Friday, April 28, 2017

Time beats everything but Memories!


She taught us English. Joined us when we were in 9th grade. The opportunity to be her students, for us, was only for two years.


Strict, disciplined, impeccable in the language she taught, precise, practical, logical. 
Her persona had a command over others.


Our class was one bunch of troublemakers the school had never experienced before, and she was assigned to be our class teacher.

We knew we were getting a new class-teacher, but, what we did not know was that she would tame the shrew.

The moment she entered the classroom she made it clear she meant business. I liked her. I liked her for the respect she demanded, from us, for the school and for herself, with a few lines that she spoke. The entire class of the unpopular students had already begun to cave in.

No one had ever been able to do that.

The chapters became more interesting, more knowledgeable. Everyday I looked forward to learn from her. English was my favourite, and the love for it had notched up with her teaching.

I even liked getting yelled at by her. Yes, I did.
It felt like she genuinely cared for the students ...she wanted us to become good humans. The scoldings were not just to follow the discipline of the school.


Our school had all sorts of activities going on round the year and her involvement was not restricted to studies.
She made sure the talents of every student was polished and put forth. She was active in the cultural activities and sports. Singing, dancing, plays, debates, essay writing to name a few. She was multi talented.


I was one of the fortunate ones to have been trained under her guidance in some of these activities.

Our school made it to the finals of a dance competition. Every school showcased their dance representing a theme in the inaugural ceremony of the interschool sports competition. Our theme was Goa. She had choreographed and conceptualized along with another teacher. I was part of it and was so proud. Then there was choir singing for the Christmas day celebration. Various activities during annual day.

Two years were over in jiffy. We left school to get into 11th and 12th grade. How I wish our school wasn't limited to 10th grade...we would have the privilege to learn more from her.

Years went by...I got busy experiencing life and growing up. She, however, never left my thoughts. I would proudly tell her stories to friends and family whenever I had the chance to.

Then social media happened. Orkut... Facebook.
A few years ago, I found her on the latter platform along with our math teacher. I send her friend request. It was never accepted. 
I found out she wasn't much active there so, I thought, perhaps she never saw it. 
I even wondered if she at all remembered me. She knew me very well, so, her not being able to place me was unlikely...but, then again... it was years ago. I still wonder.


I, however, did not resend her the request. I thought, I'll instead meet her someday...surprise her and if she had indeed forgotten me, I would help her recollect and tell her everything that I wrote above here.

Tell her what she means to me...tell her how wonderful teacher she is...show her my blog, my other writings, my stories, haikus...make her proud and learn more when she would point out the mistakes...all this...I would do, SOMEDAY.

Here I was waiting for that 'someday', and the TIME bested me.

On 18th of this month, I received a WhatsApp message. The obituary clip mourned the loss of my favorite teacher.

Now, I'll never get to tell her all this. I was stupid to wait for that someday. I took time for granted. I missed all the opportunities that came by or the ones that I could have created myself.

I type this with a heavy heart and crying eyes...
Susan ma'am, wherever you are I hope my feelings reach you. You are being missed by so many lives you have touched. We love you.
I love you!


For you, the reader:
If you want to tell someone what they mean to you, seize this very moment to do so. You might never get the opportunity again. 
There's never a right time or a wrong time.
Time is just...TIME. Bold and in caps... Authoritative...Untamed.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Touched!

Mumbai

Years ago, not too long ago though, five years to be exact, I received a call from my cousin.
Here I was gloriously enjoying my glass of sattu ghoal, a traditional Indian recipe that consists of seven ingredients in the form of powder, and is enjoyed either as a drink, or  roti made with its dough...the drink is however my favourite; it helps in cooling down the body naturally and bests the scorching heat during the summer. Beats any aerated drinks or canned liquids any day.

But, sattu is not the hero of this post, it just makes a glamorous cameo. The hero is the one that I did unconsciously.

The desperate phone call from this cousin at 9 am had me wonder if it would be inhumane to tell her not to disturb my moment of enjoyment in the beautiful summer morning.
I gave in before my heart that keeps beating some sense into me whenever I'm in such dilemmas and I was the good girl on the phone.

My "Hey babes, howdy!" (tried to sound fancy) was answered by her nonstop description of a situation thrown at her by her boss. What I understood of the description, which had the speed of light year, that her boss, who's a German and was stationed here in Mumbai, had invited the teams at his place. His family was visiting him, their first time in India, and he wanted the invitees to be as Indian as possible. He themed it "India".
...Cool!

My cousin wasn't cool though.

"How are we supposed to act Indian in India before non Indians?"

Act?!

I said, "Hon, why do you want to act? Just be yourself"

Now, did I tell you the "Be yourself" has always made her conscious of herself...it makes her nervous resulting in messing up things with her silly antics? Well that's what happens, always...and I had forgotten it until I said those dreaded two words to her.

What followed was unexpected!

She wasn't much nervous as she was going to have me as her date. What!
It turned out that every invitee had to bring one family member. And my cousin had graced me with the honor.

After ticking off her two brothers, I was the chosen one. Her golden girl. All because her brothers were too busy with their respective girlfriends and I was single. (Story of singletons!)

What were we going to wear, drape sarees? That's so clichéd!...she said, and I agreed. Without thinking much I qualified the 'bindi', which was received with a huge eye roll from her, where the eyes touched her cerebrum when rolling up.

"A cliché again, cuz", she said.

She wanted us to stand out, and not just be there in Indian ethnic clothes. She wanted to be Indian not just from outside but from inside too.

A challenge!
That was it. This was now personal. She was in my team and we had to win. Win over what...you may ask. The win was over the clichés, the stereotypes, and above all it was a win not over something, but of something; our tradition. Not the ones that showcase superstitious beliefs but the ones that are gold...the ones that make your life glorious enough to not to be weighed down by any negative energy that lurks around...the ones that give you the sense of pride...the ones that have nurtured our thinking in a way that it's now our way of life.

Too much of philosophy...too much of spirituality?!
Let's get back to what we did under my guidance. (Gloating)
No, what we did came to us naturally.

We dressed up in cotton sateen, yes the Bindis bejeweled our foreheads. We bought sweets for the hosts, roshogollas and kaju kaltis, all decorated in the Indian way with gold and silver leaves. We knew Germans weren't into the kind of sweets we Indians are, but we were thinking Indian. They were our hosts indeed, but, they were guests here India.
We had to make them feel comfortable too so finally we did get a box of assorted chocolates and a bottle of wine.

Strange combination we were carrying!

Upon reaching we were greeted by my cousin's boss who introduced us to his family one by one. Something I guessed he had already done to the people who had arrived before us.

While I had coached myself in German to greet them, and here their Namasteys had me forget those in no time. Nowadays we (and I'm talking about my experience) hardly use the namastey...it's mostly the 'hellos' even for our Sharma Aunty's 90 year mother we don't change our greeting in English...and here I was replying to their namasteys...with a namastey, folding my hands and bowing.

The sweets, the chocolates and the wine was received with beautiful smiles, however, what was surprising was, they opened the boxes of the sweets first. They thanked us for getting them the Indian sweets for they were falling in love with them. I saw more boxes of sweets laying on the top of the dinning table. Clearly everyone was thinking on the same lines.

I saw my cousin who was now relaxed, I was happy to see her that way. And then everyone in the room turned at one direction. There was a lady in a turquoise saree, all of 75, which I came to know later that evening. She was the boss's mother. How lovely she looked in the chiffon she was wearing. He was introducing her to everyone and when our turn came I found my body promptly bending forward, my hands touching her feet. It was an unconscious gesture that I was conditioned to do. The touch made me realise what I was doing.

I straightened up and looking at their much expected bewildered expressions, with a reassuring smile (I didn't want to freak them out) I explained the gesture to them; seeking blessings from elders.

Her smile, her gentle eyes, her warm hug took me by surprise. That evening I made a friend who was from German and was 75 years old. The friendship is still hot although now the distance has increased. From Germany to India now it's from heaven to earth.

What happened that evening made me realise how Indian I am and how the thinking even though a simple gesture, wins people...wins friends, for life time.

Our Indian thinking, Indian culture, even the Indian nod, the Hinglish, everything...every single thing contributes to what we are.
We as a developing country are soaring high in every field in the world with this Indian-ess that we carry around. We are #MoreIndianThanYouThink

The Lufthansa commercial always reminds of this incident ...reminds me of my friend.
And I wonder if Lufthansa knew their Indian connection. Although, the word 'Hansa' here has been derived from the Latin word meaning guild, and 'Luft' from the German meaning 'air', 'hansa' in Sanskrit means Swan. The swan of the air!
You are Lufthansa, #MoreIndianThanYouThink
*winks*


Saturday, July 2, 2016

I'm Misleading Them...

After creating this blog it took me a few years to begin writing posts here. I simply didn't know what to write. I couldn't be an open book and pour out my heart on everything that had happened to me or was happening to me. I'm a private person on certain levels...have always been one.

I'm not a fashionista…and blogging about fashion would have meant a raid by the fashion police at my door every hour. My love for cooking too didn't mean that I would keep cooking and share recipes or food stories, too lazy for that.
Blogging about gadgets and gizmos would have meant inventing new definitions of the craft which might have given the fandom of Apple and Samsung and others severe attacks of acidity, and their wrath upon me.

The blog wasn't going to be my personal journal that was for sure…so what else I could log in here I had mused.
Books...movies…random stuff…and occasional food or fashion related tidbits?...Yes!
But how or where do I begin was a big question and the BIGGER question was- what would I call it?
Following too much of contemplation and deep meditation for like thousand years, "CoffeeBeans" was coined. 

I like the name…I like the sound of it...and the reminder of the aroma of coffee energizes my thought process. But…there is always a 'but', isn't there? But…I sometimes wonder if some other name might have been right for my blog. A jazzy or a funky name that's savvy enough to grab everyone's attention...or an elegant, lady-like name that smells of etiquette from far away...or perhaps a geeky bong name that stirs the intellectual cells of the brains. 

However, whatever name I might have chosen would definitely not have generated the kind of emails that I receive asking me if I would like to discuss or join their coffee grinding skills, or which coffee beans are of superior quality and some such.

Apparently these people strongly believe my blog to be a small scale industry dealing with coffee grinding, and that I'm some coffee maker trying to make it big in the big bad world of beverages. their R&D sucks My blog name confused them…I misled them. This post too will surely mislead them I know and their emails will keep gracing my inbox.

Meanwhile CoffeeBeans remains as it is; the name, the content…And the inbox stays open for all as usual.
If I'm a Coffee-Bean plant owner to you better think I'm the best, the one and the only, the ultimate, the unparalleled, the queen bee of the coffee industry. I won't accept anything lesser. Period.

Signing off for now as my coffee (made from ek rupaye wala Bru sachet) is getting cold.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Namastey!

A couple of weeks back, I entered CoffeeBeans. What happened next was unexpected and I forgot why I was here and what I wanted to write.

I was greeted by a soggy smell that drifted through the screen. It was a familiar soggy smell; the smell that swallows up a house that's been locked for months. I trotted further in and the sight was tragic. Layers of dust sat on the posts, many words were buried underneath it. Thick cob-webs weaved by a certain black-widow were suspended from the corners of the walls. 


I advanced a little more. It was dark, it was gloomy, and it was cold. Bats hanging upside down were ready to attack their way out through the java scripts. The pictures that I used for the posts had a haunted appearance about them; I swear some of them were even moving, giving me spiteful looks. The murkiness of the place made me wonder if I was standing in the hallway of 12 Grimmauld Place. Dreadful! However, the absence of Kreacher and the Black family tree assured me that I wasn't. I was inside CoffeeBeans, my beloved blog.
The place just needed some serious breathing in there.Every corner, every crevice was wailing for attention. It needed warmth and light of words. It needed me. I began with the repair work. I needed to sharpen up my writing teeth too. The bluntness was nauseating...so got myself half a dozen of canons to read. 

Two weeks now, and here we are-my blog and I. You can see the walls (body of the blog) are whiter now, and the header is new too…of which, btw, I had advertised on my Facebook page (those doodles are my creation, thank you for the applause).

Of course you won't know of the changes if you are new here or if you weren't paying attention earlier because my words were so enchanting that your mind was focused solely on what I wrote and not the décor. {*bows* if that's the case}

Anyhow, that's done - the renovation, which, was quite a qamar-tod job; doodling online isn't easy, I'm getting back my sketch-pad and pencil for sure, the old school ways are always relaxing, and...and my writing is now filed too. So, see you around ;)

Namastey!  _/\_

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Misfit!

I padded my way through the foreign corridors in an institute situated in South Bombay. The beauty enthusiast that I've become today was sleeping back in those days and I had let the sun tan me badly. My hair not spared either. Dry and frizzy, I had tied it in a ponytail with the baby hairs flying allover by my forehead. A tote bag which could have be easily dismissed as a "whatever" accessory, hanged from my right shoulder. I was cladded in jeans and loose fitting Tee shirt. Loose, because I was conscious of my developed body, a result of many labels I was christened with during school and college. My thick glasses, 5'3'' demure too was always the target of ridicule in school and then later during my college days. "Geek", "Shorty", "Chashmish" can only look good in government run offices or be a teacher, corporate world (which I was interested in), isn't for her- was often told to me. Although I could never wrap my head around the connection between these. Now I was in an institute to learn the corporate ways and hone my management skills. It was my first day in campus. I reached the classroom I was directed to and upon reaching I found myself amongst people who looked like models straight out of Cosmopolitan Magazine. All eyes darted towards me. As I walked towards an empty chair to claim it as mine for the day or perhaps for the whole year, I could feel the eyes on me. Studying me, judging me, stereotyping me. I couldn't dare to look at them fearing I would cry. Yet, some unknown strength encouraged me to look up. I did. There was a girl with porcelain skin, that looked like never been kissed by the mighty sun, in trendy clothes, staring at me. Telling me I was a misfit. I didn't belong in their world. She had disgust for me in her eyes.My fears were taking their shape. All these while, somewhere in my mind a little part of me was assuring me, that I and not these people were judging myself and in fact these nice people would embrace me. However, the girl crushed that little part inside me with her obvious expression. "I'm not letting any label bind me down"- I said to myself. A deep breath, all the inspiring people I had known who tore away the stereotypes, and images of my parents were all it took. I gaczed around and found a few friendly faces; I smiled and contagiously the smiles flew across the room. The lecture began in a few minutes, and so did the new chapter of my life. I found the courage, I found the voice, to announce my capabilities. I consciously became an active and attentive student in the class, the shyness gone out of the door. My homework on the basic management, marketing and advertising helped me answer many questions on the first day itself, gaining respect from many of my classmates and most importantly gaining confidence within me. From there it was no looking back. That girl eventually warmed up to me and though we weren't friends but we did become cordial to each other. the stereotyped labels were no longer there to haunt me. By the end of the term I managed to change my appearance, to take care of my physical side, not to please others but for myself. People seemed not to notice much as I was the same girl they had known the whole year. I was a misfit for others, and years of this perception had made me believe it and live it. It had damaged my confidence, thankfully my supportive parents and friends didn't let it be a mortal one. But, why these stereotypes, why these labels? Not every woman can get out of it...the damage can be dangerous.
Take a look at some of the startling figures that the Nihar Naturals #IAmCapable survey conducted by Nielsen India reveals:
a. 69% of men agree that their judgement of women is based on their looks.
b. 64% of women agree that the judgments passed on them have affected their ability to reach their true potential.
c. 70%of women agree that majority of judgments on women are from family members or friends rather than strangers.
d. 72% of women agree that working women face more judgments on their looks or their clothes than housewives.

Scary, isn't it? So lets pledge to end this and let women be the way they want to be.

 “I’m breaking stereotypes based on appearance by sharing my experience for the #IAmCapable activity at BlogAdda in association with Nihar Naturals.”

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