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Getting started on the Big List !!

With all the Xmas preparations going on full swing, it’s been crazy here!! Days of shopping and movies, family get-together’s and barbecues, and lots and lots of eggnog and wine, plus cookies and cakes ( I had hidden the bathroom scales, first thing when I got home !!). Unfortunately, my blog had taken a back-seat ; so much for thinking that Xmas may not be so busy !!

Anyways, it’s Boxing Day today, and so far; most of us at home are still in the post Xmas hangover stage. And so far it’s been quiet and the kids are still in the not-naughty-mode, so there’s time to mull over for now.

So now the next big task comes – something that is always decided on after hours, na make it days of thinking and re-thinking; a pretty grueling task indeed. Needless to say, I am not the only one has that hideous task to do. Like this year for instance, I has finished the primary part of starting on it, but I never got beyond serializing ( a.k.a writing in serial order) it !!

Ah yes, the RESOLUTIONS !! I admit 2011 has seen everything happen but my resolutions !! Maybe it’s some kind of disorder I have, not being able to even cross off even one-off the list !!

So ultimate question for 2012, resolutions to do or not to ?!! Or maybe I’ll do my sister’s trick, make a list of not-to-do’s , so that they then become the to-do’s. Wishful thinking I guess !!

Looking it at a more oblique aspect, resolutions=change; change= confusion; and most of the time, confusion=crisis. So I kind of agree with Calvin on this one.

But hey, doesn’t New Year sound a bit incomplete minus the resolutions bit ?!! Let me see, five days to figure it out, so I guess, there’s still time to get started.

So how was your Xmas celebrations ? Any start on the 2012 resolutions yet ? Or if I may ask the big question, was the 2011 resolutions a success ( don’t ask me, I didn’t even get to cross off the first one, off the list !!) ?




At the home front….

With Xmas round the corner, it’s no wonder that the days just flew by, plus a week without the internet and my laptop !! A week of Xmas preparations and parties at the hospital, though I did get an early surprise – my annual leave was granted and the flight tickets came right on time !!

Yes, after two years, Xmas is finally at with my parents, siblings and cousins crashing over. So now there would lots and lots of sleeping in, shopping, baking and more to do….any thing but work ; and just once I really welcome the no-work bit ( finally I guess I could call it as vacations with a capital V !!)

Though, right now, I’m definitely not on alert mode !! With the travelling and the time lag, my biological clock hours need to be re-set and that’s one thing that really takes time. 

So more from the home front, once when sleep looses its hold on my hay-wired mind… time to cozy in !!

And then baking for starts…mmmm. lots to-do.


Today – to deck the halls !!

It’s been nearly two weeks into the Advent month. Funny how time flies!! It feels just like the other day, when I was marking the days off August waiting for autumn to start.

Now that it’s December, the Advent month; the boxes have to be tackled from the attic and up goes the tree. For me this time round it’s a pretty late start, (really late!! ), considering the fact in my years so far, post- Thanksgiving, up goes the tree!! Forget about waiting for Black Friday to go by.

So far the only feat accomplished is the procrastination bit. That is, the plans for the gifts to buy, the baking, the decors and the shopping. Though this year round, I have to start the hunt for the best bargains – new place, new shopping routes, new markets!!

Looking deeper into the Advent month, each year there was something special to do; as in a selfless act. It goes beyond soup kitchens and organizing x’mas celebrations and gifts in old age homes, orphanages and the so on. Last year, was the last year of university, during internship. So it was mostly of organizing the play and the choir with the proceeds going for the poor patient funds.

Though the year before last , it was a different X’mas project. Most of us in the neighborhood had pooled in for a fund-raiser, at the local network and at the church for the orphanage and their school. Besides organizing the gifts and the new furniture for the orphanage, we had to take classes for the kids in elementary subjects. In a way, there was lot of learning to be done; learning about life, friends and the gift of being selfless. True, we may not meet the little kids again, but little actions leave their impression.

So this year, the hospital had decided to take one of our projects to the streets. There are scores of road traffic accidents in India and in many of them, children are the worst affected. Whether it is a cause of road-rage or rash driving, the consequences still stay on even after they get discharged from the hospital. Some children have lost their homes and parents, and shuttled to and fro from their relatives’ home. Some become physically challenged.  Some of them have their homes, parents; yet they still haven’t lost terror hasn’t lost its grip. Life comes to a stand-still and everyday day is like another hurdle to cross.

In Horeb, that’s the name of the place where I stay, last week we had started a small community mainly dealing with post-trauma victims especially road-traffic accidents. So this X’mas, we plan to help them getting their lives back on track, (rehabilitation is a really long word to say it !!). It goes more beyond the psychological help; we need a lot of social help. A lot of them become physically challenged and especially for children, their world had turned upside down.

And so that’s how time flew for me in the past two weeks. So far, phase one i.e. persuading them to join the community, attend the meetings and be a part of the bigger family is underway. The next phase is to rope in the families of the victims to attend the sessions and become a part of the community. After all, each one really needs to know and understand that they are not alone. Then next, coming to the social and economical ventures; plans are still being formulated as to how to go about it. I hope that this project works out, and that there would be a lot of smiles at the end of the year, next year in fact.

Changing tracks and coming over to the busy and hectic part of X’mas, i.e. the arrangements and settings for the parties, the family gatherings and the baking are under full swing. (Need to hide the weighing scales first!!) And then, what’s left to do? Loads, for starters; considering the amount of cleaning up to be done; I’m going to be up and in my knees for hours from now. Two days of off-duty and it’s going to be Oh yes, “deck the halls with boughs of” 

So what’s your festive season like so far? Has there been any progress on the planning? (Don’t ask me, I haven’t started out yet on the home-front!!) Do you have any end-of-the-year or X’mas projects planned or on-going?


Lights. Action. Shadows.

One of the worst monsoon backlashes around here is when the power cables trip over and loud sounds reach us living around the block. Eagerly, we residents rushed around to hear the real cause of the tinker-boom-crash. Unfortunately, there was no metal structure getting up post-transformation, (after effects of the trailer of Transformers 3, I guess). What we saw was our neighborhood transformer sputtering and fuming away to glory. Then, it was lights out. Black out.

Approximately, ten minutes later it was greetings from the skies. I think it was more of a display of talents, from the rain, thunder and lightning tin full momentum. And to add to it, it was pitch black everywhere. It was definitely a wrong time to have given the back-up power inverter for repairs.

Now how to keep my five year old neice, from not screaming and cowering under the table?

Pitch black was disrupted by the candlelight. And to beat it, the setting was not even near romantic. Well, nothing has ever been more entertaining than that. So the remainder of the night, till the power was restored was spent in animated actions.

Yes, the shadow faces were back. And Joanne came out of her hiding. Apparently, I hadn’t lost the art of my high school drama days.

The interesting thing about candlelight, or even light for that matter, is the location of the source and where you stand with respect to it. In front of you, when the focus is strong, the shadows fall back and you don’t get to see them. If it’s above you, you are enveloped in shadows but they don’t overwhelm you. Behind you, if the light lies, long shadows will be thrown across the path.

Sometimes, on the road, shadows may be the only accompaniment but just let them fall behind you.
Else, it would be too dark a path to cross.

Well, that’s all for now about my philosophy of light, life and shadows.
Meanwhile, thank goodness technology’s way with laptop battery and emergency lanterns. Kind of puts flashlights at a secondary level.

Getting a to be thirteen-year-old a b’day present….

Birthdays are special days. It rings in the celebrations, the parties, and the b’day presents and even if I am miles away from home, I still get the invites. And there is one happening in three days time. Meet my twelve-year-old niece who is going to turn thirteen, crazy about rock, presently into the hip-hop style of dressing, secretly trying to learn driving from her brother, getting shades of red and blue post basketball matches (all the while giving her mother i.e. my cousin palpitations) and is secretly an avid book reader. Well, that’s my niece.

Deciding on a gift for a to-be-thirteen year old is mighty difficult. Getting a DVD or cd’s of her favourite bands is kind of weird, ‘coz she has them all, thanks to the on the spot downloading options and the Amazon options. And unless I have an autographed DVD or tickets to a concert, it’s pointless getting into the rock music side.

A trip to my hometown or maybe weekend outdoor trip, say camping would be fine; if I weren’t miles away. So that option’s out.

Shopping. Now that is one thing that we girls, at least most of us, love to indulge in. Miles away, I frankly, have no idea what’s in her wardrobe and what’s not. It’s pointless getting her the same thing. Maybe asking her to order and choose from the catalogues would be an option, but that kind of spoils the surprise.

Well here I am running out of options. So the next best thing to do is to go online and start hunting. I never know what I may find. It’s not easy finding something that wouldn’t result in my cousin going into frenzy or my grandma calling me up saying, “She’s just a kid!!” Hah. The last time, I got her a guitar and since then, I have been getting shriek calls from my cousin.

Now, there’s this option of getting her a leather-bound collection of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Either that or the Harry Potter series. Ah well, she’s a kid but she is an avid reader. Now which reader wouldn’t love to own a book series? Too old for her age. May be not. Hey, the movies are out; so if you have seen the movie, why not read the book. But, not trendy. Yes, books are definitely not trendy for non book lovers. Besides with Kindle around, hard solid books are getting out of fad. But, I prefer books to be held in hand once in a while.

Let me remember, the best b’day gift that I got as a twelve-year-old was my own cd player. That was like almost a decade ago. It’s definitely not an option now. Besides, she already has an iPod. A birthday gift when she turned eleven.

Great, I am in awesome fix. Three days more. Need a surprise. So, what do you get a twelve-year-old that is cool, trendy and something that she doesn’t have and something that won’t send my cousin sister into frenzy?!!

What was the best birthday gift that you got as a twelve-year-old?

To you Dad, Happy Father’s Day !!!

I have sat on this post for the past two days, contemplating a lot over the memories, the days of ‘yore and the present. So putting down my lessons, emotions and memories into words, this post is about my Dad. And it’s in a way; for all the dads in the world, including my cousins and my uncles.

Dear Dad. It’s not easy putting it in words. The silent lessons taught by you, the memories and your presence. Growing up, there were a lot of things you taught me. And most of the time, though you never say much; you’re still always around, lending a hand and your support.

During the early years, when I was still in my cradle, Mom used to say that Dad used to be scared to hold me. After I turned one year of age, then there was no putting me down. Born into silent mischief, is what I would say my childhood was all about. And I did give my Dad a couple of gray hairs along the way.

Through the years, there were a number of things that Dad had taught me. About life. About dreams. About family. About love. About work. And about many other aspects of the path and the journey on the road.

Dream strong, dream big. Dad had a lot of dreams in life. But one thing he never failed to do was to plan. To plan for the future, to see ahead. He never panicked during the crisis. All the ups and downs he faced them. Even when the downs came, he would put his dreams on hold, only for a while and then catch up with them.

No pain, no gain. Dad is a chronic workaholic but he would not rest till he got what he wanted. That was one of the first lessons of life that he taught me. It was always his policy to say that hard work never hurt anybody and twiddling your thumbs will just increase your stress levels. It’s not only about staying focused, but shifting through till you finding the right focus.

Family first. No matter how busy he was, Dad still kept a tab on all of us. True, he was not much of a talker but he used to be around.
Stage programs, award functions, races , matches, whatever was the event, Mom used to be the frontrunner but somewhere in the crowd Dad would be there and if he couldn’t make it, he used to make certain that we had re-told the entire event in words or he caught the video or pictures of it. And weekends, was one time when we would all hang out, either the malls, theatres or the beach. I guess, it’s there in most of the families, but knowing the amount of paperwork and travel trips that my Dad makes in a day, a day with him minus work, is priceless.

Never judge. If you disagree, say it quiet and firmly. Dad was a master of tact and diplomacy. Not much of a talker, he was and is always a silent observer. And I must say, very watchful, which was ability specially needed during our teen years. He was never the one to jump to conclusions, whatever may be the matter. Always weighing the pros and the cons, he would reserve his opinions till the end, waiting for the right time. And that was the trick to bringing our childhood temper tantrums under control.

Jump into the moment. Have fun. Take risks, but plan them, whenever possible. Contrary to the usual risk-taker view, my Dad used to take risks and chances but he used to always do a fast-forward view before discussing with Mom. But once on a track, he would never look back. I remember the time, when he had to expand the company in Sudan and stay there for a while. It was a while before he got used to the language, but there were tales of fun in his emails to home. The cooking adventures were the first. Followed by the laundry and the rest of the household chores. It was just a matter of finding joy and surprises in the daily chores as well.

This is just a gist of what my Dad has taught me. But the best part is that, no matter how busy he is and no matter where he is, he still keeps tabs on all of us. Right now, I am nostalgic for the days of ‘yore, but I guess I can never get them back. Longing for a long leave, I can’t wait to go back and be with the family. Though, I have kind of left the nest, the lessons, the memories and the times shall stay.

And Dad, after these many years, all I want to say for now, is Happy Father’s Day.

Uh oh !! Meal time ! Not that green stuff again…

“Oh no, what’s that gooey thing? Do I have to eat that?!” whines my five year old neice, Jo

-“Yep, you do. That or no supper, no t.v., straight to bed”, was the reply.

“You know, I could have an allergic reaction to all that stuff. Who knows, nothing is organic these days,” remarks a very “mature” 13 year old Julie.

-“Its okay.I have very good, tried and tested remedies for allergies. It’ll work for you, too.” Wow, allergies, what next, I wonder. Got to appreciate the creativity though. Never thought of that one.

“Besides, we could have all nutrients through your ‘nasty, vile tasting prescriptions’ (up went my eyebrows!!); they both taste the same,” says a very belligerent 3 year old Ash.

-“Now, since they both taste the same, have this instead.” Wonderful, I have not yet lost my sense of sarcasm.

Oh don’t get it wrong, I am not a terrible cook. I am just having toddler-trouble. Well, here I am, with my three wonderful neices and nephews. And this is supper time. Ask me where my brother and his wife, as well as my sister and my most amazing bro-in-law disappeared off to. To a far way, on their adventures to explore this part of the world . (Forget chasing them!!)  If life could get any better, it would have. I love my three imps, but try making them eat anything that closely resembles the edible variety of the plant kingdom, up goes their noses, shoving of plates and the most-dreaded whining starts. I think it’s something to do with being a toddler, I guess. Come adulthood, or even late-teens; yikes, can’t gain any weight (for us girls) and got to build the muscles (that one is for you, guys). And the greens somehow become edible then.

When I worked in the Paediatric wing, almost all the parents, I came across were complaining , “They just won’t eat veggies or even milk. Do you think there is any tonic, which builds their appetite?” Well, sorry, I do understand your problem, but no tonic is there like that. They’ll get their vitamins through the syrup but, appetite-stimulants at this age, hopefully avoid.

It’s not like they are on starvation mode. If lil’ Jo spots her fav’ crisps, or anything with cream, fries…hey she’s hungry. Once in a while, when she gets the mood, she’ll have her fruits. Blame the current scenario of the food industry for eating problems of the toddlers. It’s high time that McD’s, KFC, Burger King issues a statutory warning on the packaging of their products saying, “Too much intake leads to obesity”. Same goes for all the crisps packets, coke and all the other “junk” stuff. And as for in schools, they say they would regulate the lunch menu, but that’s more like straightening the tail of a lil’ piglet. All talk and changes that last for less than a month.

Growing up, Mom had a way with the veggies. If anyone thought that I was any different; nope, I was a toddler to the core. Mom resorted to trickery to make me eat my veggies. She would make chicken salad, but I swear there were more veggies in it than meat. Same goes for the sandwiches and the desserts, more frosted fruits than cream. And the neat trick, of placing cut veggies on the dining table. We usually ended popping a bite and before supper, the bowl would be empty.

Well sneaky or not, we got our veggies in; thanks to mom. But, at present ‘m stuck with these imps. So far, we made a deal. Eat your veggies and we get to sleepover on the terrace, like a “mini-camp”. For this time, it worked. Need some tricks up my sleeve.  Think I have to make a long-distance call to Mom for help and inspiration. Till then, I may have to declare war with the imps regarding their meals. Dang it, I need another alternative. Is there any trick that works ?!!