Mangoes and me

“Life can only be understood backwards , but it must be lived forwards. ”                 -Soren Kierkegaard.
At times we live forward but cannot stop ourselves from thinking backwards, and it is so peaceful at times, it makes us feel so lively and complete, strengthens us and takes us away from loneliness.

Sharing our nostalgic moments makes us connected and warmer towards a person. 

Flowering in mango trees and arrival of Summers make me nostalgic and takes me back to my childhood at my grandparents place, my grandfather, whom we fondly call “daddy”, reading his newspaper ,under the shade of the mango tree on his reclining chair and in between generously welcoming all the visitors, who just drop-in to have a cup of tea and sit for hours in the veranda discussing day to day happenings and worldwide events.

A sprawling house in the hill region, but with abundant mango trees around due to its topography, a place where as a child I spent my summer vacations.

The site of mango trees takes me down the memory lane and makes me a five year old girl, watching closely and enthusiastically my grandparents milking their buffaloes under the shade of the tree.

Sometimes, I can feel the safety of their touch or their intense and serious conversations, but now, daddy sits alone missing his partner of lifetime , as she is nowhere to be seen but can only be felt through her memories, as the Summer has again set in with sweet smell of mango trees, I again revisit those fond memories.

It was a world , where there were clocks that did not chime unlike now when time moniters everything and every thing is rushed up without any ease or fun.
Time flies so soon but back there in that world of good old memories, where day began with warmth, no worries to hurry up, no set of rules or instructions.
Sleeping under the open skies on a star lit night or gazing the twinkling stars all night with mesmerising fragrance of the mango blooms . During the day playing hide and seek under the mango groves meant the world to us.

Days when ordinary and simple things meant the world. 

The mango trees still bring so much joy and happiness as they are not only a visual delight but the incomparable taste and flavour of the fruit which can be eaten in copious amounts , makes us a child again.
Even if it’s a wild tree, it is generous with its juicy fruit- also called “the nectar of the Gods”, “King of fruits”, it acts as a oasis in the midst of the dry and arid land.
My grandparents proudly displayed their mango orchard with variety of mangoes and taught us to identify and distinguish between “langra” and “totapur” as well as, alphanso and “dusshehri” mangoes. When elders of the house would enjoy their afternoon siesta, we children would climb the mango trees, hang on the branches like monkeys and at times throw pebbles at each-other.
During monsoons daddy use to plant young mango trees near the house and used the mango wood for havans, the leaves of the tree hung beautifully on the entrance door for religious and auspicious occassions.
Listening to folk tales revolving around the mango trees was our favorite pastime, but what grabbed our attention the most was the tedious and long process of mango pickle making by the ladies of the house-hold which they did with so much ease.
Today mangoes are available throughout the year, all thanks to technology but the sweetness is lost somewhere.

Those days of care and fun which even made the scorching heat of summer bearable are lost somewhere giving way to artificial things, whether it is the lost childhood games or the natural flavor of mangoes everything is being contaminated by the pests present in our society or pesticides used for ripening of fruits.

So there is nothing like the good old days spent in the cost comforts of elders.

Wish our children are also that lucky to have such cherished 



Shoppers Paradise


“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is

better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.”
                               – Sophie Kinsella.

Shopping means different things to every woman-a necessity, a sanctum, a religion, a way of life, an adventure. Whatever be the meaning of shopping in our life, it remains important for us , but most of the men do not understand how something that involves walking around , trying fifteen things, and lugging around huge bags can be relaxing, but then it is a girl thing. When I feel depressed or little let down, buying something new can work wonders, shopping has this mood elevating effect.


 Sector-22 Chandigarh and Sarojini Nagar Market in New Delhi,

have lot in common, both serve as a shoppers paradise for

a pedestrian shopper.

People not only across the country but globe come here for

shopping. And for shopaholic like me, residing close to

Sarojini Market in Delhi is a boon.
Living in a Metro city like New Delhi, shopping during the

weekends with your family in shopping malls, which are

overcrowded and for simple, affordable household shopping and

goods, seemingly over-priced.
But Sarojini is one market which provides you respite from all

such tensions, unlike the weekend roadside movable markets for example the 8 market in Wellington, Tamil Nadu, as Sarojini

    is open all days of the week and many other such markets which provide us with opportunity of bargaining and haggling are a boon for the shopaholic like me.
The freshness of the buys, the cheapness of the goods and

the thrill of the bargain are magical. Moreover, if the

place is walking distance from your place, but otherwise

also, auto rickshaws and parking space is in abundance, with

various public transports for the commuters.
Soaring prices put burden on our budgets, but this market is

 a welcome change and keeps our worries aside. From bobby

pins to furnishing goods, you name and they have it all.
This market is about splendid bargains, vibrant hubbub and

hustle-bustle like the sector-22 market in Chandigarh. You

shop and shop till you drop.
A buzzing place with people and walking shoppers, some make

shift shops bunched together offering clothes from kids to

ladies wear, western to ethnic, why should men be left out,

there is so much for them also, there is so much for

Group of young college students looking for clothes, bags and

 accessories to old looking for stuff for their grandchildren

and the newborns.

All branded products at such cheap prices, so much to choose

 from, heaps of new to second hand clothes- avail at throw

away prices. It’s truly a heaven for the bargain hunters.

At each step, vendors and enthusiastic hawkers grab your

attention with bright and bubbly bags and jholas.
So, to visit this place with so many spectacles, I put on

my jhola and decided to head for Sarojini for the big buy.

Well, shelling out thousand rupee notes for a single outfit,

no matter branded and covet able is something one cannot

afford at modest budget, so with a thousand rupee note in

my wallet- I was now in the alleys and by lanes of

Sarojini, as I had gained immense experience from my previous

 visits in matters of bargain and haggling.

Though my closets were overloaded with the market stuff but

the money in my wallet was eager to jump and change his

single status to only a few notes or coins, so that at

least the money had company and did not feel lonely .
Away from the air-conditioned confines in open, a blast of

vibrant mix, melee of colours bursting with life, fresh aroma

 of aloo-tikki and radish chutney, everything was such an

exhilarating experience.
 I often spend my time roaming around the corners of sarojini looking for the fresh arrivals. Recently I achieved a rare distinction in the field of shopping- as I entered the market with my spacious jhola(bag) slinging on one side and with

my shopping list in the other hand, headed from one shop to

another- like a hippie, but sooner I realised that it was

pointless to stick to one shopping list and it was soon

lost and my bag was already full with all sought of clothes

 and apparels.
But, before buying, I thoroughly examined the garments

carefully as size tags are to be least trusted and defects

or missing buttons are one of the most common things

experienced by the buyers and the bargain part is one of

the most essential step, which was of course a cakewalk for

me, at least that is what I thought, but sellers make their

profits anyhow. But the eagerness of the shopping was much

more than a few losses.
When I headed for the next shop, the whole sequence of the

bargain again began, this time I became overconfident and in

an affirmative tone conveyed to the shopkeeper

                             “Bhaiya pheli baar nahi aayein hain,

 itne mein toh showroom ki dresses aajaaegi” (This is not

the first time we have come for shopping here, at this

price we will get showroom dresses).
To this the shopkeeper very rudely replied “Toh showroom se

hi le lo naa madamji” (then madam buy it from the showroom

This left me gasping, flabbergasted and finally I was

speechless and with thumping my foot, I said “OK” and moved

to another shop.

This time I purchased everything from the shop with not

displaying much of my bargaining skills to make up for the

mood spoiled by the previous shopkeeper and I realised that

my bag was filled beyond capacity, so I went for another

smaller jhola.

After doing full justice to the smaller jhola and filling it

 to the brim, headed back to my place.
On reaching home , my husband offered me immediate help like

a thorough gentleman, as his wallet was only lighter by a

thousand rupee note and in hearts of hearts he knew that I

had done a good job.

Well, Sarojini is one place where no husband would mind

sending his wife for shopping as it saves their money and

of course gives them ample amount of free and resting time

when their wives are busy shopping.
But, on a serious note, this market is truly a shoppers

paradise if you aren’t brand conscious like me and the

feeling of buying so many things without having a hole in

your pocket is just exhilarating.

Evil Eye;)

Colour boosts brain performance and receptivity. And like most of the people, I have tendency to see whatever is bright and colorful.The beautiful bright flowers and various colours of a rainbow always grabs our attention. For similar reasons the hoardings, banners and advertisements on the roadsides are in bright colours.

Similarly, the masks of metals, wood and clay or mud with vibrant bright colours always attracts me.

I have this huge collection of masks in my study room and where ever I go , the first thing I look for is the masks, as they are not only act as attractive show-pieces, but also depicts and express the culture of a particular region/place.
As a child, I have seen my grandparents getting dark, bright and colorful masks resembling demons with tongue out and hanging them on top corner of the house.

I had then asked my grandfather , why do we do so? He told me, it keeps the evil spirits and jealous people away. I was not convinced . The mask was so evil and scary, that the thought of spoiling the look of our newly built house by hanging the mask bothered me.

My grandfather understood my worries and elaborately explained to me the reason behind hanging the masks.
His explanation was, that when we, hang masks on top of the house , people tend to look at the mask rather than the house, so it is believed to save the house from evil and jealous eyes.

I agreed to his explanation to some extent but at the same time I felt that we always only see what our eyes want to see.

For example: a house or a thing may appeal to the person owning it but it may not appeal to other people.
Recently, when I went to roadside vendors near Sarojini nagar ,to buy earthen pots for my plants, my eyes caught sight of two young boys selling these pots ,their parents had gone for lunch and they were acting as the caretakers of the shop and yes they too had put a mask on top of their shop and had fresh mask pieces for sale put in the front row.

These two boys were around 5 to 7 years old. They were wearing shabby and torn clothes.

While I was in the process of selecting pots, all the sudden there came a bike with 3 grown-up boys, probably in their late teens. They parked their bike right infront of the colourful masks and got down.

They were also equally shabby , but the moment they arrived , the two young boys selling earthen stuff kept on gazing at the folks from the bike without blinking their eyelids.

The two boys in the shop  watched  the boys smoke and I could see the admiration in their eyes.

The boys from the bike finished smoking and pushed off.

Seeing all this I felt pity for their state of mind. There were people coming as customers to their shop from all levels of society, from mediocre to rich, parking their luxurious cars on one side, with expensive mobile phones in their hands.

But none of them caught the kids attention , but the ragamuffins whom they admired and wanted to copy, and smoke like them.

These two young boys saw what they wanted to see.

It’s ironical that the masks, the ‘ Nazar Battus ‘, said to act as a protective shield against evil and prying eyes; kept in the front row of their shop , could not save them from evil thoughts and people.


A New beginning:)

“A  girl  is  Innocence  playing  in  the  mud,  Beauty  standing  on
its  head,  and  motherhood  dragging  a  doll  by  the  foot”

-Alan Beek

Every  parent  wants  the  best  for  his/her  child.  Best  of
opportunities,  education,  career,  company,  friends,  food  and
Parents  even  sacrifice  their  peace  of  mind,  for  the  star  of
their  eyes.  Every  step  of  our  child’s  growth  is  a  mystery
for  us,  which  unfolds    with  time  and  through  experience.  But
sending  your  child,  for  the  first  day  to  school  is  the
biggest  mystery  and  experience  on  this  earth,  which  is  both
bitter  and  sweet.
And  it  may  have  sent  anxiety  attack  and  must  have  given
sleepless  nights  to  many  parents;  to  which  I  am  no

As  my  little  darling  turned  three  years  old,  we  landed  in
the  country  capital-  Delhi,  the  school  hunting  for  the
tiny-tot  began,  being  from  the  army-  the  preference  was  of
course  an  army  school,  but  as  the  accommodation  was  allotted
in  the  civil,  we  opted  for  the  best  school  nearby and  this
requirement  was  fulfilled  by  one  of  the  most  prestigious
schools  of  Delhi,  but  now  the  big  question  was,  will  she
get  admission  there  or  not.

But,  all thanks  to  the  point  system,  the  distance  from  the
school  to  home  played    the  major  role  in  overcoming  this
drill   as  well  as  hurdle   and  the  awareness  generated  by
media  of course  played  a  pivotal  role.  Finally  our  little
Miss  got  admission  in  the  premier  institute  and  with  that
started  the  real  roller coaster  in  my  mind.  How  would  she
adjust  to  the  new  environment?  How  will  she  cope  with  new
challenges  awaiting  her?  Whom  would  share  her  initial  thoughts
and  needs  at  school  with?  Her  hesitation  and  my
apprehension,  all  these  thoughts  kept  on  flashing  in  my  mind,
giving  way  to  turmoil   and  upheaval;  day in  and  day out,
making  me  restless.  She  was  about  to  enter  a  whole  new
world  all  together,  a  world  away  from  the  safe  environs  and
cosy  comforts  of  the  home,  a  world  full  of  strangers-  the
outside  world,  a  world  made  of  friends  as  well  as  foes,  but
my  love  and  concern  should  not  mar  her  very  first  step  to
the  this  new  world.

Then  came  the  Big-Day,  the  day  when  my  darling  daughter  was
to  enter  a  new  world,  but  the  mere  thought  of  parting  from
her,  even  if,  it  was  for  few  hours,  gave  me  goose-bumps,
but  to  my  surprise  when  she  got  up  in  the  morning  that
day,  she  was  all  excited  for  going  to  her  school.  With
great  enthusiasm  she  got  ready,  with  immense  pride  she  put
her  school dress,  her  happiness  knew  no  boundaries  when  she
saw  her  new  school-bag,  water-bottle  and  her  lunch-box.  Like
an  obedient  child  she  folded  her  hands  to  pray  and  seek  the
blessings  of  our  ancestral  Goddess.

Finally,  came  the  moment,  when  my  darling  was  to  enter  her
class  for  the  first  time,  but  she  again  surprised  me,  she
took  to  her  class  as  fish  is  to  water  and  waved  at  me,  a
gesture  which  meant  all  is  well:)  mamma  I  am  a  big  girl
now.  After  waiting  for  three  long  hours  my  princess  was  out
again  with  us  with  all  cheers  and  smiles  and  wanted  to  rush
back  home,  so  that  she  could  come  back  to  school  again,
the  next  morning.

Watching  her  on  her  first  day  of  school  left  me  wondering  ”
Where  does  the  time  flies?’,From  a  newborn,  to  a  toddler  and
now  as  a  nursery kid,  all by  herself  in  school  with  no
parents  around.  Her  infancy  has  given  way  to  her  magical
years;  which  will  soon  turn  into  her  discovery  years,  so  let
her  make  most  of  it.

Though,  she  will  always  remain  a  little  girl  to  me,  but  for
her  to  learn  the  worldly  virtues  and  vices,  I  must  also
learn  to  share  her  with  friends,  work  and  play.:)

Leaving the Nest

We  a87817661_XSll  want  to  grow  up.  We”re  desperate  to  get  there,  to  grab  all  the  opportunities  we  can…  to  live.
We’re  busy  trying  to  get  out  of  that  nest… We  don’t  think  about  the  fact  that  it’s  going  to  be  cold  out  there… really  frekin’  cold.  Because  growing  up  sometimes  means  leaving  people  behind.  And  by  the  time  we  stand  we  stand  on  our  own  two  feet…we’re  standing  there  alone.
                        Meredith Grey
                       Grey’s Anatomy- Season 7
 Well,  we  all  have  heard  and  many  times  spoken  about  the  ’empty  nest  syndrome’  at  some  or  other  point  in  our  lives,  but  as  Newton  said  “Every  action  has  equal  and  opposite  reaction,  so  does  the  ’empty  nest  syndrome’,  and  it  is  called ‘ leaving  the  nest  syndrome’.  Though  lot  many  people  would  not  agree  with  me  on  it,  as  it  was  more  feasible  in  old  times  and  now -a-days young  people  are  themselves  waiting  for  opportunities   to  move  out, to  leave  their  old  nest  and  build  a  new  one.  Every one  wants  to  be  independent    and  self-sufficient in  present  times.
But,  still  ‘leaving  the  nest  syndrome’  has  not  completely  vanished,  at least  not  for  me.
Yes  parents  with  heavy hearts  send  their  children  to  greener  pastures  in  search  of   better education  and  financial  independence.  It  is  a  tough  decision  for  them  and  so  for  the  children  as  well.
I  clearly  remember  the  day  my  12th  standard  board  results  were  out.  It  was  those  times  when  Internet  was  in  its  initial  stages  and  still  not  had  made  way  into  our  homes. My  parents    were  all  excited  seen  my  results,  especially  when  I  was  just  hoping  to  get  pass  marks,  I  had  distinction  in  all  three  main  subjects  and  the  happiness  of  my  parents  knew  no  boundaries.
Soon  after  the  results  the  real  gruelling  session  of  applying  for  various  courses  in  prestigious  colleges  of  Delhi University  began. My  dad  ran  from  one  college  to  another  filling  up  forms  along  with  me,  from  North Campus  to  South Campus,  waiting  for  the  cut-off  list,  now  the  school  life   appeared  so  much  easy  as  compared  to  running  around  various  colleges  for  the  admission,     during  school  days every thing  was  ready  on  the  platter,  parents  making  my  fee  payment  to  filling  up  forms  and  purchasing  stationary,  but  now  entering  the  college  life  meant  all  on  my  own .   
Soon  all  joys  of  passing  with  flying  colors  subsided,  preparation  for  the  college  life  began  and i  became  more  independent  now,  but  still  i  was  staying  with  my  parents,  but  moving  on  to  do  my  Masters  further  meant  moving  to  a  new  place,  leaving  my  parents  and  staying  in  a  hostel  or  with  my  relatives .  Finally  that  day  also  came,  when  for  doing  my  masters  i  had  stay  away  from  my  parents  for  the  very  first  time,  so  my  parents  decided  to  drop  me   at  my  relatives  house  but  before  leaving  me  there  all  on  my  own  they  stayed  with  me  at  our  relatives  place  to  settle  me  down,  as  it  was  the  first  time  that  their  fledgling  was  leaving  their  nest.  Bags  and  suitcases  were  packed  with  clothes,  articles  of  daily  needs  and  lots  of  do’s and  don’ts.  They  left  me  their  with  heavy  hearts  and  me  on  the  verge  of  crying,  being  comforted  by  my  relatives.   My  parents  home  soon  became  like  a  Holiday Home  for  me,  which  i  visited  during  vacations  and  festivals.  I  got  busy  preparing  for  my  competitive  exams,  making  new  friends  and  building  a  new  nesting  place.  It  was  only  initially  that  i  made  regular    phone  calls  to  my  parents , then  it  came  down  to  weekends. I  never  realized  that  in  order  to  move  ahead  in  my  life,  I  was  actually  moving  away  from  my  parents,  my  original  nest,  my  home.
Soon  completing  my  studies,  gave  way  to  my  job  and  then  getting  married.  I  got  busy  settling  in  my  own  life,  looking  after  my  new  family,  my  time  mostly devoted  to  my  child  and  husband.  Now  even  Summer  or  winter  vacations  lost  their  significance,  the  festivals  now  meant  more  of  preparations  rather  than  indulging  in  home  made  sweets  by  mom.  The  most  peaceful  sleep  that  i  ever  got  was  at  my  home,  which  has  now  become  just  my  parents  home  as   i  had  build  a  new  nest  for  myself,  but  still  whenever  i  go  there  i  just  sleep  for  hours  without  much  worrying  about  the  door-bell  ringing  or  whether  all  doors  are  locked  before  sleeping  in  the  night. 
It’s  only  within  the  walls  of  my  home  that  i  don’t  have  the  fear  of  being  judged  on  what  i  say  or  do.  My  home (parents’ home)  still  has  my  room  despite  of  the  fact  that  i  hardly  spend  even  one  month  with  them  now.    The  pink  walls  of  my   room  in  the  old  nest  reminds  me  of  my  days  as  a  teenager,  wanting  every thing  pink,  my  toys  and  dolls  are  still  intact  and  beautifully  displayed  in  the  cub board.
I  feel  that  somewhere  there  is   the  urge  to  make  big  in  life  or  the  desire  for  bigger  future  prospects,  buying  superficial  pleasures  and  on  the  other  hand  the  longing  to  go  back  to  my  old  nest,  where  my  parents  live  .  All  this  leaves  me  all  tired  and  exhausted,  as  if  a  tug-of-war  going  on.  I  miss  my  old  nest  ,  at  times  regret  leaving  it.
It  is  not  easy  leaving  your  nest,  at  times  i  just  want  to  relive  those  years  i  spent  away  from  my  home,  i  missed  so  many  precious  moments   and  occasions  when  my  mother  made  finger licking  delicacies  for  others  and  not  me,  as  i  was  away.
At  this  age  when  i  have  spent  half  my  life  away  from  home,  i  now  realize  that  it  is  now  too  late  to  go  back  home.  Now  i  can  make  temporary  visits  or  be  a  guest,  as  now  i  have  another  nest  to  built,  renovate  and  look  after.  But  i  miss  my  original  nest,  never  knew  i  would  only  return  in  bits  and  pieces,  but  it  still  gives  place  to  my  toys  and  dolls,  my  certificates  and  trophies,  which  may  not  find  place  in  my  current  home  but  they  are  beautifully  displayed  in  my  old  nest.  Even  my  report  cards  are  maintained  so  well  that  it  may  give  competition  now  to  the  report  class  of  my  daughter  studying  in  Grade-1.
Yes  we  all  have  to  move-on  in  life,  to  have  a  comfortable  and  easy  life,  we  have  to  make  sacrifices  and  so  does  our  parents,  well  they  sacrifice  is  even  more,  but  just  wish  that  all  us  who  have  come    to  far  off  cities  in  search  of  jobs  and  livings  have  the  chance  of  going  back  to  our  beautiful  abodes  more  often.
Home  is  where  our  parents  live,  this  realization  dawned  on  me  when  i  myself  became  a  parent,  and  it  is  now  i  realize  that  how  difficult   it  would  have  been  for  them  to  let  us  go  and  themselves  live  in  that  nest  all  alone,  which  they  built  collecting  each  straw  with  their  labour  and  hard-work  and  at  the  same  time  raising  and  bringing  us  up  ,  and  one  fine  day  allowed  their  own  kids  to  leave  the  nest    for  soaring  new  heights. My Parents  somewhere  have  always  known  the  fact  that  some day  their  kids  would  go  to  discover  new  avenues  and  leave  them,  and  i  as  a  kid  never  realized  that  some  day  i  would  build  my  own  nest,  leaving  them  behind.   But  my  parents  always  knew  that,
“There  are  two  gifts  we  should  give  our  children:  One  is  Roots,  and  the  other  is  Wings”
  But  for  me  home  is  still , where   my  parents  are.!!!!!!!

On the Driver’s Seat

11811474_10154065442458852_8003492586261788023_nYes,  “Necessity  is  the  mother  of  all  inventions”,this  saying  came  true  for  me  when  i  took  to  wheel  only  when  it  became  a  compulsion  for  me,  though  i  had  learnt  driving  long  time  back.
  Initially   a  bit  reluctant  to  take  new  paths  or  routes,  not  shifting  gears,  first  gear  was  my  favorite,    but  now  i  am  confident,  if  armed  with  directions  and  ground work  along  with  GPS  enabled  data  system,  well   now  the  latest  trend  is  that   the  cars  are  also  running  on  auto-gear  also,  to  make  the  task  of  the  drivers  easy.
But  people  still  look  at  lady  drivers  in  amusement  and  wonder  and  even  doubt  our  capabilities  despite  of  the  fact  that  the  lady  driver  is  more  cautious  and  vigilant  while  driving,  unlike  her  most  of  the  male  counterparts  who  indulge  in  rash  and  drunken  driving .  It  does  pinch  you  at  times  when  people  are  unable  to  accept  a  lady  as  a  driver  and   your  co-driver  being  a  male.  It  happened  to  me  few  days  back  ,  while  driving  home  with  my  father  as  my  co-driver,  my  maid  came up  to  me  and  asked  ” Madam  your  papa  does  not  know  how  to  drive,  why  are  you  always  driving  and  he sitting?!!!!”  which  left  me  and  my  daddy  dearest  frowning  and  speechless,  because  he  has  not  just  driven  light motor  vehicles  but  also  the  heavier  ones,  but  certain  mindsets  cannot  be  changed  so  why  to  argue  rather  just  prove  yourself.
Friends  at  functions  or  late  night  parties  often  out  of  curiosity  or  concern  advice  me  “that  you  should  not  drive  so  late”,  or “should  have  hired  a  cab”.  Things  become  slightly  irritating  when  they  doubt  the  driving  skills  of  ladies  to  an  extent  that  they  ask  silly  questions  such  as  ,  “how  you  negotiated  such  chaotic  traffic”  or  how  will  ladies  follow  the  directions.  How  can  driving  be  gender  specific?  Yes  one  thing  which  one  will  not  see  in  lady  drivers  is:  the  use  of  abusive  language  and  we    do  not  throw  our  weight  around  as  if  we  dominate  the  roads.
In  many  cities  still,  people  view  the  women  drivers  in  poor  light.  Seeing  a  lady  driver  still  gives  them  a  sense  of  superiority  and  as  if  they  wield  the  authority .  This  is  a  common  societal  assumption,  at least  from  my  own  experiences.
Along  with  removing  the sun  films  from  the  cars  it  is  also  important  to  remove  the  tint  with  which  society  views  the  women  drivers.
Well,  for  young  women  of  today  there  should  be  compulsory  driving  classes  along  with  self-defence  training.
Earlier  the  notion  must have  been  that  driving  is  a  forbidden  territory  for  the  women  but  in  some  places   even  today, it  still  is!!  but,  it  is  the  need  of  the  hour  to  empower  the  women  with  driving  skills  also.
Acquiring  my  learners  licence  at  18,  i  actually  got  the  chance  to  drive  when  my  father  was  posted  to  field.  The  driving  classes  were  poles  apart  from  what  actual  driving  was.  Here  there  were  no  extra  clutch  or  brakes  on  the  co-driver’s  side  and  i  was  solely  the  captain  of  my  ship.  But  it  was  not  easy  to  get  my  driving  licence  though.  The  whole  activity  of  acquiring  it  was  more  like  a  drill  and  appearing  for  my  board  exams,  there  was  sense  of  deja vu.
The  day  i  appeared  for  it,  along  with  me  my  entourage  which  included  my  parents,  cousins  and  uncles.  There  was  a  thorough  knowledge  testing  from  viva,  practicals  to  theory.   The  questions  like, how  to  change  a  flat  Tyre,  to  how  to  open  the  nuts  was’ driving  me  nuts.’  From  coolant  level  to  engine  oil  to  hazard lights  to  use  of  indicators,  i  was  bombarded  with  all  sort  of  Multiple  questions.
And  finally  after  hard  labor  i  received  my  driver’s  licence  ,  yes    which  i  could  proudly  display  and  associate  with  my  sweat  and  blood.  I  passed  with  flying  colours,  my  happiness  new  no  bounds  and  i  gave  my  thanks  giving  speech,  in  which  i  thanked  my  parents,  my  family  and  my  dog  as  well.  But  on  the  serious  note,  i  did  not  value  my  driving  as  a  teenager  but  down  the  years  i  have  realised  the  value  of  being  on  the  Drivers’  seat  and  for  this  i  give  the  credits  to  my  mother,  who  always  insisted  me  to  drive  rather    being  on  the  back  seat.  She  does  not  know  how  to  drive,  after  few  failed  attempts  she  gave  up  but  made  sure  i  learn  it.
Self-driving  has  helped  me  to  become  more  independent,  travel  safe,    blossomed  my  confidence,  navigate  traffic,  zip  through  streets.  Once  you  start  maneuvering,  shifting  gears  you  become  the  master,  as  reins  of  you  vehicle  are  in  our  own  hands.
Driving is  lot like  parenting,  where  to  learn  it  one  has  to  actually  do  it.  I  really appreciate  and  admire  the  way  women  in  Chandigarh  drive  their  two-wheelers,  it  truly  represents  our  women  empowerment  unlike  many  other  metro  cities,  where  things  will   take a  bit  longer  to  accept  the  women  as  drivers.

Only  the  sad  part  is  the  Patriarchal  set  up  associated  with  lady  drivers,  its  wrong  to  think  that  women  can’t  drive,they  do  not  have  direction  sense.  Driving  a  vehicle  is  considered  to  be  a  male  bastion  and  no  entry  sign  board  for  women  drivers  is  still  being  often  displayed  blatantly.  Why  such  tags  are  attached  to  lady  drivers?  How  many  times  have  you  seen  a  lady driver  gate  crashing,  trespassing,  with  blaring  horns  or  glaring  scorns!!  Points  to  ponder.

Tooth Fairy

“Loosing  baby  teeth  were  a  part  and  parcel  of  one’s  life –  a  symbol  of  growing up,  and  it  is  the  tooth-fairy  that  makes  this  otherwise  dreaded  and  painful  process  an  exciting  one – something  to  look  forward  to.”
                                                                -Mansi  Maheswari.
Some  childhood  memories  are  so  deeply  embedded  in  our  minds  that  they  are  crystal  clear  and  the  mere  thought  of  them  transports  us  back  to  that  golden-period.
One  such  memory  related  to  my  childhood  is  about  the  falling  of  my  milk-teeth.  I  am  a  child  of  eighties(80’s),  when  loosing  your  milk  teeth  or  falling  of  milk tooth  was  no  great  deal,  it  was  considered  merely  to  be  a  simple  natural  occurrence,  at least  this  is  what  my  parents  thought.  All  their  concern  was  limited  to  new   permanent  teeth  were  in  symmetry  and  not  hap-hazard .  When  the  gums-grip  loosened,  the  teeth  started  moving  and  the  trouble part  began,  at  this  point  of  time  my  dad  use  to  make  a  knot  of  simple  thread,  put  it  around  my  tooth  and  then  gently  tightened  the  grip  and  with  a  slight  pull  the  tooth  came  out.  Further  I  was  made  to  hold  the  tooth  in  my  hands  and  made  to  say
” haare-haare  khabala  purana  danth  tere  and  naya  daanth  mera”( Oh!  green  grass  this  old  teeth  is  for  you  and  new  one  for  me),then    my  father  use  to  gently  press  the  old  tooth  in  between  the  green  grass.    This  simple  ritual  gave  me  immense  joy  and  happiness .  It  was  1980’s,  but  today  nursing  a  6 year  old  is  drastically  different  from  my  times  as  a  child,  as  we  have  to  act  as  per  their  instructions,  they  are  ever ready  with  answers,  solutions  and  their  never-ending  demands  and  it  a  herculean  task  to  convince  them  unlike  me  as  a  kid  ,  as  me  and  my  younger  brother  quietly  complied  to  my  father’s  orders.  Yes  times  have  changed,  some  for  better  and  some  for  worst.
Recently  when  my  six  year  daughter  lost  her  first  milk  tooth   it   was  not  as  normal  falling  of  milk  tooth   and  instead  of  putting  it  in  the  green  grass    she  insisted  on  hiding  it  under  the  pillow  so  that  a  dainty  female  attired  in  a  ballerina  type  costume  and  flying  with  her  wings  the ‘ Tooth-Fairy’comes  and  takes  it  and  in  return  leaves  a  gift  under  the  pillow  for  her.  This  was  something  new  for  me  and  when  I  consulted  other  mothers  with  kids  of  same  age  group,  I  got  to  know  that  after  the  Santa Claus  tooth  fairy  was  the  most  popular  fantasy  character  with  the  children  of  this  age  group.   I  as  a  kid  had  my  own  make-  belief  world  and  stories  when  i  lost  my  milk teeth,  so  now  how  could  I  discourage  my  daughter  from  her  tooth fairy  and  her  gift  though  I  found  it  utterly  ridiculous ,  as  losing  her  each  milk  tooth  everytime would  leave  me  much  poorer.
It  may  be  a  myth  but  children  have  their  own  make  belief  world,  every  time  complying  to  their  demands  is  not  acceptable  but  to  shatter  their  little   dream  world  is  not  justified.  May  be  this  tooth-fairy  story  is  from  the  West  but  if  without  harming  anybody  it  gave  children  happiness  and  joy  there  was  no  harm,  even  we  as  kids  enthralled ourselves  with   Nani-Dadi  ki  stories.   So  with  slight  variations  I  convinced  my  daughter  to  accept  the  gift  of  tooth-Fairy’s  choice  and  her  secret  tooth-fairy  was  me  and  i  decided  to  give  her  10  rupees  coin  along  with  banana  cake  baked  by  me  and  so  i  was  able  to  give  a  desi  touch  I  mean  Indian  touch  to  the  fantasy  of  tooth  fairy.
Tooth  Fairy  evolved  from  the  early  European  traditions  where  a  child   was  given  gift  or  money  under  the  pillow.  These  rituals  date  back  to  the  Middle-Ages,  but  in  India  the  Tooth-Fairy  is  a  fairly    modern   and  a  new concept.
But  the  concept  of  the  Tooth-Fairy  and  many  other  fantasies  like  this  has  always  helped  my  child  in  a  positive  way,  instead  of  feeling  the  pain  and  anxiety  of  losing  her  tooth,the  wait  for  the  Tooth-Fairy  has  brought  a  smile  on  her  face.  For  that  matter  when  we  grow  old  I  may  also  need  my Tooth-Far ires  for  getting  my  dentures  fixed.
Apart  from  playing    the  fantasy  world  Faries  to  our  kids  let  us  play  them  in  real  lives  too,
   we  should  like  the  umbilical  cord  blood  banking,  keep  the  milk  teeth  of  our  children  for  harvesting  stem  cells  in  the  dental  stem cell  bank  for  future  use,  that  would  we  like    tooth fairy  story  coming  to  life  literally.

Jwalaji temple Himachal

Visiting ‘Jwala ji’ temple in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh is a voyage of a world where History ,Science and Technology coexists creating a divine realm out of their own mix, which results in the immense faith of the devotees.
> Some spiritualties cannot be researched. Science and Religion are like the track of a rail which cannot join together but yes they do run parallel to each other.
> ‘Jwala ji’ is the name of Hindu Goddess who is said to reside as an eternal flame since times infinity, in Kangra located in Lower Himalayas.
> The flame has been burning since time immemorials.
> The religious history depicts that when lord Shiva was in unconscious state due to death of his wife Sati, who then threw herself in holy altar after her father accused and insulated Lord Shiva.
> It was then lord Vishnu divided Sati’s body into fifty one pieces which fell on the earth at various places.
> These places came to be known as ‘Shakti Peeths’ and the place Sati’s tongue fell is known as ‘Jwala ji’ .
> It is here the flawless blue flame burns.
> Some say it could be a natural gas reserve but nothing has been validated. Science has been unable to answer the reason behind the immemorial flame.
> Devotees and believers all over India and abroad throng the temple to seek the blessings of the divine.
> Every time I visit this magnificent and historical temple, the feeling of faith and spirituality resurfaces.
> Adjacent to the temple, there is a big hall with a huge glass box enclosing an umbrella shaped plate called the ‘Chattar’ of about one and a quater quaintal of some known and unknown alloys till date.
> The legend has it, that listening to the rising name of miraculously and constantly running jyoti (flame), Akbar sent his General to Jwala ji to test the presence of this miracle in this world. The General tried to extinguish the flames by putting various thick sheets of iron on top.
> However the powerful and divine jyoti’s of Maa Jwala came above tearing the sheets.
> The General was still not ready to accept his defeat and went up the hill to get a river down the hill through temporary path of stones. He then flooded the auspicious flames with water. As the temple was flooded with water the jyoti’s started floating on the water.
> The General had to accept his defeat and Akbar realizing his fault went barefeet to Jwala ji and offered the Gold Chattar (umbrella) as an apology, but the Divine presence refused to accept the offering and turned it into a dark metal or alloy.
> Seeing all this Akbar fell on Maa Jwala’ s steps and asked for forgiveness. Maa is said to have forgiven Akbar and he then returned back to Delhi happily.
> This Chattar can still be seen there , after paying obeisence to the divine and it is the biggest example of faith which can be seen as well as seen.

Monkeys and khuls

living in the concrete structures makes one realize the real importance of the hills and you want to visit them again and again.
> Come Summer and my bag-pack is ready to hit the zig-zag path of the hills, but lately the hills are becoming synonymous with hap-hazard constructions, long traffic jams and over-rising simian population.
> What happened in Uttarakhand and Nepal cannot be ignored , apart from human lives there was a huge loss of flora and fauna, but still we are playing with the nature. Kangra in Himachal Pradesh almost vanished during the earthquake in 1905 and still comes under the earthquake prone zone.
> Palampur, is beautiful place in the valley of Kangra but it is becoming more prominent with encroaching structures, narrower roads giving way to the palatial houses which are over-taking picturesque beauty of Palampur.
> Earlier it was pleasure walking as well driving amidst the pine trees and tea gardens. Plucking up fresh tea leaves and taking them home was my favorite past time, though I also knew that tea cannot be prepared from fresh leaves, but it was long and tedious process to turn fresh ones in to customary tea leaves.
> Another thing which was a prominent feature of Palampur was, the khuls(the small streams of water carring water from the glacial melt) ,they were the integral part of almost every household, but sadly no more! Many have dried and rest have turned into places of dumping the waste material.. It was these khuls only, from which, the place like palampur got its name. In old times, the area which depended on khuls was called ‘Palam Kshetra’ and later this name got modified to Palampur during British regime.
> khuls, once were main source of drinking water in the region but now with advance in technology , the khuls have been replaced by water supply to each and every home, which is in a way good as now ladies do not have to walk distances to access potable water but on the other side khuls have to bear the brunt and are only used for throwing garbage and are on the verge of extinction. These khuls were in the past the life-line of Kangra Valley but now themselves running out of life.
> On one side if khuls are vanishing, then on other side the simian population is on rise. It was sad sight when recently while visiting Neugal cafe near Bundle Tea Estate in Palampur, i could only find the monkeys. They were all over the place. It was ironical, to see the human race being threatened by the monkeys. It was more like the ‘Planet of Apes’, they were now over-powering the homo-sapiens. The houses which were earlier made with huge door, windows, porch, verandas and balconies are now covered with wire-mesh and grills, as if we human beings are caged and our masters the monkeys are free to roam, we are now on their mercy.
> They were all over the place, the little infants clinging to their mothers’ underbelly but not fed by them as for these babies the lesson of ‘the survival of the fittest’ has begun early. The mothers were busy eating themselves without even giving a morsel to the little ones. One odd monkey in them , who probably lost her baby was tight rope walking on telephone cables with a pup in her hand, who was almost dead, whom she must have mistaken to be her long lost baby, i guessed so!!
> Now, to stop the monkey menace or to scale it down, the municipal authorities have started collecting the garbage from each and every home, which is a commendable step on their part, but moment the dham( lunch party) in my locality took place, the simians in hoards thronged the place as if feeling offended for not being invited , watching their human counterparts eye to eye and in a split second grabbed the plate from a lady, she screamed her heart out as she was terrified and left with few scratch marks on her hand and was immediately taken to the near by health center for rabies vaccination and was also given a sum of RS.5000/- but the damage physically and psychologically done was irreversible.
> After the dham the monkey family came in full force some were hanging on the wires and some were scavenging for food, some were still busy getting their ticks picked.
> Suddenly, a fight broke out among the trope members , from grinding teethes to biting each other they tried and tested every trick of proving their superiority and mean while all this was going on, we the so called superior race was hiding in our concrete castles and peeping from the windows covered with grills.
> Later when this monkey drama was over and they had left after creating a mess , we managed to muster courage and step out of our threshold only to witness another disaster unfolding few houses away. The simian population had attacked the lady sitting in the vegetable shop, to our surprise leaving out the shops of the male vendors, i wondered if monkeys also believed in the philosophy of Ladies first!!
> Are ladies and children on the hit list of the monkeys , as we are more vulnerable and so more susceptible to their attacks, like human race even monkey population also has picked up the nuances of striking out the weakest.
> Well monkeys and humans share the same ancestry, but if today they are attacking us, then it is not we who are at the receiving end but they , because their natural habitats, the jungles have been cut down by us, they are homeless and to survive they like humans are also learning the tricks of the trade.


8144663-home-canning--isolationOur  country  has  vast  repertoire  of  traditional  pickles.  Meat,  chicken,  vegetables,  fruits  all  have  been  pickled  in  India.   the  word  achaar  derived  from  Portuguese- ‘achi’-means  chilly/ peppers.   Indian  meals  are  incomplete  without  achaars,  it  is  through  pickles  that  Indians  discovered  preserving  techniques.

Best  part  of  childhood  was  going  to  grand mom’s  house  during  the  vacations..  The  pleasant  memories  associated  with  spending  time  with  the  cousins,  playing  hide  and  seek,  gazing  the  stars  on  the  moon-lit  night,  sleeping  on  the  terrace  and  listening  to  stories  of  ghosts.  In  the  day  time  sitting  on  the  jhulla (swing)  hanging  from  the  mango  tree  and  during  mango  season  eating  raw  mangoes  with  salt  and  red  chilly  powder  under  the  same  tree  was  my  favorite  past  time.

From  summer  to  winter  vacations,  the  food  ingredients  changed,  if  summers  were  about  kadi-chawal,  then  winters  was  about  the  sarso ka  saag  and  maki  ki  roti,  but  one  thing  which  was  available  and  same  throughout  the  year  was  the   presence  of  pickles,  the  faithful  companion  going  with  all  kind  of  foods,  whether  breakfast,  lunch  or  dinner  ,  the  pickle  complimenting   all.

The  tangy  smell  of  raw  mangoes  still  evokes  my  emotions   and  taste  buds,  there  is  something  nostalgic  about  it,  taking  me  back  to  my  childhood.

The  thought  of  home-made  pickles  still  reminds  me  the  open  spaces,  the  courtyard  of  the  ancestral  house,  the  raw cut  mangoes  being  dried  in  the  sun,  after  applying  salt  and  turmeric.

Travelling  by  bus  during  long  journeys  my  amma (grandmother)  always  carried  a  small  glass  bottle  of  mango-pickle,  and  kept  licking  the  small  piece  during  sharp  curves  and  turns,  as  there  was  no  avomine ( tablet  for  stopping  vomitting)  available  in  those  days  and  her  pickle  was  her  only  saviour  during  such  tiring  journeys.  It  had  therapeutic  effect  then.

While  returning  back  from  Summer  vacations  when  we  boarded  the  train,  amma  always  use  to  hand  over  a  bag  full  of  goodies  along  with  a  huge  martvaan (jar)  of  mango pickle.  How  can  I  forget  her  nicely  wrapped  paranthas  in  a  newspaper  with  pickle  inside  it.

Aloo-poori,  was  our  favorite  lunch-box  item  with  aam  ka  achaar  during   picnics.

When  the  food  tasted  bland  or  during  Sunday  brunch,  if  any  body  cribbed  about  the  tasteless  food,  a  spoon  full  of  pickles  would  raise  his  or  her  morale,  relieving  his   taste-buds.

Amma  would  generously  put  pickles  for  her  five  son-in-laws  according  to  their  tastes  ,  from  mango  to  turnip  and  lemon  to  carrot-cauliflower.  The  porch  of  her  house  proudly  displayed  huge  jars  with  all  kind  of  pickles,  soaking  the  sun,  in  regular  intervals  she  would,  add  mustard  oil  to  the  pickle  jars,  except  the  sweet  lemon  pickle.  Every  pickle  had  its  unique  ingredients,  some  had  feenugreek  seeds,  some  had  jaggery  added  for  sweetness  and  some  mustard  seeds,  each  pickle  tasted  so  different  from  the  other.

Amma  made  special  arrangements  when  any  of  her  daughters  or  daughter-in-law  was  on  the  family  way,  to  suit  their  tastes.

As  a  child   when  i  was  busy  consuming  those  pickles  i  never  realized  that  it  was  not  easy  but  a  tedious  job  to  prepare  the  pickles,  but  now  as  an  adult  i  realize  that  in  those  times  it  was  not  at  all   easy  for  amma  to  make  those  pickles,  ,  as  it  is  now,  when  every  thing  is  ready made  and  readily  available,  but  that  taste  is  no  where  to  be  found.   So  effortlessly  she  prepared  it,  despite  of  the  fact  that  it  required  hours  of  preparations,  arranging  for  the  ingredients,  months  of  saving  it  up  for  years  of  consumption.  She  would  herself  cut  the  little  mangoes  with  a  sickle,  the  handle  of  the  sickle  would  be  firmly  held  by  the  toes    and  with  her  hands  she  would  swiftly  with  great  speed  would  cut  the  mangoes  and  dexterously  removed  the  whitish  thing  encasing  the  young  guthli.   Further  she  would  spread  a  cotton  cloth  on  the  ground  and  at  times  on  the  terrace,  and  would  spread  the  mango  pieces  on  it.  Still  remember  how  we  as  kids  were  assigned  the  duties  of  guarding  the  pieces  against  the  birds,  dogs  or  cats  otherwise  it  would  become  unfit  for  consumption.

With  great  effort  amma  would  mix  the  roasted  and  ground  ingredients  to  the  pieces  in  a  shallow  container  or  thali.  Finally  after  addition  of  copious  amount  of  mustard  oil,  the  stuff  was  transferred  to  the  large  martbaan  with  wide  mouth  and  it  was  then  placed  in  the  sun  for  next  15  days.  Whole  day  after  basking  in  the  sun  the  jar  would  return  to  the  shelf  in  the  evening  and  again  the  next  day  it  was  put  in  the  sunlight  after  giving  it  a  rigorous  shake  for  uniform  distribution  of  mustard  oil.  Her  pickles  lasted  for  more   than  five  years,  if  consumed  in  bits  but  that  was  very  rare  of  an  occurrence.

From  dhabhas  to  hotels,  trains  to  planes  all  serve  pickles,  though  factory  made  with  extra  oil  and  salt,  that  may  trouble   our  blood pressure  if  consumed  in  huge  quantity   but  that  is  the  traditional  way  of  preserving  it,  and   pickle  should  be  consumed  as  ‘pick-a-little’  and  not  as  proper  meal,  then  it  work  wonders.

I  miss  amma  ke  achaar,  her  handmade  pickles  spiced  with  love  and  care  have  been  replaced  by  factory-made  pickle  bottles,  which  are  no  match  to  amma  ke  achaar.  Though  i  have her  traditional  pickle  recipes,  but  neither  i  have her  patience  nor  perseverance.  Her  pickles  have  been  a  holistic  expression  of  home-made  food  for  me.

Her pickle  making  process  was  a  meeting  point  for  many  ladies  of  the  village,  who  always  wanted  to know  the  reason  behind  her  great  tasting  pickles  and  with  rapt  attention  observed  her  making  it.

My  childhood  is  still  intact  in  that  jar  of  aam  ka  achaar.