A Labor of Love

Life can be a drudgery; stumbling in and out of a time loop, wherein only dreams provide solace,
But then I found you; the loop ceasing intermittently with your warm and tender gaze.

The stolen kisses and brief exchanges,
The magnanimity of your heart that can’t be measured in token words,
The simplicity of your approach to everything that, oft, stems from love
In this all, I have discovered a sense of completeness I remain indebted to deserve.

I may belabor on the minute, and borrow from your steady patience
Even then, you manage to placate me with your mere presence; for many, an aberration

Dearest hubby, in you, I have preserved a bit of my heart and all of my soul
Keep it guarded in your deepest chamber, for your heart is made of gold.

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Posted in India, Love, marriage, Poetry, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One year down, saath janam to go! – Cheenus’ 1st Anniversary

My husband and I are poles apart.

His dressing sense is impeccable, with his accessories perfectly matching his wardrobe. I barely manage to comb my hair every day and expect it to take the tangled avatar of a cannabis loving devotee in the coming years.

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He is a phone person and can chat at any hour. I cringe at the sight of a phone call, as evident in this cartoon.

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I seldom call people back, unless it’s for work or I’ve been specifically asked to do so by the spouse almighty.

He is not much of a reader, and obliges to read my blogs, majorly because I can give him offspring. I aim to read a few books in a year and finish reading an entire article by the time he has conquered the first paragraph.

Otherwise having a significant social circle, today, he is reticent to meet new people. As for me, I have a limited circle of those whom I call close, but do well to find commonalities with babies or ‘budhe’ alike.

We have literally been poles apart too, with much of my 20s spent in the US and his in India.

Our first meeting took place in a French class in 9th grade. Over the course of learning to write meaningless French postcards without any emphasis on actually speaking la langue francais, we became friends. In reality, he claims he was infatuated with the front bencher girl who often had morning goo stuck on her eyes (ahem, me).

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Us in 2007 (comment written by hubby) 🙂

Despite such a romantic start, we remained friends for the remainder of the school years, not conversing beyond studies and grades. We briefly met on my visit to India over freshman year vacations, wherein he attempted to convey his infatuation. I was dumbstruck by the sheer number of kilos he lost in one year of hostel life.

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I, being the socially awkward mess that I am, could not comprehend the subtle hints of his love even then. We even watched “Jaane Ne Tu Ya Jaane Ya” together with a friend, and that ironically, remained the theme of our relationship.

 
We gathered some momentum when I reached out to him years later. He finally confessed and by then, we had matured enough to understand that this is love.

Not the mushy kind they drown you with in poorly written novels and scripts, but the kind that just exists because we both chose each other, with all our goodness and darkness intact. My father, as strict as he was in department of love, had even preserved all the Birthday and Greeting cards Achint had mailed to me in the States.

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Despite what he says, I must admit I am the more fortunate one.

In this one year of our married life, boy have we become a little more of each other.

I’ve learned to groom myself better and match his cleanliness by organizing my closet and indulging in the occasional facial to remove blackheads, an activity reminding me that one can vicariously visit hell.

I’ve learned to pick up calls, and (gasp!) call loved ones to check up on them, especially after the hubby has incentivized by baking cake.

He, on the other hand, has developed a decent reading habit and finished a novel in a week, in the same moments I was still youtubing a Kangana Ranaut video.

Moreover, he had found kindness in his heart to give me company when I am dancing alone at a function, and encouraging my loony dance videos on Instagram.

I’d be honest in saying that I was apprehensive of marrying a man whose favorite movies include “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” and “Aisha” and letting those cinematic choices sink into the genes of our future generations.

But, such is the uniqueness of marriage. You choose to love this person, with all their flaws intact, and adopt him/her into your life. Your fondness grows with time, from attraction to a general feeling of friendship and finally ending with siblinghood (basis what couples with 25+ years of marriage tell me!)  

In this one year of our married life, we have had our share of arguments, with one being so terrible that both of us felt intense pains during the silent treatment. This went on for a few hours until we finally caved and checked each other’s blood pressure to make sure our stupid fight hadn’t hemorrhaged our vital organs.  

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We’ve also shared some of the most fluffy (ode to Minions movie) moments of togetherness, not necessarily on vacations, but even in the simple comfort of our routinely lives.

As we celebrate our 1st anniversary, with my white to black hair ratio going out of proportion, and his face not ageing a day since he turned 16, I am excited and also a bit nervous by the prospects of where life takes us. Loved ones almost certainly pass away and one has to be mentally prepared for the most joyous and/or most tragic of outcomes.

To have the freedom to voice our anger and grief in the moments we are burdened by them and express our love in the chances we don’t forsakenly regret; all of this has been instrumental in making this mangalsutra, maang-tika infused matrimony work, thereby paying reverence to the court document that has declared us to be husband and wife.

A happy 1st year anniversary to us!
Love Cheeni and Cheenu.

Posted in Humor, India, Laughter, Life, marriage, New Delhi, New York City, Peace, spirituality, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Bloody Good Flick! – Rangoon Review

Of the many releases this year, let us first explore the recent hits.
Raees was SRK’s baby, with Mahira Khan’s presence not exceeding beyond his romantic sequences and delivery of a baby boy.

Kaabil was Hrithik Roshan’s comeback film, helmed by his daddy, wherein he utilizes the prowess of his senses, other than that of sight, to take revenge on his wife’s rapists. Yami Gautam is, once again, reduced to a simpering damsel in distress with less screen space than a grandeur set in a Bhansali film.

Lastly, Jolly LLB 2 is Akshay Kumar’s renewed attempt at Mr. Goody Two Shoes, with meaty court dialogues. His wife, Huma Qureshi, is seen drinking away bhang in a Holi song sequence, or whiskey at home, or at best, emoting away from the sidelines of the court audience.

What makes actresses choose such roles? Perhaps, they are simply satisfied being cast alongside a Khan, Kumar or the likes. Or perhaps, there is still a sincere dearth of good scripts coming their way.

Now let’s come to Rangoon.

Kangana is the stand-out performer, amidst seasoned stars like Shahid and Saif.

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This is not to say that Bhardwaj has showcased the heroes any less. In fact, all 3 of them have significant parts to play, in the film, and also within the complexity of each other’s lives.

As Kangana stated in Johar’s chat show, her relationship with Saif is towards one end of the spectrum of possessive and controlling, whereas her relationship with Shahid is on the other end of empowering and free, almost Sufi-like in nature.

All three of them were a class act, and one cannot imagine anyone else in their shoes.

But Kangana’s character stole the show. As Miss Julia of 1940’s, she is reminiscent of Fearless Nadia of Hunterwali fame. The darling of her audience, Julia has a feisty spirit that could only be unearthed by her romantic encountering with Nawab (Shahid) in the jungles of Rangoon. An untouchable by birth, and bought by Rusi (Saif) from her mother as a street performer named Jwala Devi, she has had a tumultuous past. But that doesn’t stop her from single-handedly saving Nawab from a moving train and recovering the Maharaja’s priceless sword for INA’s cause. She nabs bad guys just as well as she nabs her inner demons.

To portray a character, so authentically, that you laugh when she dances silly in front of Japanese soldiers, and cry when she digs a grave for her makeup man in the pouring rain, is brilliance personified.

Rangoon is Bhardwaj’s dream of casting a love triangle amid war, and he has weaved that magical world beautifully, albeit flawed in few parts, especially the unusual ending.

The muddy kiss between Nawab and Julia, and her sword exchange with the suave Rusi are some hitherto seen before moments between a leading lady and actor in Indian cinema.

Bloody hell, I’d say Rangoon is a legacy for the cinegoers and makers to come.

Posted in Bollywood, Box office, Feminism, Love, Movie Reviews, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Goodness Grief

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There’s a scene from FRIENDS that particularly touches a chord. Phoebe is convinced that a lost cat has taken on the spirit of her deceased mother. As silly as the premise is, Phoebe is undeterred and Ross is hell-bent on convincing her of the contrary. This becomes a clash of the emotional versus the rational. When he is done lecturing her, Phoebe asks him a simple question – “Ross, how many parents have you lost?”
Embarrassedly, he answers – “None.”
“Well then you don’t know what it feels like when one of them comes back, do you?”
This elicits laughter from the audience and I realized in that instance that not everyone will “get” Phoebe. Her quirkiness perhaps, but not the masked grief of her character.

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Up until the detection of my father’s illness, I would have stated with confidence that I am living with no regrets; a life of italicized sayings that are oft embedded in travel sites, with picturesque photos.

But that is no longer the case.

I have many regrets, and I shall be buried with them all.
Regret of not researching enough alternative therapies to save my father; regret of him not being able to see me as a bride; regret of not doing enough.

When pilgrims visit a holy site, they wish for varied fulfillments – prosperity, health, everlasting happiness. Statistics and science become secondary in the realm of faith.

Pushing hoards of folks to get a glimpse of a deity’s manifestation/bejeweled idol guarantees nothing; still, faith permeates in the heart and soul of every visitor, who treads for hours and even days to get a glimpse. It’s a stunning motivation, at least, for the heart and mind.

Up until the detection of my father’s illness, I prayed for my family’s well-being.
After the detection, I prayed for his recovery.
After he departed, I stopped wishing altogether.

Brief about Grief

Many of us experience sorrow in the routinely passing of our lives. Then there are some for whom grief becomes embedded in our DNA*. We encounter it, time and time again, in uncanny moments that evoke it, be it a framed family photo, or conversations that seem too dull without the presence of those who departed.
Grief, then, becomes the connector for us select few; continually reminding us that while we appear to be the same on the outside, we have changed, rather, evolved into wholly new individuals. 

Relief

Admission of our regrets and acceptance of grief is a relieving exercise. More than that, it can propel us to persevere ahead, wherein our grief, serves not as a hindrance, but as a motivation. 

Take the case of the admirable Dorris Francis, India’s Traffic Queen. In 2009, Ms Francis and her daughter, Nikki, were travelling in an autorickshaw when a speeding car hit them. Nikki passed away from her injuries. 
“She died, I survived. I wish traffic was managed better that day,” she told the BBC. Since then she had been selflessly managing the traffic in the same spot in Ghaziabad day after day. Unfortunately, she has recently been diagnosed with cancer and well-wishers on crowd-funding site, Milaap, are successfully raising funds for her treatment. (I encourage you all to donate!)

My most recent regret was the wastage of food on my wedding day. Especially food that could have been donated. Now, I can recommend start-ups like Feeding India org, whose kind volunteers pick up leftover food after an event and donate it to those in need.
You may select other charities of your choice (check for Charity Navigator ratings) and donate as you deem fit.
My personal favorite is Sunitha Krishnan’s anti-trafficking unit Prajwala (safely donate via their Global Giving page). The braveheart Sunita was a victim of gangrape in her teens, which served as the impetus for her notable mission to rescue, protect, and rehabilitate girls and women from the horrors of sex trafficking. Out of Prajwala’s 200 employees, 70% are survivors themselves.

Gratitude in Grief

Grief is valid for all those who experience it and processing it is personal to every individual. The more you compare one another’s grief, the less you understand.
Pitying of strangers does no more good than applying band-aid over band-aid.

But this does not imply that we become stagnant in our grief. In fact, I’m more grateful for things today, that I could hitherto imagine before.fullsizerender-3

 

 

Gratitude for my mother’s practice and setting up own her Homeopathy clinic.

 

 

 

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Gratitude for the man who may not always “get” my grief, yet his love heals in more ways than he can imagine.

 

 

 

So all you grieving souls – welcome to our group.
May this journey of everlasting evolvement continue…till my next blog 🙂

A short poem to end this note-

Grieving is akin to wearing an Invisibility Cloak.
A mind dancing to other’s tunes in the midst of merry folk.

In a world that is routinely bitten by news of delight and doom,
Free yourself of buried sorrows and the regrets that can’t be exhumed.

*This is not to be mistaken with depression, which is a more serious concern
Posted in India, Love, marriage, Morality, New Delhi, Peace, Poetry, spirituality, Strength of a Woman, Uncategorized, Writing | 5 Comments

Befikre is So Bakwaas, I Dare You to Watch It

befikre.pngMy husband and I met in French class, and decided to watch Befikre, assuming this movie would transport us to scenic Paris. 
It did, except in the more cringeworthy way possible.

Several couples left the theater at interval itself. We stayed put, thinking Aditya Chopra can’t commit this level of injustice.  

If there is ever a human embodiment of a sperm, it is Ranveer Singh. This embodiment transcends from his reel life portrayal onto his real life antics as well. Vaani Kapoor has nailed the la langue francais, but the movie focuses so heavily on her kissing, than actually speaking any significant lines.

It’s amazing how Ranveer, who is shown winning a chicken wings eating competition, starts swaying to Nashe Si Chadh Gayi in the next frame. Because anaar dana churana! He’s from Karol Bagh, so he occasionally does Pairi Pauna with Vaani’s parents in Paris, who by the way, look as dumbfounded throughout the film as we did.

Vaani is French by birth and that is the only explanation for the way she is — disoriented and keenly attracted to the Karol Bagh cartoon. In the end scene, she has a brief, perhaps the only, heart-to-heart moment with her mother. The scene is captured with Vaani cooking a parantha in Picardy (dafuq!), re-emphasizing that Yash Raj films have some weird fascination with the dish (recall “gobhi ke paranthas” in Mujhse Dosti Karoge).

My favorite part of the movie is when there is a seductive dance-off between the lead pair, under the guise of the “sangeet” night at a beautiful chateaux in Picardy. These two actors continue their charade of Ishq Shava type grinding, which would be okay, except their respective (to-be) spouses, one an investment banker and the other a blonde chick, are happily clapping and wooing them on. Are you effin serious? Sure, Parisians may ooze romance from their elysees, but c’mon, they aren’t numb to other human emotions.  

The movie is so banal, so absurd, so utterly atrocious, that it makes you want to say sorry to all those watching the movie with you. The 2nd worst film I’ve had the courage to see, since Love Story 2050.

A moment of silence of for all those who suffered. Be-ware.

Posted in Bollywood, Comedy, India, Movie Reviews, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reflections of a Married Indian Woman

One of the primary benefits of getting married, I suppose, is appeasing the doubts of all relatives about whether or not you intend to die alone. They are satisfied in knowing that you will also bear the same tribulations in marriage as they did. This will provide fodder for future communications, especially those recycled Whatsapp forwards in a family group chat.

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With only 4 months of marriage under my belt, I am no pundit to belch out any advice about getting hitched. I can only share the changes within me, as an ode to the man who inspired them.

For me, there is great peace in knowing there is someone at the end of the day who is willing to hear my rants about, say, being too gaseous from the day’s meal (and at times, even be a witness to the toots without much fuss).

It’s magical how most, if not all, of the world’s woes are resolved on their own, when I am in his arms. When a saddening memory of my father engulfs me in the middle of the night, I simply draw him closer and place his arm over myself. Happier memories surface and my sleep is restored, without him even knowing of the miracle he can create.

Of course, not all nights are so happy-go-lucky, and we make it a point to never sleep over a disagreement; to both say ‘sorry’ and diminish our egos, and realize in the morning that there was no point arguing over what a chatty uncle or inquisitive aunty may have said.     

Marriage has made me happy to know that I can explore the world with a constant companion who is very different from me; and that helps me understand more about myself in the process. And this companion gradually adopts your tastes and finds you beautiful, even when you haven’t had the chance to thread your eyebrows since the wedding.

As an Indian man, he is excited by the prospect of applying vermilion to my hair parting when I wear a sari to a relative’s place; and just as comfortably takes off my mangalsutra when he knows it will not match well with my western dress. It is this ease in his approach that makes him so balanced as a person first, then partner.

There are subtle things I have begun to do for my husband without much thought and vice versa. These actions are, at times, out of love, and at times, out of that throbbing vein or constipated look from your better half that begets you to change unruly habits, or adopt new ones.
Simple things like making him an omelette at 4am before he catches his early flight; or him taking a half day so he can bake me a cake for my birthday; or me learning how to use the poop shower and not just resorting to toilet paper (US citizen for the win!!).

Of course, there are plenty emotional downsides in the process of loving another soul, such as– being overly worried when they are away on office trip and cannot take your call; or disappointment when they are unable to make time for a weekly dinner; or the other extreme — finding crucial alone time from your spouse, so you may reflect upon your minute presence in the universe.
To give perspective to the latter, the only time I can catch up on my novels is during the flights to official meetings outside of Delhi, and the only time I really got a chance to write all of this is in between office lunch breaks.

But these are all achievable headwinds.
Because you grow a little bit more each day by means of loving and not so loving experiences. Tiffs seem ordinary after some time.  And reunions after days of being away are akin to devouring the most intoxicating chocolate you have ever had the good fortune to taste.

I’m thankful for his grace, and his uncanny ability to adopt my mother as his own, and check up on her health more than I ever did on a daily basis. I’m thankful for his love, and his contagious kindness, the kind that makes you love his family as your own and feel like you already have a son in his nephew. Moreover, I’m amazed by his adeptness with sign language that he so comfortably uses with his differently abled sister and brother-in-law. I’m thankful for his patient listening and his innocent approach to solving any problem.

In the end, marriage is not for everybody. Sacrifice and compromise are necessary ingredients. 
You can’t expect your partner to fix the issues that need to be resolved on your own.   

But I can certainly say that marriage has been an exciting new chapter, wherein I have a fellow protagonist who is gradually shaping the narrative of my novel towards an end of comforting contentment.
And to savor a novel of such priceless sentiments, I will always make time.  

Below is a photo of Chinu working his mojo, as he looks on at our pre-wedding shoot at Taj Mahal 🙂
(p.s. He’s wearing my late father’s suit)

Pre-wedding shoot

Posted in Comedy, Humor, India, Love, marriage, New Delhi, Peace, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dignity in Death

There is dignity in death,
in a mother’s sacrifices or a countryman’s valor
It is an end that binds us all,
for even in our very last breath,
It is only nature we honor

But death is rarely presented such
For a destiny so certain
We are riddled with fear,
and this living becomes so often, a burden to bear

Many are seeking asylum from some disease
And those who choose to end their lives must be too coward to leave
Myriad stories spoken with bewilderment of someone’s demise
“What a pity! How can this be?!”

Myths are abound of what shall happen next
Reincarnated as that leaf, or rotting in some helluva mess
It is quite the mystery, so extraordinarily dissected for ages in history

That old man’s life is not so imminent
Age is just another detractor
Wealth shall never be more significant
Than a kind man’s love and a child’s laughter

Accept death as another phenomenon
And the next leg as an exciting chapter
Then see how your world changes
Of life, one grows so much fonder

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Posted in Biology, Health & Nature, Love, Peace, Poetry, Reading, Soul, spirituality, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment