Category: Life’s Little Learnings Page 1 of 6

Slam Books

As years go by you can only dig them up and read the wonderful words everyone wrote and the promises made ………..only to realise none of those mean anything, anymore to anyone who wrote them and you are clinging on to threads broken a long time ago! 

A life cut short…

Samir was my favourite brother – 5 years elder to me, the protective sibling, and the one who would trouble me the most. My summer vacations were mostly spent in Pune and Ahmednagar and for most of these vacations he was my companion. His love for war movies rubbed onto me and he narrated many a stories he had read to me over our late night chats. He was fun-loving and full of life and he was one of the reasons my childhood was special. As we grew up and my vacations reduced , letters took over our lives. We wrote to each other every month – me going from school to college, experiencing crushes, anxiety over my studies, failing ,struggling and he going through his own battles. We continued to write and share our secrets cause my studies prevented me from long vacations and meeting up regularly. And then in May 2001, all those letters stopped.

Despite being so close he never mentioned the losing battle he was fighting, my mom and aunts told me much later when his war was a lost cause; we were all helpless. I did not know how to react to the news, I did not know how to reach out to him and talk. I did not know what I could do to help. We last met at my cousin’s marriage and I have wonderful memories from the time we shared together. Joking, laughing, teasing, discussing our non-existent love lives, talking late into the night and re-living our childhood days. I promised to come and spend time with him once my final year exams were over. I could never keep that promise because Sam did not make it to the end of my final year. He finally gave up after fighting blood cancer. I did not get to see him in his last moments because I was writing my exams and my family did not tell me as they knew it would leave me disturbed. I was told 2 weeks later and all I felt was numbness all over. How was I supposed to react to my brother’s death? He was only 25! I don’t know how my aunt and uncle coped up with his loss, or how his elder sister and brother faced his demise – he the baby of the family and the life of the house and he was no more. We all knew his cancer was not curable, but despite knowing this fact we were never prepared, how do you prepare for your child’s death who has not even started to live his own life? I never cried out loud over his death and I have not had the courage to talk about him at length until today. All these years I have just grieved silently, all those unwritten letters piled up in a corner of my mind for the last 13 years – of stories and secrets that I never got to share with him.

First I had lost my father when I was 17 and then few years later I lost Sam. They say you get over the death of your loved ones, you have to move on, yes you move on – 99% of the time. That 1% though will stay with you forever, till you breath your last. It is the truth no one dares to tell you – thinking that it will break you. But you are broken, and that is a fact. You will bandage your heart and mind and carry on; but the wounds will stay fresh deep, deep within your mind and heart. You will deal with most of the demons that surround the demise of your loved one but there will always be some that will haunt you for life. It made me very strong – emotionally – coping up with the loss of my favourite people; but  it also left me vulnerable. I don’t show that aspect of my side ever and I don’t talk about it. But today here I’m – writing about it on my blog – for strangers to come and read; opening my heart out because the last week brought back those haunting memories that I thought I had buried for long.

Cricket is my first love, cricket is my anti-depressant , cricket is my comfort zone, cricket is the one thing that never fails to bring me unfathomable joy – it has given me heartbreaks but it has made me smile a million times more. But the last week it shove the inevitable truth of life right into my face. My life has taught me enough about death – facing it, dealing with it, the emotional drain it causes, the strength you need to pick up the shattered pieces of your life and build it again. I did not need cricket to teach this to me all over again.

Phil Hughes was doing what he loves most – playing cricket ; batting on the 22 yard pitch. Sport is supposed to be fun, it is not supposed to claim lives. Sport has its own dangers but death is not supposed to be one of them!. Phillip Hughes like my brother Sam was only 25. A life – a great sporting career lay ahead of him and it was cut short. I have struggled to accept he is no more. I did not know him, I have watched very little of him – but he played a sport I have so loved. A sport my papa taught me to love. So how did this beautiful game become the cause of Hughes death?

I don’t know how will anyone console his parents or his sister, how will anyone console his team-mates, how will anyone console Sean Abbott and how will anyone console the fans of this game? I know they will get the strength from unknown quarters, gather up the pieces and move on. They will be strong and will face it but I hate to tell you that it will not be easy. I know it because I experience it everyday, every single moment of my life; years pass by and it is never easy!

I have experienced many wonderful moments in my life and when I’m alone I can’t but help think – wonder what Papa would have said , wonder how he would have reacted? Maybe if Sam was around we would have laughed over some of them and he would have teased me! The What-Ifs – that is the 1% I’m talking about – that stays with you in every moment you experience without your loved ones. The picture, the moment always stays incomplete no matter how hard you try!

And that will stay with all of us cricket fans for the rest of our lives now – the cricket that follows from now on will always be incomplete. RIP Phillip Hughes – you will live on in our memory forever.

The Shift

I haven’t had an evening to myself since 10th of September. So much has happened in the last 4 months – I have not had a moment to sit down, relax, fall back, think, smile, laugh, get tensed, get worried, freak out, breathe in breathe out, assess, fret, get mad, get angry, shout out loud, scream , be happy , be sad, reflect  –  the last 4 months have flown by like they were 4 days, actually 4 hours, no forget probably 4 minutes.

Jan 2013 – MDH and I kept wondering where life was heading and we both felt we needed a change – professionally or personally this year. This year. We had got comfortable and eased out in Dubai – our home for last 7 years and over the last year I was somehow getting the feeling that I was done with the place. We had to move out – either back home to India or to another land. We felt this was the year we had to make it happen; of course if life had decided otherwise and taken a different turn we would have thought of making the move few years later.

You can’t predict what life holds for you but you can sure make an effort to turn it your way. And so we both tried, whoever got the first break the other would follow we decided.

London – I fell in love with this city when I first came here as a tourist in 2007 and I came back twice later once on work and again on a holiday ; and every time I came back I realised how much I was fond of this place. I realized I would love working and staying here and when the opportunity came at work I took the chance, we took the risk and we moved here in Dec.

People ask us if leaving Dubai was an easy decision – it was in fact a no-brainer for me from a career perspective but not easy personally. All the right and wrong reasons will need another post. Don’t get me wrong – I liked the city, I will definitely miss my house a lot and more importantly I will miss my wonderful friends there who were my family away from India. At the back of our minds we always knew this place was going to be short term;by staying 7 years we had probably overshot our stay more than what we had planned to when we first came here.

The last 4 months have flown by – relocation is not easy, I have no clue how people shift homes and countries every few years! Paperwork, paperwork and paperwork – it is endless. Exiting a country and entering a new country – we were lucky that my company was in charge of most things but settling into a new place is not easy however familiar you may think you are with it. After getting to London, everyday is a new learning and if anyone needs guidance on moving here just drop me a note!

It is always mixed feelings when you leave and move on and when I find some time to breathe again I will do a post on my Dubai journey – what a rollercoaster ride it was for us. We left with wonderful memories of wonderful people – I’m not sure how much I will miss the place as years pass by but I will miss those wonderful folks and the relationships – will savour them for a lifetime.

London – you will be a different experience altogether – if I did not love you so much I would have torn my hair apart by now thinking how difficult you have been to settle into for a newcomer coming into the country . Your warmth though has had the most calming effect  on us (yes even though we have come in winter) – I’m amazed by your acceptance and ability to embrace. Stay this wonderful for as long as we decide to be here.

A new life begins – still not settled in, but things are slowly falling in place. The tube travel, the DIY for almost everything, relying on yourself and no one else, the challenges at work, a whole new culture to embrace. We feel ready and it feels right. I haven’t been so excited and thrilled and tensed together in a long, long time.

The shift has happened, now to soak it in!

Cristina and Meredith

Grey’s Anatomy Season 10 has been pretty mediocre so far – not one episode has been gripping or held my attention for long. However last night when catching up on the last 3 episodes that we had missed out – two scenes from episode 5 stayed with me.

I get Cristina – I always have. Many of you may not – but I do. She is my favourite character in the series. She often speaks out loud what most of us women don’t want to hear even though we know she is right; such as this scene when she reasons out with Meredith why she did not give her the surgery.


But for first time while watching this series I loved Meredith’s response – and I get her too.


She is right – the reason we stop connecting with folks we thought were once friends  is this one simple fact :

“You don’t have time for me now because you don’t have time for people who want things that you don’t want”

The Key

3 days had passed and I continued to ignore her loss. She has always been around, must be hiding somewhere and playing her cat and mouse game with my memory again. Yesterday despite my repeated attempts to recollect where I had last left her I simply could not remember where she had hidden herself.

I checked all the places at home where I tend to carelessly leave her , hunted every corner of the drawers and she was still not to be found.

I had almost given up hope of finding her and the only solution I could see was replacing her. I would have to reset all connections – between the new her and me – between the new her and my home.

I don’t lose my possessions easily – almost never have. And she is an important one. In one last attempt before I could accept that I had misplaced her; I emptied the handbag and still found nothing; and then I caught her in my hands but I still could not see her. A small hole in the inside pocket of the purse and the house key had slipped in between the gaps. I finally managed to take her out from her hiding space and I sensed a huge relief in my mind.

She reminded me of the relationships I often take for granted, even if they disappear for a few days I still don’t go looking for them , I know they will be around. And when they don’t turn up as I expect them to, it puts me in a frantic state of mind. I find myself chasing them and wondering what I did wrong, what is it that I had said, what is it that I had done, what is it that I had forgot.

I can’t lose them – the similarity to my house key ends there, if I lose my key, I’ll replace her and enter my house, but what about those relationships I lost? Will I be able to replace them and move on?  And I already know the answer – I cannot. They are inseparable from me – and I won’t be the same person without them.

And it is almost like they read my mind. They are just testing me and they quietly slip back in the same place I knew I had left them and make me realize that without them I’d be lost.

They are still around, they will always be – in the one corner of my heart – they are the key to my existence – and they want me to seek them, to reach out to them like that little house key of mine hidden in the corner of my handbag.


Catching up with school friends and college friends always brings backs tons of memories – the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing – and so many times after endless conversations I often go back thinking I wish I had done things differently. I wish I had not said all the things I said back then, I wish I had not held myself back, I wish I had let go, I wish I had expressed my feelings more often, I wish I had been more honest and forthcoming. I wish I had more clarity in my thought and my actions. I wish I wasn’t as confused as I was then. It amazes me that my friendships have lasted a lifetime – I must have done something right.

Over the years I have grown tremendously as a person – my thought process, my approach and attitude to life. I’ve learnt to balance my emotions and I know I have matured with my experiences – the good and the bad. I have become eerily rational and a lot more open minded. I have learnt (albeit after falling flat on my face tons of time) to not get affected by the way people change or behave. I take pride in the way I handle my emotions especially when it comes to tough situations – I have rarely panicked. I know I have changed as a person – I’m still my old cheerful self but I’m not the person I was when I was in school or college. Even in appearance – I’m not the geeky, tomboy, skinny lass I was – I pay a lot more heed to how I look and what I wear. I feel great when I look at myself today and it gives me the added confidence. It feels wonderful when friends and colleagues at work compliment me on my dressing style, eye-makeup and accessories. My mom has always had an amazing sense of style, she has a wonderful eye for everything – be it her lovely collection of saris (which everyone in my family will die for to own), her accessories, her household items – she is the epitome of simplicity and elegance. Until I got married and even few years after that I was a complete antithesis to my mom in this department but today I realize I’ve had that gene of hers hidden in me which is now taking shape. I never thought I would develop an eye for home decor but I did (mom’s hidden gene sprung up once I had to do up the home from scratch). Today I can proudly say that I have done up my little abode beautifully and visitors to my home do tell me so.

So when my friends and family whom I meet after ages tell me I haven’t changed at all – I’m at a loss to react – I don’t know what to make of it. In one way I’m happy because they are telling me that they took to me for the person I was then and am still the same; but then I also feel a little disheartened because I’m happy I have changed and that the folks who would actually notice the difference simply don’t. I have changed for the better and  I sometimes wish they would notice it and tell me so.

Anyone of you ever been through a similar dilemma?

Vacations to India…

I’ve concluded that even if I take a year long sabbatical from work and come on a vacation to India it will never be enough to meet up with all my friends and family members.

We took a 24 day vacation to Mumbai this year – I can’t remember that last time both MDH and I’ve been to Mumbai for more than 2 weeks.  We had not been for Diwali in 6 years since we moved to Dubai so this time it was great being with close ones back home. Parents complained we never spend enough time with them so we took them on a nice week long trip to Rajasthan. Now our cousins and aunts-uncles are complaining that they have met me only once. Old school and college friends whom I promised to catch up with – I could not thanks to unexpected events turning up which consumed the time I was to spend meeting them.

I thought I took enough time off so that I would not hear complaints from my folks that I give cricket importance by watching a match instead of meeting people – I was proved wrong again! India losing another test at Wankhede did not help my cause as most cursed me for not only wasting 3 whole days but also money watching a bunch of losers who have no spine. I’ve realised it’s so easy for my family and friends to curse and vent their frustration about India losing on me – especially mum – she seems to derive some sadistic pleasure of seeing me go to a match and witness India lose.  Then she can lecture me on how my priorities are all goofed up.

I apologize from my heart to all my friends and family whom I could not meet up this time – I mean it sincerely – I don’t know how I mess up my planner and time management on vacations when I’m so fantastic at it when it comes to my work 🙁

India vacations – is a serious challenge and I need to master it sooner than later else I’m going to lead a life of severe guilt!


Say what mumma?

Mumma and I – perfectly matched. We have serious trouble expressing our feelings to people who are dear to us.

On this post wherein I wrote about our women in Olympics and how their success should inspire a change in our country w.r.t women – my Mumma sent me this reply:

“Our country needs women like you to come back to India”

It’s not about how great her daughter is or can be. Unlike most parents who live in the illusion that their kid is the best gift to mankind, my mother never had such illusions about her only child. She knows her daughter’s limitations very well. I’m an average woman – no special talent or not in any position to reform the country.

That line is simply about telling me how much she misses me and wants me to be back soon for good.  As I just told you – we both have serious trouble saying the simplest words out loud; but I absolutely love my Mumma for her reactions – they are so different than what most other moms would have!

Let’s Applaud…

I had never followed the Olympics as a kid – I saw no reason to. Whom do we cheer? What do we cheer? My sports viewing started with cricket in 1991 and then I finally caught onto the Olympics fever in 1992 with the Barcelona Olympics. I was in awe of the athletes on display there. There was nothing to cheer for my country though!

In 1996 – Already a teenager, I had no clue how it felt to see your country win a medal at the Olympics. Dear Leander for being the first one to give me that joy and pride, you will always be special. Grand Slam and Davis Cup wins you gave us plenty – but that medal which broke a 16-year old drought, for us – the 80s kids will be a moment to cherish for the rest of our lives.

In 2008 – Married and settled, all grown up, I had never heard the Indian National Anthem play at the Olympics stage. For letting us experience that joy in 2008 Beijing Olympics – Abhinav Bindra you will always remain special no matter what.

In 2012 – 6 medals! Goosebumps, and what’s more I saw most of them live on TV. I envy the kids today who witnessed this fine moment in India’s Olympics history. I was so overwhelmed with the performance in the last 2 weeks that I cried today as the curtains fell over the 2012 London Olympics.

I cheered every athlete, learnt a whole lot of new games, read up on the unknown stars and made a promise that I’ll follow their journey not just at this Olympics but until the next one in Rio.

I hope these wins bring about some change among our sports administrators – where we ensure that upcoming athletes do not face the hurdles that these winners have been through. We must encourage our next generation to take up sports as careers and we must work hard at giving them the best training, infrastructure and coaches. They must learn to compete at the highest levels.

We won 6 medals from a contingent of 81 but in most sports we fought well – made it past the qualifying rounds in most events and had finalists in quite a few.

To the medal winners who did us proud  – A huge standing ovation:


Gagan Narang: Shooting, Bronze Medal, our first medal this Olympics.

Vijay Kumar: Shooting, Silver Medal – Most unexpected and managed to watch it live on TV

Saina Nehwal: Badminton, Bronze Medal – Most hopes pinned on this young girl and she did not let us down

Mary Kom: Boxing, Bronze Medal. Medal or not she remains an idol for many to follow. Respect, respect, respect.

Yogeshwar Dutt: Wrestling, Bronze Medal. Won it with a swollen eye – this medal is the one that gave me the most joy.

Sushil Kumar: Wrestling, Silver Medal . The first Indian to bring home 2 medals from the Olympics. What a way to wrap up the event for India.

A huge applause to these fine fighters:

Krishna Poonia – 7th in Discus Throw. Only the 6th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and field event

Vikas Gowda – 8th in Discus Throw. The 7th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and PhotoGrid_1344798514400field event

Irfan Thodi – 10th Place in  the 20Km walk. Read his story here.

Joydeep Karmakar – 4th place in shooting. Missed the bronze by 1.9 points

P Kashyap – Badminton. Quarter-finals  – First Indian Male player to reach so far in Olympics. Gave the #1 ranked Lee a real fight

Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponappa – Badminton Doubles, Landed a tough draw, lost first match and came back strong to win their 2 matches against stronger opponents.

Devendro Laishram – Boxing, Quarterfinals. Aptly named Chota Tyson – the 20 year old is a serious medal hope in  the next Olympics to come.

Luka Tintu – Athletics. 800m Semi-finals

A few disappointments in boxing, archery, hockey, shooting – but we will take them with a pinch of salt.

They won and performed despite the system. We applaud them and the efforts of their family, coaches and training staff. We applaud those officials who did lend support to them. We applaud initiatives such as the Olympic Gold Quest and Mittal Champions Trust who came together to fund these medallists to achieve their goals.

Today we applaud, we cheer out loud – cynicism can wait for a day right?

Today we the 80s kids want to experience the joy that we never got in our childhood – of seeing India win so many medals at the Olympics.

Today we celebrate, smile, laugh, dance our hearts out, shout at the top of our voice, rejoice, and feel proud! Feel very very proud!


P.S: Wondering how we can contribute to help our athletes and their cause? Want to see more medal in the future Olympics – believe in them and their potential? Here is what I’m going to do and I suggest we all do our small bit – Go Power your Champion at the Olympic Gold Quest.

Mary, Saina, Krishna, You and I…

Mary Kom – Boxing. In contention for Gold,Silver or Bronze Medal at Olympics 2012. 5 times World Champion.

29, Mother of twin boys, Coached by her husband – her mentor, her guide the man behind the woman. She never forgot the support her father-in-law gave her in pursuing her career post her marriage. She convinced her father that she wanted to be a boxer and he vowed he would do whatever it needed to support her aspirations , if need be even sacrifice himself. With their support and belief – she overcame it all – poverty, hunger, discrimination, death threats – and turned their dreams into a reality.

Saina Nehwal – Badminton. Bronze Medallist Olympics 2012. World No 4. 5 Super Series Titles

22, Daughter of  a Scientist. Both parents were former national champions in Haryana and influenced her foray into badminton. Ably supported by her father who could not hide his pride when his daughter won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics last Saturday. Years of hard work had gone into her win. He a middle class man – spent half of his income on training his 8 year old daughter , waking up in the morning, taking her to the stadium 20 Kms away from their home at 6.00 a.m every single day. With little or practically no help from the sports authorities of the state or India – Saina’s father gave up all he had to see his daughter shine at the highest level and make her country proud. Coached by one of India’s finest badminton stars Pulela Gopichand – Saina continues to shine.

Krishna Poonia – Athletics. 7th in the Discus Throw Finals. Olympics 2012

35, mother of a 8 year old son, first woman to win a Gold in Track & Field Events at the CommonWealth Games 2010. Only the 6th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and field event at the Olympics. Refused assistance of INR 1lakh by the Rajasthan Government for training abroad – funded the training out of her own pocket. Her husband , Virender Singh also a former athlete – her biggest support who inspired her to pursue her sports career even after marriage. She hails from a small village Agroha, Haryana . Lost her mother early, managed studies, training and household work and milked buffaloes. Her father supported her in her endeavours and today watches on proudly as his daughter goes on to represent her country at the biggest stage.

Their triumphs are not just the triumphs of feminism or womanhood – their triumphs are triumphs of unity. Their triumphs I hope will inspire an entire generation of women – but more importantly I hope their stories fall on the ears of the men folk of their country, my country – India.

Behind their success is the success of their fathers, husbands, fathers-in-law, coaches – men who supported and backed these women to achieve their moment in the sun.

In India, very few women are blessed with supportive males in their families be it a father, brother or husband. Every woman -– however successful, however educated, however famous – has at some point in her life sacrificed a little for her man , willingly or unwillingly –with  no questions asked. If she is lucky, she has been appreciated. I see this inequality everyday – at work, amongst my friends & family , amongst the educated, amongst the orthodox,amongst the rich and the poor, always in the news on television and in the papers. Every single day!

And then I read the stories of Mary Kom, Saina, and Krishna and I hope they will bring a change in my country.

Their tales teach us what you the man and me the woman can achieve together, what a father-daughter, coach-student, husband-wife, mother-son, mother-father can achieve together. Together – you and I – the guy and the gal we are not different, we are the same, you are not better, I’m not lesser – you and I we are equal, you respect me and I respect you, you believe in me and I prove your faith , you give me the push and I run faster, you help me sail and then I soar – you have to be my shield when I take my sword to fight my battles.

I can fight alone, this country – this society expects me to fight my battles alone, always has, always will, to forever prove my worth & fight for my rights across generations. You are given everything you need without a question asked because you are the man – me the woman, I’m questioned all the time. I have to always put you ahead of me. That has to change.

I’ve changed, I’m changing but you need to step up – you need to catch up – you need to be beside me – then we will truly win. You and I can’t work in isolation – you and I can’t be at loggerheads, you and I can’t be fighting with each other – you cannot see a victory in my loss, you cannot be strong by crushing me.

You and I need to be with each other, to work together, you have to take pride in my achievements , you have to help me find my way to success, you have to ease my battles – You and I need to be together to make those miracles a reality in our country – our India.

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