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Posts from — May 2014

Four Years and Counting

Che and me on 24th May 2014 :D

Che and I completed four years of marriage last Saturday. We’ve been together 6 years now and I can’t believe it, someday’s it feels like it all happened yesterday and someday’s, like it’s been eternity. But all said and done my last six years have been tremendous fun.

Cuckoo came into our lives about six months before we formalised things and Senti soon after her. And the two of them brought so much with them – routine, discipline, processes and schedules, all enveloped in love. They gave Che and me, the wanderer spirits that we are, a grounding.

Oh, and anyone who has met Cuckoo and Senti will tell you that they are fun beings. Life just becomes fun and funny sometimes with them around. And if that fun wasn’t enough over the years three more joined the fun panel.

The dogs have been around so long that sometimes I feel we hardly travel but in the last six years Che and I have traveled a fair bit together. We’ve travelled by bike, bus, train and plane across India. We’ve even managed to do that in Thailand. And separately we’ve traveled a lot too, Che maybe much more than me but then he travels on work and I on holiday. 😀

On the Move, In the Train

Che quit his corporate job 20 days before we got married, what that means is that we have actually spent most of four years together. As freelancers both of us work from home, we are around each other almost 24/7. And how that makes the fireworks fly. We fight, oh man do we fight. I think our neighbours and the dogs will attest to that and yet I enjoy being around him, the house feels empty when he’s not around (even with 5 dogs).

Che is a fun guy, he will find things to do on a dull day, he will make the mundane, super cool. He will find that must watch movie, he’ll give you the scoop in news, he introduces me to music I hadn’t paid attention to before, he’ll have the latest Sherlock Holmes ready to watch almost as soon as it airs in UK, he’ll suggest scrabble on a rainy day, he makes even a trip to the grocery store an adventure and above all else he talks books.

Che also makes me look good in pictures :)

There have been times when people have asked me why I love Che and I’m tongue tied. [Not so tongue tied when I have to list what I don’t like 😀 ] But the above’s why I love him, it’s difficult to explain why in words. 😛

On our anniversary we had a very ‘Che day’, we celebrated. Che made this lovely Aloo, Mutton Aur Mutter Curry for our special anniversary lunch while I made the papads to go with it. 😀 We caught up with a couple of old friends after ages and went out with them to dinner. And this was no usual dinner, we started with Davangere Benne Dosa’s at DVG Road before heading to V.V.Puram Food Street for some sinful obuttu and Bowring badam kulfi. And all of it wrapped up nicely with a visit from my brother just before the day completed at twelve. We had a full, fun, day.

And to complete this post, here are some quotes I found that are apt to us…
You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore… but let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
– Kahlil Gibran

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the wedding cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
– Ogden Nash

A married couple are well suited when both partners usually feel the need for a quarrel at the same time.
– Jean Rostand

Whatever you may look like, marry a man your own age — as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight.
– Phyllis Diller

😉

May 30, 2014   2 Comments

Book Review: The Bad Touch by Payal Shah Karwa

Title: The Bad Touch
Author: Payal Shah Karwa
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Hay House Publishers (2014)
Genre: Non-Fiction
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

Summary: (Goodreads)
Real-life stories of victims of child sex abuse who emerged victorious!

Harish Iyer is a survivor nay he is a thriver of child sex abuse. He is an award winning social activist who first shared his disturbing story of his sexual abuse on the television show Satyamev Jayate and who gave voice to the issue when most would be silent.

There are others: noted film director Anurag Khashyap, a victim of incest and sexual abuse, not once but many times over; Jai, living in a Mumbai high rise suffers abuse and a now 34 year old mother who suffered sexual abuse as a 12 year old.

The stories in The Bad Touch will shock, horrify, sadden, repulse and numb the reader. But underlying them is the small ray of hope that if the immediate family is sensitive enough to the signals a child may send out, he or she may be rescued from being victimized.

This book is a mission: to help ebb the trauma of survivors and inspire them with stories like Harishs and to create awareness of the issue of child sex abuse amongst parents/guardians.

My Review:

Note: Thanks Payal Shah Karwa for offering me your book to read and review :)

Cover: The background image has a blue tinge and is not clear. But the name pops out!

Paper and font: Paper and font is good.

Readability, language: Simple language.

Why did I choose this book: Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is an issue close to my heart. I was abused as a child and I know the trauma first hand. So, when I heard from Karwa’s team to review the book, there’s no way I’d say no.

‘The Bad Touch’ is a book packed with information. The backbone of the book is the story of Harish Iyer, who was brutally abused as a child. It is a hard hitting story of how cruel and traumatic CSA can be on a child.

Harish Iyer’s childhood is gruesome (it made me squirm) but he has survived his ordeal and is now a social activist. Through Harish’s story Karwa lays the foundations of what is CSA and it’s brutality.

There are further stories of both men and women who have been abused as children. Most of them are aliases but one noted name is Anurag Kyashap.

The stories are all varied and chilling but the common thread through them all is that these are the stories of people who have gotten over their pasts and are thriving today.

Reading these stories makes you realise that there are so many untold stories in the world of people who lost the fight or are still struggling with their pasts.

Child Sex Abuse can happen to any child, it doesn’t matter how much care the parents take. The more sure method of preventing it is educating your child and building a bond of trust with your child, so the child tells you when it happens.

Apart from the stories ‘The Bad Touch’ gives insight into the trauma of victims, what they thought and felt as children and the various healing processes they followed.

It also has information about organisations working in the CSA space, how to deal with Child Sexual Abuse, tips for parents, how abusers work, and more. Karwa also gives a history and explains The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012 in detail.

Karwa has done a good job with incorporating all the various aspects of Child Sexual Abuse in ‘The Bad Touch’. This is a book I’d recommend to all parents, not just to read but to keep handy, just in case.

About the Author:
After 6 years in marketing communications Payal Shah Karwa is now a content writer pursuing her mission of being actively involved in social causes through her writing. She can be found on Twitter at @payalshahkarwa

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

May 20, 2014   No Comments

The A to Z Challenge in Review

Phew! I’m finally done with the A to Z Challenge. And I was so happy about that yesterday that, when Che asked me to take the day off and chill with him, I did, forgetting all about my post. Freya, bad girl! 😀

When I started out on 14th April it felt like it would never finish the challenge, I’d never get 26 posts done. But here I am 26 posts later and it feels good to have completed my challenge.

Wasn’t a clear win, and there were many hiccups. Days when I couldn’t sit down to write, the words just wouldn’t come, I couldn’t find the right word; it took me 34 days to get 26 posts done and that’s one too many a holiday in-between posts.

But anyway all that aside, this challenge was a learning experience at various levels.

I learned some new words and their etymology in the whole exercise. Days where I couldn’t find a word I learned to use Google better :D, I thought out of the box for some letters, reached into my heart for some and even my past for some. In some cases I learned something new and amazing like about Rastafarian or that the SCUBA we use today was first co-developed by Cousteau in 1943.

There were days when I had so much to do but I was confident I would find the time to write everyday. And some days I did, I wrote a fair number of posts on the mobile phone when I couldn’t sit down at a computer. Writing, editing and publishing through the mobile phone was a first for me. Need to learn how to do this better though, since I couldn’t figure out how to add images to my post on the mobile.

The other thing I learned is not to take for granted that I will find the time to write everyday. I have to learn to write ahead of time and schedule the post. [Crack that whip, I need to get my act together! :D]

The most important lesson though I think was that when I make up my mind I can do things. I wrote posts on days when I though it would just not be possible to do it. I relearned will-power and determination, and the possibilities it opens up.

This challenge had me push my limits and helped me find a little bit of me again. I found writing and it’s joy again. So here’s to me being more active on my blog. Cheers!

Here’s my 26 posts and words for 2014

A for Alpha, A for Aspire
B for Bravo, B for Balance
C for Charlie, C for Celebration
D for Delta, D for Determination

E for Echo, E for Explore
F for Foxtrot, F for Friends
G for Golf, G for Gratitude
H for Hotel, H for Hope

I for India, I for I
J for Juliet, J for Josh
K for Kilo, K for Kismet
L for Lima, L for Labour

M for Mike, M for More, Maza
N for November, N for Nature
O for Oscar, O for Orgasmic
P for Papa, P for Positive

Q for Quebec, Q for Quirky
R for Romeo, R for Rastafarian
S for Sierra, S for Silence
T for Tango, T for Time-out

U for Uniform, U for Unique
V for Victory, V for Vitality
W for Whiskey, W for Wisdom

X for X-ray, X for X-factor
Y for Yankee, Y for Yummy
Z for Zulu, Z for Zero

I last used the phonetic alphabet over 8 years ago while I still worked in a BPO, though the A to Z I tested my memory and I managed to get 24 out of 26 correct. Not a bad show, eh?

Have you done an A to Z challenge? Did you enjoy it? What did you learn from it?

May 19, 2014   3 Comments

Z for Zulu, Z for Zero

“Along life’s journey,
May it ever be your goal,
To keep your eyes on the doughnut,
And not upon the hole.”

The first time I came across these lines was in my 2nd PU (12th) scrapbook. Those days scrapbooks with questions and layouts were a rage and I’d been so proud to get one. Anyway, over the years the book has gotten buried somewhere but these lines have remained with me. It’s become one of my favourite life advises.

And that’s where zero comes in. Zero by itself isn’t much or rather is nothing, but put it along with another number and things dramatically change. And with each addition of a zero, the number increases by leaps and bounds. There’s more to a zero then it’s zilch.

To me zero is also a number with negative connotations, so I wondered do a lot of people choose zero as their favourite number? A little bit of searching and reading let me to Alex Bellos, a mathematics blogger for The Guardian. A few years back Alex setup a site favouritenumber.net and asked people what was their favourite number and why.

After surveying over 30,000 people from across the world, the results are in and here’s what he has to say about zero.

“If you like the number 0, join the smart aleck club. More than any other number, people seemed to pick 0 because they thought it was a clever thing to do.”

If you are wondering about the results of the survey, 7 ranked highest followed by 3 and 8. As for zero, it isn’t the least favourite but it isn’t in the top 20 either.

So coming back to point, zero is an interesting number, it’s a clever number. Inert by itself but capable of causing positive, drastic and big changes when put in with another.

These would be nice qualities to have no? I’d like to be more of a zero this year. 😀

What do you think of zero? What’s your favourite number?

May 17, 2014   No Comments

Y for Yankee, Y for Yummy

I am almost at the end of my A to Z Challenge with just ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ left now. And Y and Z fall into the ‘difficult to find words, wait for divine inspiration’ category. So I duly waited for that stroke of enlightenment, that spotlight of sunshine.

The hunt for words with Y brought up some interesting finds –

yaff – to bark like a snarling dog
yager – nineteenth-century rifle
yashmak – double Muslim veil leaving only eyes uncovered
yegg – a burglar of safes
yerk – to draw tight; to bind
yappy – talkative, loquacious
yodel – sing with abrupt alternating changes between the normal voice and falsetto
yeuk – to itch
yex – to hiccup, belch or spit

And then, as I ate lunch yesterday, in marched the word ‘Yummy’ into my mind, and got reinforced with dinner.

This whole gassy situation has cramped my eating style. Gone are the days of eating irregularly and mindlessly. I now have to make sure my stomach doesn’t stay empty for long and that I eat healthy.

Considering my culinary skills and enthusiasm in the kitchen this was an uphill task. Something that boggled my mind so much that if asked ‘What shall we eat?’, my standard reply was curd rice (not that I’m a taair-sadam fan).

And that’s where the hero makes entry, he swaggers in and sweeps the damsel off her feet. 😀 Che did just that, he took it on and found the infamous khichidi, which in the last couple of weeks he has perfected. If it wasn’t as good as it is, I would have gotten bored of it much earlier.

But yeah, I’ve been getting bored, slowly and steadily my perkiness to the word ‘lunch’ has waned and my beeline to the kitchen has become a crawl.

So what does the hero do? He flicks his wand and finds new dishes I can eat. Yeah, you could say Che must have been bored too, but I like seeing him as hero. 😛

Photo Credit: Chenthil

Yesterday he made avial for lunch and adai for dinner. Ohh and did I enjoy it. They were both yum. Avial is one of my favourite veggie dishes, it not only has coconut milk but also tons of veggies. I could eat a bowlful just like that!

Adai, I don’t think I have ever eaten this before but I really liked it. Simple to make once the batter was given to me, it was a wholesome filling meal. And with the amount of ghee I was instructed to put, fattening too!

This post isn’t about me really, it’s about this man I married who does such an awesome job in the kitchen that I sometimes think I should just keep him there, if only he cleaned up as well as he cooked I might have. 😀 Che is so the opposite of me; I find cooking stressful and a chore but to him it’s therapeutic and fun.

Tasty is an important word to me, when it comes to food. I love eating different types of food but making it all, just isn’t my thing. Left to myself I’ll crib, curse, mop and then eat dal rice or curd rice rather then make something elaborate.

So, here’s my official thank you to Che for making my year ‘yummy’. 😛

May 16, 2014   No Comments

X for X-ray, X for X-factor

I spent all of yesterday and today thinking of words starting with ‘x’, I searched and found quite a few words too, but all them were exotic and unusable. I was starting to contemplate writing a post about not finding a word when it all fell into place, x-factor was my word.

The electricity went out at about 1pm today. With only half of the house work done and clothes in the washing machine I prayed it would come back soon.

After all the work and some sitting around I finally gave up at 5pm and had a cold water bath. The electricity still wasn’t back.

With sunset nearing Che and I now decided to take action, this wasn’t normal. A little bit of scouting around and we learned it was just our lane without power and that our neighbour was just heading out to complain to the society guys.

There wasn’t much we could do but sit and wait, so we headed back and sat down for a few minutes under the cherry tree. Our street’s been dug up and looks a bit different right now. Maybe the JCB had something to do with the power outage.

Sitting there, there came the idea of a movie, no work was going to happen for a while at home anyway. And today was Wednesday, that meant 100 rupee tickets! 20 minutes later, tickets booked, we were on our way to Hawa Hawai.

The movie as a concept is great but it has so many sub-stories that the main story struggles to be seen in the haze. Anyway back to point. It was on our way to the movie that ‘x-factor’ hit me.

My life in all about the x-factor, the unscheduled power-cuts and the unplanned movies. And happiness seems to be all about celebrating the x-factor. :-)

BTW have you watched Hawa Hawai? What did you think of it?

May 14, 2014   No Comments

W for Whiskey, W for Wisdom

I remember the first time I came across the Serenity Prayer, it was way back in school on a bookmark sold by the Sisters at the annual charity book sale. I bought the bookmark and still have it somewhere buried in all my treasures. The words though stuck in my head and got refreshed a few times over the years when I came across the prayer off and on.

And then I thought of it again, when I thought about Wisdom the other day. And as always I went looking on Google and found a Wiki page on it.

God, grant me –
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

There is something about this prayer that is haunting, it’s simple and yet holds a world on meaning. Almost as if, if you understood it’s depths, you’d find enlightenment and eternal peace.

Here’s some things I also found out on Wiki about the Serenity Prayer.

This prayer though commonly known as The Serenity Prayer was originally an untitled prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian around 1943. Today The Serenity Prayer has been adopted by the Alcoholics Anonymous and many other twelve-step programs.

The original, attributed to Niebuhr, is:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

The Serenity Prayer has been a part of the  Alcoholics Anonymous since 1941.

The adapted prayer used by the Alcoholics Anonymous was: ″Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.″

However the 12 Step Groups adopted a slightly different version: ″God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.″

Some precursors to the prayer that struck a cord with me…

If there’s a remedy when trouble strikes,
What reason is there for dejection?
And if there is no help for it,
What use is there in being glum?
– 8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar Shantideva

“And they said: At the head of all understanding – is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.”
– 11th century Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
–  philosopher W.W. Bartley in a Mother Goose rhyme

And here are a couple of modern day versions 😀

The Serenity Prayer is quite a famous prayer and has been used in music, books and even movies. Some places the prayer appears are in Robert Downey, Jr. song “Broken” on his album The Futurist, he sings part of the prayer, Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse-Five and in the movie Flight where William “Whip” Whitaker (played by [Denzel Washington]), a recovering alcoholic and drug user, has a copy of the prayer at the end of the 2012 film.

A simple prayer and yet it packs a punch. It has so much to it and encompasses so much. The Serenity Prayer is a prayer I like to revisit often.

Have you come across The Serenity Prayer before? Do you like it?

May 13, 2014   1 Comment

V for Victory, V for Vitality

The dictionary defines vitality as ‘the state of being strong and active; energy.’ I think someone with vitality is someone with lots of energy and high levels of activity. And the first example that comes to mind of someone like this is ‘Moms’. Almost all Moms I know have amazing amounts of energy, fairly robust health and the capability to do incredible things. Women aren’t born with this ability but becoming a mother does this to them.

Yesterday was our day out and as Che and I rode across town catching up with friends we hadn’t seen in ages, a conversation got me thinking about vitality and mothers. Coincidentally it was mother’s day too! Going down that rabbit hole I thought I’d look at what makes mothers so active and energetic. After all being a Mom is not easy, it’s taxing, its tiring, it’s exhausting, [yeah yeah, it’s rewarding too 😀 ]. But if being a Mom is all that tiring, how do Mom’s stay mostly healthy? How do them have so much energy? How do they pack so much into their every day?

Mom’s Indiscriminately Eat

I learned the value of food from my mother. It was a rule in our house that you had to finish what was in your plate. You couldn’t turn up your nose at any dish and had to eat all. But aside from this I learned not to waste food from my mother, not even a little bit.
Mom hates wasting food so the dinner table doesn’t have just today’s food but also a little of yesterdays. Kids being kids we tried to escape the old and have the new always. This meant a lot of times there was just a little bit of something left; rather than put it back in the fridge or throw it, Mom would force herself to finish it.
When it comes to waste, she wouldn’t even let some fruit slide. If we hadn’t scraped the custard apple clean, she would. When she cut mango or watermelon, there would be no fruit left on the skin or seed. Mom was a stickler for no wastage.
My Mom isn’t the only one I’ve seen do this, almost all Mom’s I know are like this. This seems to be why even though it seems like they aren’t eating well at the dinner table, Mom’s still have good health.

Lusty Lists

Mothers don’t have a to-do list, they have very many to-do lists. There’s a list for the little one’s food, the little one’s school and homework, then there’s a list for the kitchen, a list for the house, a list for the husband, and it goes on. And mothers manage them all and achieve 90% or more on their lists. I have difficulty managing one to-do list on paper, how mothers manage so many boggles my mind.
Have you come across Luminosity? It’s a site that helps you exercise your mind for a few minutes everyday. I’ve been doing the exercises for a couple of weeks now and I find am performing better everyday. The more I exercise my mind the better it’s getting.
Maybe all those lists explain why Mom’s are so sharp and alert.

Home-Work

Then there’s all that physical stuff, picking up after kids, sweeping, moping, dusting, washing clothes, cleaning vessels, and again the list goes on. Mom’s make what they do look easy but it isn’t easy at all, it’s a lot of hard physical labour that brings me to my knees most days.
But all that physical stuff they do explains their physical fitness. The home is like their personal gym, where they exercise while no one is watching.
I notice that I am more healthy and fall sick less when I don’t have help and have to do a lot of the house chores myself. Not that I don’t want help!

What else do you think gives mothers the vitality they have? How do they acquire the qualities they have? Is it really only a mother thing? Or are all women like this?

What do you think gives your mother unlimited energy? And if you are a mother, please tell me the secret of your energy? [And don’t say Boost 😛 ]

P.S. – Thanks to Mom, after peeling a mango, you’ll find me nibbling on the skin for a little extra fruit. Do you do that too?

Photo Credit: OpenClips and Richi on Pixabay.

May 12, 2014   No Comments

U for Uniform, U for Unique

Yesterday was a crazy day packed with stuff and I didn’t a chance to write all day. And at the end of the day, I was just too tired to type. So, here’s yesterday’s post today. :)

Unique has been playing on my mind since a while now but I couldn’t think of what to write about. I think I am unique, but so does everyone else. Then, what’s the big deal about being unique. Why should I care about being unique?

Then yesterday while Che and I were waiting for rice to cook, we got talking about societal influences and unrelated topics and it struck me – I am not a societal puppet. My morality, my principles, my values, they are unique. They are unique because in the last 30+ years I have interacted with a fairly large number of people. From my family to friends in school, college, work and the outside world. Every interaction I have had has shaped the way I think and feel today.

Some of these interactions are not even face to face. With the TV growing up and now the internet, the number of interactions I have has exploded. And then there are the interactions I have with myself. 😀 The thought of the sheer number of people and instances in my life astounds me. The number of interactions in just 30 years is so large you could count it as One. One because there are so many that each is indistinct, they are like an entity.

And it is this ‘One’ that makes me, me. If anything in my life had been different, I may have been a completely or slightly different person today, or for all you know I may have turned out just this way. But it is this One that makes me unique. From all the Me’s in all the parallel universes and from everyone else. 😀

I am the only one who had these interactions in this series. My morality, my principles, my values, the way I think and feel are a sum of all my past interactions with people. Each one adding to who I am today. I am Unique!

Of course, this is true of everyone else too! 😀

Photo Credit: Optimusius1 and PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

May 10, 2014   No Comments