Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I dont know what to do?

There is something called 'dharamsankat' in Hindi. A simpler word is 'duvidha'. Yet another is 'pashopesh'. All Hindi, the last one urdu.

In English we call it 'dilemma'. Simpler english calls it 'iffy'. OMG! I dont know what to do?

All these words define our life at some point of time. It is iffy for a few moments, we are in a dilemma for some hours, we have duvidha for some months, years... forever?

Well..... I have seen it varies from individual to individual. Indecision is not a genetically acquired trait, it is developed during coherence. During the time we are growing up. When we are forming our conduct codes- around that time we are also imbibing values which help us think straight. And be decisive. Unless it is a choice between the devil and the deep sea- then you have the right to be iffy!

It is commonly believed that we grow up too soon... in fact as soon as we are born we start growing up. And iffy starts to take hold. The older you grow, the more iffy you become. As a child you single mindedly want a chocolate. As you grow older, you start wondering if you really want that chocolate or if that energy bar is better for you? What if you have the Pizza, or what if you have the stir fry broccoli? Pizza or broccoli? Broccoli or pizza? What if I try drugs? Do I tell mother about my latest boyfriend? Will she shout? Believe me, the iffiness doesnt stop dogging us- it stays with us till kingdom come.More often than not, we decide its going to be pizza....and there are lots of things we do that we dont tell mom.

Some of us are more iffy than others! Some of us are confused. Yet others just walk around with blinkers. And why do we become like this? If we are not born like this, as I have so emphatically stated, then do we become so?

Wait a while, "khoy saa khoo".... we will find out when we have done with the various "duvidhas".

Let me try and tell you a story to explain another kind of dilemma- the dilemma that arises out of doubt.Will it? Wont it?

There was this little girl who would sit under a tree all day, with maple leaves in her hand.She would close her eyes and pick out one maple leaf at a time, and whisper, "will he?" "wont he?" alternately. She would throw away each maple leaf and when she ran out on them, she would just get up and pick some more, go back to her place under the tree and start her chant again. In school too, every free period she had was devoted to this- weekends she had no other work. She was eight. Can you guess what she was doing? I thought she had read too many Betty and Veronica comics where the two girls were perpetually wondering which boy loved whom! But she was too young for that?

I am sure you too have read all those "Archie comics" featuring "Riverdale High". It used to be food for growing up. We loved them and those little red hearts floating around the comic blurbs, and if I get my hands on one even now, I am glued to it. My children however, like to read "Tintin and Asterix" and maybe "Charlie Brown" too. Things have changed. Sadly and happily, both. The growing years have become more real, less dreamy. More practical, less emotional.Humor is wit, not slapstick!

Oh, and this is a digression. So we were talking about this little eight year old girl.

Then she grew up and soon was sixteen. Her habit of this "will he?" "wont he?" ritual stuck to her. She would still sit under the tree and close her eyes and keep on tossing one maple leaf and saying "will he?" then toss another and say "wont he?" After school, she would go home, have her solitary lunch and then sit in her patio and play the game again. When her mother would wake up from her siesta, she would find this girl tossing maple leaves and whispering. The mother would scold, and this 16 year old would just go to her room and pretend to read a book. She was sixteen- can you guess what she was thinking about?

One day, as she was just going on 21, her whispers changed. The maple leaves were the same, and she did close her eyes, but she whispered, "will I?" and then "wont I?"Clearly her priorities were changing; but her time under the tree was the same, and her introverted demeanour was also the same. Soon she was to be leaving for higher studies and then there would be no mother or father to scold and bring her back to reality. But she was still wondering about something, which is why she was always doing the maple leaves thing.

And at 40, she was still doing it. Will he? Wont he? Will she? Wont she? Will I? Wont I? By now, she had a family and her son and daughter were teenagers already. Her husband was a successful lawyer and they lived in style. But the maple leaves? They continued. When she could not find maple leaves, she used straw, grass, toothpicks, whatever.

And now I come to my point- how many of us go through life doing this?

How many of us have done this since childhood? And why?

I do believe, this habit starts young.

By the way, allow me a small digression here too. The 8 year old girl's name is Melanie- I name her so, because in my favorite novel "Gone with the Wind" written by Margaret Mitchell, there is a girl called Melanie. If you have read the book, you will know her character. For those who havent, she was very pretty, very popular with the boys, not much liked by the girls because she was so feminine, very weak willed and the whining type. She proved herself strong when all the world went to war and her husband was also away fighting. She went out and helped her war ravaged country with great dignity.But she was always whining. That novel has had such a lasting impression on my mind; I was probably 14 when I read it for the first time, and since then I have re read it at least four times more. I can read it again now. Melanie has a heart shaped face; I now associate all heart shaped faces with indecisive minds and hearts of gold. And I love those bold flashing green eyes that belonged to Scarlett, the lead protagonist of the novel, who was the most stubborn girl in the entire novel. But she knew her mind, and believed in herself.She got what she wanted.

So, at eight years, the little girl was wondering whether her father would get her a chocolate when he came home from work; at 16 she was playing her game with the maple leaves just to divine whether she would meet the boy she had a secret crush on. At 21, she was still wondering whether she would be allowed to go to college in another town. And at 40, she is wondering about so many things; husband, children, parents, in laws, friends, relatives, workplace, maids, suppliers, all. She kills herself fretting about her son doing drugs; she worries herself sick about her maid not reporting to work; she goes crazy thinking about her daughter dating and not telling her... oh my god, she is a wreck!

This is actually causing so much stress. We are always wondering; we are always not sure. So we are always sweating, if-fing, but-ting, getting nowhere.

In the name of sanity, can we teach our children (and sometimes our adults too) to know their minds? Their ifs and buts would become that much less. And our tensions too would decrease significantly. Maybe they would not listen to us all the time, which might pain us... no parent likes to be overruled.

But lets think about the oh-so-legal term, "benefit of doubt..."

We are not always right, and there is not one right and not one wrong; so whats the harm in giving a long rope after explaining the pros and cons? Dont you think its a good way of getting them to think straight? And to move towards their goal, faster?

Detaching them from what 'I the mom' thinks is right, and moving them to what they think is right? Basis whatever they have learnt from 'I the mom' ? I, for one, feel proudest when my child makes a decision on his own and its a sound one. It may not be what I want, but if its good for him, I am sure its good for me. At times, I do know that he or she has taken a wrong call. Then I step in to rationalize and buffer the impact. The communication channels are open between us, so its easy for the children to come to me and say, "hey mom, I need help. I dont know what to do!"

You now know why we had to wonder about the pizza vs the broccoli? Because we were not sure whats good for us.

Suggest we teach our children whats good for them, and then send them out in this big round world. My heart says if they know what they want, they will seldom go wrong.

Suggest we also figure out our lives and learn what is required to make it happen, rather than waiting for the maid and the dhobi.

Why whine? Why if? Why not "why not?"

Help yourself to useful information, take things as they come, apply your knowledge and make decisions, hand over the traits to your offspring. Let them thrive. Grow. Decide. Achieve.They see you, they learn.

And then sing my favorite song "que sera, sera, whatever will be will be."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

when i was just a little girl....

then life was simpler.....
I believed in people. When I smiled at them, it was one genuine smile. When I got angry, it was a real tantrum that I threw. There is nothing about my childhood that I would like to change..... except one thing. Why did it not go on forever?

Today, when I bite back scathing replies and rude rejoinders, I hate myself. When I am polite while cursing under my breath with people I dislike, I want to cry.

When I was small, my views were not colored by who I was and where I belonged; I was a princess and thought like one- behaved like one. I did not have the time to get into nitty-gritties about who did what to whom, what went wrong and why I should think like everyone else does; all these were trifles against my bigger agenda which always reminded me to
enjoy my life and live it up
do not give if I dont like to, but then do not take away either
dont get carried away by momentous events- look at the trend long term
help when required, but do not impose
trust but do not take for granted
believe things when they happen; there are actually no prizes for guessing
love but do not smother
..... and I was happy.

Then soon I grew up.
I learnt to read between the lines; at times even learnt to not read the obvious!
It was so easy to misunderstand everyone else- only I was right, and everyone else was all wrong.
I started getting upset by trifling incidents- if someone did better than I did, I felt bad
If I was not the best dressed girl at any party, I felt low.
It was easier to believe the bad about other people than the good.
I was happier slandering than praising.

And in the process I learnt to be another self- the more balanced, but more artificial girl whom everyone would like and accept.
Life became so complex; I started feeling tired. where am I headed?
Yes, even today, I ask myself, 'where am I headed?'

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The flood and I

I have never waited like this for anything or anyone ever in my life. With such anticipation and such dread.

Let me tell you where I am coming from.

All around me I see Thailand flooding like never before. I am still dry. If flooding in my area of residence can save someone from more agony and trouble, then I would be happy to receive the floods. If, by not coming to where I am, it helps the country to maintain stability and ensure supplies to the areas already affected, then so be it. But I do not feel comfortable just sitting in my dry and well stocked home while the others take one day at a time and go hungry and homeless. Men, women, children all.

Its just that the uncertainty around me and the travails of people affected by the floods prompts me to wonder again and again, "are they coming, the floods?

Two weeks ago the shelves at Supermarkets were depleted of SKUs. There was shortage of drinking water. Even our apartment management was rationing cases of water per day. I presume everyone was rushing around just buying mindlessly and the suppliers got left behind somewhere along the way, with their replenishments. Ironically, the water first inundated the industrial areas which border Bangkok on the periphery, and so many of them had to close down, creating temporary scarcity of esentials. Then we saw what the global fraternity can do- supplies started coming in and supplementing wherever the internal systems could not keep pace. The small blip in availability was over. Essentials can be had anytime.

Today the shops around where we live are again stocked well enough in the face of a crisis like the one we are going through- I had gone out this morning. But when the water fills up around our buildings and on the roads, then how are we going to go and buy what we need? So we continue to replenish whatever we are eating up from our stocks. Who knows when the flood will arrive and take us all unawares?

We received, and are still receiving so many calls from people we know asking us to go stay with them till the situation improves. These callers are mostly friends; love you friends. Family, its ok. Everything's gonna be alrightee. From that distance, it looks worse than it is.

There have been videos and stock shots and everything to tell us whats happening. But does the water listen to anyone? It charts its own course. I am a novice at science. I speak with my heart, not my knowledge here.

While deep in my heart, I feel at peace, I still am worried for those who are suffering.I feel peace because I know that we shall overcome, albeit at some cost. The other good learning is that for a while at least, we will be thankful to be alive; the next thought is that we will not be complacent and take things for granted, again, at least for a while. I worry for those impacted because its been quite a few weeks and endurance levels are breaking down. How much can anyone suffer? I see the pictures of elders and infants and feel so guilty- I wish it was me and not them.....

I want to do something positive; and the most positive thing I can do right now is carry on as usual. Do my work, help out at least one person a day and think positive. Yes, it is intelligent to prepare for an exigency, but foolish and destructive to overdo it. I also want to reserve my energies for the aftermath- when life starts returning to normal, there will be so much to do- disease control, rehabilitation and reconstruction of inundated areas, resettlement agenda, starting afresh. I will, most willingly be a part of getting back to normal again. I am just waiting for it. Looking forward.

People are evacuating. Good, its that much less pressure on the infrastructure and the essentials. All of those who are going out, guys we wish you a quick return under safer circumstances.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I was just photographing the latest additions to our home to send to our son and daughter on email. They both live away from us and we see them probably twice or thrice every year.

Twice they come home and once we try to go across if we have the money and the time.

It is always a feeling of happiness when we are together; but good things always seem to rush past us.When one good thing rushes out, it takes a while for the next good thing to come our way. The break in between allows us to understand how precious those moments are, when we are together. And when, in between, we are just the two of us, we spend our time enjoying the togetherness. When we are the four of us, we spend our time enjoying the togetherness.

Just in case you thought so, the repeated phrase is not a misprint- it is a writers licence to express something very close to her heart. I enjoy fully, whether we are just the two of us, or all four; is what I mean.

All things are not the same, all the time. Paradigms change but sometimes our approach does not. Thats when the problems begin. I can sit around and pine for my kids when they are away - I can also sit around and get bored at home because now there are no tiffins to be made and no kids to drop to bus stops or no office to go to.

Or I can just grumble about how all my plans and schedules go for a six when the people are visiting. But I prolly can also stick to my schedules and share with them honestly about what I can do for them and what I cannot. I hate to say no, but I am able to say, I can do this much. I do not give them false impressions and then curse behind their backs. I love each one too much to do something grudgingly for them. Whatever I do, I do with my heart and soul; otherwise I do not. My vocabulary honors the term, 'cannot' but shuns the phrase 'will not'. Though I often wish that everything could be ' dai kha' ('can do') but there are just 24 hours in a day and there is just me, so I have to make a compromise.

I can also think about how people get in the way and make me miserable, though I try not to; but this is a genuine grouse and I hate to admit it. Why cant they be happy and allow me to savor my happiness?

Let me not get into this. Getting out of this mode is very difficult. Where was I? Children coming home.... i so look forward to it. Everyday I think of what all we are going to do when we are together. Its a celebration of all the good things we have been blessed with. Including bowling alleys which are a gift of urbanization. This time, I am sure we will all go to a bowling alley and bowl ourselves silly! Maybe go paintballing if we can, and drive our washing machine round the bend.

I need a haircut but do not have the time. My hair looks ugly, to put it mildly. What am I doing? I dont work, I dont cook, I dont send kids to school, I dont clean. But I am busy. Writing nonsense if nothing else. I tried writing sense and no one liked it. For a change, I also fly kites.I love to gamble; poker for instance.I am still perfecting the art of winning in keeps me busy.

There are times when I bake, and times when I make the most absurd soups- i remember making a broccoli and corn soup and even had the guts to send it to one of the recipe loading sites- they never published it. I continue to make it and friends and family like it.

I love every minute of my life and would not feel deprived if I were to die this very minute- I have lived by taking with a smile, whatever has come my way. Life has not always been good to me but I have allowed it to be bad so that moments of joy become more precious. I would not change anything for the world! Except, maybe, my hairstyle!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

the time is now.....

"The time is now...." This is the title of a thin brochure like magazine we used to read as children. The local church would give free copies and the best thing was they used to come home and give it. The magazine used to talk about how we can adopt good habits and think positive thoughts as we are growing up. It taught us the famous "why put off until tomorrow when you can do it today". It also told us "time and tide wait for no man". Then it said, "where there is a will, there is a way..."

One of my witty friends made a poster which said, "why put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether." It was considered smart to misquote with due apologies, and make people laugh. OK, so we laughed. And another one which read, "where there is a will, there's relatives. Funny? eh?

"To err is human, to forgive, divine" that we read from the magazine was plastered on the wall as "to err is human, but isnt it divine!" Well, we laughed.

We laughed when maybe four decades ago, (or prolly five), and usually, our country came back with hardly a medal at the Olympics. We laughed out loud when we joined the Nuclear Club in mid seventies. I remember a prominent magazine, stating very proudly the headlines which read, "Poor India joins the Nuclear Club". I was in primary school and I remember people around me laughing and thinking it was a good joke. It was perhaps meant to be a joke, not a moment of national pride and faith in our R & D, you see.

Was it?

The ability to laugh at oneself is touted as one of the highest levels of humour, but I do so want to add, only till such time as it does not hurt us.

I notice we laugh at ourselves in international fora. I realize we are always deprecatingly conscious about how we could be better but are not. What malady do we suffer from? Deficiency in self esteem? What would it take to restore that? Doc, please suggest.

The recently held Commonwealth Games are one sad example about how in our democratic mission to expose the organizing committee we invited so much of destructive criticism internationally. Its not funny. Pictures floated around about all that had gone wrong; but the pictures which showed what had gone right were an afterthought by some good soul who tried to say- "its not so bad as you make it out to be! Despite the scam we have covered some ground. Had there been no scam, we would have done good!" I, currently an expat, just sat and winced in my parqueted study at my writing desk- impotent anger, we call it. The world class inaugural event "surprised" many. Is this the faith we have after almost 65 years? I think we should be surprising ourselves when things go wrong; things going right is the way it should be.

A bribe is a bribe because someone gives it, not just because someone accepts it. If I dont give, how will you take that bribe?

On a different line, which has more to do with forward planning and development, one instance that has stuck in my mind is the Singur case wherein a prominent motor company in India was denied permission to set up a factory there. I was in Kolkata then so slightly more involved than someone who lived in Delhi or Chennai. Refused entry, the same company was welcomed warmly by Gujarat, a shining example of recognition of the development potential and the need for an open approach.

Of course you know that Brand Management is a science- and a coveted one at that. there are product brands and there are organizational brands and there are generic brands and there are people brands- and what do we do for them as Brand Managers? We build their images with reinforcement of positive attributes and correction of the negatives through market research and product development.

How about a Country Brand? How about treating our country as a Brand? And build it like we want it? Not with weak, constricted, ideal situations but with practical progressive solutions. By revamping the product so that it has the brand attributes we want and can be proud of. Not with adverse publicity, but with constructive criticism.

I am sure that if we have the intelligence to criticize whats going wrong, then surely we know what is right and how to create that Brand called India?

What if we decide not to 1) make and then 2) open cans of worms but actually ensure that there are fewer or no worms in the future cans? We expect worms in the can, so we get them. Suppose we ignore the cans which already have the worms and move on to making cans with lesser or no worms? Lets redefine our working style and make it more focussed, more urgent, more responsible. There has to be a cut off, which will historically be called "watershed", and there on, a new beginning.

It is up to us to just take a personal pledge to replace our doubts with positive reinforcement. It is entirely in our hands to season every action with belief and trust. If each one of us does our bit in our own sphere of activity, then Brand India can come out tops. the time is now...........

these are entirely my views.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

social networking

Social networking sites are not games- they are a way of staying connected. An occasional squeal of joy, a hello ji, or even a wink or a poke keeps us in touch. Why do we often say- " when we started, we were hooked on to facebook, or orkut or whatever, but now it has gotten boring!"

What boring? Staying connected is boring? Sad! where are we headed for? And all this while I thought that if I hear from anyone its because they think of me and we are friends.....

Status updates are not what its all about- its about reaching out to people you havent met in years. If you dont want to reach out to them, then why are they on your book? Just trash them.... or block them.

Guys, we hardly write letters. e mail forwards too are a one sided way of keeping in touch because etiquette says a forwarded message does not require a response. What is not required really does not happen, really. A lot of my friends discourage forwards supporting causes because they think its all humbug. So be it. Maybe they have had a bad experience- but not everything is bad. A little bit of faith and a little bit of "let it be" prolly......

I think that all those of us who say social networking is boring, actually visit their networking accounts everyday just to check what the others are doing. But do not want to share. of course, its a free world- can do whatever I think is right.

Its like you are sitting across and we are talking and only me is doing the talking- you are just listening. then you get up and walk away without a word. And I should not feel bad.

That people misuse so we are scared; I understand. I also understand that we have no time. But do take time off to smile sometimes, however inane the joke may be! At least someone is trying to make you smile....

Monday, February 21, 2011

windows without frames?

This thought came to me while we were holidaying at Phuket, Thailand in one of the really exclusive boutique hotels on Rawaii beach, called Serenity Resorts. We had booked ourselves well in advance into one of the duplex suites with a large sprawling creatively done up living area and kitchenette on the ground floor and bedrooms with very well thought out closet and bath area, on the first floor. The second floor had a dreamy terrace, canopied and all. Complete with sundeck and white outdoor furniture. Our own private terrace where no one was watching!

I know we could not have asked for anything better anywhere in the world!

To add to our delight the ground floor had its entrance from the coffee shop and poolside, and at the other end, opened out to the sea- first we had to step out of the french windows, cross a small private sundeck and pool, climb down exactly four steps, and then we just had to open one little gate and step into the sea! Everyone living in those beach suites had their own pools and their own four steps! And we could even have our own little canoe whenever we wanted to row.

Even when the tide was high, we just hung around in the water- it was tsunami safe, they had told us while we were booking! Actually that was one overriding usp of the entire property. The bigger usp which I experienced while living there, was that we could sit in the living room and feel that we could step out of the french windows straight into the sea- have you ever had that kind of feeling? I certainly had'nt- you know what I mean- just like you open the drawing room doors and step out into your lawn, so here, you could step out into the sea! Each time we took a beach holiday we always booked a beach cottage or room so that we wasted no time in commuting to the beachfront in a golf cart or a whatever. But nothing like this had ever happened to us. We always had to walk ten steps on sand to reach the sea!

My ecstasy knew no limits when I saw our daughter one morning, sitting at the workstation near the french windows with her laptop, connecting with friends. The enormity of the entire setting dawned on me when I checked a picture I took and saw that it looked as if the table was in the sea and she was working on it! The only jarring element was the white opaque window frame which broke my illusion. And messed up the prize winning picture!

So a thought came to mind- is there someone who can eliminate the window frames? How? I dont know. Some quirk of technology and civil engineering, I beg of you. I am just a Masters in Economics, otherwise I would have done it.

Or perhaps create transparent window frames so that they do not get in the way. Make them out of very very very strong polyurethane or whatchamacallit? Polycarbonate?Or just frame with toughened glass? Do you realize what a tremendous invention this would be for aesthetics and interiors? For one thing on the flip side, if you kept your glass windows clean, you would have people perpetually banging into them because they would not be able to figure out where the glass was!

Can you imagine what this may mean? On a highrise, it may mean aerophobia for the phobic, and a dreamy feeling of living in the air for those who live there! A first time visitor to your house would not want to go to the end of the room- what if the glass was'nt there and he teetered on the edge of a 35 storey drop?

In a cottage like the one we stayed in, by the sea, it will probably make me put my feet up just in case they get wet with the sea around me while I am working on my laptop. And it may also get me an award for creating a picture captioned, "workstation on the sea!"

"You dream of things and ask, why? I dream of things and ask, why not?"... someone said this not so long ago......

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

India, I miss you- today more than ever!

Vande Matram..... maa tujhe salaam..... Jai Hind!

I woke up with the sound of loudspeakers playing "kadam kadam badhaye ja....."

Went to montessori and heard the rendition of "nanna munna rahi hoon..." on the EP(extended play) record....."

The experience of the Indo Pak War in 1971 made me shout with joy whenever I heard the number "ye desh hai veer jawano ka" and by then I was old enough to feel my heart burst when "ae mere pyare vatan, ae mere bichade chaman, tujhpe dil kurbaan" would play on Vividh Bharati. My father, an engineer by profession, was nominated to the Civil Defence and Vigilance Directorate for this war . I think this is what it was was a group of civilian people who were nominated by the Collector's Office to help in maintenance of law and order during the War. As soon as the hooters would blow in anticipation of an air raid on the defence establishments in our town, he would just pick up his Royal Enfield motorbike and go to Collector's Office, to sit there till the bomb loaded enemy aircraft had passed over and changed direction. Or maybe dropped a bomb on us.During such warnings, the whole town used to be immersed in darkness- the Electricity Supply Company used to just pull the plug and supply to all sub stations would cease. Then my mother and us two sisters(my brother was not born yet), would huddle in one corner of our huge bungalow, trying to listen to the sounds of the aircraft overhead, and hoping that if a bomb was dropped that instant, at least we would get to see our father before we died. Yes, I was old enough to be scared of dying....

In class seven, we did a group song and dance on "Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle..."

In class nine, I cried to the lyrics of "Ae mere vatan ke logon...." thats when I understood them actually.

In class eleven, there was a spate of books by various authors, Indian and foreign. Midnights Children by Salman Rushdie won awards for its eloquent midnight and onwards storytelling.It was all about India.

My brush with democracy came when my nana(paternal grandfather) contested elections and we were there for our holiday, canvassing for his party, which incidentally, was always, always, always Congress. Actually he was always contesting elections, and as we all know in India, elections are not seasonal or time bound- they just happen. So this once, we happened to be there for the Dussehra and pooja holidays, and had a blast! I still remember the jeeps and the cries of "congress ko vote do......" rhyming with some cheap remarks about opposition, and we used to come home at closing time, tired, hoarse, happy, hungry. Chai with the volunteers was a delight and then we used to don all sorts of pro congress badges and walk around proudly. Even when nana backed up a harijan candidate, the fervour was the same, and victory was sweet.

As I grew up in the NCC ranks in college, I proudly won an opportunity to participate in the Republic Day Parade at Raj Path, New Delhi. It was prestigious, to put it very very briefly.

The next opportunity to participate came when, while working in Delhi, I got to see the same Republic day parade, by invitation. My uncle with whom I was staying, had an invitation, he had seen the parade before, so we used his invitation. Sanjiv's father, who really did not know then that I would be his son's wife(but he was very fond of me, all the same), and I- we both left the house at dawn, to arrive at the designated entry gate and find our seats on cross legged three tiered bamboo structures. Sitting atop the bamboo stands, with bottles of water and bags of biscuits, because there were no mineral water bottles those days, I cried with love.

And walked for miles after that to get back home at dusk- the traffic rerouting in Delhi for the Republic Day Celebrations is legendary.Needless to say any more on how the metropolis looks on Republic Day- it is simply festive.

As all other towns also are, in their own way. The way they can afford their festivities includes rallies, marches, festooning and banner campaigns, bhashans (speeches), theatre, nukkad naatak (street plays), school marchpasts, displays, music programs. Overriding all these expressions of love to motherland, is Bollywood's very own signature gesture of songs and dance and film releases appropriately timed.

Today, as an NRI, I think of all this. I sit and wish that I should have participated more while I was at home in India- should have drunk in more of the smells, sounds and feel of freedom that is so tangible on Republic Day. And I also wish that I should have contributed more positively to the aura- not just sat there and enjoyed my holiday mostly.

More later- I am already feeling better after having shared this with you.:)

OK, so here I am. Just can't get away from this page before telling you all. This morning, we all got together to share the joy of freedom. And again, the rang de basanti chant got me senti. The Chak de India got me rocking! I was already crying to the sounds of the bengali "aamar mathrubhumi" sung by the group. We, the women looked glorious in our sarees, and the men looked so good in their khadi and bandh gale ka coat.

But somewhere, I missed India. I missed the morning smell and the vasant. The little bit of cold and the foggy haze. The television dedicated to freedom today. The pulsating pitch of excitement in the voices of our democratic leaders who renew their promises to the people. The cartoons in the dailies talking about six decades over, seventh one going on. The theme parties that people have to celebrate the Republic Day, where each one has something saffron, white and green to show off to others!

.....tu hi meri jaan- to mother, janani, creator and preserver.