This is my blog, made up of my world and everything in it. All of these are my thoughts and my words. Some of these (or, a part of some of these) have been published in the Times of India. I post them here in their entirety, along with some more of my thoughts put down on paper (or, the keyboard) that have not been published elsewhere.
All those decades ago, on a pleasant October evening, as dusk fell and the effigy of Ravana exploded into a million sparkles illuminating the heavens - a mom-to-be heard the Firecrackers from inside the operation theatre of the Military Hospital, Dehradun, as the anaesthesia took over her senses.
Vinnie Dev. My mom.
And Ravana was born in female avatar. With all his glory, all his wisdom and all the super duper intelligence, incorporated into one tiny dusky bundle of joy
The apple of my parents eyes, with the tag of Ravana etched into my omnipotent being, I've spent my lifetime bathed in their love and pride. And been wished Happy Birthday every Dussehra by my lovingly rude and rudely loving family.
In retrospect, flicking through the pages of the chapters of my life, I've realized just how much similarity we have - the powerful King of Lanka. And the demure Queen of all I survey
Hence, forgive me for I see the Demon King with a kindly eye. Seeing his strengths, his wisdom, his intelligence, his will power and indeed his self confidence.
OK so he fell in love with someone else's wife. Big deal!!
So, when you blow up the poor demon King this evening, spare a thought for what you destroy.
Destroy hatred, expunge divisiveness, throw out bad feeling from your souls and embrace all of humanity without bias.
Happy Dussehra to the world. And Happy Birthday to Me
"Be the change you wish to see." -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
As the Earth cascades along its path on its journey around the sun- summer, fall, winter, spring jostle along merrily... And the wheels of Time keep turning.
And the years fly by. Civilizations, peoples, equations, eras creak and groan, and transform themselves into new avatars. And Life goes on.
Change, they say, is the only constant of life. Always evolving, ever creating,change is a veritable Pandora's box full of goodies and baddies.
As the world moves along, change leaves behind in its wake, most of what was the previous generations truth. And searches for different, contemporary truths.
Somewhere along the way, humanity seems to lose it's touch with humanism.
People rush here, rush there.. Snatching, grabbing at every luxury in their view. Forgetting whatever values they learnt as they grew and entered this new Dawn. And greed consumes all.
It seems sometimes, that humanity as we knew it, has slipped backwards, as the world moves forwards. There is no time to "Stand and stare". Nor to look at the nodding Daffodils. Least of all to reach out to help up another in need. Nor make space for the pathos of another's pain to seep into one's soul.
And it's not only the new generation. People of my age, my parents age - have become grasping and selfish, greedy and hard.
And yet everyone speaks of a dream world where there is change. Change for the better. Where people are undivided. Where there is love. And compassion. And peace. And, the elusive Progress.
Playing golf last evening, the skies grew dark and menacing, restless winds began to blow, thunder grumbled angrily in the clouds.. and then, suddenly, the deluge started. Awe-inspiring, up here among the mountains.
Managing to reach the cottage, we dashed down the long track from the parking, soaked and cold. To find there was no electricity. Located some candles and a matchbox and lit a few. The sounds of rain pattering on the roof, rolling thunder, flashes of lightening were all we had for company. The cottage stands isolated as none of the occupants of the few cottages around live here.
All three of the mobiles had no charge, so they had to be switched off. The portable battery had a hint of life, so one phone was connected and kept on.
Such a strange feeling. Dinner and drinks in flickering candlelight.
Jaise ki poori kaayanath main bilkul akele. Frightening. And unique. Two cyber freaks, with their wings chopped And nothing to do. Flickering shadows dancing on the walls , scaring the wits out of me.
So we talked. And talked. And laughter filled the empty blimps between the rain filled ions of the atmosphere. A journey of rediscovery. Of realizing what great pals we have always been. Rajiv and I. Opposites on so many fronts. Identical in so many others. Drifted to different dimensions over the years, locked securely in our personal bubbles.
Awoke a while ago and looked out of the windows. To see this miracle of nature. The suspended raindrops in the air. The clouds descended to meet the earth.
A trip so worth it
Am so happy I took this sudden decision to just get out of the routine, tiring work schedules, irritations and stresses..Convince my chauffeur to leave his work too, And drive up here.
Loved these couple of days. Great place, great weather, great food, great experience and... Great company :-)
Sudden squall. Rolling thunder in dark restless skies. Lashing rain and occasional hailstones rattling on the windowpanes and sunshades since early morn.
The ions of the atmosphere rattling the ions of my being. Snapshots of the years gone by filling the spaces between the ions , a tumultuous onslaught of memories long forgotten. 8th March. International Women's Day. Spent the morning in bed, with hot cups of tea, Facebooking, blogging posts about my idea of a complete woman. And then began the memories! Cut to childhood.. A Shadowy mom. Here, there, everywhere. Through diving in the middle of dark nights, on the call of sirens , into makeshift trenches dug behind tall hedges in our garden. In mom's arms. Safe. Indo-China then Indo-Pak Wars. Dad not seen. We are told he is at the 'Front". Battling the shelling and firing. Mom awake through the night. Listening to live coverage on radio. I distinctly remember the term "Sialcot Sector". Visions of soldiers on hospital beds, in corridors of the Military Hospital. .injured, bleeding, whimpering in agony. But I am strangely unafraid. My hand is clasped tightly in my mother's hand. I know that she is there. As our strength. And that she will never allow anything bad to happen to papa or us. My grandfather on a bus from Dehradun. On his way to Moga for some paper work. Forgotten papers at home. Memory: Mom on a Lambretta scooter with maasi riding pillion and me standing in front. An exciting drive with my ponytails flying in the breeze all the way down the hairpin bends and curves of Mohand. Until we flag down a bus. Hand over the papers to my nana. And stop for a picnic on the way back home. Memory: A small sister. And I have high fever. Dad missing again. Posted to a field area. Time -probably beyond midnight. Mom desperate. Loads me and baby sister on a motorbike (I think) and gets us to the hospital. Memories on being inserted into an ice water tub to lower the fever (that's how primitive the times were!) Memory: A sudden visitor at Jhansi. Dad at war. Dusk falling. Mom borrows a cycle, puts sis in basket and me hanging precariously on seat at back. Cycle to local market to buy gifts for the visitor's children. Mom. Vinnie Dev. A strong lady. With oodles of courage and determination. Taught me those, and decorum. And to be a lady. And to rule. And to love. And compassion. And to always always lend a helping hand to everyone who needed one. And charity. Isn't this what Women's Day should celebrate? People later in my life, after marriage- telling me "Ye ladkiyon ka kaam nahin hota. Ye ladkiyaan nahin kartein" ..To assorted acts like all-my-mom-used-to-do and polishing-washing cars, bikes, etc. I remember my disbelief at the thought!! Memory: My cousin brother Sateesh Dev. Stayed with us at Bombay. used to be working at Mazagon Docks as a marine architect. Design ships. Made him oh-so interesting to my girl friends:-) He bought a motorbike. Would make me polish it down to every spoke in the wheels for extra pocket money / a secret ride with a boyfriend down Marine Drive while he walked our dog incessantly so my dad wouldn't know. My sis and I were always encouraged to take part in the running of the home. Be tough and independent. Learn to fend for ourselves. I remember my mom handing me all of dad's salary one month while we were posted at Srinagar, Kashmir , to run the house as she did-- because I once questioned her as to how "so much money" got finished !And her amusement at "all that money" being over and done with on the 10th of the month:-) Being a woman has so many facets. Far more than being a man. Fighting conformism to begin with. Fighting to stay ahead. Making a place within family. Leading, not following. Bringing up children to be the same. I owe so much to my parents. To my dad's unending pride in me. More to my mom. A whole lot to my husband, Rajiv. And it's yesterday Once More. Strengthening all my tomorrows. I can say today- with pride and with my head held high. Happy Women's day to Me. Happy Women's day to my mother. Happy Women's day to my daughters Aanchal and Shalu.
And Happy Women's Day to every woman who stands tall. And to every man who is proud of such women. You- Rajiv Tyagi. My son - Saahil. And you- Gourav Sharma.
Been ages since I wrote here. Facebook and twitter seem to suffice as my sounding boards for angish, delight, excitement, sharing, caring..whatever!
Just realized, blogging is as much if not more satisfying a domain.
So- here goes! What better day than today- 8th of march - International Women's day:-)
It's not enough to build oneself into a paragon of strength and confidence. To become one with the times one is alive in. To carry the great things of the past with us. To hold technology, science and contemporary ideologies in our hands. To mould ourselves to fit into the future.
As women and equal part of the human race, we need to empower our elders, parents, grandparents, etc.. To do the same. And bring up our daughters to become independent, strong, go-getters and break the mould of the sweet helpless goody goody conformist cow. Am proud of you mom.. Vinnie Dev. And of you both, my daughters..Aanchal... For pushing mom and me to become masters of all we survey, and you Shalu.. For evolving us, and yourself to take on the world.
Mom, I always saw you as the strength in our family. Riding bikes, jeeps, mobikes.. Driving us to school, hospital, holiday destinations.. So I became the same.. "Driving" my family with an iron hand in a velvet glove *since other vehicles always remained beyond my skills *.. And making responsible aware informed intelligent strong adults out of you three children. Ladies.. It matter not what your social status, or lot may be. Whether you are a working woman or not. It matters that you evolve. Move ahead with the times. Stop playing helpless victim. Believe me.. There are a whole lot of great games to play out there. Go for it.
Rise above cribbing, crying, clinging.. And let today be the first day of the rest of your lives
To the woman who can face the sun and have people walk in her shadow. To the woman who never needs to apologize for being a woman. To the woman who can handle a broom nonchalantly, clear the cobwebs of her life herself, and retain the capability to fly off on it when the need arises. To the woman with a sense of humour, and no chip on her shoulders. To the woman who nurtures softness, toughness, compassion and love and allows it to grow within. To the woman who is the pillar of strength for family, friends and strangers. To the woman who walks tall. To the woman who holds the radiance of sunshine within her. And lastly - To the woman who sees, thinks, feels, involves herself in issues beyond hearth and home, cares equally for peoples, nations, humanity. To the Complete woman.
Holi - The Festival of Colours. The colours of the universe.
The azure skies, the blue oceans, the green earth, the reds-pinks-violets-oranges of flowers, fruits, vegetables..the glorious yellow sunshine... . And the purple yonder.
Also the Colours of Life. Happiness, smiles, friendship, kindness, charity, excitement, hope and most importantly - Love.
Gulaal is just a reflection of all-of-the-above.
So why not celebrate the festival in its rich entirety? Don't hide indoors and mock the celebration of living. Come out. And fling that gulal. Aim that water balloon. Fire that water cannon. And take back what you give. Colours, gulal, water, friendship and love
Rain. The sound of the word rolls itself around your tongue with liquid magic. Baarish.. The swishing winds taking the excited raindrops on a rollercoaster ride... Incidentally.. The first word Aanchal ever spoke after beatifically beaming at the world for 14 months..
There is something so very magical in just the idea of rain.. The freshness of water, the shades of green, the song of crickets, the croaking frogs.. Cleansing the earth, sweeping the skies...the promise of rainbows in distant horizons.
I love rain. I have always, since I was a little girl, lying awake wrapped in a blanket, inside a mosquito net in the sprawling lawns of ancient cantonment bungalows..Feeling the first few drops of rain splash through the canopy of the net and sprinkle all over my face..Remember, Vinnie Dev?
School. Splashing through puddles, turning my face towards the stinging rain, tasting the droplets as they fell..
College. Bunking classes and Walking with friends to the corner teashop.. Sumedha Sahni?
Long drives on the motorbike with face tucked into the back of Rajiv Tyagis collar... Hundreds of hot finger chips eaten guiltily.. Sitting on the floor, leaning on the granite pillar in the front verandah, watching the pouring rain with Sangeeta Tyagi.
I still love rain. Maybe only Saahil will understand. How the very ions of elemental nature sometimes conspire to collide with the ions of our bodies our minds.. And somehow form a connect, a bridge as it were.. Transcending life as we know it...
Restlessness. The Restlessness of the clouds, the blowing winds.. Carrying the raindrops up and down a rollercoaster.. Transferring the restlessness into creatures part of the universe. Cawing crows, jumpy birds.. And me.
8th March- International Women's Day, as decreed by the powers-that-be. Great. It's nice to know we have a special day in the year allotted to us. Thank you. We are indeed honored. The other days , numbering 365 1/4 per year ..from the day we were born, made a cheerful loving, caring happy home for you..to the day we got married..and ditto for the other you..to when we carried the yet-another-you around inside of us till you made an official entry into this world..those were just random days, weren't they??
We don't hear of an International Men's Day..do we, Ladies? is that because they aren't important enough to have a special day allotted to them? Or too important so all 365 1/4 days are theirs??
So, basically- this could be another attempt to guarantee us our "special" status? The "weaker section of society", the "under-privileged", the "vulnerable" kinds??
Thank you. But, NO Thank you! It's definitely time to take that giant leap into the present and our collective future. To become the kind of person- nee woman- who when our feet first hit the floor when we get out of bed every morning, makes the devil say "Oh Crap! She's up!!!" Time to stop extolling our "weak" status. Be strong. Strong women don't ever ever play victim. They never whine, look pitiful, or point fingers at men for their plight. They wipe their tears, stand up and they deal! Nobody can make us feel inferior without our consent. So next time you have a weak moment- just get up, pour yourself a drink, put on lipstick and pull yourself together!
Remember - Us women come in two models only - Doormats and Goddesses. the rest of the criteria - Size, shape, colour, height, weight, etc etc etc are just inconsequential data.
So, here's to "strong" women- the Goddess category.. May we BE them, may we KNOW them, may we RAISE them. Like my mother did. I did. And you both ARE - Aanchal & Shalu Tyagi:-)
Then lets celebrate Women's Day.
So- A very Happy Women's Day- in advance to all such women. Not to the doormat category. Because they don't exist.
And you men, are welcome to wish us too:-) Because we are angels. If you break our wings, we don't give a damn. We simply continue to fly - On broomsticks:-) We are flexible like that.
Dear North India,
I have spent one short week in the land of the Tamil, and experienced what is the true essence of India. Just want to share this with you. Because forewarned is forearmed after all. So, restrain your machismo, stop strutting around, lower your voice, lower the volume of that #&@# music, stop honking your horns.. And listen.
1. The roads of Chennai, Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry are narrow and as crowded, but nobody leans on the horn or attempts whizzing past the other, yelling obscenities. Everyone somehow reaches where they're going minus all of that.
2. The toll booths mostly are open, minus the electronic barrier. Just Nobody yells Yayyyyy or flashes beer bottles and speeds through. They stop, exchange a pleasantary and pay up.
3. Stop anyone on the road and ask for directions. They reply with a Thank you prefixed and suffixed.
4. Catch anyone's eye.. You can be assured of a warm smile.
5 . JUST NOBODY OGLES WOMEN. No matter what they wear. Or do not wear.
6. There is hardly a police presence to be seen. People haven't locked themselves behind a thousand grills. I have never seen such a safe place in my life.
7. An inclusive people, language barrier notwithstanding. It's Enlightening and so warming to realize that language is so unimportant and trivial to communicate. Gestures, a few words in English, and numerous smiles.. And Bingo! You're connected.
8. A people in no hurry. No ratrace competition. Living life as life is meant to be lived. Healthy. Happy. And it shows in the lack of queues outside hospitals and clinics.
9. In 7 days, we did not see a single man peeing on walls, and no man, woman or child spitting anywhere!
10. Last and very very definitely not the least , there is complete equality among the people. . Rich and Poor, Hindu and Muslim, Black and White. No subservient attitudes, no looking up or down at the other. You do your thing, I will do mine. Peacefully. With honour.
The driver, the peon, the household help, the employee.. You are your name to them. They will refer to you address you by your name. Yes an odd "saar" from time to time. But that's it.
Please wake up. This means You - Delhi, NCR, Punjab, UP, Haryana.. You have defiled, degraded, destroyed the spirit of India. With your uncouth manners and rotten ways.
Suddenly.. In this short week.. I saw India. The real one. I will never forget you. Because this is the India that lives inside me.