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Monday, December 16, 2013

Roads not taken, things not done

An evening walk at the new Corniche, Muscat

"Roads not taken, things not done", a  universal thought and one which can pop up every now and then, and at any point in the day.
For the simple fact of life is that we have all wanted to 'do' different things  'be' different people from what we are now doing.
Some who might have wanted to become photographers are Accountants/Partners working in a firm today.They might be very well placed in material terms, but what about the emotional vacuum...?

Or then those who might have wanted to be pilots might be working in the Foreign service.

Or others,  like me, who wanted to be an Investigative journalist, got into an entirely different  field because at that point in time, it wasn't really the 'done thing' for women to be out and about in scenarios which would definitely be demanded of that job.

So yes, there is no doubt, we all have these regrets  but the best way to deal with them is to look at life life has offered us  'on the balance'. 

Or put in another way, what have we been able to make out of our  optional career?

And if at the end of that thought process, if  the 'pros' are just a tad bit less than the 'cons', things are not really too bad, now are they?

Think about it - we may differ, but I'm glad I got you thinking!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sleep Deprived- Choice or necessity?

Sometimes, I think about it. 
Like I'm sure all of us tend to as well.
Why is it that sleep is at the bottom of our priority list?

A day has 24 hours, and each of those hours can be used in many ways- work, leisure and play.Yet what we tend to do( more often than not) is to extend those waking hours to way more than what can be 'naturally managed'.For we seem to think that we will somehow manage to get enough sleep. 

Image courtesy  the Internet
But how? Because if we are not  watching  TV,then we can always remain online ( Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram  among others)and since many of our friends worldwide live in different time zones, it seems to make complete sense.

And so it goes on, day after day, month after month, year after year.While we continue to get more and more sleep deprived or then as someone recently said,"leaner and meaner"(in sleep terms)

Until, one day .....?

Think about it...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Home is where the heart is", said Mummy as she came home and her Guardian angel..

Mummy and me, Sep 2012
Mummy came back home yesterday after a 15 day stay at Medanta the Medicity, in Gurgaon.
It was a moment to cherish forever and as the ambulance brought her back home, she smiled, looked up at her home, said Satnam Shri Waheguru" and then just as she came in, "Home is where the heart is." We couldnt agree more!

Thankfully, the surgery went off well but it was the post op complications that kept her in the hospital a week longer than all of us had planned.But, that extra week was what has taught all of us the power of patience and believing in 'the real power of what a combination of a good hospital, good after care, a great team of doctors and nursing staff and so much more. It has also taught us that there is a certain pace to everything and that try and wish as we might, people will heal only at the pace that they can.

It has  also convinced me more than ever before that our guardian angels are always there for us and they are also the ones that keep our mind, body and spirits strong as well give us a great deal of hope for the future.And this little story will tell you exactly what I mean.

In the blog post just before this one, I have told you about my grandmother, Mataji who passed away many, many years ago, but has always been Mummy's guardian angel whenever she has been ill or going through any kind of a troubled phase.And she was there for her this time as well. As Mummy tells me, after the five and a half hour surgery, she was moved from the OT to the Post Op room till she regained consciousness. (It is only after this that the patient is moved to the ICU)

It was then that she had this sleeping- waking dream which felt so real that she actually felt warm, safe and comfortable. It was a crowded place with many people milling around.Mummy says it was as though she was looking down at the scene and felt as if she was searching for something, or was it someone?

Some time later, she saw exactly who, it was Mataji, her mum, who was sitting in the middle of the crowd and dealing firmly with all the people who by then seemed to be running in the opposite direction. In fact a few of them told her to leave that place as soon as she could for there was something not quite right there. It was then that Mummy saw Mataji stand up and deal with that situation as firmly as she dealt with many  things in her life. Telling all of them to carry on in the direction that they were heading towards and in fact, having to firmly stand her ground against a few people who seemed as if they would sweep her off with them, she said in a loud voice.

"Cant you see, there is no way that I can leave this spot? My daughter is lying ill in bed there and I will wait until she has recovered."

At that, the crowd moved on and she sat there, alone, waiting..

And some time later, Mummy recovered full consciousness, knowing that her guardian angel had been there for her...

Yet again.... 

It all felt so real."" she said and I believed her..


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Our very own Guardian Angels

A few days from now my mother, Satinder will be undergoing a major surgery and as I started thinking about all that it entails, I felt a rush of love and admiration well up inside me.

As always, whenever I speak to her on the phone or in person I can't help but marvel at her positive outlook and zest for life. Despite the fact that she has severe arthritis, spondylitis and numerous other health related concerns for the last many, many years, she is always smiling, always positive and always interested in what other people are involved with, their dreams,their  aspirations and forever ready to share her knowledge if the other person is positively inclined.

Reproduced below is a piece I'd written in Sep 2010 when Mummy was quite ill and very weak.


"I'm a firm believer in the fact that we all have 'Guardian angels' who watch over us and look after us.Sometimes even to the extent of helping us in choosing the right path  when things seem to be going terribly wrong or when we are in a state of confusion about the lines that can be drawn separating black from white, or then  the other way around...

(Image,  courtesy the internet)

But even more than me, its my mother who has particularly identified her personal guardian angel.

It's none other than her own mother Rajinder Kaur, or 'Mataji' as we fondly called her and who passed away almost nineteen years ago.Mummy has told me at least ten instances during the course of this period when Mataji has appeared in her dreams and told her exactly what she should do in order to resolve matters or deal with that particular quandry that she might have found herself in at that point in time.(and these are incidents or situations that she had not discussed with anyone, sometimes not even with my father.)

This evening I happened to call my parents after a gap of about a  week and learnt that Mummy had been down with the 'stomach viral' that seems to be going around in Delhi. It had been a tough three days  and extremely weakening to boot. Day before, she hadn't  even  been able to keep down a cup of tea, and that itself was her dilemma as tea is almost mandatory for her.

Then it happened ...during that time when she was in the nether regions of sleeping and waking. 

As she described it, I felt the hair rise up my arms for it was so very real.

And exactly as Mataji would have done.

Mummy says that she was sitting at the dining table of a large bungalow (Haveli) and that was when Mataji walked in.Sitting a little distance away from her at the table, she patted the seat next to her and said, "Beta you haven't even had a cup of tea the whole of yesterday. I really think that you should."

 And Mummy listened to her, immediately helping herself to the tea  that was all set up at that table itself.

Then the dream faded away and she was her own bedroom.

It was early morning and guess what she did next? 

Asked my father for a cup of tea and was actually able to drink it up peacefully. 

From then on, she got better through the day and today she has actually eaten her first meal at lunch, after a gap of almost four days.

So that's really what Guardian angels do.
Help us when we need it the most. "


And as I prepare myself mentally for the surgery next week, and know that Mummy is also preparing herself mentally as well as physically, I'm positive- 

Her very own guardian angel will be right there, looking out for  and protecting her.....

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Two weeks later and recovered- Dealing with Contact Dermatitis

'Man proposes but God disposes'. This is a phrase that I've grown up with and have used it many a time myself.

But never has it applied so  much as what I've been through in the last couple of weeks.What rankled even more was the fact that I had to cancel the family holiday that we had been looking forward to for the last couple of months!

It started off as a mild skin rash but then I have sensitive skin in any case and after having lived in the Middle East for the last two decades, have developed a mild form of 'melasma', ( a slight darkening of the skin on the upper cheek bones), Having tried various forms of treatment, including Homeopathy, over the last few years, I've pretty much given up on it and have learnt to manage life effectively-treks, hikes, long walks in the desert, mountain climbing, I've managed them all, ensuring that my face is not directly exposed to the sun, as this is likely to increase the darkening.    

So what was it that propelled me to go to a chemist and buy a Bioderma product, White Objective, last month? For the life of me, I'll never really be able to comprehend that except for the fact that the mildly brown  patches were bothering me( from a cosmetic point of view) and I hoped that this would resolve the issue.( Incidentally, this is the same product I'd used last year and it had worked very well!)

Day 1 and I applied it at night- I remember Avi telling me" If it ain't broke, don't fix it" but I went ahead  anyway.

Day 2- Noticed  a slight redness and itching in the morning but thought nothing much of it and went about my day.Applied the serum again at night,.

Day 3- More redness and itching, but did I stop/ No I applied it AGAIN for the third time and what followed next was a nightmare..

Day 4- It seemed worse and there was some pain. I applied a basic skin medication and ice off and on. 

Day 5 Thursday--it looked worse, there was a swelling and a constant itching. That day, I applied ice packs off and on and took an anti allergy medication. Avi suggested that we visit the doctor,but I slept in the afternoon and in the evening was feeling too ill to go.At night, I taped my face with large bandage so that I would resist the urge to scratch through the night.

Day 6- Friday- Woke up in the morning and felt terrible. One look at my face in the mirror and what looked back at me was appalling- red, inflamed, with my left eye almost closed with the swelling and the pain- hard to describe, so I will let that pass...

Went to the doctor in the next hour and I clearly remember her look when I took off the dark glasses that I was wearing to conceal as much of my face as I could. A look of astonishment coupled with horror and I leave you to imagine the rest.The problem was identified as 'Contact dermatitis', with a secondary issue of pus and infection

And so I was put on a course of antibiotics for 5 days and supposed to visit the doctor for a review after that. Which incidentally, would be the day before we were supposed to go on vacation..

Over the next few days, the infection  seemed to be getting better but the pain and the redness remained. On the fifth day we went back to her- the left side of my face was red but luckily the pain had gone.

It was high time to visit a Skin Specialist now and that was what she suggested that morning. And so we visited a well known skin specialist her. After a thorough look at my face, he informed that there was no infection/pus any more and as for the redness" we will deal with it."

Armed with a renewed surge of confidence and a prescription for just two medicines, including a skin cream for 10 days,  I walked out and cancelled my trip. You see, there was no way that I could take any exposure to the sun during this period.

Today is Day 9 of that course and I've recovered. I feel normal  and the redness is almost all gone. I take precautions like not going out when the sun is directly overhead  and that's pretty much it.

As to what did I do with all my time indoors- well that's another whole story for another blog post...

PS- There has to be a reason why I haven't put up those pics of my face during that period...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Random thoughts on Friendship Day

Here's something I wrote two years ago and to me its just as meaningful today on Friendship Day 2013.......

Memories of school in a lovely cantonment town, Meerut.

Having fun just sitting in class, waiting for the teacher to come in, giggling uncontrollably at silly jokes 

Heading towards Pritam chaatwala and ordering one 'patta of tikkis', which cost all of 50 paisas. Then feeling delighted as we shared it...even if it was just one bite... since there were usually 4-5 of us at a time.

Changing schools and cities as well and starting life all over again.
This time in very ' hip and happening' Delhi...

Then finding and making some more great friends!
All of whom enjoyed a lot of what I did. Music, games, sports, debating, watching movies, reading ...

Or the other friends who didn't, yet we managed to form bonds that lasted...

College at St. Stephens and the taste of freedom that it brought.

Learning to be more adventurous than before, travelling on DTC buses and learning to deal with people like never before. Then laughing over the gory 'umbrella stories' with friends as we compared notes.

The Cafe, Rohtas Dhaba, the LCR,the crushes, and the memories that came to stay...

AIR, Doordarshan, Roving Microphone, Yuva Vani, Triveni Art Gallery, Cottage, Nirulas...none of this would have been have as much fun, if one didn't have friends to share these with.

IIMC - Advertising and PR- and another lot of new and delightful friends.

More bonds formed and strengthened. Many of them lasting till date.

Marriage, childbirth, career and the onward progression.
Always, but always made easier by the sheer presence of friends.
Life...changes...more changes...friends...

And today, still game for making and forging new bonds.
Yet forever grateful for the ones that one has...

Happy Friendship Day!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pause and think

This is a piece I wrote for my column ‘My Take’ in the Muscat Daily, on 8/8/ 2011. Looking at it again, reminded me of so much that is common to this point in time, so I've  decided to share it  with you.
Ramadan nights in the Gulf

One week into Ramadan and life is so very different for all of us living in the Gulf. The days seem shorter and the nights longer, but it’s really all in the mind, and one knows that things can look different from one perspective, and then again, completely different from the other.
But one of the greatest benefits of this period (apart from so many others) and one that should really be capitalized on, is for those people who have seriously considered the idea of quitting smoking, but for one reason or another, not been able to kick off the habit during ‘normal’ days.
We might like to think of it as an excuse, but for smokers, it just might be really difficult to resist the urge when everybody around them is puffing away and the smoke weaves its insidious spell and claims yet another reluctant smoker. So this Ramadan, make up your mind and go for it!
And if you are able to stay on course, it just might be the break that you have been looking for. Take that first step and stub out that cigarette, for thirty days is a long enough period for withdrawal symptoms, (if any) to completely go away.
Matrah Souq, a perennial favorite

Sometimes I think about why sleep is at the bottom of our priority list. A day has twenty four hours, and each of those hours can be used in many ways, for instance, study/work/leisure. Yet what we tend to do, more often than not is to extend those waking hours to way more than what can be 'naturally managed'. For a while we might like to believe that sleep will just come to us, it really doesn’t work that way.
The reality of things today is that if we are not watching TV, then we can always remain online, and of course, all our friends worldwide live in different time zones, so it seems to make complete sense. And so it goes on, day after day, month after month, year after year while we continue to get more and more sleep deprived, or then as someone recently said, 'leaner and meaner' (in sleep terms).
Yet, there is always a breaking point, and one which might come later rather than sooner, but it certainly will. Let's just pray that we are in a position to do some course correction before it is too late.

Here are some of my random musings:

    What if everyone could live to be a hundred years old? Would the ageing process then be at the same rate, or would we see some startling differences in the way that things unfold?

·         What if everyone (particularly all 40-plus women) were thin? What if they could eat all they liked, and still stay that way?

·         What if everyone actually loved animals and took care of them the way they really ought to?

·         What if the roads didn't develop huge bumps during, and, well, after the monsoons?

·         What if babies never woke up parents, or ever cried at night?

·         What if people stopped using plastic bags, and that too, for good? 

What if AIDS could be cured, as also so many, many other irreversible diseases?

         Take a moment, pause and think over one or all of these, and I’m sure you’d agree with me – wouldn't the world be such a different place?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Introducing 'Food For Thought' my new blog

In my last blog post , I'd mentioned that I would be starting a new blog.
So here it is folks!

Introducing 'Food For Thought" my new blog and its first post. 

Will be posting tidbits on food, fun , travel as well as some real 'food for thought"-

Click on the link below and read on....

Jacques, the smiling Baguette maker
Happiness is...

Just some of the goodies on sale

I do hope you like 'Food for thought' and will post a new story on this blog soon....

Monday, June 17, 2013

On Paris in June, Le Cordon Bleu, Neha's graduation and starting a new Blog

There's a reason why you can’t escape the hordes of tourists surrounding the Eiffel Tower. Not only is it one of France’s most popular tourist destinations, but according to data from the World Bank, France is the world’s most visited country. So on this trip to France, we decided that we would see and do everything that we hadn't done on earlier trips and try and leave out the Eiffel Tower. But of course that just isn't possible and on Friday, we found ourselves right back there.

Everything was just as beautiful as before but the number of tourists was actually quite staggering! Add to that the fact that the Eiffel Tower is adding a first floor where tourists will be able to stop, rest, look around and enjoy some fabulous treats and you have a recipe for some of the most delicious possibilities this summer.

On this trip we had the proud privilege of watching our daughter Neha graduate from the world renowned Le Cordon Bleu, Paris with a Deplome De Patisserie on June 6, a glorious afternoon at a beautiful and touching ceremony held at the Westin Hotel, Vendome.

Looking up and marveling

Sunset near Notre Dame

 For more details , please click here and read on-

(Many thanks to Muscat Daily- Excerpt above taken from my column, 'My Take')

Its halfway through the year and I've finally decided to do what I've been mulling for some time now. Next week, I'm starting a new blog which will focus on fun, food and travel. Once I've done it, I will post the link here and I hope you will enjoy reading some of the posts I will be putting up there. 

Meantime, do keep reading this blog, its been over four years now and its still up and running.......

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sights that linger- Trip to the Baushar ruins, Oman and the Lady with the Lamp

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

Sometime back, I'd decided that I would write about 'Sights that linger" and I did make an attempt, followed by another, but as it sometimes happens, 'Life got in the way'.

But this time around, I'm determined to stay with what I'd planned,  so here's a blog post about my trip to the Baushar ruins sometime back  

Sights that linger

Located diagonally opposite the Muscat Private hospital, these intriguing ruins are actually those of an old, abandoned fort which dates back to over 500 years ago. 

Arriving there just before sunset and leaving shortly after it, this time slot gave us the perfect opportunity to capture a mix and match of the mood , even more than the very real beauty of the location as such.
Old and beautiful

Wandering around, with our cameras in hand and for the lucky few who had remembered to bring a thermos of tea and cookies along, it was really easy to imagine all that had happened in the days of yore.

Could very well be the past

As I say in many of my blog posts, I will let my pictures do most of the talking, but what I will say is....
The Lady with the Lamp

I was really lucky to have got a few pictures of 'The Lady with the Lamp!'

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just a thought leading to another

We all have a place that we love to head towards time and again. A place where we can just sit  and have a chat with friends over a cup of tea, coffee or enjoy a quick meal. Or if you will, sit out in the sun , basking in the warmth of the venue, but even more, the sheer pleasure of being in a place where each member of the staff is keenly attuned to your requirements and greets you like a long lost friend the minute they catch sight of you.

I've got exactly one such place and its probably where I spend the most amount of time, outside my own home. This charming little cafe is called 'Darcys' and its located at Madinat Qaboos MQ) in Muscat.
My fave cafe
While I'm fairly engrossed  in my book,, magazine or newspaper if I'm alone here, or chatting animatedly with friends or family in other situations, I  do take a look around and nod at a familiar face every now and then. Most of the customers are regulars just like me and over a period one gets to know them somewhat too.

But then there are the other faces that seem somewhat out of place and that is exactly the reason why they stay in the mind. Every other time that I'm there, I see a 35' ish local man, who has a slight limp- and if one looks at him closely, doesn't seem to be entirely normal. Now I don't know why that is so, but one generally avoids making eye contact with him, for fear of...? I really don't have the answer here, but am just sharing my  thoughts. And believe me, I'm not the only one there who does this, its probably the majority of others present too.As for the staff, I've noticed that they sat him in a quiet corner where hes served a cup of tea and a small bite and after a short respite, he's off and on his way..

But last weekend saw a departure from the norm. My husband and myself were sitting outside and having our scones and tea and this man walked out.It was evident that he'd finished and was leaving. But here's the real surprise. Just as he reached the small gate which serves as the exit and entry point, he stopped, looked directly at us and waved goodbye. I too waved back instinctively.

I really don't know what it was about that simple gesture, but it touched me a great deal. For all the times, I'd thought of him as 'not exactly normal" he'd been seeing and focusing on me as a person who he'd learnt to recognise. Then one day, he actually reacted and how!

I find myself thinking of him every now and then. And have made up my mind that I will have a real conversation with him when I see him next.

Just one more reason to head back to Darcy's ...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Memories are made of this

An incomparable view
For my first post of this year, I decided to write about a day which was truly memorable. Warm, bright and sunny and one which just begged'"get out doors and stay out!"

Which is exactly what we then did...

Driving through old Muscat and then upto the Al Bustan and Bar Al Jissa is one of the treats of this time of the year in Muscat and I'm sharing some of the pics I clicked along the route.

I'll keep this post short and sweet and let the photographs do the talking.

So here they are - and you will probably understand why I say that memories are made of this.

December was a particularly horrible month as we learnt about the brutal gang rape and eventual death of a young brave-heart girl in India. I salute her for her courage and pray for the peace of the departed soul. With the hope that her death will help a million other girls in India be saved from a similar fate, here's wishing all of you a safe,  happy and prosperous New Year .
The Al Bustan R/A in all its glory