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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Accidents will happen but there's always a silver lining



One of my best hobbies is to review many of the pics I've taken over the years, then put names, places and associations to them.

For instance, this one is taken at the Al Sawadi beach in Oman
one lovely evening in November.

I remember clicking away to glory, capturing the various hues of sunset and then suddenly my camera fell down.

Splat -on the wet sand with the lens face down!

Arabian Horses on the beach
That was that, and the camera stopped working...for many many days, till I got it fixed and desperately waited to resume that happy feeling of
'clicking away to glory.'..

The camera eventually got fixed, life came back to normal


And I managed- all over again !

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Vase- A true short story

Crashhhh… went the sound and my heart leapt into my mouth. 

The cleaner was at work and I knew that what I’d always feared had happened. I also knew exactly what had been broken, for there was that particular sound that indicated the breaking of exquisitely, delicate glass. 

I made my way to our passage, which was where the sound had emanated from, trying not to look as panic stricken as I felt inside and there was the sight and sounds of shards of glass being swept away. The man looked ashen faced and knew that he had done something that he would probably regret for a very long time thereafter. I looked at the remnants of our grey Lladro vase being swept away and along with the sudden dryness in my mouth that threatened to turn to nausea in the very next minute, a hundred thoughts flashed through my mind.





It was exactly nineteen years ago that we had picked up that vase at the Annual Sale of one of the leading stores here and it was easy to recall the pride and joy that we had felt while placing that vase at the exact spot and the even more exact angle that we had wanted. Everything had to be ‘just so’, for we had been eyeing that piece throughout the year, knowing that the best way to get it was when that store went on Sale. 


Time passed, we moved houses, added a whole lot of new things to our collection, some of which were way more expensive than the grey vase, but that vase
remained one of my favourite things. I would pass by many a time and glance at it as it stood silently, yet proudly in its place and felt a smile begin. That particular smile that came from the inside, not merely the kind that showed up on the face.

“Sorry Madam”, my thoughts were broken as I heard the sound of a man in great mental stress. He knew very well that there was nothing he could do about it and I realized that only too well myself. 


So I did the next best thing that I could manage at that particular moment in time. “It’s OK,” I told him, “I know that it was an accident, so just be careful while you clear it up, for we don’t want any glass pieces being left behind.” 

And then turned away before he could see the stubborn tears that had welled up and now threatened to spill right over. For that just wouldn’t do now, would it?

Swallowing and heading to the kitchen where I made myself a strong cup of tea, I reflected. 


It was finished, over, and nothing would bring it back to me. As I sipped the calming hot tea, from somewhere at the back of my mind I recalled what my mother had always taught us, albeit in another context, “There’s no looking back, only moving forward.”

 With the tea came the necessary strength and my resilient nature re-asserted itself and I resolved to do just that.

Stepping out with my head held high, I looked at the man cleaning another section of the house, and happened to catch his eye just as he looked at me. 


And then surprised myself more than I probably did him. 

“Theek Hai, I heard myself saying, “I suppose I could just as easily have broken it myself one day"….”

NB- This piece was originally written for my column My Take in Muscat Daily

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Laughter-Its real joy and benefits

AUDREY HEPBURN ONCE FAMOUSLY SAID, " I LOVE PEOPLE WHO MAKE ME LAUGH. I HONESTLY THINK IT'S THE THING I LIKE MOST- TO LAUGH. IT CURES A MULTITUDE OF ILLS. ITS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN A PERSON," AND I COULDN'T AGREE MORE.



Image Source- Pinterest

I GENUINELY BELIEVE THAT A DAY IN WHICH I HAVEN’T LAUGHED OUT ALOUD IS A DAY REALLY WASTED- GONE, NEVER TO COME BACK AGAIN. LIKE ME, MANY OF YOU PROBABLY TEND TO FEEL THE SAME WAY, WHICH IS WHY I WONDER WHY LAUGHTER SEEMS TO HAVE DECLINED IN ‘REAL’ LIFE?

Mind you, here I’m not referring to the sitcoms and TV shows that sometimes tend to use canned laughter in order to induce viewers to somehow manage to summon up a laugh - I’m talking of the real good old-fashioned hearty peals of laughter that we all remember our grandparents, as well as our parents, indulging in.

Dr Michael Titze, a German psychologist, tells us that in the 1950s people used to laugh 18 minutes a day, but today we laugh not more than six minutes a day, despite the huge rise in the standard of living.

Children can laugh up to 300-400 times a day, but when we grow up to be adults this frequency comes down to less than 15 times a day, if at all.

The answers are not really difficult. Topping the list would be the day to day stress of living in a world which seems to have gone all wrong and where financial crisis is a bitter reality for so many people.

In addition, while there are many plus points of having instant access to worldwide news at the touch of a button, the downside is the heightened anxiety and fear at the very prospect of something that might go wrong.

Here, I’m obliged to point out the  Eurozone crisis with the euro facing an uncertain future - just for a moment, try and step into the shoes of all those who have invested heavily in that currency, or worse, the governments that have staunchly defended it till date, and you will begin to get an idea of what I mean.

Top that with long working hours, congested transport and overcrowded cities, and it's not surprising that divorce and family break-ups are higher than ever before.

As a major publicist of Positive Psychology, Dr Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania says engagement and meaning are particularly important. Other researchers have pointed to bonding with friends, family and loved ones as a major contributor.

So if we look at laughter as one manifestation of happiness, it turns out it’s not something we tend to do alone. “It is a tool of communication,” said Robert Provine of the University of Maryland.

Laughter is also infectious. Once one person starts, others quickly follow. As a natural consequence, when we laugh with others, we feel more connected to them - it’s part of our bonding and that makes us feel happier.

So how do we go back to the good old days when we all really did let our hair down and genuinely laugh? There is still hope, and as a result of research in both East and West, people are increasingly realising that laughter is something that can be ‘spontaneously created’ and need not be dependent on anything.

In fact, you can laugh for no reason at all.

Remember the walk in the park where you saw a group of people who at that point may have seemed quite mad to you, simply because they were all laughing? And that too, for no perceptible reason at all?

Well, that is actually called ‘laughter therapy’ and is deliberately designed to teach you how to laugh - in fact in many different styles at that.

We once visited my aunt and uncle in Chandigarh and she proudly showed us two prizes she had won at her local laughter club. After we had admired them and returned them to her she proceeded to demonstrate the prize-winning laughs.
Was that a revelation - it truly showed the extent to which a laugh can actually be created. It started off with some element of sheepishness on our part, but believe me, at the end of that period, we found ourselves joining in, and those laughs came from somewhere within us, of their very own volition!

To conclude, some people might have lost the knack of being able to laugh, but it is perfectly possible to help them get it back. People can be taught to laugh for no reason, to discover their innate capacity to experience their own wellspring of laughter and joy.

After all, 'What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul!' (an old proverb).


N B- This piece was originally written for 'My Take,' my column in Muscat Daily