Our lock down Woes…

लोकडाउन, जो की ख़त्म होने का नाम ही ले रहा …

तो लोक डाउन में लोग क्या कर रहे हैं
जो मुझे दिखा, वो आपको दिखा रही हूँ …

या तो लोग पका रहे हैं
या तो लोग पक रहे हैं

या तो लोग खा रहे हैं
या तो लोग गा रहे है

या तो लोग फॉरवर्ड कर है हैं
या तो लोग फॉरवर्ड पढ़ रहे हैं

या तो लोग ज्ञान दे रहे हैं
या तो लोग ज्ञान ले रहे हैं

या तो लोग वेबिनार कर रहे हैं
या तो लोग हैडफ़ोन लगा कर वेबिनार सुन रहे हैं

कोई न्यूज़ चैनल्स के साथ दिन की शुरआत
दिन का अंत न्यूज़ चैनलों को कोसने के साथ

कोई भजन सुन रहा है, कोई ग़ज़ल सुन रहा है
कोई रैप लिख रहा है, कोई पॉप गा रहा है

कुछ नहीं तो माँ पापा का भाषण तो है ही
कमरा गन्दा है तो कहेंगे, कुत्ता भी दूम हिला के बैठता है

पति पत्नी के तकरार तो पूरे शबाब पर है
मायके जाने की धमकी भी कारगर नहीं है

हर विवाद बहुत सोच समझी रणनीति हो गयी है
कुछ ऐसे ही कहना, ता उम्र आपका पीछा नहीं छोड़ेगा

सारे राज़ खुल गए, राज़ कोई ना रहा
बॉस का डांटना, साथियों का मज़ाक बनाना

आपकी किसकी बुराई कर रहे हो
कौन आपकी बुराई कर रहा है

सब कुछ बिग बॉस की दो आंखों में क़ैद है
जो सही समय उड़न तश्तरी की तरह बरपेगा 

व्हाट्सप्प तो जैसे संकट मोचन बना हुआ है
हर दुःख-सुख, अच्छे-बुरे, ख़ुशी – ग़म में आपका साथी

बिना डिग्री वाले भी व्हाट्सप्प यूनिवर्सिटी से
डिग्री ले चुके हैं, बस सर्टिफिकेट का इंतज़ार है

हमारे साथ की उम्र ऐ व्हाट्सप्प
तेरे नाम पे शुरू तेरे नाम पे ख़तम

अगर मेक उप ठीक ठाक है, तो वीडियो कॉल
नहीं तो नेटवर्क प्रॉब्लम

ऐसे ही कटी हमारी लॉक डाउन की सदा
आपकी कैसे कटी? दीजिये पता! 

  • Bienu Verma Vaghela

 

 

 

Kab Tak?

कब तक?

चारों और कठिनाइयां ही कठिनाइयां
आकाश से समुन्दर तक तन्हाईयाँ ही तन्हाईयाँ

मन के संशय गहरे ही गहरे
कभी अंतर शांत और बाहर अशांत
कभी अंतर अशांत और बहार शांत
शान्ति या अशांति, कितना असमंजस

Sketch made by TANYA

समय इतना अमुल्यवाान कभी न था
जो काटा जाए या पोसा जाए कहना मुश्किल
ज्ञान इतना सस्ता और खान पान इतना महंगा
विवाद इतना सस्ता, समअझ इतनी मेहेंगी, कभी न थी 

क्या लोक डाउन क्या अनलॉक डाउन
इनके अंतर का अंतर समझना मुश्किल
क्या खुला क्या बंद, कहना मुश्किल
सरल है सिर्फ दूसरों की वार्तालाप सुन् ना

मन का अंतर्द्वंद ना कहा जाए
ना सुना जाए, सिर्फ समझा जाए
सब कहते हैं, कोरोना के साथ ही जीना मरना है
मरना तो ठीक है पर जीना, कहना मुश्किल

दर का सरमाया है, बहादुरी का दिखावा है
रस्सी सांप है या सांप रस्सी कहना मुश्किल है
कब तक जीवन इस दुविधा में रेनगेगा
या कभी यह जीवन भी सरपट दौड़ेगा

अजीब सी बदहवासी है,उससे भी ज्यादा उदासी है
हवायें ही हवाएं, लेकिन दरवाज़े, खिड़कियां बंद

अगर अब ऐसे ही जीना है, तो बदलाव की आस क्या?
अगर ठहराव् ही जीवन है, तो रफ़्तार का मूल्य क्या?

यूँ ही कब तक?

Tum Jiyo Hazaron Saal…Asha Tai!

Born Asha Mangeshkar on September 8, 1933, Asha Tai or Di, as we fondly address her, turns 87!

The younger sibling of legendary Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Di is well-known as Asha Bhonsle has been doing playback singing since 1948. The magic of her voice, the style of her singing, her understanding of music, her diction and her rendition of lyrics is unprecedented. A vibrant personality, she carved a niche for herself purely based on her talent when legendary singers like Lata ji, Geeta Dutt ji, Surraiyaji and Noorjahen ji were ruling the roost. She emerged on the scene owing to her unique voice and lilting rendition of songs. Her struggle owing to competition from such legendary singers is truly inspirational.

One of the most “versatile” singers India has seen in Asha Di, her magic is still the same when she sings in concerts. She can sing any genre of song with elan be it geet, ghazal, bhajan, pop, rock, qawwali, folk songs, sad songs, happy songs…whatever it is, she makes the song special. She has the honour of being the most recorded artist in the music industry and has a mention in the Guinness Book of world record. She was honoured with Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2000 and Padma Vibhushan in 2008, besides two national awards.

It would have been difficult for her to emerge on the scene at the start of her career as she got to sing the songs mainly rejected by top singers and were meant mainly for side heroines, vamps or even cabaret dancers. She received her first big break in CID after which there was no looking back. She belted out innumerable hits, one after another and became one of the favourite singers of the nation. People loved her for her songs and the way she sang her song…  she renders high notes songs and low notes with equal panache. Many of her songs, especially sung for Helenji have become cult songs and wouldn’t have been same, if not sung by Asha Di.

Life wouldn’t have been easy for being Lata Di’s sister, as she was constantly compared with her but she was a fighter and fought her way up by bringing the completely different genre of singing with classical, western-influence, pop, cabaret, ghazals. She was not the one to be shadowed by the mighty talent of her illustrious sister’s and kept on experimenting with music, giving the audiences songs that were groovy and delightful at the same time.

Her international sojourns are no less illustrious, she travelled all over the world to perform in concerts as well as collaborating with musicians overseas. She sang with famous musicians like Boy George for the song ‘Bow down mister’, collaborated with boy band Code Red. She performed in 13 cities in the USA in 20 days. She had sold-out concerts in Stockholm, Dubai, London, Canada and other countries. No wonder besides, top national honours, Asha Di has a Grammy nomination and an Immies in 2005 in her kitty.

These are few of my favourite Songs…

  • Chhod Do Aanchal, Paying Guest (1957)
  • Maang Ke Saath Tumhara, Naye Daur (1957)
  • Haal Kaisa Jai Janaab Ka, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
  • Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh, Shree 420 (1955)
  • Na To Karwan Ki Talash Hai, Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)
  • Kali Ghata Chhaye Mora Jiya, Sujata (1960)
  • Abhi Na Jao Chod Kar, Hum Dono (1962)
  • Nigahein Milane Ko Jee Chahta Hai, Dil Hi Toh Hai (1963)
  • Ab Ke Baras Bhejo, Bandini (1963)
  • Ishaaron Ishaaron Mein, Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)
  • Yeh Reshmi Zulfon Ka Andhera, Mere Sanam (1965)
  • Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu, Waqt (1965)
  • Aaja Aaja, Teesri Manzil (1966)
  • Bheegi Bheegi Faza, Anupama (1966)
  • Hum Intezar Karenge, Bahu Begum (1967)
  • Raat Ke Humsafar, An Evening in Paris (1967)
  • Parde Mein Rehne Do, Shikar (1968)
  • Dum Maro Dum, Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971)
  • Jab Andhera Hota Hai, Raja Rani (1973)
  • Chura Liya Hai Tumne, Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973)
  • Neend Churake Raaton Mein, Shareef Baadmaash (1973)
  • Bechara Dil Kya Kare, Khushboo (1975)
  • Sara Pyaar Tumhara, Anand Ashram (1977)
  • Do Lafzon Ki Hai Dil, The Great Gambler (1979)
  • Dil Cheez Kya Hai, Umrao Jaan (1981)
  • Aur Kya Ehde Wafa Hote Hai, Sunny (1984)
  • Roz Roz Aankhon Tale, Jeeva (1986)
  • Arre Yaar Meri Tum Bhi Ho Gazab, Teen Deviyan (1965)

Happy Birthday, Asha Di!

A teacher affects eternity, no one knows where her influence stops!

I would succeed the way I have done always. Dear Teacher, Thanks for inspiring hope in me; Igniting my imagination; And instilling in me – a love of learning. Happy Teacher’s Day! We will always be thankful to you for all the hard work and efforts you have put in, for educating us. – Anonymous

Teachers’ Day is truly special, which brings special memories of those teachers who shaped our lives – personally/ professionally.

As  September 5 approaches, I go down memory lane to my wonderful school days which remain the best years of my life till date. The school in question here is Kendriya Vidyalaya ONE, Bhopal, MP. KVs had just started opening then with a novel concept of imparting education, till then it was either convent or HEL school. (Heavy Electrical Ltd. Bhopal).

There is an interesting story of how I landed in KV, ONE.

I was studying in St. Joseph’s Convent, Idgah Hills in Bhopal – primary section. My father’s friend (Rawat Uncle) told my father about KV coming up near Arera Hills, primarily for the education of Army Children. Acting on his behest, one Sunday morning, papa told me, “Come I will take you to a new school.” I said, “I love my school.” He must have said something and I agreed to visit that school.

As a child, the school looked to be quite primitive, it was nowhere close to the school I was studying. Without me knowing, my father handed me over to a teacher in the school for a written test. I wrote the test and happily came out. On the way, I told my father about the questions and the answers I wrote. This was an admission test for the second standard. As I told you KVs were mainly for Army children and they got preference there. I being a Civilian Child had to compete.

Anyway, the results came out. Rawat uncle told my father that results have been announced, just to find out, my father visited the school, he was impressed with the school as it looked like his pathshaala (probably)! I was the only student who had scored 100 PC, all answers right. My parents must have been happy. Now the spin, Principal said, “All seats of the second standard are full (preferential). So, we propose to take your daughter in the third standard.” The reaction I don’t know, but action changed the course of my life (admission in KV ONE).

Initially, I was not happy, his friends also said, “It is so difficult to get admission in St. Josephs and you are going  for a new school.” But as destiny would have it, or my father would have it: It was KV ONE, THIRD GRADE for me. It became the talk of his office, Varmaji’s daughter got one standard jump that too in KV.”    

Soon I started loving my school, it was a most brilliant assortment of students, teachers and Principal Sir (Mr K.S.Kulshresth – a dedicated disciplinarian). Students were mostly army children from different States right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. (My daughter marvels how I know so many surnames and so many States so well). I started learning what it was like to love our country, its culture, its heritage! I started wearing Nationalism on my sleeve, and do it till today!

Life started moving on, from Christian Carols to:

Morning Prayers: असतो माँ सद्गमय तमसो माँ ज्योतिर्गमय

National Anthem: जन गन मन अधिनयक जय हे भारत भाग्य विधाता

KV Anthem: भारत का स्वर्णिम गौरव केंद्रीय विद्यालय लाएगा

Assembly Pledge: भारत हमारा देश है, हम सब वासी भाई बेहेन हैं

I took part in all school activities, scored good marks rather ranks in all terms. I became a star in the colony (well almost). English, my most favourite subject gave me jitters here, yes! I was scoring well in English throughout, nothing less than a “very good” while in Convent, whereas here in KV my English Teacher, Mrs Deshpande, after giving whatever marks never forgot to mention – Poor Expression! This must-have worried my parents no end. In every PTA she told my mom, she needs to work on her expression. I somehow wanted to get rid of the expression, probably no one knew how to do it (Google nahi tha na bhai). My mother devoted a lot of time on my English and that helped. I scored well in exams and this made Mrs Deshpande very happy. Today, I immensely value her note, and know the importance of expression in any language.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

In next class, I had become House Prefect and News Reader of the morning assembly with a badge: First In Class. Teachers kept me motivated all the time. Then I hated Mrs Deshpande for her “Poor Expression” remark but I couldn’t be thankful enough to that great teacher. Her English was impeccable, she knew all meanings, grammar, poems, stories … whatnot. Though according to her, I had improved, she expressed to my mom that there is a room for improvement. So, I was pushed more to study English, not just to score but to take out that keeda out of Mrs Deshpande’s mind. Probably seeds were sown that I would go for higher studies in English.

After spending just remarkable years in school, my father got transferred to Jhansi. Now it was KV Jhansi, worst school anyone would go to. The English Teacher here was Barrow Sir, a Christian gentleman, handsome looking (La Jackie Shroff), a disciplinarian who hardly taught English. He gave us an assignment to copy one para from the book every day, just to improve our handwriting. For the whole session, not a single chapter moved. So I owe my good handwriting to him. He stressed on neat and clean copies with good hand-writing. It made me so well equipped with writing that I won all India hand-writing competition amidst KVs. Barrow Sir was a visionary, fetched me the first award!

Instead of all this, my father never praised me, but he took a lot of pride in me always! Another incident: My father visited his boss’s house for some work, who was yet to come out to meet him. While waiting, he moved to his child’s table who was writing something in his notebook. Impressed, my father commented: “Arre Beta your handwriting is very good, nice copy.”  The child replied: Uncle this is the notebook of Bienu Verma, my classmate, she is the winner of the hand-writing competition.”

I don’t know how my father would have reacted then.  Anyways…

Today,I am an active member of KV Group on Social Media and revisit those days quite often.

My post is a tribute to my Father & Mom, Mrs Deshpande, Barrow Sir, Mrs Grover, Mrs Chibber, Mrs Ania Loomba Francis, Swaroopa Mukherjee, Renuka Wanchoo, Tapan Basu, N.C.Kanwar and Father Pinto from Hindu College, Delhi University. 

Teachers in the family: Sarvesh Bhaiyya, Kalpana didi, Kirti, Prabhat & Sangeeta Varma, Vandita …

To our daughters: Tanya, Anuksha, Ananya, who teach us new things every day!

I, the perennial student, salute all the teachers on this planet, who are doing such selfless service to humanity.

 

 

BILLO RANI, KAHO TO…

Lockdown due to pandemic was one of the most unprecedented happenings of its time when human beings were holed up inside and animals were roaming freely. The virus had brought 360-degree spin in our lives, as remaining indoors 24×7 was no mean feat. When it was imposed on March 22, we thought: How this would be possible? Then we said: Will manage 15-20 days but it got stretched to six months, well almost and corona leaving our planet, is nowhere in the sight.

Life changed drastically from full-time job to full-time home.

At least, this was something new for me, so I had to alter my schedule to suit the requirements of the new life. Another big issue was housework, which I was not used to. When my mom asked me to learn to do some housework like cooking, cleaning, dishes etc. I always replied: We should focus on larger goals, we have help available for these. Now, COVID failed this funda also!  We were on our own!! It’s not that I didn’t know all this, as marriage and motherhood teach even those things which we had never ever expected, so what is cooking, cleaning et al.

Morning chores elongated so morning stroll was out of question. I have a habit of strolling after lunch, which I continued. I noticed a cute little cat use to follow me while I was walking and after finishing the walk, she will park herself nicely on the foot rough placed outside the door. I asked Tanya about her, who is a great cat lover. She said, “She lives in the building and is a community pet.” See I learnt another new term: community pet! Now, what’s that? She said, “they live in societies and people feed them and get them injected so that they don’t spread infection. “Impressive” I replied.

So, our community pet started coming to our home at 2 PM as soon as I opened the door for a walk and started asking me for food. Tanya told me she is hungry, “Give her milk” and “roti” if there is any. That day there was none, from the next day I started making chapati for her and she loved eating chapati over milk. After having her fill, she will sleep on the foot rough or sleep on the park’s bench. This became a routine for me watching her eat and deriving satisfaction like a mother when the child eats well. She started recognizing me, if Tanya was at door she will jump inside and look for me around. Now she comes both times for lunch and dinner.

Even with a mask on, she will follow me in the building and come home with me for her fix of milk. Once she noticed that foot rough inside the room was cosier and softer, now she wanted to sleep on that. As soon as we opened the door, she will walk inside to park herself on that mat, now I gave that to her officially, so she sits on it outside. Another day, when she came looking for me, she sat on the carpet in the drawing-room and waited for me. Now she found that the carpet was even more comfortable and big, now she wanted to sit on the carpet near my workstation.

She became a family member, and I must say I have never seen such a loving and expressive cat in my life. She understands whatever I say like: Sit here, Wait, I am coming, finish your milk, now sleep. I love the way she fights with me for food and jumps at looking at her tiffin in my hand. She has beautiful eyes, furry and neat and clean. I don’t let her go out of the building. I started calling her: Billo.  When I call her: Billo finish your food, she does it. She never gets angry on me; how much I scold her. She is a loving cat, not a clever cat. Tanya calls her: Buddhu Billu!

An interesting incident happened on Tanya’s birthday. Tanya and her friends were enjoying lunch that day in the dining area. So, I went outside to look for Billo and as I opened the door, she jumped inside and moved towards the kitchen and saw me picking something from the dining table. I walked out and told her: Come Billo, have food. I gave her a chicken piece to eat. OMG! she ate so well, just loved it! For three days she only wanted to eat chicken and stopped eating lunch chapati. Since then, as I open the door she rushes to the area and expects chicken.

We have struck a bond which is beyond words, beyond the understanding of many!

Another upside of lockdown!!

Photoshoot by Tanya, my daughter! 

 

 

 

“COME SEPTEMBER” 2020

What would be better than welcoming this September 2020 with the music: “Come September” from the 1961 movie by the same name? 

My father an English Music Buff had this record – LP record of those times, which was passed on to me later. Years later, when this record was played and I was hooked on to this foot-tapping number, I couldn’t help but dance, dance and dance as a little girl. What a pleasure it was to listen to this Instrumental rendition on the old gramophone with LP record playing on it. The song ‘Come September‘ was recorded with guitars, mandolins, piano accordions and the bongo, giving stress to a loving lilt.

Since, I never forget to play this tune on the first day of every September which is a month of hope, positivity, the onset of festive seasons, stepping in of autumn and so much more…

… The symbolism of September month focuses on refocusing our energies.

September is the only month with the same number of letters in its name as the number of the month: it is the ninth month and has nine letters. The Anglo-Saxons called September Gerst Monath (Barley Month) or Haefest Monath (Harvest Month) celebrating the barley harvest. September is the time to celebrate cooler weather. It’s still warm enough to enjoy without freezing, but not unbearably hot and humid, and there’s a delightful crispness in the air. September is the only month in which you can enjoy both summer and fall.

The story of this Instrumental composition goes like this: Salter asked Darin to compose an instant tune inspired by autumn which would be romantic as well as foot-tapping, and Darin obliged. A spellbound Mulligan asked him to repeat the tune twice. He was now confident about young Darin’s ability and signed him to compose the theme music of “Come September”. Unconsciously, his feet started tapping to his own creation as he wielded the baton

The movie “Come September” (1961) too had an offbeat for those times where every September American Millionaire Robert L. Talbot stays in his villa at the beautiful Italian Riviera together with his Roman girl-friend Lisa Fellini. One year he arrives early in July – quite unexpected by Lisa, who is in the midst of preparations to marry an Englishman, as she sees no future in a one-month-per-year relationship. Yet when Robert calls, she drops everything, packs her bags, and catches the next train to meet Robert at his villa. Watch the movie for the love for its music and story!

May September bring you lots of happiness & health for humanity which has been suffering immensely from last six month.

Let the HOPE prevail, till then you listen to this melodious foot-tapping number.

My cup of comfort – Vandana: Happy Birth Day!

We (read: Me & Vandana) descended on this planet with a very small gap – well almost together! She is my mama’s daughter and I am her Bua’s daughter. Our bond is the reflection of the bond shared by my mother with her dear brother. Vandana, an important part of my life’s journey, from early childhood to till now…what could have been a better gift than a blog post dedicated to her on her birthday on August 31, 2020.

We grew up together, spent most of our summer vacations together till we finished school and had a wonderful time during our teenage years. We use to talk, walk, cook, shop, movies, gossip, fight, discuss … everything! Both of us didn’t have real sisters so we were sisters and more of friends. While growing up, she looked beautiful for her rose & petals complexion and charming mannerisms. She attracted everybody’s attention at first glance, whereas I was a plain Jane with my dusky complexion and mediocre looks. Not only in looks, but we were also a distance apart in our thinking, approach, attitude and upbringing. Probably this uniqueness of traits made our bond stronger. She used to enjoy life in every which way and took life as it came, whereas I was always busy thinking…God knows what!

Time flew and it was time for marriage for both of us, and this is when life took a 360-degree turn for both of us. The pretty looking Vandana swept my hone wale jijaji off his feet and their marriage was fixed, this was the year 1984. All the preparations of marriage were done to be solemnised on November 12, 1984, and I did a lot of shopping for her marriage being the most prominent saali (sister-in-law).

But destiny had other plans for me (shocking & devastating), my father passed away due to a massive heart attack on the morning of November 10, 1984. The world turned topsy-turvy for us, the whole family was shattered and reached our house to be with us. The times were critical as there was curfew all over, due Indira Gandhi assassination in Delhi and everybody had to arrange curfew passes to travel to Mayur Vihar. This may read to you like a reel life story but the reality is stranger than fiction. As very little time was left for marriage, it was decided to go ahead with it. I am sure she must have checked with everyone why none of us is there, especially me and everybody must have put up a cover of impending curfew. She was told about the tragedy days after her marriage.

She moved ahead with her marital life, whereas for me matrimony became a distant dream, I moved on with my incessant struggle…she became a mother to two most beautiful children – Tanvi and Arjun and we kept bumping each other on few occasions. After a few years of her marriage, we lost touch completely and I used to know about her whereabouts through some family members. No letters, no calls, no communication…but I was happy that she is well-settled with Jijaji and children and busy with her own life, to think of me.

Years passed, probably over a decade, when her brother Sharad got transferred to Mumbai in probably 2010 and traced us through some relative. My joy knew no bounds to have him back with us. It was then, Vandana visited him (us) and I still recollect that it was like house on fire…there was so much to talk about, make up for the lost time, share so many stories, no amount of time could have been enough.

In the meantime, I had also got married and became a mother. So many years had passed, so much water had flown, both of us had starkly different lives but connect was great.

She is the most patient listener I have known, she listens, she analyses, she comments and absorbs! Over a period of time, she has become my go-to person for anything I want to talk about. She has very good knowledge of medicines (Ma & Ma-in-Law to lovely Docs Tanvi & Sidhhant after all). She has maintained connect with all nanihaal cousins and today all four sisters (Vandana, Me, Kiran & Jaya) connect regularly.

I fondly recollect times when I and Mukund visited her and Jijaji in Hyderabad in June last year and had whale of a time shopping, gossiping, outing and having fun all through. We bonded like two little girls. Husbands became mere spectators!

Vandana has been my social media buddy, blog reader and encouraging me all through for various activities. Her words, comments are truly motivating and advice worth considering. Not even once, she has missed anything I have written. She is the only one who reads me well, whether I say it or not, this is her uniqueness, and I am blessed to have her. She is a star singer on StarMaker and for the first time, I am seeing this side of her. Magical singing in her unique voice. You can visit her profile on StarMaker to enjoy her songs @saivandana.

Vandana is the only one whom I address her as Gudiya Rani (our pet names are Gudiya) because she is truly a Queen – Queen of hearts!

She always teased me that I resembled actor Yogita Bali, though I barely knew who Yogita Bali was…still I took it positively, coming from her.  

Happy Birthday – Gudiya Raani!

 

 

My Review: The Magic of Friendships by Shubha Vilas

The book released on International Friendship Day titled The Magic of Friendships: Understand it, Cherish it, Keep it, by Shubha Vilas, presents an intrinsic take on “Friendships” which have undergone such drastic transformation in today’s times.

When I received the copy of The Magic Friendships by renowned author Shubha Vilas, I knew, it is something starkly different from what I have read in the past by the same author. Book’s cover with green & white illustration is quite attractive, with its 200 pages and 7 chapters, it is quite a racy read. The book’s persona would surely appeal to young readers. It has some invaluable lessons for young readers especially.

It is a thought-provoking book but abstains from any sort of preaching, which is the best part of it. Young & old both will have some important takeaways from the book owing to its well-illustrated stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Panchatantra, Vedic scriptures and contemporary real-life anecdotes.

Friends are an integral part of our lives, since childhood, who h have enriched our lives in many ways with its bitter-sweet manoeuvrings. The story of the friendship of monkey & crocodile brought alive childhood spent with my departed father, who told me this story quite often. Though the book starts slowly but gathers pace after a few pages, now it becomes difficult to leave the book.

People of all ages will connect well with the book as it traverses friendship of Krishna – Sudama, Rama – Vibhishana, Krishna – Draupadi besides friendship stories of today’s youngsters. Every generation has its interpretation of friendship, but today’s generation has a completely different meaning. It finely elaborates the issues faced by youngsters while dealing with friends, parents, teachers and society at large.

The book successfully addresses questions like: Do you have numerous friends on social media, but hardly in real life? Or Do you find that your friendships often don’t last? Do you feel your friendships get shrouded in negativity?

The author has successfully illustrated that today; friendship has become more important than any other relationship. The warmth that a good friend can provide is unmatched, and each one of us wishes we had that special friend with whom we can share our burdens or seek help in troubled times. But not all of us are lucky!

Every single page is read-worthy and presents some or the other important insights on friendship. It also has some exercises, Q & A’s etc. which provide a true mirror to you, the kind of friend you are. The book borrows wisdom from our Vedic scriptures as they have a lot of insights on meaningful friendships. The author connected this knowledge to the modern understanding of friendship to present a composite idea. It also sensitively touches upon the topic of friendship between children and parents, a reason for ruining so many young lives who don’t confide in their parents.

It brings forth the point that books are your best friends especially in trying times. Currently, due to pandemic, so many people are going through so much crisis and loneliness, if they find a good friend (in a book) that teaches them ways to find good friends, it will help so many people. Hence, there couldn’t have been a better time than this to launch ‘The Magic of Friendships.”

In this book, author Shubha Vilas discusses, simply and straightforwardly, what is missing in our relationships with friends today, and the various scenarios that prevent people from making friends and sustaining good friendships.

I connected well with the book as a friend and as a parent to a young daughter who has many friends, a true representative of today’s youngsters. Now passed on the book to her for her own interpretations!

An imprint of Penguin Random House.

You can read a review of the author’s earlier books – Ramayana – The Game of Life and Open-Eyed Meditations in the review section on my blog.

Circa 1997: August 18: Time: 3:20 PM And life took a 360 degree spin!

When you become Mom for the first time, there is a dramatic shift in your life, bringing forth with it a whole new, rather overwhelming emotions. You are not ‘YOU’ anymore, there is your little bundle of joy to care for, who needs your undivided attention and love. Being a mother is a full-time occupation: 365 x 24 x 7…

Traverse with me … my motherhood journey…

My folks (read: family & friends) were caught unawares when they received my wedding card, as I was the last to board the bus and people had already thought that I have missed the bus!

Now, it was my turn to be caught unaware when the doctor told me that I was on my family way after nearly 18 months of marriage. Though ours was a late marriage, still the topic of motherhood never popped up in our conversations. It was people around me who shot from their arsenal of advice: Why it is important, how I am losing time, how a woman’s life is not complete without children, what would society say, at least have one child, all this and more! Still, the idea never appealed me much, I was still wondering why it is so important to be a mom?

Finally, it beckoned…and my thought process started changing. After quite a hectic life which involved office work, files, meetings, events, exhibitions, conferences, tours…what not followed by matrimony, getting accustomed to a different life in a different city, in a different household (Gujarati) etc. etc. this was something which I was not prepared for. As for everybody, initial days were tough which were made tougher by the volley of advice from all quarters. Somehow, I sailed through with the help of my mother and motherly doctor – Dr Dastoor. ( I came to know she was my favourite Hema Malini’s gynaec too – what a coincidence)

Becoming the first-time mom is hard and a lot of hard work too. You are obsessed, anxious, worried, happy, angry, depressed, confused…several emotions at play simultaneously. Being the self-confessed fitness freak, it put a break to my regimen and I started gaining weight. As days progressed, the movement became restricted. As August approached, I became dead scared, petrified! The thought of going to hospital nearly killed me. As it had to happen, it happened.

When I doctor gave my baby in my arms, her cute little face, hands, legs …almost like a tiny bundle, I immediately forgot what all I had gone through. The result was out, which made me happy like almost all my results in life. But yes, it was a very different result. It brought a complete transition in me. Though every experience is a transition, I believe that moving into motherhood for the first time is monumental. After that, it’s, as goes the saying, “once a mom always a mom.”

This was one of the most challenging roles for me which had many Firsts attached to it, which attracted advice-givers from Woodwork (Not comfortable with advice). As goes the saying: Life moves on, mine too started moving like a roller-coaster ride, almost with equal ups and downs. The baby started showing spark – after all, whose baby? She was different or perceived differently, I can’t say. From the very beginning, I became quite ambitious about her, I consistently chased my dream to make her ‘Somebody’ who shined my name. Inherited my little/big legacy.

Now, my dreams had multiplied…more for her, some for me!

Life had become almost chaotic, there was practically no time for anything else, life moved around her and her only. Being a discipline-oriented person, my heart sometimes revolted but looking at her lovely face and bright eyes, I forgot it all.

One a day a Catholic friend of mine expressed it beautifully for me, “The chaos of your child will only last for few seasons anyway, and when you think about what your Thanksgiving table will look like in 20 years. It will be worth it.”

How right she was?

Today when I see the result of my hard work, I am happy and satisfied as Tanya has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, caring, loving, compassionate and concerned human being armed with a degree in the area of her choice. It is another story that we are as different individuals as a mother and daughter could be. But we have given space to each other to bloom and grow, she is supportive of my ‘mad’ activities and I am supportive of her ‘creative pursuits.’ It has been a journey of togetherness which had its share of challenges, still, an incredible journey.

Having a baby is possibly the hardest and most exhaustive thing any woman ever experienced, but ironically the most rewarding and amazing experience too.

Being a Work-Obsessed individual, God gave me an ‘Obsession’ of a lifetime.

Salute all mothers for the incredible role you play in life with elan. Let’s celebrate it ourselves if no one does!!

Happy Birthday, Doll…this is my birthday gift to you!!

 

#BreakTheSilence if you are not Free in Free India!

#SpeakUp #BreakTheSilence #FeelFree #ExerciseFreedom 

Tomorrow, when India celebrates 74th Independence Day, we travel back in time to our school days…early school days! It was celebratory mode all over, so was in our school (Read: KV ONE Bhopal) when all the children used to gather for Independence Day Parade at Parade Ground in Bhopal. My papa used to take me to such a distance early morning so that I don’t miss the grand occasion.

Celebrations in school use to start on August 13-14 with inter-house painting or singing competitions, debates, skits etc. and Principal Sir (Mr K.S. Kulshreshtha) visiting house meetings and interacting with Junior classes children. This use to be one of those rare occasions when he did that, as he was one of those conventional, strict Principals, much unlike “Cool” Principals of today.

Coming back to “Independence Day,” nationalism, patriotism being in my DNA, I always wore it on my sleeve. I always celebrated it with full energy and enthusiasm, never missed flag hoisting in school, office or society. Took part in many competitions also. Participating in debates was a regular feature, so was essay writing…

…On one such occasion, while interacting with junior classes students, Principal Sir called me and asked: As a little girl what do you understand by Independence? I am sure, I must have given some answer for which he must have given me shabaashi, but did I really understand what independence was? What it is like being born in Independent India? What it is like to practice freedom in all spheres of life?

I may not have known the answer then as freedom was GIVEN to me!

Being born in middle-class Kayastha family, education had its importance, the family was traditional and conservative who did not believe in girls going out for work. Education was OK but working a big NO! I felt that women – bahus of the family were treated regressively, though they belonged to respected and educated families.

As a little girl, my heart revolted to such treatment, rather life. I started growing up as an independent thinker, analyser and practitioner. I raised my voice against ill-treatment towards any woman – in the family, outside the family. Highly focussed on education, very early on I realised that I will not succumb to such torture, come what may and for that financial independence was paramount. So much so, that I developed an aversion to marriage.

I think parents realised early on that it is very difficult to challenge my thought process…or to time this tiny time machine, who thought ahead of her time and age!

…Growing up as a highly opinionated individual, I and my parents never thought anything about me as gender-specific. I was sent to best and expensive Convent School, provided best of stuff and most importantly freedom of speech, freedom to express and freedom to explore. Here credit goes to my parents, who probably thought ahead of their time (received a lot of flak). School & College was all about education. I exercised the freedom to choose my subjects, if I needed special classes, college, friends, movies, plays, exhibition, picnics, weekly books buying, career, workplace or any other.

Till now, I did not know what were restrictions all about which my class fellows or friends talked about. The need would have been to #BreakTheSilence and exercise your birthright to express yourself.

But yes, only brief my mother gave me all through: Don’t do any such things which bring a bad name to me or the family! And believe me, I always honoured her words and do it till today!

As soon as education got over, papa started scouting for some Journalism courses in London and people started saying: Arre Ladki ko London bhejoge? Shaadi kaise hogi? But all of it took a spin with his untimely and most shocking demise. Times were such when girls had near negligible say in marriage and what to say when you were Class I officer in UP Government (1989)? I was written off for any conventional setup.

Still, my mother and brother never forced me for marriage with any particular person, caste, creed, religion, education, service etc. I was given full freedom to make my choice here, though it was a big break from the convention then.

If not granted, freedom for these, there was a need to #BreakTheSilence.  

I got married finally! Though my freedom was clipped briefly, husband and family soon realised the importance of freedom for my being. I exercised my right to #BreakTheSilence and made myself happy, not necessarily everybody around me.

Luckily, freedom flows…I am free to run my life the way I want to, to work or not to work, what education to give to my daughter, how to raise my daughter, how to maintain relations, how to be with my friends…though in a framework!

Amidst all this, I have never shirked my responsibilities, never took undue advantage of the freedom, thus enjoyed it to the hilt.

Freedom has its share of struggles!

The burden of responsibilities!!

All that some other day!!!

Happy Independence Day Everyone!!!

Great Leader Indira Gandhi was my real inspiration and will always be!

#BreakTheSilence with Fertility Dost, India’s trusted platform for managing fertility health.

My entry for #FertilityDostContest.

Bienu Verma  Vaghela
Chief Executive Blogger
http://www.travel-knots.com

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