Sunday, December 10, 2017

A little love-story

Our school-bus is stranded at the junction of four roads. The traffic jam is a common phenomenon at this time of the day. There is traffic snarls all around, busy commuters on the pavement, the December chill in the air and... and, that large billboard on roadside advertising "Lalita Dance Academy". A woman is seen in it, wearing dancing costumes, in a typical Kathak dance pose. Srija is a student of this dance academy.

Well, I haven't introduced myself yet. I am Satyaki Chatterjee, 5-years-old, student of KG in a school in Kolkata. Right now, I am on my way to school in my white-and-green school uniform and red sweater. I commute to and from school in our school's yellow-coloured school bus. Yes, my mom has allowed me to go by school bus now-a-days, as I am a big boy now and I don't cry when going to school any more. After all, I am not a baby any more, right? And I have made quite a few friends in school now... Aryan, Soham, Daniel, Rai, and... and Srija.

Srija is my classmate. I like her right from my first day of school. I still remember that day vividly. On that first day of school-life, the classroom seemed like a wild forest, full of strangers. I haven't known any place other than my home till then. In that unknown classroom, I didn't know who'll look after me, who'll take me to the washroom to pee, who'll feed me when I get famished. Mom was not seen anywhere. I was terrified and I started to cry. Srija was sitting in the desk next to me. Watching me crying, she too started to yell. It was a classroom filled with thirty odd students, all crying, sobing, yelling. Then came the teachers to console us. Our dance teacher, Priyanka ma'm, hugged both Srija and me, and comforted us. Later, when the cry subsided, I noticed her. In her pink cheeks, big eyes and brown traces, she looked really cute. I felt an instant liking for her. Gradually, we became friends and started talking a lot. We even got punished by the class-teacher for talking during class on more than one occasions.

The Annual Day Celebration of our school is scheduled to be held before the commencement of the Christmas holidays. Srija is performing a dance there. Last year too, she performed a dance. And needless to say, it was just fantastic! This year, too, I am eagerly waiting for the day just to watch her performance.

Today is 24th December. The whole school is decorated beautifully with flowers. The school auditorium is full of students. The anchor announces Srija's name. And here she comes. Today she is looking resplendent in her red-bordered yellow sari. She has mastered the dance moves even more perfectly during the past year. I am dazed. Then just when she comes down from the stage, Soham stands up from his seat, picks up a rose which was kept in a large vase within a bouquet of flowers in the auditorium and offers it to Srija. "You were just amazing", he said. Then he produced a Cadbury from his trouser's pockets and offers it too to her. "Soham, you are my bestie", she proclaims. I instantly feel something twinge deep within me. What is it called? Well, five-year-olds don't know it's name perhaps.

Soham's Papa has come from his official tour in Switzerland. "Do you guys know what I found when he opened his suitcase?", Soham is asking us. "What? What?", we all ask in unison. "See, these chocolates." He offered us all chocolates bought from Switzerland. "And this is only for Srija. These biscuits are called leckerlis. They have hazelnuts and they are very tasty." "Oh Soham, you always know what I like", Srija gives him a hug. I felt that familiar twinge somewhere deep within one more time. Then the clock strikes nine and our class-teacher enters the classroom.

The winter season has come to an end. The trees flanking the roads are flaunting new leaves. Once again, spring has come in Kolkata. Our final exam too, has ended.

Today is the day of distributing progress reports. "Congratulations children. You all are promoted to class one", says our class teacher. We all take our bags and get ready to exit from our classroom. I was coming out of the classroom when I heard a scream. "Help me! Please, someone help me!" It was Srija. A cockroach was right on her desk, staring at her. And to my horror, her school-bag was still there on her desk. A chill is coming down my spine. Danial, Soham, Rai, all are standing near the door, fear writ large on their face. Suddenly, I felt the need to protect her from this great danger. I opened my bag hurriedly, took out my pencil-box and hit the cockroach with it. Then I took Srija's bag from the desk and holding her by her hand, took her out of the classroom. "Satyaki, you are my bestie from now on". She gave me a tight hug, tears welling in her eyes. Getting promoted to class one can't be more wonderful than this. Isn't it, friends?

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend
WOW - Construct A Story
an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living by Howard C. Cutler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Happiness is as elusive as a butterfly, and you must never pursue it. If you stay very still, it may come and settle on your hand. But only briefly. Savour those moments, for they will not come your way very often."

So says the proverb. We all seek happiness, but we almost always find happiness to be elusive. In this book, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama teaches us the art of finding happiness. The book is actually written by Howard C. Cutler, who happens to be a Western Psychiatric. He had many interactions with Dalai Lama and in this book, he has presented the essence of those interactions. He has validated Dalai Lama's words with modern Western Psychological research results. Cutler's own words sometimes seem to be a bit dragging, but Dalai Lama's wisdom is as pure as a glass of crystal clear water, that'll surely quench the thirst of many souls, who have become overwhelmed by the challenges thrown by life. Dalai Lama basically teaches us to be good human beings and cultivate positive traits and eliminate negative ones.

A book to read again and again to find solace. A must read for all.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 3, 2017

At the age of Twenty

If given a choice to pick a age for the rest of my life, I'll definitely choose you, my 20 years of age. No, I am not going to choose 3 years, the age of my first encounter with school, for I have only vague recollections of that age now. I'll not choose 13 years, the age of the transformation from being a girl to being a woman, for that age was full of embarassment. Not 18 years either, the age of being an adult, for in that age I was too busy in preparing for my engineering entrance to think about the facilities of coming of age. 28 years? The age of motherhood? Yes, motherhood is indeed blissful, I do admit that, but then that was a period of turmoil in my life. So, I choose you, 20 years. You are the age full of youthful energy, love for life and lot of laughter. You are all that, and more than that.

"Jisne hamein milaya, jisne juda kiya
Us waqt, us ghadi, us gajar ko salaam
Aye pyaar teri pehli nazar ko salaam
Salaam aye pyaar teri pehli nazar ko salaam"

(The one who united us, the one who separated us
I salute that time, that moment, that clock
Hey love, I salute your first sight 
Hey love, I salute your first sight)

Today, as I sit back and reflect on that age, this song comes to my. Yes, 20 years, you are special, for you made me meet my first crush. And as all of us know, what on earth can be as innocent as the first encounter with love at the age of 20 years? Yes, my crush for him never materialized into any relationship. And yet, I don't have any regret for that now. Because with growing maturity, you come to realize that in any relationship, there are many ups and downs, there are pains of separation, there are break-ups and tear-drops. But not in one-sided crush. In any stage of life, if you remember your first crush, that'll surely lit up your soul and leave a lingering smile on your lips. And I am thankful to my 20 years of age for gifting me that experience.

And I remember one particular afternoon vividly. Back in my college days, I used to be a member of The British Council. On one such day, which was a holiday in our college, I had gone to the British Council Library. I was  searching for the books to borrow. I zeroed on a few and took a paper from my bag to write the names of the books. When I opened the folded paper, I got the shock of my life. Scribbled in the paper was a love-letter, addressed to me. There was no name of the sender, just a "Guess Who" written in the bottom of the page. I knew the handwriting. It was none other than him. That afternoon seemed the most magical afternoon in Kolkata. The fading sun-light had the hue of honey. The traffic seemed to move slowly at Chowringhee. I was not walking, I was floating in the afternoon breeze.

That was the magic of the age of 20 years. The world seemed to be a fair place to live in, the life ahead seemed to be promising, friendships seemed to be ever-lasting, all the peppy Bollywood numbers seemed to be meaningful in real life.

Hey 20, I miss you. But you are always there, close to my heart, close to my soul. Even today, when life seems too dull and dreary, I just remember you. And see, your memories always leave a bright smile on my face. Cheers to 20!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend
What One Age Will You Pick For The Rest Of Your Life And Why?
an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’


Review: Undelivered Letters

Undelivered Letters Undelivered Letters by J. Alchem
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, I'd like to thank Sidra for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Here goes the review:

Technology has made it easier for us to connect with others quickly and easily. Now we can instantly send messages via e-mail, sms or whatsapp. But just think of the world as it used to be around two decades ago, when people didn't have the opportunity to communicate with one another with such ease. The only way available for communication was letters. Yes, this book talks about letters, which have become extinct now-a-days. The protagonist of this book, Aron, used to be a postman couple of decades back. After two decades, while he and his wife were packing their belongings for shifting to a new house, they accidentally come across some old letters, that he was supposed to deliver to their recipients twenty years ago. But he somehow forgot to deliver those letters. Now, driven by his conscience, he decides to deliver the letters to their original recipients and embarks upon his journey. Now, if I disclose any further, that would be a spoiler. So go and read the book to find out the rest.

The book surely has a different kind of story-line, which will surely amaze you. The whole book will take you to a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I had read the previous book, "The Highway Man" by the same author, which also had stories with novel story-lines. So I was curious to read this one too. And I am not disappointed. It's a short novel and I managed to finish it in just two sittings.

So, if you are looking for some out-of-the-box story-line to indulge in your weekend, go for "Undelivered Letters". You'll surely love it.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Happy Children's Day to the Grown-ups!

"Ye daulat bhi le lo, ye shohrat bhi le lo
Bhale chhin lo mujhse meri jawaani
Magar mujhko lauta do bachpan ka saawan
Wo kaagaz kikashti, wo baarish ka paani...

(Take away my wealth and fame
You may even take my youth
But please return the monsoon of my childhood
That paper made boat, and the rain in which I used to play in...)

I am sure this song echoes the feelings of not just me, but many grown-ups. We all longed to grow up fast in our childhood days. We thought at that time that adulthood was real fun. After all, there will be no more school, no more scolding by our parents, no more exams. And most important of all, there will be freedom for us. We'll free to lead our life the way we want, finally. But when we grow up finally, how we miss our childhood. That's the irony of life.

Today the whole country is celebrating Children's Day. My son, who is a student of a reputed English medium school of pre-primary, received a chocolate, one pencil and one eraser as his Children's Day gift from school yesterday. Today he has a holiday on account of the same. Needless to say, he is ecstatic with joy. My mother, who is a school teacher, was preparing her speech on the occasion of Children's Day. All the grown-up parents of little children are availing discounts to celebrate Children's Day. I myself ordered some t-shirts for my son online, which were available at great discounts on the same occasion. These made me wonder about the little child that resides in all of us. This Children's Day, why not pamper the children in us? For a moment, just forget that you are an adult. Think like u often thought a few decades back. Today, do not think twice before getting drenched a little in the rain. Or you may try floating paper-boats in a puddle of water. Pamper your taste-buds little bit and savour some laddu or rosogolla. Treat yourself with a few extra hot panipuris. Read your favourite childhood fairy-tale once more. Turn on the television and watch a cartoon show you loved once. What was it? Mickey mouse or Tom & Jerry? Forget those drab formal dresses and wear a colourful dress to office today. Let the child in you live a long life.

Here's wishing HaPpy ChiLDreN's DaY to all the grown-ups! Go back to your childhood once again. Help to make the world a better place for today's children. After all, there's nothing as innocent as childhood.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pal Ye Bhi Jaanewala Hai

"Aanewala Pal Jaanwala Hai,
Ho Sake To Iss Mein Zindagi Bitaado
Pal Jo Yeh Jaanewala Hai..."

(The moment that is to arrive, is about to pass by,
If you can, in it, live your life...
This moment, that is about to pass by.)

I often hum this song. Just like now, as I am writing these lines, I am crooning this beautiful song, with it's beautiful lyrics soothing my soul.

It's not just a song for me, it's my philosophy of life. Gulzar Saab has done a great job by intertwining deep philosophy into lyrical words, that's sure to touch a chord somewhere within us.

Our time is limited. Moments come and go. In between these moments, we must seek to live our life. Our precious life.

"Ek Baar Waqt Se Lamha Gira Kahin
Wahan Dastan Milim Lamha Kahin Nahin
Thoda Sa Hasaake, Thoda Sa Rulaake,
Pal Ye Bhi Jaanewala Hai..."

(Once, a moment fell from the grasp of time somewhere
There I found this legend, The moment was nowhere,
Making you laugh a little, Making you cry a little
This moment is also about to pass by...)

Surely, we have our own moments of joy as well as moments of sorrow. But none is permanent. Some moments make us smile, some make us cry. Ultimately, they all pass by. Whenever I remember this philosophy, it makes me sober in times of ecstatic joy. Likewise, in moments of extreme despair, it comforts me, for after all, we all know that 'Pal Ye Bhi Jaanewala Hai.' That's the beauty of life, where nothing persists. Impermanence is the law of life.

This philosophy is rooted in our very own Indian culture. In the Mahabharata also, this same philosophy has been preached.

"Aivam aitad anaadya antam bhootasamhaara kaarakam
Anaadi nidhanam loke chakram sam parivartate..."

(And in this way the wheel of Time causes destruction of everything, without beginning or end.)

It is the Big Bang of the Hindu cosmology. The central theme of the Mahabharata is this very dual nature of existence: one reality which the human mind inhabits with itself at the core and the universe revolving around it, the other governed by the relentless passage of time to which all of creation- both animate and inanimate- must ultimately succumb.

Without going into the intricacies of the deeper philosophy, this song preaches to live life in it's moments, to live a full life, to savour all the tastes that life has to offer. And that is the beauty of it's lyrics. When in despair, just remember that 'Pal Ye Bhi Jaanewala Hai'. That may not help to subside your pain, but that will at least give you enough strength to sail through your tough times more smoothly.

Have you heard this song? If not, do give it a try. It's worth your time and effort. 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend,
Favourite Song Lyrics - WOW
an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Durga Puja: A Few Glimpses into the Pujas of our Locality

Durga Puja is the greatest festivals of we Bengalis. And rightly so. From the varied design of pandels to the large idols of gods and goddesses to the colourful lighting- no other festival can match the grandeur of Durga Puja in Bengal.
This year, the unseasonal rain during Puja acted as a spoiler. Still, the pandals and the streets were teeming with people, whenever the rainfall stopped for a while. Today I'll share some pictures of Durga Puja in our locality, Andul, which is some 13 kms away from Howrah. Lets take a look and share your thoughts.

This is our own parar pujo

The area adjoining the pandal has been themed on countryside Bengal

The deity inside a local pandal

My son inside a pandal

This is the pandal of a famous Puja of our locality

The idols inside the pandal

The pandal has been made of the spare parts of automobiles

Decoration of the roof of the pandal

The famous Puja of Andul Rajbari

Another local Puja

All the photos have been clicked by me. Do share your valuable feedback. How you enjoyed your Puja days? 

Happy Festive Season to all of you.

Children from Broken Homes

"Jadidang hridayang mama, tadidang hridayang taba..."
(As long as I reside in your heart, so long will you reside in my heart).
The bride and the groom chants these mantras, and go around the sacred fire seven times. In marriage, they take the vows to be with each other until death does them apart. To be with each other not just in this lifetime, but for seven consecutive lives. 

But in recent times, we are witnessing a good many number of marriages resulting in divorce. With increasing opportunities for education, women are also availing themselves of job opportunities and earning as much as their male counterparts. With none of the partners being dependent on the other, the institution of marriage is becoming redundant. Women these days are  increasingly opting out of bitter marriages, rather than forcing themselves to compromise and to stay in a bad marriage just for the sake of financial security or in fear of the social stigma attached with the D-word. I am not against breaking up of marriages. When a relationship has gone toxic, there is no point in continuing it, for whatever reason it may be, because ultimately in the long run, it doesn't do any good to both the parties. But what about the children born out of such wedlock, that resulted in divorce ultimately? Does divorce affect the social, mental and physical health of a child?

There is no point in denying the fact that yes, to some extent, divorce does affect the child. After all, all children need the love and care of both the parents. It's natural. Let us delve deeper into the negative aspects of single-parenting.

1. Children recognize quite early in life that they belong to one sex or the other- that they are a boy or a girl. This is termed by psychologists as gender identity. According to psychology, children have a preference for imitating the behaviour and dress of their same-sex parent. As they become increasingly aware of these similarities, they conclude that they are "a boy like Daddy" or "a girl like Mummy". However, other factors have also been found to play a role in gender development, so this is only part of the total story. But then, what happens to children who are growing up in families where one of the parents is absent? Think about the single-mothers raising sons and single-fathers raising daughters.

2. Think about the children, who after reaching their adolescence, become aware of the meaning of the D-word. Adolescents react to divorce with fear, anxiety, and guilt. They become angry at the remaining parent, wondering, " What did she/he do to make my father/mother leave?" And sometimes they blame themselves: "Why doesn't he love me anymore?"

3. Research (Lemme, 1999) suggests that one lasting effect of divorce that has emerged in recent years is this: Children whose parents divorced seem to be significantly less likely to marry than those whose parents did not.

4. Think about the child who sees both parents of his/her friends to attend the parent-teacher meetings, the annual function at school or the school sports. Think about his/her sense of loss.

But this is not the whole story. Growing up in dysfunctional families- families that do not meet children's needs- can actually  harm them way more than growing up in single-parent families can do. For example, consider what it is like for children growing up in homes where the father is alcoholic. And try to imagine what it is like for youngsters who must deal with parents who suffer from serious psychological problems- problems that may cause them to act in unpredictable, abusive, or even physically threatening ways. Clearly such parents do not provide the kind of guidance, consistent control, and support children need for successful development. Research findings indicate that when these factors are lacking, children and adolescents are at increased risk for a wide range of problems, such as drug abuse, stealing, disobedience at home and at school, and overt aggression.

In such a scenario, it's far more advisable to break the marriage, than continuing it any further. May be, in that case, children will miss the love of one of the parents, but then, the other parent usually will try to compensate for that loss by trying to take the place of both the parents. Children will get a healthy atmosphere to grow up where there will not be any abusive languages or any kind of domestic violence. With time, they will gradually begin to appreciate the kind of effort that his/her single parent has put into for their proper upbringing and well-being.

Let us all hope for a better future for all our children. Children are the future of mother earth. Their well-being will ensure the well-being of this planet in future. Let them all grow up to their full potential.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Story of a Mobile

It is mid-October. The early morning air is crisp and cool, the sunlight has the colour of honey. Standing on the second-floor balcony of her house, she is fidgeting with her old mobile. It's an old model of Nokia, with beautiful sky-blue colour. This mobile has witnessed many happy moments of her life. It is privy to many sad moments too.

She opened the gallery of the mobile. A deluge of memories came gushing by. There's the picture of her soft, fair palms, adorned by Bridal mehendi. She on the day of her aiburo-bhat, a plate full of delectable dishes in front of her, ready to be eaten. She in a bright yellow saree, with brigher shade of yellow turmeric pasted on her cheeks, an entourage of aunties and friends surrounding her. She in the bright red Benarasi Saree of a bride, exchanging garlands with him. She smiling coyly at the camera, her forehead full of bright red sindur, just applied by her husband, the sacred fire being the witness. She in the bright green jardousi saree, her hand entwined in his hand, both smiling at the camera, on the day of their wedding reception. 

Then there are pictures of their honeymoon by the sea-side.

Their first Valentines Day celebration together.

First anniversary.

First Durga Puja after their marriage.

Now she opened the audio-files. He calling her whore. She recording the abusive languages to be produced to court for getting divorce from him.

The weight of these memories feels heavy on her heart, as if they are almost crushing her soul. Her heart is too tired to carry on these memories. They lie hidden somewhere in the labyrinth of her mind. The Nokia phone with it's sky-blue colour makes them re-surface in her mind, intensifying her suffering, her pain.

She tried to get rid of the phone in past six months, after they legally parted their ways. She tried an assortment of ways. The first thing she did after the divorce was to purchase a brand new Samsung mobile. She then discreetly removed the sim card from her old Nokia mobile, and inserted the same in her newly purchased one. Now the remaining task was to dispose the old mobile. On one occasion, she placed the old mobile on a bench of the Railway platform, before boarding the train. A tea-vendor patrolling the platform yelled, "Didi, you are forgetting your mobile. Look on the bench, here." "Sorry", she mumbled and placed the mobile back in her handbag. On another occasion, she tried to throw the mobile in the water of the Ganga river. While she was taking a last look at it, at the life she has left behind, somebody on the Howrah bridge thought that she had plans of committing suicide and came hurriedly to alert her. No doubt, she was deeply ashamed and had to leave the place in a hurry. There were many failed attempts after that. Now she has gave up those ill-conceived plans.

She decided to keep the mobile locked up in the farthest corner of her wardrobe. The Nokia mobile with beautiful sky-blue colour. The bitter-turned beautiful life. The life with her first love. The death of her first love.

P.S.: Now you don't need to undertake such efforts to get rid of your mobile, because cashify is here to simplify your life. Now you can dispose your old mobiles, tablets, televisions, laptops very easily and even get paid for that! All you have to do is just visit their website and follow some basic steps as directed in their site.
Here goes the link. Just click here:
What's more, use the coupon code CLEANCASH and you'll get an additional Rs.250 on the sale of your gadgets.
So, hurry up and do visit the site.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Way of Staying Fit and Healthy

"It is health which is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver."
---Mahatma Gandhi

We have all grown up hearing the popular saying "Health is Wealth". Who doesn't want to stay fit and healthy? Yet no matter how much you want to make healthy choices, it can feel like there simply isn't time. But it is actually possible to be both busy and healthy. All you need to do is just make a few changes in your lifestyle. Start small and build from there.

Just take a look at these simple tips and try to follow them. I am sure at least a few will stick.

1. Exercise

We have all become accustomed to sedentary lifestyles. You need regular physical activity to stay fit. For that, you need not join a gym club or struggle hard to get up early to do Yoga. Start simply by walking thirty minutes every day. Walk to the park with your kids or a neighbour you'd like to catch up with. If possible, sign up swimming or dancing lessons. Take the stairs. Park your car far away from your destination.

2. Eat healthy

Reduce fat intake, cut down on sugar, processed food, junk food and opt for fruits and vegetables. Select vegetables with the boldest colours- cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, grapes, and leafy greens. You can have your favourite dessert or Biryani once in a while, but moderation is the key.

3. Never skip breakfast

4. Avoid Late Night Meals

Have dinner at least a couple of hours before you hit the bed. Also, late night snacking might result in indigestion which interferes with your sleep.

5. Have lots of fluid

Drink at least 8-9 glasses of water every day. It not only flushes your system, but also keeps your skin good and healthy.
You can have warm water with apple cider vinegar for detoxification of your body and curing acid reflux. Just add one teaspoon of organic raw unfiltered Apple cider vinegar to warm water and have that in empty stomach in the morning.
Have infused water throughout the day. For that, take one cucumber and cut it into slices. Add these to a big jug of water. Squeeze half a lemon into the water. You can add a few slices of apple for sweetness. Sip this throughout the day. It will help your body detox and flushes you out.

6. Improve Sleep

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep. Get a minimum 8 hours sleep, because it relaxes your mind and keeps you healthy.

7. Avoid Pessimistic Thinking

This, by far, is the most poisonous drug ever known to humanity. Think positively and develop an optimistic attitude towards life. Smile as much as you can. Positive thinking and optimism leads to increased life span and lower rates of depression, ultimately resulting in better psychological and physical well-being.

8. Manage your stress

Stress not only makes you feel awful emotionally, but it can also exacerbate just any health condition. It's true that it's nearly impossible to lead a completely stress-free life now-a-days. But you can change your response to stress. So the next time you feel stressed, just take a few minutes of deep breathing. It'll calm you down. Learning meditation and Yoga will help in stress management too. Getting good at any of these approaches will take a little time and practice, but the pay-off could be substantial.

I am joining Saffola #ApneTareekeSeHealthy initiative and sharing my ways of being healthy in association with BlogAdda.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Life is a box of.....

She is Shabnam, a young woman from Rakhine province of Myanman. She got married less than a year ago and is now carrying a four-month life in her womb. In recent past, some masked men had beheaded her husband, as they are Rohingyas, the nowhere people. Those men did not spare even a single male member of her family. She did not know how she managed to cross to Bangladesh across the unending hilly terrain, treacherous jungle tracts and turbulent waters. But she did finally make it to Bangladesh. This woman, sitting in stony licence in one corner of the makeshift camp for Rohingya refugees, numbed by the recent turn of events, eyes staring into nothingness, at Kutupalang Camp, what does life mean to her? Perhaps for her and people like her, life is a box of lemons- sour in it's every bite.

She is Puja, mother of Priyam, a 7-years-old child, who was found brutally murdered inside the premises of his school. Puja had everything a woman can ask for. A loving husband and two small kids- she had a perfect family. Her husband is well-established and both of her children are students of a reputed International school. Everything seemed perfect until that fateful day. That day she got a call from school informing her that her son was injured. She rushed to the school, then to the nursing home, only to find her son dead. From that moment onwards, life is a box of red chillies for her- whose every bite always leaves her eyes teary.

She is Rohini, a celebrity movie actress. This Durga Puja, she will be busy inaugurating Pujas in Kolkata. As far as Puja inaugurations are concerned, she is in high demand. Though she has told some organizers that it was impossible to keep all requests. Moreover, one of her block-buster movies will be released just after the Pujas. Yes, life has been kind to her. For her, life is a box of sweets.

Each one of us go through different life experiences. Call it destiny, or the will of the Almighty, you are presented with a box, the contents of which are not decided by you. But it's upto you how you will react to your box. 

 ‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend
an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’


Clean Air, Beautiful Homes

When you think of air pollution, you most likely conjure up images of the moving vehicles in busy urban streets, or exhaust smoke from power plants, or smoke from burning city waste, fuel-wood, etc. But do you know that in reality indoor air can be 5 times more polluted than the outdoor air? This is because contained areas enable pollutants to build up more than open spaces do. Just take a look at these facts and figures:

  • About half a million women and children die each year from indoor air pollution in India.
  • 28% of all deaths due to indoor air pollution in developing countries occur in India.
  • A pollutant released indoors is one thousand times more likely to reach people's lungs than a pollutant released outdoors (called the Rule of 1000).
  • Nearly 50% of pneumonia deaths among children under five are due to particulate matter inhaled from indoor air pollution.
Unlike outdoor air pollution, the effect of indoor air pollution is health related and less of an environmental issue. Some people react to indoor air contamination by coughing or sneezing or things like that, but the symptoms go away as soon as they leave the building. For others, there are more serious effects, especially if they are exposed to the contamination for a longer period.

Here are some sources of indoor air pollution that might surprise you:

1. Candles

As lovely as they can be, most candles will pollute your home with harmful gases and sediments. While burning, all candles release some soot particles that become airborne and can lead to respiratory problems.

2. Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke, comes from incompletely burned tobacco products. In the short term, exposure to secondhand smoke can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. In the long-run, it can cause many of the same health problems as smoking, like wheezing, pneumonia, bronchitis,, and lung cancer. Asthma attacks may be triggered by secondhand smoke exposure.

3. Air Fresheners

Most store-bought air fresheners emit toxic pollutants at levels that may lead to health risks. 

4. Cleaning Products

Many conventional household cleaning products contain harmful chemicals like alcohol, chlorine, ammonia or petroleum-based solvents, all of which can have negative effects on your health, irritate your eyes or throat, or cause headaches.Some cleaning products release dangerous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can contribute to chronic respiratory problems and aggavate allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Products containing VOCs include most aerosol sprays, chlorine bleach, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture and floor polish, and oven cleaners.

5. Kitchen Stove

A poorly ventilated kitchen can cause a huge amount of air pollution in your home.

6. Building materials and furnishings as diverse as
  • Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
  • Newly installed flooring, upholstery, or carpet
  • Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
7. Personal Care Products

Tips and Tricks to Ensure Clean Air Inside Your Home:

Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize air pollution in your home. Here goes some simple steps to take to ensure clean air in your home:

1. Improve Ventilation

Improving Ventilation will drastically improve the air quality of your home. Open windows every day and allow the household air to exchange with air outdoors. It's probably the easiest thing you can do.
Another thing to remember is to use exhaust fans when cooking and showering or using hot water in the bathroom.

2. Eliminate odors, don't mask them

Find the source of bad smells (a rotting potato in the cupboard? musty blankets? a pet accident?) and clean it up. Where appropriate, use a box of baking soda in the area instead of air fresheners.

3. Wash very dirty or dusty laundry in the hottest water.

4. Buy Houseplant

Not only are they beautiful additions to your home, but houseplants have powerful toxin-removing capabilities as well. These natural little air cleaners don’t look out of place, make distracting noises or cost money to maintain; all they need is a little water and sunlight.The best varieties to reduce indoor air pollution include the Boston fern, English ivy, spider plant, peace lily and areca palm, just to name a few. Keep two plants per 100 square feet where you need them most and you can expect cleaner indoor air in no time.

5. Ban Smoking

Don't smoke or allow others to do so in your home.

6.  Cleaning

A regular cleaning schedule is an obvious and effective action to improve air quality. 
  • Use a vacuum cleaner. Apart from floors and carpets, vacuum walls, carpet edges, upholstered furniture and any spot where dust accumulates.
  • Mopping floors will collect additional dust that a vacuum cleaner can miss.
  • Keep out dirt with doormats at entrances to your home.
  • Wash pillows, sheets, and comforters once a week to reduce exposure.
7. Use Royale Atmos by Asin Paints

As the festive season is just round the corner, many of you might have plans to give your homes a makeover. This time, try a paint that not only looks good, but also helps to purify air and improve air quality inside your home. 'Royale Atmos' by Asian Paints just does that. It's activated Carbon Technology reduces harmful pollutants from the air.

Just take a look here:
This is a very informative link. You will get to know a lot about indoor air pollution and the role of 'Royale Atmos' to combat it.

Here's wishing a happy, clean and pollution free festivities to all of you in advance.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Nail Art: Enjoying Myself

Today is Sunday and I don't have any specific plan to spend the day. So I thought about doing some fun thing. Hey, what about painting my nails? Not just simple painting with nail polish, I wanted to do something different. After all, our greatest festival, Durga Puja, is round the corner. After watching few DIY nail art videos on Youtube, I wanted to do the same. I purchased one set of nail art tools and the product got delivered today. I used two different shades of nail paints: Bluish grey and Orange. In the lazy afternoon when my son was taking a nap, I went ahead to implement my first nail art experiment. And here's the end result:

How is it? Do share your feedback.
Happy Sunday to all!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Review: Echoes from Vrindavan: Stories of 2017 - April Edition

Echoes from Vrindavan: Stories of 2017 - April Edition Echoes from Vrindavan: Stories of 2017 - April Edition by Sharath Komarraju
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This collection of stories may well have been a novel, with each story linked to the successive one. These stories are about the encounter of Krishna with Yama, Lord of death, at the moment of the former's death. They question the very godhood that we bestow upon Krishna. Does he deserve such unwavering devotion? These stories shake the very foundation of our faith.

The first of them, named "Echoes from Vrindavan", after which this collection is named. It speaks about Radha and Yashoda, after Krishna deserted them. I have always wondered what happened to them after Krishna set out for Mathura. And here they are. Radha, "browned by the Yamuna’s mud,
wrinkled by age, battered by years of milking cows and carrying pots, shrunken by the crushing weight of hope, greyed by the silence of dusk, flattened by endless longing, eaten by the monster that she had once thought was love." We come to know of Yashoda, who died with hope of Krishna's returning in heart.

The second one "Sons of War" moved me the most. This story brought tears to my eyes. I never heard about Iravan, with my limited knowledge of the epic. After reading this story only, I googled his name and read the original story about him. His story, along with those of Abhimanyu and Ghotatkacha will surely make you cry and question your long-standing faith.

The third one, "Vasudeva" provides a new perspective regarding the meaning of the term Vasudeva. The fourth one, "King's Gambit" makes Suyodhana out of Duryodhana. The last one, "Fault Lines" talks about Balarama, the forgotten hero of history.

I have been reading the short stories of Sharath Komarraju from the beginning of this year. But this collection, of all, moved me the most. I'd recommend all lovers of the mythology genre to go through this one.

View all my reviews

To the Sweet Sixteen

Dear Sweet Sixteen,

I really envy you these days. How innocent you are, how strong your faith is in the goodness of the human nature, how you laugh with gay abandon, how your eyes sparkle when you think about your future. My future. You wait for the coming years with a heart full of hope, of love and longing. Yes, you long for the adventures of the adulthood. When you look forward to your future, you look for the brighter side that life has to offer to you, for your heart is free from any negativity, unlike me.

Study hard girl, for you have miles to go. You will climb high through the ladder of success. Success will be a necessity in your life, for you'll have to shoulder many responsibilities in your grown-up years. So learn to be responsible and matured, for immaturity may cost you dear.

If possible, DON'T SETTLE. That's the single most advice from me to you. Though I know that when it comes to matters of heart, we are all slaves of our hearts. Heartbreaks will be inevitable in love for you, though suffering is optional. Nothing goes wrong than love gone wrong. One single mistake can change your life forever. One advice I want you to etch in your memory: You are very special, very precious, at least to me, if not to anybody else in the world. So please promise me, you'll not allow anybody to belittle you. Always feel free to choose your own happiness over and above everything.

Lastly, try to maintain that innocence of yours as long as possible. I want you to look at the world with the same wonder in your eyes for a whole lifetime. Smile today, for you may not get many reasons to smile tomorrow. It's your life and it's waiting for you with all it's sunshine and rain. Live it in your own way. Live it. Love it.

With love and all the good wishes,
Your 30-something self.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend,