with hairy arms, which was hard to miss. She  was not a girl who welcomed strangers with a warm hug either. What was unmissable was the fact that, even she was just as or more wary about unknown people as I was. This- I liked.
We bonded quickly, unusually quickly. I am still kind of surprised about how soon we became best friends. We enjoyed our times together at college. We had our share of misunderstandings, weird times together and other stuffs that normal college goers are supposed to experience. She used to come over to my place and we used to experiment with our culinary skills. Somehow, she used to like the noodles I prepared. It still surprises me now, cos I can never get my husband to say the same. Be it about my noodles or any other dish for that matter. Anyways, let’s cut to flash back again, when things are supposed to be visualised in either black & white or sepia.  I have always belonged to the technicolor era, so i suppose that makes me eligible for flash backs to be in the same color too. This choice, i leave it to you.
It was during one of those careless & carefree walks back from college (which was always half or quarter attended), when we stumbled upon an ill and a feeble looking pup. Being an animal lover from the time I can recollect, i knew i could not afford to ignore it. I looked around, making sure that we weren’t in for any surprise attack from its mother.I petted the little one on its head, as Salma looked on, unaffected by the whole scene. The tiny one was so taken in to me, that it decided it was best to follow me. I tried to lure it away, so it would remain in the place where it belonged. But it was as determined as ever. Since we weren’t far from my home either, i decided not to send the pup away too. This pup, Dinky, as christened by another ‘dog lover’ aunty in our gully (I wasn’t very happy over the choice of name, ‘cos i felt it could have been something better, more funkier), decided to make our street, it’s abode. Not that anyone complained about it. She, in fact, was everybody’s darling, a sweetheart with the kids especially. She was like this foster mother to all the kids in our street. Her warmth actually made the temperature in our street go up a few degrees. Jokes aside, but that was how she was. A real treat to be around with.

Love- in its purest form

Both Salma & myself became very close to Dinky. Salma who always very intimidated and wary around dogs, soon found herself shedding all her inhibitions. She learnt how to pet her, call her and treat her. Salma, I knew, had now taken her first step towards understanding bliss.
Dinky used follow us around, no matter where we went. She was like the little lamb that Mary had. Only, here, there were two Marys. Time flew past, like lightening on a typical rainy day. Dinky grew from a tiny, helpless pup to a good looking teenager, i mean, whatever that age is, according to ‘Dog age’. Many dogs from our neighboring streets found themselves hopelessly in love with our little miss sunshine. She paid no attention to all her longing suitors as she followed us around, much to their disappointment of course!
Dinky was there by us no matter what time in the day it was. She patiently waited by us as we waited for our bus to drop us off at our college. We never paused to acknowledge her for keeping us company, as we were too engrossed in chatting with each other on all the silly stuffs about college and the rumors that do round in it. There were times when we were at an all time low in our personal lives, and we found solace in Dinky. She was there to listen, to understand, to comfort.
Salma was heart broken when her boyfriend cheated on her. She narrated how she felt bout it to me, and Dinky who sitting with us then, seemed to understand all that Salma was telling. Dinky, who used to constantly & sometimes forcibly, make us play around with her, by letting out short ‘fun yelps’ and performing some kind of ceremonial ‘let’s play’ dance in front us; that day preferred to keep calm, as if in pain ‘cos her loved ones were in too. Fun was surely the last thing on her mind, or rather did not even feature in her mind that day. Salma subconsciously decided to sit on the floor in order to make herself more comfortable, while going on bout her painful experience in love. Dinky who was on the floor feigning slumber as she heard us, walked up from her place to Salma, and licked her hand. She looked at her for one long moment as if to say ‘ I understand how you’re feeling honey’ and then put her head into Salma’s lap and let it remain there. Salma did indeed feel comforted by Dinky’s loving gesture. She quoted again, what was already quoted by I don’t know who- ‘ the more i understand men, the more i love my dogs’  One look from her chocolate brown eyes, and it was enough to make things appear better. Her eyes used to communicate stuffs that were beyond our comprehension then. She was our pillar of strength. She was our best friend. She understood, loved and cared for us like nobody ever could. Under her love & care, Salma’s broken heart was nursed back to the best of its health. There were no scars of any breakage or damage anywhere to her heart.
All the three of us shared a very warm bond. Dinky saw us grow from happy -go- lucky teenagers to marriable women. It was Salma to get married first. No sooner did she get married, she flew away to UAE. Her visits to India were very minimal. She now has a family of her own and a kid about who’s welfare she’s always engrossed & pre occupied about. We exchange occasional pleasantries online. Our phone calls over which our dads once used to fret & worry over, thinking they might have to sell off their assets to pay the telephone bills, are now limited to a call per few months or half yearly. It was my turn next to get married. And my marriage meant moving out of my street, to make my husband’s home my new abode. And moving out from my parent’s home meant, moving away from my beloveds and in this list featured Dinky too. Moving away from my parents & sis dint hurt me much, as they knew & understood that this was the way of the world. They knew I’d be far, in terms of distance, but not really ‘far’ from them…
But Dinky wouldn’t know where I’d gone, why she got to see so little of me suddenly or sometimes even very occasionally. Her troubled mind began troubling her body too. She was not a young adult that she was anymore, she was nearing the call of the dust. It pained me that I was not there for her, by her, when she needed me the most. When her health was not as good as it used be, when she was down on her energy levels, when she found it difficult to stand up on her age-worn legs. I could see the depression & sadness in her eyes, the pain in her eyes caused by this sudden separation, distance between us.
But, life had to go on and it went on for all three of us.
Whenever, I visited my mom’s place, I could easily see her health in deterioration. I could see her ears and eyes were failing her. There was a time when she’d know I was close to home, even though I was many streets away from home. But now, it took her several minutes to realise I had come visiting, that i was only a few footsteps away from her. It pained me when i would call out to her & she would not hear me. I could see her continue to gaze into nothing even as i called out to her, I could see that her hearing was now failing her, her senses were now gradually deserting her… Still, after she’d realise it was me, her reception would be as warm as it always used to be. It only used to be a little more passionate than before, for she would vent out all the unshown love for me, that was suppressed inside her for a long time.
That day, ranks in the list of my top most saddening days. I had visited my mom’s place. We chatted for a long time and it was a happy ‘chat together’ time that we had. I was about to leave from there when I received a call from that dog loving aunty who had christened Dinky. As I was about to leave, I decided to take that call later. My mom, curious as ever, wanted to know who’s call I had just avoided. When she learnt who the caller was, it reminded her to inform me about something. Something that would tremble the ground beneath my feet, something that would send my head reeling at an unknown/unheard of  speed. She told me that Dinky had passed away a fortninght ago… Now I knew, why my street had felt colder than usual. It was because, the warmth in it was gone. Gone forever.
After hearing to that news, I didn’t know how I reached my hubby’s car that was waiting by the corner of my street. I had difficulty in seeing clearly. I realised my eyes were filled with tears. I could not think of anything but for Dinky, her adorable face, her eyes that spoke ten thousand words & all of them decipherable! her unending happy tail wags on seeing me; her warm, wet licks that made you feel so wanted, so loved, so cared for; her angry, protective growls & snarls when she noticed any stranger approach me (i.e stranger to her)… These now, were only memories. Memories, that charred your heart, memories that stabbed your charred heart… She was gone. She was alone, when she left for her heavenly journey. Her friends who were the center of her universe, were not with her when she died. She died a lonely death. An irony. The one who never made us feel lonely even for a second, died all alone, with no one to comfort her troubled thoughts. I’d bet my heart & soul, that I would have been the last thought in her mind before her heart froze… I turned around to look at the street I was walking away from, the memories I was walking away from. I could see Dinky in my mind, in her hey days, galloping her way to reach me as fast as she could, as if she was participating in an Olympic sprint that would fetch her multiple golds if she won… She did win. She won the race, the race to my heart, she won my heart. She’d be in there forever, her memories locked up and its keys thrown off into outer space. She had made me feel special, made my life worth living, she was my confidential diary. Now she had left us all, to find peace. I can never repay in this life, for all that she was to me. My heart ached as I boarded my husband’s waiting car. He looked at me, concerned, for my face had clearly given away what my heart felt… I told him the reason for my sadness. After much failed attempts at comforting me, he said I was being too emotional & sentimental, that I was tooo attached to one dog. I did not feel bad for what he said, because I knew nobody could understand a dog’s love, unless they experienced it first hand. If not, then, to them, a dog is just an animal that bares its canine teeth at the drop of a hat or an animal that has no control over its wagging tail!
That night, I dreamt of Dinky. In my dream, it was a starry night & she sat besides me. She was that young, bubbly Dinky, nudging me with her nose to play with her, she pushed me down to the ground with her weight & licked my face warm…When I quickly woke up from my dream, I actually felt my cheeks wet and warm!! I don’t know if was the hot & humid Asian weather or Dinky. You know what I’d prefer to believe. If you don’t, then go get yourself a dog, or preferably adopt one of those tiny, button eyed pups that you easily find on the streets. You’d not only be saving their lives from prospective road accidents but, you’d also be saving your own soul too…
‘If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went…’
Keep a secret: Salma doesn’t know that Dinky passed away. I’ve saved her a heart ache, I’ve kept this to myself. She’d find it hard to digest this fact, as she already owes her one big one for repairing her broken heart once before…
(Dinky, Jimmy, Drumpy, Kolanji & other darlings: This one was for you all…)

Photo courtesy: Achala Paani

Networking with other bloggers- why is it important?

7 Sep

Networking with other bloggers also helps you to stay updated about the latest happenings in the world of blogging. Not just that, you can also make your online profile stronger, thereby helping you to monetize better. Having a well designed website or a well composed blog of your own and keeping it to yourself has never won viewers or clicks. What really matters is how this website or blog of yours is useful to others. Forming a mutually benefiting relationship is what successful blogging is all about.

Forming a mutually benefiting relationship is what successful blogging is all about.

With all that said, let us see how we can go about it, how can we network better and make new connections with other bloggers and authors.

Respond to links

This is one of the best ways to grab attention for yourself and redirect it to your blog. Whenever you stumble upon any referrals from a site, be sure to respond to them. You never know who might be looking into them and how important that person may be. However, the traffic scale of the blog also matters, therefore be sure to link a blog that it closest to your own. This way of responding, helps more people looking into your blog and thus benefit from it.

Guest Blog more often

Remember, guest blogging is an opportunity to prove your skills as an effective blogger. Effective blogger is someone with very good language and an ability to write effectively. A good blogger must be able to expresses their view better. You should attempt guest blogging only if you’re confident about your quality writing abilities, else a poor post could do more damage than not hav ing written any at all. Quality, witty, well written and helpful posts attract long term friendships in the blogger’s world. Should your post be of help to anybody, then the purpose of posting it is served. It’s a give and take policy and more often than not, be sure to get your help rewarded.

Get active on social networking sites

This is another sure shot way of getting noticed. Follow your favorite blogger on their networking sites, be it Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other for that matter, and be active! Merely following someone won’t get you the attention or the friendship that you seek. It needs patience and hard work. ‘Like’ or comment on their posts on Facebook and tweet and re tweet their tweets on Twitter. The more active you are the higher would be the chances of the blogger taking notice of you. Don’t let them forget you and with constant, continuous activity on these networking sites you can ensure just that.

Earn your blogger’s respect

The easiest way to earn the respect of your favorite blogger is by being of help to him. Help him get more attention and clicks to his/her blog. By working in an intelligent and a positive way, you can make sure their site or blog becomes noticed. By making constructive, useful comments and by helping to negate the destructive or harmful comments, chances are high, that the blogger will notice you and who knows might even view you as their savior! This blogger would never ignore an email from you, because he now recognizes you. This way you can very tactfully build a constructive and a mutually benefiting relationship with other bloggers you admire.

Be genuine

Lastly and most importantly, be genuine. Do not comment on blogs just for the heck of it. Make sure your posts have some meaning and quality to it. Avoid flattering which is the worst thing you could ever do a blogger. Bloggers are smart enough to see through your intentions when you flatter them and won’t ever take you seriously. Just like how all relationships work, be sincere, honest and respect the other person. Such people would be treasured forever. By being genuine, you’ll also earn the blogger’s respect in return.

With these tips you are now ready to start networking, socializing on the web and building relationships that last a life time. Happy networking!

How to ensure cottage safety for your pet

7 Sep

Warm weather makes us want to set out. Set out to cooler places and enjoy outdoors. It is that time of the year, when families head out for the cottage. Since this set up does not even remotely resemble your urban environment, it calls for a utmost pet safety precautions from your end if your planning on taking your pet along. Your pets are not very different from kids. Both are extremely curious, inquisitive and famously known to get into trouble of all kinds. By being aware of all the things that can cause to get your pet into trouble, only helps in avoiding them and ensures an uneventful stay at the cottage, both for you and for your furred companion.

Pet safety & you
Pets, like children, can device innovative ways of getting into trouble.

Here are some important safety measures that you would want to take before embarking on your journey to the cottage:

1. The travel

First things first, make sure that your pet is securely strapped onto a seat belt or is being kept in those special carriers made exclusively for pet transportation, when driving to your destination. Ensure the temperature inside the car maintained at all times & is pet friendly by turning on the air conditioner when needed. Never ever leave your pet locked up inside your car with windows closed or even partially open because it can only be a matter of some minutes before your beloved pet collapses out of suffocation or heatstroke.

By feeding your pet with a light meal at least 3-4 hours in advance before the journey will help in preventing car sickness. Also, give your pet some respite from traveling continuously for long hours by pausing for a break every 2 to 4 hours. This break can be used to give it some time to flex its muscles, stretch itself, exercise and to attend the call of the nature. You can carry a litter box, in case of cats.

All the while make sure that the leash is securely fastened to your pet’s collar. Since pets are basically curious & still retain a part in them that is wild, it won’t be long before you find your pet chase a wild hare or a turkey and then loose its way to your car or worse, get hit by another vehicle. Leashing them therefore helps in preventing such uncalled for tragedies & accidental escapes to a large extent, especially if you are a parent to a very naughty pet.

Another important precaution that you need take regarding your pet’s safety is by ensuring that it does not stick its head out of the window. A sudden brake or debris is all it takes to cause it some serious injuries. Last but not the least, try and be sensitive to your travel companion by not blaring the speakers of car and by keeping the volumes moderate, since dogs’ and cats’ hearing are several times higher than our own.

2. Limit your pet’s freedom

You might think as to what better place than the cottage to let your pets loose and allow them some fun and frolic. Wrong! This in fact, is a place where you need to be more guarded about your pet’s freedom than ever before. Never forget the fact that this place is alien and unfamiliar to your pet.

Letting them loose in an environment like this, is like inviting trouble with a red carpet. Chances of your pet getting lost or hit by a passing vehicle are mighty. Your pet might even become an unfortunate victim of territorial dog fights. Having your pet microchipped therefore is a very good idea. Keep the contact details of local animal shelters in & around your cottage area handy.

3. A healthy pet is a happy pet

Before leaving for the cottage, ensure that your pet does not have any of its vaccinations due, especially against deadly diseases like Rabies or CD (Canine Distemper), both of which can prove fatal to your beloved pet. It should also be safeguarded against tick or flea infestation. Your veterinarian should be able to help you regarding the medications available in preventing lice and flea attacks on your pet when outdoors.

Never bring an ailing pet along with you to the cottage. Have someone take care of your pet while your away, for a travel to a new place can be traumatizing to the poor animal. In any case, keep the phone number of a veterinarian close to your cottage area, handy at all times in case of any unforeseen emergencies.

4. Water and pets

A nice water body is synonymous with fun. Boating, swimming etc., are some of the water sports that we all enjoy immensely and therefore want our pets to enjoy them too. But then, water safety is not limited to us alone, it should be extended to our furred friends too. Get them a pet life jacket, for you don’t want to lose them to an otherwise easily avoidable water accident. Life jackets are called that way for a reason, and that is because- it protects, protects life. It also helps your pet against the fatal ‘hypothermia’ in cold & frigid waters. Here are some things to watch out for:

a. Never let your dog into the water with its leash or chain still on, for these can get entangled to hidden obstacles under water like water weeds, rocks, debris etc.

b. Running or moving water can be dangerous to your pet. The large quantities of flowing water will make it difficult for your pet to swim against its current.

c. Check the temperature of the water. Very cold water can cause hypothermia to your pet, which if untreated swiftly can result in the tragic loss of your pet.

d. Keep a tab on your pet’s energy levels when it is in the water. Get him out of the water the moment you notice a drop in its energy levels, because the chances of a tired dog drowning to its death are higher than you thought.

5. Safeguard your pets against other wild animals and vice versa

You are responsible for your pets and their actions. Care should be taken at all times to ensure that your pet does not harass or attack vulnerable wild animals like ground nesting birds, hares etc. since they are very vulnerable around this time of the year, busy raising their young ones. Your pet can prove to be quite a menace to such animals. You should therefore take care that your pet does not cause any injury to wild animals and birds. Practice a ‘live and let live’ lifestyle when in places like these, esp. with other wildlife around you.

You also need to protect your own pet from more dangerous wildlife like bears, porcupines, skunks. A chance meeting with with these animals can prove to be a fatal or a painful experience to your pet. There are also chances of your pet contacting contagious diseases like rabies etc. from other animals in the area. Keeping your pet indoors and/or on a leash at all times would therefore save you all this trouble.

Rune: as the moon sets…

7 Sep
a dream pleasant, of love & togetherness- gone upon waking,
a dream conceived with silent tears, tears of hopes-happy,
each night a hope is drowned, each night a heart is charred
everyday, a memory- fond’s shattered, and
everyday only takes us away farther
a new dawn sows new hopes,
& every new sunrise awaits a night-happy

each midnight a fear creeps in, a fear of separation- eternal,
fear of becoming strangers again
a silent tear falls into the darkness,
for some tears remain unseen,
unseen by others and unseen as the heart wails,
wails like a just born

pain of a dagger buried deep in the heart,
the dagger of abandonment, of love and it’s symbol alike,
of promises made & words of honor
from foes turned friends, to friends turned lovers,
to lovers turned spouses, to spouses turned foes,
a love gone sour, a love gone bitter,
the mute heart has seen it all, the helpless heart has felt it all

everyday the heart sinks further, into the abyss of sorrow & pain,
for each day was never a night- happy
the soul’s deprived, deprived of love’s snuggle & embrace,
left by itself in a desert brazen, lies my soul in me, waiting for a

comforting soak, a soak called love…

some hearts break silently, unheard
in that some, is mine too,
for each night it breaks in silence, for each night was not a night-happy
everyday takes me away from you, &
everyday takes you away from me,
everyday a heart’s broken & everyday a soul’s killed

in deprivation, hope finds a way,
in callousness, love finds a way,
in the jaws of death, shall life find a way,
cos each new day without you, only makes me stronger,
and only helps me move on

each night a silent prayer is whispered,

a prayer in which love features,
each prayer seeks your well being & happiness
a prayer where none of this are heard by none,
for each night was not a happy night,
a night that the heart craved- of comfort & solace.
but love is still love, for with every new sunrise,
it continues to sow hopes, hopes for a happy night, hopes for a romance
revived.

Puppy Mills: The hellish tale

7 Sep

The joy of bringing home a puppy is something that can never be described in words. Since time immemorial, man’s best friend has proved us time and again as to why it is called that way. By bringing home a puppy, we are bringing home a baby animal which will soon be a part of our family. Undying love, loyalty, affection, companionship and security are some other things that you’d be getting along with your puppy.

puppy hell?

Now that you have decided to get home a furred friend, it’s important from where you get them. Never buy your pet from a commercial breeder or a puppy farm. These ‘puppy farms’ are also called and often referred to as ‘puppy mills’ by animal lovers because of the inhuman treatment meted out to these loving animals. Here are some facts & reasons why you should never encourage nor buy from puppy mills:

1. Inhuman breeding conditions

Puppies are bred or rather harvested only for commercial purpose and for profits with little or no thoughts about the animals’ welfare and well being. Dogs are housed in filthy cages with no sanitary facilities. They are often forced to sleep on their own excrement. Some breeders, for easy clean up of wastes, keep them in cages that have a wired floor. This type of a flooring cause serious wounds to the dog’s paws and legs. To make matters worse, several dogs are kept in a single cage making them overcrowded. There is no proper food, clean drinking water or even veterinary care given to these poor animals. In several cases, the breeders do not even bother to remove a dead puppy from the same cage where other puppies are housed. This increases the chances of infection and other diseases for the other living animals. When once the breeder dog has attained the age of four, they are killed because the breeders feel that the dog is of no use to them any more.

2. Rough treatment

This goes without saying. Now that we know how and why dogs are bred at these hellish puppy farms, one can never imagine a breeder loving, fondling and caring for his dogs. The lives of the dogs here are god forsaken. Puppies are pulled away from their mothers at a very tender age, resulting in trauma for both the mother and her puppies. They are then packed and parceled in crates as if they were vegetables and sometimes made to travel several hundred miles without proper ventilation, food, water and care. Many puppies die out of sheer exhaustion and suffocation even before they reach their destination. The transporters rarely handle these babies with care, and therefore these poor pups are deprived of all the love and care that is needed for them to become good companions for humans. Since dogs that have been bred this way, have never had a glimpse of love and care, they often develop behavioral issues like barking and snarling, become suspicious towards human beings, not trust humans (thanks to what they have seen of them) etc.

3. Health issues

Dogs at these mills are bred under extreme unsanitary conditions, where their fecal matters and excrement are never cleaned or not cleaned regularly. This being the case, these animals are harassed by flies, maggots and even rodents. Since rodents can also be carriers of several deadly diseases, chances are mighty that they may infect the dogs too. Adding to the woes are the facts that these dogs are neither given proper vaccinations nor are they protected against other dangers like lice and flea infestation. The cages that house these dogs are rarely made of solid surfaces and have wired floors. The tiny legs of puppies often get trapped in between these wires and result in some serious injuries to their legs. In some cases the wounds have been so grave, that it called for amputation. Since not many want a handicapped pup for a pet, such unfortunate puppies are done away with by means of killing (which is again extremely inhuman). Dogs bought from these places are also prone to developing respiratory problems, pneumonia and other hereditary defects such as hip dysplasia, later in their lives.

4. Purebreds

Most dogs bought from a puppy mill are bound to have behavioral and temperamental issues. Breeders falsely claim that their dogs are purebreds. With indiscriminate breeding practices prevailing at these puppy mills that do not facilitate a pure breeding, chances are high that your dog may not be a purebred. Puppies are bred by the quantity and not quality, often overlooking the genetic & personality disorders. The breeders never take into consideration the temperament of the breeding dogs, which is very important in having good puppies with no behavioral issues. Breeders often fool and trick the buyers by talking about ‘papers’ and ‘registration’ of a dog, whereas in reality, all these papers are of no use at all, except in housebreaking your dog.

5. Call for action

Do your bit in eradicating the puppy mill menace by never ever buying pets from these barbaric breeders. There are thousands of abandoned dogs, puppies and cats that are euthanized in animal shelters every year, because they found nobody to care for them and give them a home. Adopt them instead of buying from puppy mills. The more the demand for pups from puppy mills, the more these industries thrive. Break this vicious cycle of pain, misery & death by adopting a homeless animal and you would have done a very noble deed indeed. Adopting is also a feel good factor, because you know that you have given an abandoned animal, a family and home to call its own; and that you have not contributed towards cruelty of any sort. Remember, by buying a pet from a pet store, you are actually contributing to the hell like industry with no conscience or ethics.

Rune: Little teacher in the wall

7 Sep
looked as i out of my window, i saw it there
high up, in the crevice of a wall very old
with five or four or three leaves was a plant very tiny
roots that dwelled nowhere, with lashes from the weather mighty,
food so little, leaves so brittle, with stem so fragile, stood my plant
brave tiny plant- thought i, won’t last another day- thought i
night that day was furious, with rain & storm as its friends,
strong was the wind that swept the city blind.
night so dark, night so windy, night so wet and night so scary
took i refuge in my blanket, as every thunder made me shudder,
slept finally did i, got up only the morning next
peeped i out of my window, to cast a look at the little fellow
too bad it’d be gone, too sad it’d be gone,
that gone it would have- i knew too well
a weather so bad, it would not have survived
i had seen it everyday, i had seen it before i slept
but different was my morning today, & it was that way for the plant too…
unbelievable was what i saw, incredible was the sight i saw!
a flower in the plant’s bosom, nestled there in full blossom
glorious it was in bright red, victorious it was on the rocky bed,
and it seemed smiling at the world so dead
in its language it told me much, in its bloom it taught me much
my tiny plant showed me how to stand, showed how to endure
complain not nor cry it said, find peace in adversity, it told
smile at trouble, bloom in challenges
and break not nor bend at problems too big
in lonely suffer thee, but make many smile around you
at my brave friend, i smiled and
thanked it did i for a lesson well received
changed person was i, & changed was my outlook
more colorful appeared life, more acceptable appeared problems
for i had learnt to bloom, to give worries no room
i learnt all this and much more,
from my tiny teacher in the rocky walls.

a flower in the plant’s bosom, nestled there in full blossom…

Giving smart shopping lessons to kids

7 Sep

smart kids shop smart!

You might wonder what a kid has to do with shopping. The truth is, it has! The art of shopping and shopping wisely should be taught to kids as early as possible. Shopping is something that all kids will do sooner or later in their lives. The more well taught they are about shopping, the better shoppers they are bound to become. In order to successfully download the art of wise shopping to your kids, here are a few simple but very effective steps.

 

1. Take your kid for shopping often

Most parents agree that tagging their kids along for shopping can be a real pain, because they will have to put up with their pleas, whines and whimpers throughout the shopping ordeal. The best they feel is to therefore, leave the kids behind while they can go about their shopping in peace and tranquility. But the truth is, this is the most disastrous thing to do. Taking your kids along for shopping, whatever may be the nature of it, say food, groceries, electronic, automobiles, etc., helps sensitize the kids towards the art of shopping smart from an early age. When they accompany you for shopping they get to experience first hand on how to go about shopping, how to bargain, how to do a thorough market research before settling to buy something.

2. Get them to indulge in the whole shopping experience

By taking your kids for shopping, you will actually be teaching them how to shop without your knowledge. As kids are extremely curious, they keenly observe how you shop and absorb all that knowledge. Getting them to participate in the whole shopping experience helps them to become better shoppers themselves. Give them little tasks like fetching the brand you’re looking for in a mall. This will not only take care of their excitement and inquisitiveness but also make them more aware of the ‘buys’ and ‘not to buys’ in the world of shopping. This also makes the whole shopping experience more memorable to them.

3. Prepare a ‘to-do’ list

Make a list of things to shop and give an excerpt of the list to your child. It may contain the list of stuffs that they would be particularly fond of shopping like their favorite cookies, dress, stationary etc. Doing this will help them focus, be attentive and also learn to prioritize things when shopping. In fact getting them to prepare their own lists before embarking on a shopping journey is an even better idea of teaching them the ways of shopping smart early.

4. Get your kids to compare the prices of various commodities

By getting your little one to compare the prices of various products and deciding which among those are a better buy and a value for money, you have imparted yet another very valuable lesson in shopping to them. Getting them to do this helps them in better decision making, hone their math skills and also realize the value of money. On the flip side of it, it saves your time from doing all the boring comparisons and mall research because your kid is not only doing all that for you but is also enjoying in doing so.

5. Teach them to read and understand labels

Your little ones should be taught to read and decipher product labels in terms of ingredients that has gone into the making of that product, number of pieces in a box, quantity etc., because you might not want a product made of leather or a food item that might contain gelatin or artificial flavors. When shopping for games or toys get them to check for stuffs like if the parts in that toy are non-toxic, if batteries come along with it or if it should be bought separately, etc. This helps them become more aware of the products they intend to buy and other related facts about it.

6. Take them shopping for big items too

Kids are known to pester and nag their parents to purchase that big car, TV, home theater, etc. Get your kids to do a homework about all those products, compare prices, specifications, features, etc., with the competitor’s brands and furnish that research work to you. You can then analyze their work and give them a feedback on their work accordingly. This enables them to develop that much needed confidence to tackle shopping for bigger, costlier products and also readies them for such shopping in the future.

7. Raise them to be good and polite customers

Teach your kids the importance of manners and respecting fellow human beings. Get them to be respectful and polite to all the sales people they come across when shopping by being that way yourself because kids learn by way of observing and imitating. Lead by example. Teach them to request and thank the sales person and not command them like they owned them. By teaching them this, you would also be indirectly contributing to raising a well mannered, compassionate and a civilized human being who knows to treat all human beings alike and with respect.

8. Make them plan their purchases in advance

By encouraging your kids to plan their purchases well in advance, you will be helping them to forecast. Spending a lot at one time can prove fatal to your wallet. Instead, purchasing in small amounts regularly would ensure that you do not feel the pinch of spending. Planning ahead would also help you be prepared to meet the expenses that your kid may come up with. Therefore, a good planning would always result in both happy parents and kids.

9. Help them make better choices when shopping

Tell and discuss with your children the importance of manufacturing products in different countries and how that might affect the quality and price of that particular product. Brief them about the labor laws and regulations governing import and export. With the download of these information you would be helping your kid decide if the product is worth its price or not.

10. Give them some pocket money and allow them its full ownership

Last but not the least, make sure you give your children some money by either making them earn for it or by entitling them to some amount at the start of every month and calling it ‘pocket money’. Let the kid decide what to do with it. Let them save or spend it or do a bit of both. Giving them some money to call it their own will make them more careful about how they spend it. This will also teach them not to get extravagant and help them understand that if they have emptied their pockets, then they don’t get to buy or shop anymore. It is another way of making them smart and money wise.

Ten best HR practices your organisation could benefit from

7 Sep

An HR is to an organization, what a mother is to a home

It is said that an HR Manager is to an organization, what a mother is to a home. The success of an organization therefore entirely depends on it’s human resources department and its prevailing practices. Gone are the days when human beings were treated on par with machines. Today employers have realized the need for human resource welfare in order to stay in business and to continue to grow. The more happier and well cared for is a company’s work force, the greater would be the company’s success. No organization has ever tasted success without a strong backing from it’s employees. An organization therefore, is not merely bricks, machines or inventories. It’s much more than that. It’s people.
One can never list out completely, all of the effective HR practices and claim to have listed it all, for the art of HR management is very complicate d and it’s abyss unreachable. Some of the effective HR practices have been listed below, although it’s only the tip of an iceberg:
1. Happy employees = Happy organisation

Workplace is an employees’ second home. By providing your employees with a safe, healthy and a hygienic work area, you ensure your employees are comfortable at all time. This reflects in the employees’ productivity. A complaining employee would be less interested in his job while a happy employee is well motivated to do his job well. It also gives the employees, a very positive image of the company and makes them feel that they are very well cared for thereby boosting their morale.
2. Practice transparent and participative management style

Keep your employees well informed on all the aspects of the company. Be it your sales figures, losses, new contracts & sign ups, company objectives and policies. This will make the employees feel t hat they are not working for a faceless employer. Sharing company information, employee participation and being transparent with the employees makes them think of the company as their own, for they know everything of the company including it’s health. They would therefore know what their goals and objectives are without being told. They would be self driven to achieve organizational goals together. This type of a management style goes a long way building employee trust, loyalty and helps in keeping them well motivated.
3. Reward good performances

By paying bonuses to employees who’s performance is very good, the company would be sending a very important message to its employees- that it’s employees are being watched and that a good performance never goes unnoticed or unrewarded. By rewarding an employee a company achieves two motives. Firstly, encouraging the good performer to perform even better by positively reinforcing his performance and secondly, by bringing about a healthy competition amongst other employees to strive and do better. This way both the company and it’s employees are mutually benefited.
4. The effective 360 degree performance feedback system

This is a system of feedback ensures that an employee gets his feedback not only from his superiors but also from his peers and even subordinates! This is a very effective feedback system and a lot of organizations have embraced it. Now, the employee should not only please his superior but also his subordinates in order to prove himself effective. He can use all the feedback that he receives for self development. This is a more reliable way of judging an employee’s overall performance, because the feedback that an employee receives is not a biased one that is received from just one person’s view of him.
5. Employee evaluation

The evaluation system of an organization should b e such that, it directly draws a link between an employee’s performance to the overall organizational goals and objectives. Job responsibilities and description should be very clear to all employees and so should be the reporting structure. Performance appraisal should be done after giving the employees regular counseling and feedback on their outputs. Comparing their past performances to the current performance helps bring out the difference or consistency in their productivity. Care should be taken to ensure that the means of evaluation is fair and unbiased. Feedback about a certain employee when given by both his immediate reporting manager and another manager who is also indirectly effected by this employee, will help in adding that much needed fairness to the system.
6. Exchange of knowledge

Have a storehouse of knowledge in your organization in the form of knowledge sharing portal created either by the company or by the employees themse lves. Having something like this avoids in recreating the wheel. The knowledge will be ready to look up and is especially a boon for a new employee. Sharing knowledge after attending a seminar or a skill enhancement training should be made mandatory for the employees. However, a portal like this should be well organized to avoid accumulation of clutter. Innovative and constructive ideas can be posted on these platforms so that the others could benefit out of it too.
7. Identify and appreciate performers

How would it be if good performers and bad ones were both treated alike? Over time, the good ones would soon cease to be good, because of the lack of motivation in continuing to be so. Therefore, employees who have been very good performers should be recognized and be made known to all the other employees too. Posting their achievements and feats with a picture of theirs in the company’s intranet, display boards helps in giving our performers their much needed motivation. Not only does this recognition and popularity encourage the performer to perform even better, but it also creates a healthy competitive environment within the organization. All the other employees and under performers would take up their jobs as a challenge so that they would be aptly rewarded and recognized for a job well done too.

8. Welcome great ideas and thoughts

Everybody would agree that it’s the people who make for an organization. Each individual is unique. Therefore, by pooling in all these people together and hearing out their ideas makes a company open for innovations. Open house discussions, brain storming, group discussions, suggestion boxes, meeting with the superiors etc., are all ways of getting those million dollar worth ideas out of employees. A successful organization always knows how to tap, nurture and execute a good idea.
9. The rewarding process

Re warding an employee in private is as good as not rewarding him at all. No one really gets to know that he was rewarded. On the other hand, by organizing a function where the best performers are awarded in the presence of a big crowd and the senior management has a huge impact on the employee’s self esteem and motivation. It makes him feel like a king. Therefore, how an employee is rewarded is as important as rewarding itself.
10. Give your employees some pleasant surprises

Occasionally reward your employees with a gift voucher or a ‘job well done’ certificate, just to keep their motivation going. Give small gifts to average performers too who are in need of that little extra motivation to make them top performers. By doing so, you show your employees that you really care about their performances and in their welfare.

Rune: Lament

7 Sep
What have you done O, Man?
explain yourself, what have you done?
plundered you have the rain forests and flushed out all the birds!
poisoned the oceans and suffocated my rivers divine!
What have you done O, Man?
What have you done to the only living planet?
butchered you have all the wilder beasts,
skinned you have the serpents and the young deer;
made your slave -the mighty leviathan & mammoths alike,
ribs and bones you pulled off the sabretooth, feathers off the gentle dove,
What have you done O, Man?
What have you done to my blue planet?
the gentle giants you killed, the rains you drove away,
stole the treasures from the ore, spilled oil on the shore,
hundred thousands lives you killed- accidents some,
hunting and poaching the others,
What have you done O, Man?
What have you done of my creation?
you turned ice into fire and caused burning fire to freeze,
magnificent mountains were swallowed, and made sweet waters spit venom,
the dense smog made all but you flee; flee to the brink of my planet,
you made my creations fall, what have you done O, Man?
what have you done to your fellow siblings?
slaughtered you have many in my name, i want not that ill fame,
feels not your kind, even an ounce of shame, as you set my blue gem on flame,
eaten you have the flesh, drank you have the blood of my children,
cursed you were by them as they withered and perished,
hell hath no fury like a helpless scorned, hell hath no fury like a mother & father scorned,
what have you done O, Man?
what have you done to the helpless?
the angels fled and so has the Satan-screaming that you are than him,
many times better at evil,
the flowers are gone, taking with them the honey bees, the dews have dried,
the mothers have cried, the children have died,
no melodies in the woods, no colored jewels in the seas, no paint splashes on the trees,
for there are no trees, no seas, no perfumed air…
you set my lands on fire, exploded flesh spiraling into the air, spilled blood all around,
vermilion’s favorite child you have become; cherished you have the color, so long,
there now is only blackness, blackness that has cursed you,
blackness that has blinded you,
blackness that has pained me,
what have you done O, Man?
what have you done to Me?
price expensive you will be made to pay, the hell will fall short of place,
torture will fear what you would undergo; pain shall shudder at what you will
endure…
punished you shall be for your callousness, your race will pay for the devastation by most,.
your kind i shall abstain from creation, your kind shall only face destruction,
awake O Man, awake from your insane slumber, awake before you wake in hell…

…as you set my blue gem on flame

Ten Mealtime etiquette for kids

7 Sep

Everybody loves a well mannered kid!

Nowadays, parents are barely left with any time for themselves, let alone for their kids. The situation only gets worse if both members are working. With this being the case, the kids these days are rarely taught about the much needed etiquette, be it on the table or on the phone. Parents realize its needed when they are at a social get together, when guests visit or when they visit a relative etc. Table manners are important etiquettes that need to be inculcated in kids. First, by teaching your kids some of the dos and don’ts for the dining table, you would be able to escape the embarrassment of having un-mannered kids. Second, kids who are taught table manners, have a more polished behavior and are a treat to the eyes of anyone who get to see them at the dining table. Children learn to be patient, to share, to behave when introduced to table etiquette. Teaching these things when the children are young helps in building personality and character.

 

To start with, here are 10 simple tips at meal time manners for kids:

1. Catch them young

Kids around the age of two are at ideal age to be introduced to the basic table manners. Teach them to request, to say thank you, and ask to be excused. Since kids at this age are too young to question the reason and importance of table manners, your job of teaching them these would be a lot simpler. When kids do this repeatedly, it becomes a habit which slowly transforms itself into an inseparable part of their personality when they grow up. You would be proud for having raised polished, decent, and extremely well mannered children.

2. Beware of silverware

The number of forks and spoons by your side of plate is likely to unnerve both young and the old. Not knowing what to use and when seems to be a common dilemma most people are in when at the table. Kids therefore are not very experts at these too. The simplest way to approach and curb this confusion is with the aid of math. The number of pieces of silverware corresponds with each course that is being served. For example, should you be given three forks, it should be understood that this most likely means that a salad, an entrée and dessert will be served.

3. Encourage the usage of napkin

Encourage kids to use the napkin by placing it on their laps. This will help them use it instead of using their hands to wipe their mouths with. This will add an air of sophistication and royalty to the kid’s personality. Also, teach them that they are only supposed to dab their mouths with the napkin and not smear it all over their face. Remind them that should not blow their nose or burp loudly when at the table, and then they would only be making all the others at the table want to flee.

4. Teach them to be patient

Make the kids learn the importance of waiting when at the table. Tell them that they are not wild animals to get into a wild frenzy the moment food is in sight. The journey of the food from the container to the kid’s plate should be a smooth one, without the kids pouncing on one another trying to grab their favorite dish and thereby making a mess of the whole table. They should be taught to wait until the dinner has been served to all and until the host/ hostess is seated. This is the most important niceties that separate your dining table from the African wild animals’ feeding ground.

5. Teach them to eat silently without making noise

Discourage your kids from speaking when they have a mouthful of food. Chomping loudly and eating noisily is perhaps the most disrespectful breach of table etiquettes. Let them know that people judge them about their upbringing by looking at the way they eat their food. It gives away most of the person’s traits like selfishness, vain headedness, aloofness, arrogance, etc.

6. Art of conversation

How would you like, if you were dining with a bunch of your close friends and your kid repeatedly interrupts you asking you to buy him that new toy that his classmate has? It can be extremely irritating to both you and your guests when kids trouble with all their tantrums. They should therefore be taught to wait their turn to converse when there are adults speaking at the table. It’s not that kids should munch on their food in total silence or something; it’s just that they need to know when they can talk so that they wouldn’t be interrupting the elders amidst their conversation.

7. Bring the food to your mouth and not the other way round

Kids must be encouraged to sit up straight, and bring the food to their mouth and not vice versa. Hungry kids can rarely resist food and they would go closer and closer to their plates so that they can quickly get to their dish. Since this would appear rather savage, dissuade them from doing so.

8. Having food the right way

Teach them things like tearing a piece of bread or biscuit off, butter the piece and eat that instead of shoving the entire biscuit into his mouth. When attempting to eat things that require a knife, keep the knife on the side of the plate in between bites. Proper etiquette encourages the resting of silverware on the plate from time to time.

9. Teach them the polite way to leave the table

Kids find their surroundings a lot more interesting than we adults and this usually happens when the entire family is dining together. Chances are always rife that kids might get bored with all the grown up conversations that’s happening around it and may therefore want to leave the table at the slightest pretext. That’s not a problem. Only how he leaves is what matters. Teach them to ask for excuse. A “may I be excused” makes them look like kids of blue blood.

10. Clear your table

Make your little kids understand that they haven’t done a favor to you by eating their food. They should be taught to help you clear the table and clean up the mess without being asked for it.

Everyone loves a well mannered kid and raising them that way makes them shine in a civilized world.

Ways to improve your business when the growth is slow

7 Sep

Business at snail’s pace

There is always that time in business when the growth is slow and things move at a slow pace. Most businessmen fret and panic when their businesses see this phase. What they fail to see is that this is the time, rather an opportunity to make improvements to their business, to make amendments, grow the existing network, review business strategies, chalk out new plans for sales, advertising and brand promotions, plan for diversification, and add new products and so on. So, what can be done and achieved when there is a lull in business?

Build contacts

This is the best and the most ideal time to socialize and grow your network. You never know who you may stumble across and how they might be a positive infl uence to your business. Your potential customer might be just around the corner. Try and attend as many networking events, get together, corporate conferences as you can and make new contacts. Be honest and genuine when you come across people and try to make their acquaintance with you as memorable as possible.

Seal the new professional relationship with the aid of ‘follow-up’

Just a chance meet with someone has never really done much good to any business. It all depends on how one changes that chance meet into something that is mutually benefiting, is what doing business is all about. This calls for timely follow-ups. By doing so, you are ensuring you remain in their memory, and so, whenever arises a need for something that you deal in, you would be the first person to crop up in their minds.

Get active on social networking sites

With almost half the population being on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc., these networking sites are a right place to grow your contacts. People who you may have chanced upon in a business meet or events might be there on any of these sites. Trace them and get them to join your network. Chances are, from them you may come across many more contacts that might really be of help to you. Invite your existing friends and business partners to join these networks, in case they already aren’t on any. This way you can keep growing your contact base.

Grow your products and services

Innovation, creativity, and thinking out of the box have always played key roles in getting a business to bounce back in action. This period is best suited for diversification, because it helps you taste success from different streams. It also works on the ‘ do not put all your eggs in one basket’ rule. Sticking to just one product can be suicidal especially when the growth is slow. If this product dies, then so would your business! However, if you choose to diversify, you may have another product to bail you out, in case one betrays you. Diversification therefore is the smartest thing to indulge in during trying times like these.

Strengthen your existing customer base

Show your customer what they mean to you. Thank and reward them for their loyalty by offering your customers of long standing, special rebates and discounts. This will ensure they continue to be by you. Improve your customer service. Not tending to your customers on time, especially during times like these, can prove fatal to the health of your business. Remember, it’s the customers who can both make or break a business.

Get your marketing folks to pull up their socks and get to work

It might sound contradictory to focus on marketing when the times are slow. But, this is indeed the department that should get to work at the slightest available opportunity, because you now would be needing more customers and it’s precisely during times like these that you would be needing new customers in order to survive the phase of lull.

Brush up and add to your own skills

It’s not just the business that you need to be concentrating on during a time like this, but also take time out to improve your own self, in terms of your skill sets. Add new feathers to your cap. Enroll for some course that compliments your career. For instance, if you happen to be an HR professional, you might want to take up a certification course in psychometric tests. This would add to your skills and bring more weightage to your profile.

Organize and make necessary purchases

Use this time to re-organize, re-design your place of work. Clear all the clutter and unwanted stuffs from your office and check if there is any scope for beautification of the office premises. You could also indulge in that long pending shopping for your office like purchasing a more efficient office desk & chairs, new systems or a mac system.

Be patient and positive

Always remember that this too shall pass and that this is only a temporary phase. Losing hope and courage can only multiply your woes. Instead, by looking at the whole thing with a positive perspective, you can not only emerge victorious from the cocoon of lull, but also take to the skies and scale new heights like a just emerged bright butterfly. By looking at this phase like an opportunity t o grow and make innovations, rather than a depressing time, you will be able to take your business to new heights that it hadn’t been before the lull!

By being patient, positive and hardworking, no period of inactivity in business, should either bother or threaten you. Being able to look into the eye of a problem is what it takes to defeat it and destroy it like it never existed.

My journey

6 Sep
I woke up when I heard my other friends crowing. Ah, it was morning, another new day. I got up from my place and unruffled my feathers. I spent a long time preening & polishing my feathers clean. You can call me Narcissistic but, I could not help it. I simply could not bear to see my white feathers with even a small speck of dirt over them. I would spend several hours admiring my snow white, fluffy feathers.
After I was done with my cleaning, I looked around for food. I was hungry & starved. The others around me were equally hungry too. The sun rose higher up into the sky and we are directly in the way of his scorching heat.  Since our enclosure was made of iron, the metal got heated up due to the sun’s direct unfailing rays. All of us huddled together hoping to avoid some direct angry rays. But sadly, the ones in the front of the row, had little or no escape from it.
Though I despised the idea of being so close to another one of my kind, the reason being my squeaky clean feathers would get soiled with too much proximity with other, i had no choice. If I didn’t, the sun would scorched me alive. The very thought of it scared me. I quickly found a place next to my brother and settled with him. I always felt so secure with him. Our hunger only added  more weight to our discomfort. Tired, hungry and with throats parched we all prayed for some wet clouds to wrap the angry sun. Our prayers were unanswered. Maybe, we dint pray hard enough, I’d prefer to believe.
It was not until late afternoon, did our caretaker finally showed us some food. Hungry as we all were, it was a stampede to the food tray. I did not want to fight the crowd, cos my feathers were too precious for me. I did not mind missing a day’s food if that was what it took to keep my feathers snowy white. I patiently watched as everyone of them ate & for the feeding frenzy to calm down. When I felt it had, I decided to make my way to the tray. How I wish each one of us had separate feeding bowls! I agreed that it was too much to ask for as there were more than five hundreds of us. Providing each one with a tray would be an expensive affair for my caretaker. I was very fond of my caretaker, whom I heard others call him as Maanja. He was the one who provided food to us everyday. I was only three months old into this planet and i was quite happy with the way my life was going. Eating, feeding & preening topped my list of activities in a given day.
One morning, I was rudely jerked out of my sleep. It was too early, I could say, because the sun was only barely rising up the horizon and my brother & friends had not crowed. We fowls have an instinctive way of knowing when it’s morning. The lights in our enclosure was suddenly turned on. It hurt our eyes as we tried to see & figure out what was going on. There was a truck that was standing next to our enclosure. My caretaker Maanja was there talking to its driver. I was always so happy on seeing him. Maanja meant food. Maanja meant, our starvation was gone.  We’d always wait eagerly for him to arrive and replenish our empty food tray. We always wished him good for the food that he gave us.
And then suddenly, Maanja opened the door of our enclosure and began picking each one of us and started flinging them into the waiting truck. The truck driver caught the ones he flung and stuffed them into number of smaller cages. I was taken aback. How can my Maanja, yes, the same Maanja who fed us everyday, handle us so callously? He picked each one by their wings and threw them into the truck as if we were vegetables, maybe cabbages. He threw us as if we had no life, as if no bones cracked inside us, when landed with a thud into the truck; as if we had no feathers that would painfully come off , when he caught us by our wings and hurled us into the dirty truck, as if the skin that would peel off our fragile legs when went reeling on the truck floor dint hurt us & take our breaths away with its pain. I could not believe that it was my Maanja who caused pain to friends. I snuggled to my brother in the far corner of my enclosure so that Maanja’s hands would not be able to reach to us. I was wrong. I was wishfully thinking. As I put up a fight to avoid getting caught by Maanja, it was my brother who got caught first, since, he was the more gentle one of the two of us. I was horrified as Maanja caught my brother by his wings and threw into the truck. My brother landed on one of those rusty cages that were in the truck and broke his wing & a leg. It began bleeding. I could not bring myself to believe what I just saw. I saw my brother, withering in pain. He could not stand up on his feet due to the pain that was caused by a fractured wing bone & a broken leg. As I continued watching dumbfounded, the truck driver, picked my brother by his wings and put him in a cage where there was barely any space for five of us. In this cage, there were already nine of them and he pushed my brother into that cage. I could see my brother in pain, he was choking in pain. His broken wing was badly folded and the tight cage door over him, gave him no chance to make himself comfortable and to rearrange his wing. His eyes clearly showed the pain he felt. He was having difficulty in breathing too. My heart ached. It was as if a poisoned dagger was being repeatedly pierced through it, each time I saw my brother that way.
Maanja now reached for me. This time I did not fight. I did not feel like fighting, like escaping. I had no reason to be fighting for. I surrendered to his painful clasp around me. His tight hold around me made me feel as if my heart would burst out of my chest and fall down on the sandy ground below. I wonder, why dint hold me by my wings too. He then flung me to the truck driver who thankfully caught me, but caught me by my wings. That hurt so bad, I wanted to scream, i wanted to claw out that man’s eyes from the sockets that held them.
He then crushed me into those over crowded cages. I could not even turn my head around. My neck hurt badly as it was positioned in a very uncomfortable way. I wanted to move but I could not. I felt sorry for my friends over whom I was, because I knew, too surely that, they were suffocated. I wondered how long I had to endure this discomfort. I moved my eyeballs around to find my brother’s cage. I saw him, his eyes were half closed, his head hung out from one of the railings of the cage. I dint know what happened to him. I tried cooing to him, but my coos were lost in all those strange sounds around me. Everybody were giving out distressed calls. My call was not special in any way, so that it could stand out from the rest of the voices and sounds. My brother could not hear me…
The truck began moving and I dint know where we began our journey to. I looked at my Maanja for one last time in my life, confused and with a hundred questions in my eyes, none of which he seemed to understand.
I hoped our destination would release us from all this pain and discomfort, that me and my brother would be together again. I kept looking at my brother’s face. I wanted to go to him, snuggle up to him, make him feel comfortable and do what I could to ease his pain. But, I could not, all I could do was watch over him… I watched him as if my gaze had a power to heal. I could never look away from him. I yearned, I longed to be by him…
And then, there a sudden jerk to the truck. And that jerk was so powerful that it shoved several cages aside. When I gathered myself to lock eyes on my brother again, his cage was gone. I could not see where it went. I tried moving my eyeballs to all corners (as i could not move my head) to see if he was there. When my rolled my eyes downwards, I saw something that made me want to die that very instant! I saw that my brother’s cage that was kept on top of another cage had crashed down to the floor of the truck due to the sudden jerk and it had turned turtle. I instantly knew what that meant. My brother’s head that had hung out of the cage was crushed. The weight of other birds around him would have snapped many bones in his neck! That was the last night my brother lived before his life was cut short in the most painful way.
I was wrong about this and how?,  I was about to realize it soon. Realize, that there were more painful stuffs that could happen . I did not want to live another day after what I saw. Memories of our times together haunted me. The warmth that I felt under his wings, that was now broken, were some of the best times of my life. When the truck finally stopped, the driver began moving all the cages to the ground. He was no gentle this time either. He began throwing the rusty cages that held us captive, on to the ground, which acted little as a shock absorber. One by one he began flinging the cages on top of another. I did not want to see my brother’s cage. When I knew the driver was now holding my brother’s cage, I cooed, hoping against my hope to hear my brother’s response. If he did not respond to me, it could only mean one thing. That he was dead.And he didn’t.
My grief felt like it would suffocate me. Nothing around me made me feel better. In fact it was like a scene straight of hell. All our cages were now rearranged by a stranger who had a small, strange, filthy shop with a wooden stump in it. I wondered what he sold there. My cage was now on the third floor, meaning, there were 2 more cages stuffed with my friends below me. My neck was was now paining so badly that I lost all sense of its existence. My eyes watered as the sun rays were directly on me. I could not run for cover nor shift my head to avoid the sun’s rays.
That was when I saw a lady with a basket in her hands and a young daughter by her side arrive at this small shop where we were all housed. The daughter looked so innocent. She was so happy to see us. She reached out with her tiny fingers to pet my friend but her mother quickly frisked her aside as if it were a taboo to pet us. I wished the little one all happiness in her life. She reminded me of my brother whom i adored so much. I was lost in thoughts when I felt the cage door open.
Freedom atlast! I tried to unruffle my feathers and shake all the dust off me, but a firm grip around me kept me from doing it. This man carried me inside the dim and dingy shop and laid me on that wooden stump. What was he doing? Why was he putting me on this stump? I was starved and I hadn’t eaten a grain of food since two days nor had a thirst quenching drink of cool water.
I was too exhausted, too heart broken to put up a fight with this stranger. I suddenly felt something sharp slice my throat open! I bled and bled profusely. My snow white feathers which I was so proud of, now had thick red blood all over it. An irony, the color of peace-white, was now getting covered by the color of violence-vermilion. The pain was excruciating, I wanted to scream but I could not. I felt I could take a hundred more of such truck journeys if I could avoid this pain. It was so unbearable that I did not even know whether I was alive or dead. My heart beats became more reduced, I gasped for breath. He then lifted me up by my legs and immersed me boiling water that scalded me alive. The pain that I now felt was like nothing that I had never experienced before. I would not wish even to my enemies, a pain like this. As I hung on to my dear life, half dead, I could feel the stranger pull my feathers off me. It hurt like a small match stick burn in an inferno. I pleaded with my creator for death to come quickly. A slit throat, a drown- that too a drowning in vermilion colored boiling water (colored from my own blood) which burnt my eyes and other parts out, was too much to kill any living being with. I felt God was being too unfair to me. So many pains at one go? ‘One suffering at a time please’, I wanted to tell my creator. Which excruciating pain am I supposed to suffer at one time? My entire life passed in front of me, before I my heart took its one last painful beat & before getting boiled to a pulp.
Though it took a long time, my much deserved peace was here, finally…
My soul saw the lady with the basket purchase pieces of my flesh from the man who slit my throat. He wrapped chunks of my flesh and put it in a dark black colored plastic bag ( which was also the color of his soul). Maybe he subconsciously chose that color because he knew he had done something he had to be ashamed of, some deed that he had to conceal. I heard the lady coo to her young daughter- ‘Today, I’m gonna prepare chicken gravy for dinner, honey’.

at Maanja’s farm…

Today, the 25th day of Nov’ 2012, is ‘International Meatless Day‘. This re-post is dedicated to all the birds and animals who are exploited & killed by the billions each day for human consumption, experimentation, clothing and entertainment. May God bless all his creations with peace, love, life & compassion & may the spirit of this day live forever!

A cryptic message from beyond…

6 Sep

Long ago, when I was a little girl, my grandfather had told me a story that left a lasting impression on my mind forever. Though I’ve forgotten most of it now, I still vaguely remember some bits of it. However, since I very clearly remember the message that the story had delivered in the end, I’ve tried to retell the story in my own way, making changes to the original story all along, but finally arriving at the same message. A sort of ‘old wine in a new bottle’, ‘cos I claim no originality whatsoever. My grandfather wouldn’t have been too happy, had be been around, because I’m pretty sure that my new story has little or no similarities to the one that he had narrated. But since the end message was so beautiful, I felt I had to retell & share this life transforming story, so many others could benefit out of it, just as I did. Here I go-

There once was a man- Manas, who was in his mid-thirties, when he was admitted to a city’s top hospital for treatment of his broken leg & multiple deep wounds to his leg. After a month’s treatment and much to Dr. Kanha’s disappointment (the doc who was treating him), he wasn’t responding to any treatment & despite repeated attempts and getting him to walk, he simply couldn’t for he complained of excruciating pain while trying to do so. His wounds weren’t completely healed either & the doctors treating him were at loss. Manas felt, he was ailing from a mysterious disease & that he would never recover. His family was very worried about him and would do just about anything to see him doing fine again.

It all started when, one day Manas, accidentally ran over an injured cat & killed it under his speeding wheels. Soon afterwards, there were misfortunes galore for him. There prevailed a local belief that, misfortune would quickly descend the head that kills a cat, be it knowingly or unknowingly. Manas, who was aware of this tale & who was a believer in both God & demons,  was so overcome with fear and guilt that he began to look forward to his doom, that was to be bought by his careless & callous deed.

As expected by Manas, he soon lost his job with one of the top companies that he was working with. Having lost his job, he was unable to repay the loans that he had taken towards the purchase of a duplex house. His failure to repay his loan, called for an auction of his house. It was when he was immersed in these troubling thoughts on how he invited his doom, with his own hands, rather with his own steering wheel, that he failed to notice a deep pit on the road & when he did, it was too late & no amount of expert maneuvering helped in avoiding his car crash land into the ‘naturally worn & torn’ pit in the road. The speed at which he was traveling only added more impact to his accident, resulting in a broken limb & excruciatingly painful deep cuts on his legs.

His refusal to recover & respond to medications, only made him weaker, sicker & bed ridden.  This made his family increasingly unhappy & depressed. He being sole bread winner of the family, they did not know what to do. They tried every possible ways of making him get back to normal. No amount prayers by the family, seemed to work.  Nothing seemed to help Manas. Manas, on the other hand, had given up all hopes of his recovery. He had got into an abyss of depression & lay crippled. He was just clinically alive.

Then one day, when no one was around & as Manas was in his ward, gazing into distant nothing, a soothsayer came visiting him. He looked like any other normal person on the surface, with no special powers or magic. Introducing himself to Manas, as a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna & as the lord’s messenger, he told him that he understood exactly why Manas was in such a plight. It was because of some grave sin that he had committed in the recent past. He seemed very concerned when he questioned Manas about what that sin was and Manas told him everything about how he happened to kill a cat under his wheels & how that act was famously known as a harbinger of misfortune & invoked ill luck.

The ‘Guru’, which is how Manas respectfully addressed the soothsayer, frowned. He wasn’t very happy on hearing what Manas had done. He nodded in head in utter disappointment, adding more turbulence to the already disturbed mind of Manas. He told Manas that there wasn’t much that could be done about it & that he would have to face the consequences of what he had done. He got up from his seat, walked towards the open french window in the room. There, amidst many other plants, he saw a potted plant, with just two leaves to it. This plant was an unhealthy one.

Potted plant with a hidden message

He gestured to Manas, asking him to take a closer look at that plant in the window. The Guru then  touched the plant & closed his eyes in a meditative way, like as if he was receiving some strange message from the plant. Walking back up to Manas, he told him that with the miraculous power that he possessed, he could sense a strange connection between Manas and this plant. That he had come to know that the plant in the window actually symbolized Manas, in his current plight. With just two remaining leaves on the unhealthy plant , the Guru told Manas, that whatever happens to the  plant, would be what would happen to Manas. If it lives, so would Manas & should it die, the same would be his fate too. Manas now lost every hope because he knew that the plant would definitely not live, because not only did it appear unhealthy, but even its two remaining leaves were lack lustre and worse, a tiny area of rot had already set in on one of the two leaves. Having said thus, the soothsayer asked Manas to await his fate that the plant would unfold for him very soon and asked him to keep faith in the supreme lord. He then left the room without looking back at Manas. Manas, now knew for sure, that in other words, his Guru had indirectly told him that his doom was very close.

Three days passed since the soothsayer had visited Manas. Manas did not discuss this incident with any one of his family members, because he did not want to cause them more distress. Manas observed the plant by the window keenly. The major part of the leaf was now being consumed by rot.  Manas could now feel himself getting weaker & weaker. On the fifth day, the rot infested leaf fell off the plant. That same night, Manas’s  threw up & it was stained with his blood. His health was, no doubt on a down slide. Manas continued to pray & observed the plant everyday, hoping it lives.  He requested his attender to water the plant & his wife to add some manure to plant. She was taken aback, but did not show it to her ailing husband. She did as she was told.  Nothing helped the plant & in turn nothing helped Manas either.

Two days later, Manas saw what he dreaded seeing the most, the lone leaf on the plant by the window sill, was now infested by rot. This time it did not take long for the rot to spread over the entire leaf. The very next day, the rot had covered the major part of the last remaining leaf on the poor plant.  Manas’s condition worsened. His body had become so weak that he was just a bundle of bones covered by skin. That night he collapsed out of extreme ill health. He was put on interveinous drips. Manas wondered how the plant could be such a powerful & an accurate messenger of his fate. He knew that his end was now very, very near. He was certain he would be dead and before the next sun rise.

When Manas woke up the next day, to his utter shock, he found a small, fresh budding leaf in the stem of the plant that he used to watch everyday. He was elated. So overjoyed, was he that he did not know what to do or how to react. He was beginning to feel better. He was starting to feel healthy, like he was blessed with a new lease of life. God had decided to forgive him for the sin that he had unknowingly committed! In the coming days the plant had given birth to three new leaves and all of them sparkling with good health.  Manas’s joy knew no bounds. He was now responding to medicines like never before. His physiotherapist was very happy with Manas, for he showed great signs of improvement. His family was overjoyed too. A month after, he was deemed fit to be discharged and was considered good to go. Manas was a changed man now. He vowed never to speed for one and to never again take any lives in future, even in the name of food. All lives are precious, he had come to realize.

Manas was at the hospital reception, fulfilling some last minute discharge formalities. Dr. Kishan was beaming at the sight of this patient of his, for this doctor had a little secret to keep, a secret that Manas was never destined to know about. Dr. Kishan was very confident of his medical skills and despite his best treatment, when Manas failed to respond to it, he knew then, that the ailment that Manas was suffering from was not in his limb, but in his mind. Dr. Kishan knew very well to never ever underestimate the power that our minds have over our bodies or our physical well being. He understood that Manas’s mind was diseased and that he had to treat it. He succeeded and how! He sent a close friend of his in the guise of a soothsayer to meet Manas. Everything that happened thereafter was what that was perfectly scripted by Dr. Manas. Each day, when Manas was asleep, Dr. Kishan would send his trusted housekeeping staff- Garud, to go spray an oil based insecticide on the plant’s leaf, so that the area on which the insecticide was sprayed, would rot. Later, when the spraying of insecticide stopped, the plant bounced back with life.  Manas, who had genuinely started to believe that he shared his fate with this plant, only played along. Thanks to Dr. Kishan’s well executed plan, Manas was now completely recovered, both physically & mentally. Lost in these thoughts, Dr. Kishan, carelessly scribbled something on a piece of paper , forgot about it and quietly left to attend to a new patient. Before leaving however, and smiling to himself, he took one last look at Manas , who was then walking out of the hospital door with his family, cheerful & laughing at something that seemed like a family’s private joke.

A restless little girl who was waiting with her parents in the reception to see a pediatrician, picked up the note that Dr. Kishan had left behind. Her face lit up on seeing a small image of her favorite Lord Kishna printed on it & on it’s reverse, there was something scribbled illegibly.  She ran back to where her parents were seated & gave the note to her father, who read it, smiled & left it on the reading table in front of him. The illegible scribble read- ‘If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way, you’re right’- a famous quote by Henry Ford.

Scented candles & magic!

6 Sep

Scented & seductive, these candles could cast a spell of magic to your ambiance.

We all want to make our homes special and we would try just about anything in order to achieve that. One such a way of making your abode special is with the use of sweet smelling candles. They can do much more than merely changing the ambience of your place, but they also play an important role in changing your mood as well. Not just that they compliment any type of a home and its decor, be it modern or traditional. Using them to decorate your home not just adds to the beauty of it but is also mood lifting. Such is the magic of these candles, that even if you decorate your dinner table with these on special occasions like Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, it can make those moments unforgettable.

It’s also very important to pick the right candle that suits you. There are many varieties and fragrances available in the market, not to mention the many shapes they come in. Soy candles are best suited for those with breathing problems. These candles have a very exotic smell and can pleasantly alter the environment at home. You could also use these candles to lighten up the mood in your bedroom and to ignite romance and passion where it’s needed the most. They can also act as a great stress buster. There are a wide collection of flavours available in the market like vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, sandal, lavender etc. to choose from.

They can be a part to literally any celebration, be it Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries. Not just that, if you have a swimming pool, you could also try floating scented candles, which float on water for a long time before burning out. When used as a home decor, not only do these help in nullifying the day to day odours at home, but these candles are also famous as mood settlers, not to mention the touch of elegance that comes with it to your haven.

When it comes to choosing your candles, soy candles are indeed the best option for many reasons, when compared to paraffin candles as paraffin candles are known to emit eleven different types of toxins when burnt.  The most important reasons why you should be getting yourself a soy candle is because these candles are perfectly safe for use at home as they do not have any side effects on members of the family including pets and most importantly they do not release soot that your regular paraffin candles do.

There are many creative things you experiment with candles. You could mix and match assorted candles of different shapes and smells. There are no hard and fast rules for mixing the candles together. When we come home after a hard day’s work, there’s nothing really so uplifting like a sweet smelling home. It is a little piece of luxury that you can bring into your home, not only because they help create a mystical ambience but also a relaxing environment. Therefore, scented candles can be excellent for decorating your home, be it indoors or outside, by the pool. All you however need to do, is just make wise choices when it comes to choosing your candles, their scent and the material with which it is made up of, and with that you’re ready to transform your home into an all new experience altogether!

Dear Blog mates,

6 Sep

I had to share this today, without which I don’t think i could have slept in ease tonight. Just a few weeks ago, I was not even aware of this little world called ‘WordPress’ and its ways. I was so skeptical to even start a blog here. With so many experienced bloggers here, it kind of intimidated a complete novice like me. I was not even sure if I should be penning down anything at all. My confidence was menacingly threatening to desert me. I felt like a hapless junior on the first day of my college, with a lot of seniors around and trust me, it was scary! But somehow, i managed to pick up bits of my shattered courage and did start a blog. I wrote a few articles on topics that were very close to my heart, on topics I felt I had to share with all the people i knew or otherwise. I did, and it took a lot of courage on my part to hit that dreadful ‘Publish’ button.

To my pleasant surprise, no sooner did I publish them, I received many kind words of appreciation and encouragement. I was so touched and overcome with emotions to learn that there are so many lovely, wonderful & encouraging people out here. There is so much warmth in here, that I did not feel like an alien anymore. Like how parents guide, encourage & motivate their children, i too was guided by my new wonderful blog mates who have now become my friends. I now feel so comfortable & at home here, thanks to all you lovely people out there.  I would like to sincerely thank all my blogger friends for taking & making me a part of your WordPress  family.

To my lovely blog mates turned friends turned family,

I owe you all this- Thank you so much for encouraging, motivating me and for ensuring that the fire of creativity inside me never extinguishes. I won’t let you down.

Love, hugs and best wishes to you all.

Teju  ♥ ♥

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