The Salmon meets her neighbors

Liebster AwardThis week, a fellow-blogger- Frankie, popped over and handed me the Leibster award. At first I thought “What is this? Is this a made-up award? Does this mean something good for me? Or are we just playing ‘Passing the Parcel’? “  But it’s Frankie who gave it to me..and I really like his blog, and thought “If Frankie thinks this award is nice, it must be nice.”  So, I thought about it, and a little research tells me that

– this award’s been in the blogging community since maybe 2010, (I could be wrong)

– the award is given by bloggers to up-and-coming bloggers

– Liebster means dearest or favourite in German. Isn’t that super sweet??

Mein leibster Blogger, here’s your Leibster. Gosh. So much love. 🙂

And after I mulled it over enough 🙂 I loved what dawned upon me : My neighbor just dropped in and gave me a ‘Welcome to the Neighborhood’ dish. I might not understand what this strange Leibster delicacy is, but I know it means something good- it means I’m now part of this blogging community 🙂

So, thank you, Frankie. Imma get busy and go give other bloggers some Liebster too!

To the bloggers I award the Lobster Leibster to- 

I release you from the obligation to pass it forward. This does take quite a bit of effort. I’m doing it cos I like the ‘friendly neighbor’ factor, and I have the time. 🙂 

OKAYY..SO there are conditions to this badge. Before I wear it, I have to

(a) Thank the blogger who gives it.

(b) Answer the eleven questions s/he asks.

(c) Nominate eleven bloggers with less than 500 followers.

(d) Ask these eleven bloggers eleven questions.

(e) Let these bloggers know that I have nominated them.

 

The questions Frankie has for me:

1. Tea or coffee?

Coffee. I like it milky and not too strong.

2. Best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Don’t wait around to follow your dreams. You’re never going to be 100% sure of the next step.

3. Which do you prefer Mountain or Beach?

 Beach. Gokarna is my favourite beach vacation spot in India. 

4. Biggest lie you ever bought?

Your parents always know what’s best for you. I don’t think I ever bought that completely, but I did think it might be true and that I was too young and dumb to know it. I don’t think that anymore. Even if I’m young and dumb, that’s still a lie. It’s true that parents don’t think kids know what’s best for them, but that doesn’t make the corollary true. Parents might SOMETIMES know what’s best for you, but not always.  

5. Your dream job?

One that lets me be creative. One that lets me make lives better. One that lets me sleep at night knowing I’ve done something worthwhile. I’ll let you know when I’ve found it.

6. Any phobia?

Not that I know of. I did live in fear of my diary being read. Once I thought my mum found my diary, so I tore out the pages and kept it in an envelope. And then I worried about having both the diary and the envelope found. That’s got to be a phobia, right? 

7. Favourite holiday memory, if any?

The excitement every year when we’d fly to Kerala to escape the blistering Middle-East summers. Flying excited me oh so much. And once we landed in Kerala I’d start the count-down to fly back.

8. Can you swim?

Yes. 

9. Apart from swimming, what should we all try to learn?

Self-defense. 

10. Do you have a pet?

Nope. I have a 2 year old niece and a 9 month old nephew, though. 🙂

11. Can you recommend an Author?

   I can recommend TWO! 🙂 Both are must-reads! You’ll thank me later. 

David Gregory RobertsShantaram

Markus ZusakThe Book Thief. 

 

And now I’ll take you around the neighborhood as I distribute some Liebsters to bloggers I’ve bumped into:

1. Shmruti @ Tales of my journey across oceans

2. Amy Cory @ Not a day over 45

3. Sharon @ WhereisShyamini

4. Rakhi @ Little Bliss Book

5. Elisa Kim @ Girl Growing Brighter

6. Meg @ Dear Crazy Kids

7. Suburban Princess Teacher

8. Calmgirl06 @ Tales of a Slightly Stressed Mother

9. Suzy @ The Airing Cupboard

10. Anne Rupert @ Call of the Wild Geese

and finallyyyy

11. My best friend @ The Otter in my Jotter

 

My 11 questions! 

1. Whether or not you believe in heaven, what do you imagine heaven should be like?

2. Would you rather live in a challenging city like..umm, Bombay OR a clean, user-friendly city like Abu Dhabi? (There’s not many places I’ve experienced in the world to name any others:) )

3. If you got to spend one day in someone else’s shoes, who would you choose to be?

4. What languages can you speak other than English?

5. What do you think of all-girls schools?

6. What physical feature of yours do you sometimes wish were a little different?

7. What did you like most about your favourite teacher?

8. If there was one thing you’d like your teachers to have done differently, what would it be?

9. If you were allowed one free-trip before you died, where would you choose to go?

10. What social injustice riles you up the most?

11. What’s your favourite type of blog-post?

 

And that brings me to the end of my neighborly post!

blog long and prosper

This train has left the Techie-station

March 28th 2014 – my last day as an engineer. That is actually my first dream come true. I always knew I didn’t want to be an engineer, and now finally I’m not.

If you’re wondering why I got a degree in engineering in the first place, this is all you need to know : Indian parents tend to make their kids either engineers or doctors..and once that is done, the kids try and do what they really want to do..with much parental apprehension and/or disapproval.

 

freedom-17371-1920x1200

But when that Last Day came, I didn’t feel the expected flood of relief and joy. I am supremely glad I don’t have to code anymore, or try to summon an interest in techological advancements or business solutions, but it did not feel like escaping prison. And I think this is because in my second year as engineer, life changed drastically from what it used to be in the first year- which is when I pictured my office to be the joy-sucker of my life.
So, the life-changing difference between my first and second year? People at work who turned into friends. People made all the difference. I went from being the loner-girl who spent her free-time in office reading Norman Vincent Peale’s ‘Power of Positive Thinking’ (No kidding.I’d hide the cover of the book so that people wouldn’t assume (rightly) that I hated being in office so much that I needed the book to survive.) to the girl who had so many people she liked to hang out with at work that she had to schedule time for each of them in her work-day.

And so, I guess now it’s no surprise why my last day at work didn’t feel like an escape from prison. It’s sort of like the Stockholm syndrome. An IT company got me in it’s grip and intended to make my life miserable, but I met people in it that made me begin to enjoy my time in the company.
Now, instead of ecstatically fleeing my IT life, I find myself walking away with a sense of peace and contentment, glad for the good memories made.

And I am really, really happy I’ve quit IT. But more than happiness on quitting IT, I’m happy because of what I’m about to do next. I’m happy because there are doors of opportunities waiting to be opened. I’m happy because I’m finally on my way.

Freedom Sculpture

Freedom Sculpture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
-How it feels to leave a job that holds you back-

 

 

Little girls disguised as little boys : A Friendship Story

The year 2002. We were in 8th grade. She sat behind me in class. She was into music. I – not as much she was. I mean, I did enjoy music..but I was happy all my life listening to whatever audio cassette came my way..mostly through my elder sister..and the music was mostly Gospel. Ya, I was the little church girl.

Back to the best friend- She helped me discover the radio. How many people have a best friend that help make such a big discovery. She’s the Pierre to my Marie Curie. Granted I was pretty dumb for a Marie Curie..I mean, I didn’t know a flick of a switch could turn my cassette player into a free-music, many-channel device. Except for that one bit of dumbness, I was tres intelligent. I knew Marconi invented the radio, OK? I just lived in a little bubble where the radio didn’t exist for little girls. And when that bubble popped, I found my best friend.

boy bands were all the rage

The best of 2002

And then we both were crazy about Busted- the 3 member Brit boy band seen above. Looking back, I think she was crazy about Busted, and I normal-liked their music, but chose to crazy-like their music just because I liked being crazy about the same thing with her.
She didn’t help my existing case of awkward, tomboy dressing. She’d wear baggy jeans that fell off her bum, and she thought that was the best, and so I thought so too – hey, the girl introduced me to the radio, of course she was cooler than I was. So we both wore jeans that had room for 3 more bums.

baggy jeans

We were almost that bad.
Image courtesy ynaija.com

We also christened ourselves as the ‘Thinkalikes’ cos we’d say or think the same thing at the same time. It still happens every now and then, but it was way more amazing (to us) back then 🙂 Oh and we had a secret handshake that involved no handshake but instead humming, blinking, chanting, flapping and a high five. And that wasn’t at all strange.

think alikes

The Think-Alikes doing the secret handshake (drawn in class in 2002..or 2003)
She’s the one on the right.

I think my best memory of our friendship is when we studied for our 10th Board exams together. (The Board exams are the MOST IMPORTANT exams Indian students write in their school life. )
We were both hard workers. And a month before our boards we’d study ALL day. If she wasn’t over at my place, we were studying over the phone. At night, she’d disconnect all the phones in her house and leave just the cordless on in her room- so that when I call, her family wouldn’t be disturbed. We’d call and update each other on our progress, or wake each other up, or call and accidentally digress and chat for an hour..even at 4am.

In 2005, I moved from Abu Dhabi to India- and since we’ve  been pen-pal friends living in different countries. In college, I had a bunch of  lovely friends but she was still the one I talked to the most, and she still is.

best friends

Best friends circa 2002
(We’re making bird beaks with Pringles. And posing like gangsters. We’re oozing coolness here, aren’t we?)

This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt:Something so strong.

Depression on my left, Loneliness on my right

Disclaimer: I apologize if I’ve made any incorrect generalizations or statements in this post on depression. I’m no expert on this topic, and just intend to share my thoughts. Feel free to correct me or contribute to this post.

Title inspired by a quote by writer Samantha Gilbert.

From what I’ve read, in America: 1 in 5 suffer from depression, in UK: 1 in 4, and in 2011 India was said to be the most depressed country in the world (as found by a faulty WHO-funded study). That’s a lot of people. That means everyday it’s probable that you’re coming in contact with someone silently suffering from depression.

I wish depression was not categorized as a ‘mental illness’. I do want that it receives all the attention it deserves, but I wonder if calling it a ‘mental illness’ is necessary. I say this because no one wants to be considered ‘mentally ill’, and so when faced with the problem of depression there’s a hesitancy to open up to someone about it; there’s a chance they might want the problem to be just their inability to cope and not a mental illness – and that just makes them beat themselves up about it instead of giving themselves a break and reaching for the help they need.

I once had a really bad phase. I did wonder if it was the depression people battle for years, but I decided against it because it scared me. Maybe mine was some strain of depression, maybe it wasn’t, but what I do know is that mine was a dark phase of introspection, a test of my faith in God, and ultimately a period of growth that I now appreciate. I also appreciate that it’s made me more understanding of people who feel depressed- the people who tell me about the occasional ‘bleh’ day to those who say nothing but have an obvious cloud hanging over them.

While I think it’s best for one who has suffered from ‘ the real (crappy) deal’ depression to be writing about it, I’m still writing because maybe my voice will count for something. I’m writing because I’ve learnt that people don’t understand depression; people will point at your suffering and say you’ve brought it on yourself; say that it’s because you’re weak and can’t deal with life. They are wrong. If anything, depression requires one to be stronger than a depression-free person. While I had no problem with my situation in life, I nevertheless had a problem. And I didn’t want to open up to anyone because it felt like having to explain how my imaginary friend was troubling me. (Harry Potter reference coming up!) It’s like sitting in blissful meadow with a dementor* for company. Unless an outsider can understand what a dementor’s presence feels like, he’ll think it’s your fault you can’t appreciate the meadow.

* “Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.“—Remus Lupin to Harry Potter

depression

Depression- the companion you didn’t ask for

I can understand how people could fail to understand that depressed people are not weak. Years ago, I believed people who attempt/commit suicide are cowardly and weak. Today, I know better.

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
– David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)
 

What we need is more understanding, more empathy, more voices speaking out, more information about depression, and every effort to root out the social stigma that exists.

stephen fry on depression

 

What inspired this post: A fellow blogger nominated me for the Dragon Loyalty Award. Don’t ask. I have no idea what that award means, but I know it was nice of him as the only point I think there is to these awards is that it directs traffic to the nominator’s and nominees’ blogs. His blog is his antidote to depression, so I thought writing on a topic that matters to him would be the best way to acknowledge his niceness.

In the hope that this might aid you or someone you know in their battle with depression, I’m sharing the links to a few blogs.

Time to change – Let’s end mental health discrimination a collection of blogged experiences of many suffering from depression.

Douglas Cootey – Overcoming AD/HD & Depression With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

Etta – Female runner and health professional reveals her battle with severe and persistent depression including how it changed her identity, personality and life.

Marie – Recovering memories of sexual abuse, releasing shame, healing addictions, learning to trust

Marie has a list of helpful blog links on her sidebar, just fyi.

 

Wishing you the best mental health and the grace to be a friend to anyone who’s battling depression!

 

The Family Rosary

I’m actually glad for today’s DailyPrompt. After my posts on pee and poop, I sincerely hoped my blog wouldn’t begin to be associated with scatological humor. I promise you I am better than that! So in today’s post I’m going to talk about PRAYER. That’s a major upgrade from listening in on someone’s business in the loo, isn’t it?

I come from a Roman Catholic family. And we Catholics pray to (not worship as is widely misunderstood) Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Rosary is a set sequence of OurFathers, HailMarys and GloryBes. And the life of Jesus is meditated upon while saying this 20 minute (approx.) prayer.

Intro over. Google will tell you more if you’re interested. I have a story to tell right now. 🙂

So, my Roman Catholic-ness goes up,up,up my family tree. I’m not sure how up, but that isn’t relevant to this post. Since the DailyPrompt asked what tradition/ritual was my favourite, I chose the Family Rosary. We’ve been praying the Rosary since I was a kid, at home, and in every relative’s house I stay over at during the holidays- therefore, it’s a traditional ritual of sorts.

We usually say the Rosary as a family at night before we all go to bed. And to be honest, Rosary time wasn’t my favourite time of the day growing up.

I’ll give you a peek into what our Family Rosary was like back in 1997 (I was around 7 years old)

Little Black Sheep

Little Black Sheep

 

Ya 🙂 So that was how our Family Rosary was back then. But after all these years, we still come together as a family whenever we’re under the same roof and say the Rosary.

It’s not exactly the prayer or the beauty or power in praying together that’s made me choose this tradition as one that I’m glad has stuck. It’s that it brings the family together. All of us have our own lives that keep us busy and apart from each other, and then come RosaryTime we’re all together, and since no one is all rigid about the Rosary beginning at sharp 7pm or anything, conversation begins..my mum, my dad, my elder sister and I. My parents make us crack up by taking childish jibes at each other, I talk about something that happened during the day, or something my friend told me, my sister gives her opinion on things. Sometimes it’s a big discussion, sometimes it’s one of our anecdotes making all of us laugh..and this goes on until somebody realises they have work or bed to get to and that person gets everyone to start praying.

Now that my sister’s married, her husband is one of us, and joins the fun and conversation.

And now there are 2 toddlers, my niece and nephew, in the mix too!

So, you see what I mean? Rosary time is pretty wonderful- the family, the conversation, and the praying together.

pray together

 

Jesus poses under the Bodhi Tree

Today’s Daily Prompt didn’t appeal to me, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on Jesus under the Bodhi Tree instead.

Yes, I meant to write that..and no, I got my facts right 🙂 Buddha is known to have sat under the Bodhi tree and achieved enlightenment..and Jesus..well, at  least we have no record of him sitting under a Bodhi tree. And yet, there is this:

Jesus under the Bodhi Tree

Jesus under the Bodhi Tree (seen at St.Antony’s Church, Bangalore)

This is a piece that covers a whole wall in St.Antony’s Church here in Bangalore. I’ve been passing this Jesus for over 2 years now and was never inclined to sit and talk to Him when He’s sitting like that..all I could say was, “Seriously, Jesus?? What were they thinking when they made this piece of art?” I assumed the artist was making Jesus relatable to the Indian demographic, but whatever his intention, it wasn’t working for me.

 

Then yesterday, I dropped by the church and decided to spend some time with this Jesus under the Bodhi Tree.

My attempts at a monologue directed at Him would be interrupted every now and then by an observation made..like,

 

1.  Hmmm..This artpiece doesn’t assume Jesus came to India in His lifetime. (There’s a tale of how Jesus swam to India and resurfaced here as a holy man called Ayappan, just FYI)

Because in this image, Jesus has nail-pierced hands- which means it’s the resurrected-Jesus. Resurrected-Jesus kept His nail piercings so that doubting Thomases could poke and believe.

Which made me ask Jesus “Why would you come sit under a Bodhi tree after you resurrected? You obviously didn’t need enlightenment as You already are God and know it. It isn’t like You to mock the Buddha.” So, I decided to read up on Jesus and Buddhism later, and when I did, I found that Jesus was probably acquainted with Buddhist teachings in His time, before His ministry. Buddhism, along with Zoroastrianism had in all likelihood made their way to Judaea where Jesus was growing up. We know from the Gospels that Jesus as a 12 year old was very interested in preaching and learning more about God- it seems like Him to study scriptures of other religions too.

So, now I think it’s cool that the church approved this image of a Jesus embracing some Buddhism. Makes Christianity look like a faith that embraces all that is good; a beautiful way to be catholic in it’s approach. (Even if that might not be the intent of the church art-approver)

My other observations didn’t lead to deeper thinking, but I’ll still list them.

2.       Those hands. Unless Jesus’ wrist snapped on the cross and he left it dangly after resurrection, it isn’t very possible to position human hands like that. I came home and tried. See –

Why Would Jesus Do THIS?

Why Would Jesus Do THIS?

Not possible. Also, can you see how uncomfortable that arm positioning made me? My arms are still aching as I type. (I had a 10 sec timer on, and this was my 5th attempt. Therefore, 50 seconds of retarded posing.)

 

3.  I don’t think it was smart of the artist to make the hands like that. It distracts from prayer.  Or maybe it’s just me. I think I’ve seen some video game character shoot balls of fire or balls of something dangerous from his hands with hands poised just like Jesus’ here. So I can’t help but think Jesus is playing a game with someone.

JESUS: Hey Judas, my favourite traitor, watch out!! And PSHUUUU *BALL OF FIREEE!*

Jesus could maybe shoot balls of fire *PSHUUUUU* FIYAHHH!!

Jesus could maybe shoot balls of fire

If Jesus did do that, you have my word that Jesus would heal Judas of his burns and then make peace over some wine and from then on it would be a cheap thrill for Jesus to just go and scare the shit out of Judas by making twisty fire-shooting hands at him. Haha! I would totally do that.

Jesus likes a laugh, too

Jesus likes a laugh, too

 

4.       After I spoke to Jesus for a while, I got tired of Him closing his eyes all the while that I was talking. I told Him that isn’t a very nice thing to do in social interactions.

And then I thought this could be Jesus idea of a joke. I do think He has a sense of humor.  I’m sure sometimes He just needs a laugh. It’s got to be tough, and annoying to be God to the whole world- especially our world. Have you seen the kind of whining, stupidity, horribleness and lots of other crappy things we’re capable of?

So if this Jesus is being funny, I thought it’s very possible the actual Jesus is sitting behind that tree listening to all of us talk to the decoy-Buddhist-poser-Jesus. That allows Him to be on a long leash when on duty, right?

HA!

HA!

I’d do that if I were Him. I certainly wouldn’t sit in that twisty ankle and wrist position. OR have my eyes closed- you can’t trust passers-by these days. Have you seen the kind of horribleness and lots of other crappy things- we’re capable of? Oh right, I said that already. Time to end this.

Until next time,

May the peace of my Buddhist Jesus be with you.

 

 

Quietness in the Houusse!!!

I was born in Kuwait. Every blistering Kuwait summer, we would fly to Kerala. And my earliest memory of a place that was home is of a house in Kottayam, Kerala (southern-most state of India) and I guess I was about 4 years old then.

All my memories of that house are tied to the memories of my cousin Quietness* who is a year younger than I am, and vacationing in Kerala just as I was.
*(name changed cos some reputations will be harmed in the making of this post.  Quietness is actually the meaning of his Indian name, and the complete opposite of what he was! I think the only time he was quiet was when he was plotting his next attack on innocent souls like me)

Memory Snippet #1 – The Verandah at the front of the house
This is my favourite memory 🙂

Quietness and I were playing House-House on the verandah. I was 4 and he was 3. It is possible that we were both a year older. Not too sure.
In ‘House-House’, players basically go through the motions of the entire day within the span of 15 minutes. For some reason, kids that age enjoy such games.
So we’re at that part of our game where it’s morning, and we brush our teeth and squat down like good Indian children pretending to attend to nature’s call. PRETENDING being the key word in the rules of the game, and the rule that my cousin Quietness didn’t totally get. ‘Cos there I am squatting and humming while I pretend-pee when I get the stink of what I knew from all my 4 years of experience to be the stink of POO-POO.

So I very apprehensively turn towards the source of the stink until my eyes rest under his 3-year old naked bum on the pile of poop.
My pee-time humming stops mid-hum and I spring up and run screaming for his mother (who’s my mother’s younger sister) “AUNTYYYYYYY!!! QUIETNESS MADE POO-POOOOO!!! OH WOE TO MEEEEEE!” (Ok, I didn’t say ‘Oh woe to me’)
I don’t remember playing House-House with him ever again.

It was years later that I realized that boys unlike girls squat only when they want to make poo-poo.If I’d known better, I wouldn’t have insisted on us squatting. That explains his motivation to do poo-poo when I wisely chose to pee – PRETEND-PEE.My pants stayed on, unlike his!

the cousins

the cousins

Memory Snippet #2 – The Room near the Kitchen
There were 2 beds on opposite sides of the room. My mum used to put me to sleep on her leg (as seen in the picture below), and Quietness’ mum used to do the same with him on the opposite bed.

Sara has an Aura

Sara has an Aura

There was a Godrej almirah (cupboard) near his bed. I remember this because I had some homeopathic white sugar balls medicine on the top of that cupboard.I don’t know what it was for, but I know that I loved it and would somehow manage to get me more of that sugary goodness when unsupervised.

Quietness tended to do everything I did. The older one is somehow always the trend-setter. The older one failed to impart necessary knowledge though. And that is probably why all the moth balls in the Godrej almirah went missing when Quietness was on the loose. moth-balls

Haha.No. I embellish 🙂 Quietness didn’t ingest moth balls. There was a time in my childhood where I might’ve wished he did though, because over the next few years he turned into a Quiet-zilla.

quietzilla

Quietzilla

Memory Snippet #3 – The Dining Room
I didn’t do much dining in there. I hear that when I was younger..maybe around 2, I used to sit on top of the table when others dined and played with food.

But if I remember right, I think the room opened to the backyard.

Memory Snippet #4– The Backyard
The Backyard is also where I remember my mum bringing my cousin Quietness to pee. Real pee.

I don’t remember wondering why he needed my mum’s help when I didn’t. I guess after that pooping fiasco, I assumed Quietness needed all the guidance he could get when it came to doing away with his bodily wastes.
Or maybe the adults thought supervising him made life easier for them than discovering his bodily wastes in different parts of the house.

I guess I should’ve at least taught him to hum loudly while doing his business. Maybe that way we’d always know before..umm..shit happened.
Then again, that wasn’t ever Quietness’ style. He was more ‘Calm before the Storm’ than ‘Hum before a Dump’.

–This post was written in response to the Daily Prompt : Our House.