New Layout, Old New Year Resolutions and Crochet

A quick short post to say that I am going to be more regular with blogging – this has been my new year resolution for 2013 and I didn’t get around to it, but hey, 2013 isn’t over yet .. So its not too late to start.

In order to motivate myself, I have changed the theme of the blog. I did create a new one, but never got around to writing anything, so for the time being, I’ll put whatever I had wanted to put in the new blog here, and when the time comes, I’ll move it to my new blog.

My new blog was going to be around Crochet. I learnt the art at my mother’s knee. Being the only child ensured I spent a lot of time with my mum, most of which was spent trying to imitate her. I remember picking up the crochet hook very early in life and learning how to make plain straight chains – I must have made meters and meters of them – all of which I am sure my mum’s thrown away or undone to recover the yarn. A vivid memory around learning to crochet that will always stay with me, is when my mother tried to teach me how to double crochet (or dc as the stitch is known in British notation). That was the very first stitch after the chains that she taught me and her intention was to show me how to “turn” the work piece and make it grow vertically rather than horizontally (remember the meters and meters of chains that I had already made!). And though I picked it up quickly enough, I refused to believe that it was doing anything to make the work piece turn or grow vertically. And I must have stopped crochet-ing for quite a few months, maybe years.

Another fond childhood memory around crocheting is that of my mum making countless new borns’ sweaters for all her younger siblings’ children. She would also make a lot of feeding bottle covers in cotton yarn. I remember being fascinated by the shaded yarns, and how they would eventually form a very pretty pattern. I wish digital cameras and phones with cameras were popular then, because then I would have a lot of pictures of the pretty little things my mum made. Eventually I started making a few feeding bottle covers.

More recently, I made a sweater for hubby – it took me a good 5 months to make it but was worth while the effort. I’ll write the story behind the sweater and put up some snaps of it soon. Currently, I am working on a one year old girl’s frock – its for a dear friend and one of my husband’s closest friends .. its probably my way of sending a lot of good thoughts to the baby 🙂

So much for now. But more coming on soon ..

Advertisements

Should you tell?

So I was watching (in bits and pieces) this movie – Sex and the City 2. So the girls manage to get an all expense paid trip to Abu Dhabi as some Sheik’s guests. And while she is exploring the markets of Abu Dhabi, Carrie bumps into her ex – Aidan, who offers to host her for dinner at his hotel. Initially, she does not want to meet up with him and ignores the request, does not call back. But then she is triggered into thinking about where her marriage is heading, and impulsively, not only calls up Aidan to accept the dinner invitation, but also makes extra effort to dress up (maybe subconsciously wanting to see if she is still attractive to him).

So the evening goes on quite well, both catch up on the years spent apart. They then decide to take a walk around and end up kissing. Carrie wakes up to the moment instantly and rushes back to her hotel. She is then torn apart with the most important decision – should she or should she not tell her hubby. The girls advice her not to, saying since it didn’t mean anything, she should not rock the boat. But her conscience tells her the opposite and she calls him up and confesses. He does not react immediately and hangs up. Some other developments with the girls cause them to leave Abu Dhabi early next morning and Carrie has no idea what John is thinking and whether he wants to accept her. She reaches home and he is not in. She waits on tenterhooks. Finally, he does come home with a lovely diamond ring, they have a quick discussion and thats the end of this chapter.

This particular story, made me wonder, whether one really should be 100% honest with your partner? The girls brought up a good point saying if something did not mean anything, if it was momentary and if you realised in time and got out of it, there is no point in rocking the boat. Why risk an existing, solid relationship? Carrie advocated the fact that no matter what the outcome, one has got to be super honest with the spouse. She risked her marriage, but her honesty did pay off. 

I think, no matter what the circumstance, you’ve got to be honest to yourself and to your partner. Thats the only way to build trust. We are humans, and we do get carried away by our moods. Not matter what lines we end crossing in haste or in the “heat of the moment”, the partner deserves to know. Everything can hide for sometime, but never forever. And when someone finds out about your sins through a source that is not you, it hurts irreparably. When you own up to your mistakes, it is easier to see your point, forgive and move on. However, when it is found out through someone else, there seems to be no explanation to hide, no feelings to understand and is very difficult to move on.

So yes, you should tell. Then it is for your partner to decide – don’t decide for him/her because at the end of the day, you are separate people with different judgements.

Fool fool fool fool

Abraham Lincoln has very famously said:

You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people, some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time

Now that is like a theorem or lets say, an axiom. Now let me add a corollary – you can never fool yourself!

This thought has been going on in my mind, ever since I moved to London and have been noticing differences between the way things work here, and the way things work in India. One comparison that stands out is a set of events, involving people in the same profession, but their reactions were so very different. The profession – politics. The English politician has been charged of getting driving offenses marked on his wife’s license. The Indian politician has been accused of viewing porn while in the Parliament building. The English politician resigns so that he can clarify his name and not let this incident meddle with his duty of serving the public. The Indian politician just gets defiant and denies the accusation.

Now this isn’t a post about India vs Rest of the World, but it did germinate a thought in my mind – each one tries to fool someone, sometime. The point is, how much does it matter fooling others for any period of time, when there is absolutely no way you can fool yourself. How do you convince a part of you that something did not happen, or that something is right, when the whole of you knows that something DID happen or that something is NOT right? How long will you sustain the farce? Will time change the truth?

People spend an entire life time pretending to be someone. People spend an entire life time showing the world what is not correct. People spend an entire lifetime’s worth just to fool someone into believing something that does not even exist. When the world believes them, they get a high – it gives them further motive to fool the world. But are they really happy? Can they look themselves in the eye every day, every morning when they brush their teeth? Can they tell themselves, they have nothing to hide?

Wouldn’t it be much easier, if one could just be what they are? Is the world such that it forces us into a shell of make believe?

Lion King – The Musical

This was my first experience with a Musical. And I am actually left wondering – why do they call it a Musical .. they should be calling it a Magical !!! It was an absolutely mind-blowing experience, it had me sitting on the edge of my seat, ready to stand up and sway to their songs with their dancers. But, let me not spoil the description of the experience in this manner .. let me go chronologically…

So, Sharad and I were walking around the Thames near Westminster and we reached Charring Cross. Near the Tube station, there was this tiny little store that promised to sell tickets to various attractions of London for a huge discount. Since this is something we were looking forward to since a long time but never got around to actually buying the ticket and going in, we stepped in and started exploring options. The sales girl took out the layout of the Lyceum and showed us various seats and the price bands. Soon we selected a date, 2 seats and paid up! Now, it was about waiting for 5 long days to pass before we could experience the magic ….

The 5 days passed .. long and slow. It was Thursday. All work was done to perfection before time, and I stepped out to meet Sharad at his office. But somethings have to go wrong, and so, I managed to goof up on the way from the Bank station to his office and got thoroughly lost. Quick calls to Sharad and change of meeting point. 10 minutes later, both of us met on the platform of St. Paul’s station – miraculously, without using the mobile phone to co-ordinate geographical locations and time (it wasn’t telepathy .. just that mobile phones don’t catch signal underground, and you are left to your own devices!) Anyway, so we meet up and moved towards Coventry Gardens. Here we had the option of taking 193 steps to the ground level or waiting for a huge lift with a longer line of people waiting. Of course, we waited too .. Madame Aditi would not climb 193 steps in her finery and arrive at the theater sweaty and exhausted!

So we reached the ground level, grabbed a helpful map showing the layout of the streets and the theaters in this area. A slight detour from my story – this area is amazing. It has all the famous theaters that we read about in books – all at a stone’s throw from one another. Almost every small lane has one theater and lots of eateries. And what a variety of eateries – ranging from the most classy and expensive joints to the road side stalls, which immediately reminded me of Juhu and those Pau-bhaji and kulfi stalls opposite Mocha’s. Back to the story now. We navigated our way to Lyceum (all thanks to Sharad who tried map reading for the very first time under the watchful eyes of the experienced Aditi).

And we made an entry. Bought some Pepsi and popcorn  and settled in our uncomfortable seats with these munchies and a Falafel wrap that Sharad had so thoughtfully picked up when I was lost and trying to find my bearings. Now, to be fair, the seats were really uncomfortable. Tiny, squashed is how I’d describe them. And it isn’t that you could get better seats by paying more. Even if you paid for the costliest seats in the theater, they were still wooden with a bit of cushion, tiny and cramped with other seats. You could not rest your elbows without troubling your neighbor. Fortunately for me, Sharad was one of the neighbors and had to bear the brunt of my elbow issues. And then the musical started …

The crazy monkey started with the very famous theme song of Lion King and the stage came alive with so many animals. The artists dressed up as animals, painted like them or holding wooden cutouts of animals .. there was a huge elephant which walked down the aisle along with monkeys and birds and zebras and so many more animals! I was instantly sitting up on my seat. Suddenly, the uncomfortable seats just did not matter. The songs were just lovely, the artists – perfectionists. Scar was one nasty old lion whom anyone would hate at first sight. And Zazu was such a lovable, Smart Alec-y bird! The King and Queen were royal in their approach and baby Simba was absolutely adorable. Timon and Pumba were sooo funny and the adult Simba was sinfully handsome.

Well, there is nothing much for me to say about the story – it is absolutely lifted up from the movie. However, the light and sound effects along with the props were absolutely amazing. Certain acts had me getting goosebumps and some of them sent shivers down my spine.  The songs – Circle of Life, and Feel the Love Tonight almost moved me to tears.

All in all, highly recommended. It was indeed a magical experience. I am going to ferry all my visitors from India to Lyceum and force them to spend their 3 hours on this really wonderful thing!

PS – I am looking forward to my next Musical experience. Can’t decide between Wicked, Chicago and Shrek … any thoughts?

Be a man !

Nothing irritates me more than people using this oft and mis used phrase to get things done. And what irritates me even more is people falling for it and doing something they’d ideally not do …

A very common example – Mr A generally, does not drink. Ok well, he is a social drinker, but does not want to drink on a particular evening. Someone insignificant walks upto him and says “Buddy, lets share a drink”. “No man! Not in a mood to .. u go ahead, i’ll sip some orange juice instead.” “That’s not done! Come on, be a man .. lets share a drink”. Mr A, quietly accepts a glass and nurses that drink all evening, he does not want to drink .. he can barely sip it .. but he will finish it, coz someone insignificant said to do so would be “being a man”.

Now I know, a lot of you reading this are probably thinking, “Is she hinting at me?” .. well yes, I am .. to each one of you who does this .. and you and I both know it. So .. read on carefully and if it makes sense, please stop giving into the “be a man” trap.

“To be a man” is not to give into something which hardly matters to you. “To be a man” is to be able to say “I stand for this, and I will do so”. Standing up for your own beliefs, moods, and principles; unless convinced otherwise very logically, is being a man – for me. I respect those who say they do not drink or do not want to drink, and who actually do not. I respect those men, who stand up for their morals and thoughts and wants, even if they are the only ones standing on that side of the line. And why do I respect them? For two reasons – they are being in real life what they claim to be verbally and they are standing up for something. You know, that adage – if you don’t stand up for something, you fall for anything – does hold true. Hence for me, as a girl, it is important that a guy is standing on the same side of the issue as he is claiming to. Of course, a man can be convinced to do something otherwise, and that is normal in the interactive society that we humans live in – so he has all the right to change his stand, but when he does this as soon as he hears the 3 magic words – be a man – dude, you lose me and a significant amount of my respect for you.

A Leap of Faith

So, its been a month into marriage .. And wonders never cease (atleast for folks who know me well). They first thought I’d never walk the “arranged marriage” trap. When I did that, they thought I’d never settle for a traditional do and not put up with the “processes” that go in a normal Marwari wedding. When I did that, they thought I’d never want to change my surname. Well folks, I did that too. So now that a month has passed, I have a whole lot of people asking me “whats marriage done to you?” or “how is marriage treating you?” and then a few would want a blog post. So people, here it comes ….

So, first let us settle the surname thingy – and let me quote Shakespeare – “A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”. So here we go .. My name and my surname do not define me, rather, I define my name and surname. So whether it is Agarwal or Elhance, I do not change as a person. Infact, the way I look at it is, that Aditi is the name given to me at birth – it represents my family by birth. Elhance is the name given to me by marriage – it represents my family by my husband. So, “Aditi Elhance” represents a complete me.

Now coming to the marriage part – it is a big leap of faith. Lets not mince words here. And honestly, if things had to go wrong, they can go horribly wrong. And there is no way of knowing in advance. No astrologer and no soothsayer can predict this. Its ultimately about how well you choose and what life has in store for you. On a more tangible note, your communication with the spouse and the temperament of the family you are marrying into also matter. One’s just got to be compatible with so many people, not just one. There are so many factors that influence a budding relation, that a lot also depends on your own reactions. This is one time where the ego has to be separate from the individual. This is one time where one just has to let go, and try to merge in as much as possible. The basic idea is that when you merge in, you do not lose yourself, you just add to yourself .

So, do I recommend it to others? Absolutely. But like all things advertised on any media, I’ll add a statutory warning – be absolutely sure of what you are getting into and who you are marrying. And make sure it is your decision, and not somebody else’s.  Because, if things don’t go right later on, you will not want to point fingers at others – it will simply add to your heartbreak.

Things are very uncertain in life, and definitely in marriage – you do not know where you’ll be standing a few years from now. Its a game of chance, where you jump in, based on only your instincts. So, enjoy it while it lasts .. if the while is forever, you are darn lucky .. if it is not .. atleast you had a good time!

Phoenix

The phoenix hope,

Can wing her way through the desert skies,

And still defying fortune’s spite;

Revive from the ashes and rise.

–Miguel de Cervantes Saavendra

The phoenix is, supposedly, an eagle sized bird and looks like a cross between an eagle and a pheasant. The poets, though, love to believe that the phoenix has the best part of each and every bird in the world. But that is not why this bird is so special.. They myth goes like this :

The phoenix is supposed to be immortal – periodically, as it grows older and older, it builds itself a very special nest consisting of the best of herbs, spices and wood. Then, when the time comes, it sits in the nest, turns towards the sun, and as the sun rays ignite its nest, it beats its wings to fuel the fire till it is not consumed. And after the “death” of the phoenix, a small phoenix arises from the “pyre”, beginning the life cycle of this fantastic bird once more. The phoenix has a very special place when it comes to religion and symbology – the very egg of this bird signifies “rebirth”.

Rebirth – I am not talking about the age-old philosophy and debate regarding this topic. I am talking about the rebirth a person goes through in this lifetime itself. And not just one rebirth, there are many .. really many. A drastic change, a drastic fact – you never thought you’d have to open your eyes and acknowledge, a situation you always thought “happened to others”. All these and more, cause a rebirth. Rebirth is painful – the very fact that there is a “re” in rebirth, drives home a point – there’s got to be death, before the birth.

Death is not easy – coz it requires a part of you to go away forever. You know that part of you is bad, but you’ll never want it to go, out of habit. But death, will not wait. It will claim its due and then there will be pain, loss and maybe some mourning. And within that somber state of mind, there will be birth. A small shoot of something good that is to fill up your life. It will be so small, that you may just not realize that it has already taken birth.  From within the ashes, the phoenix does rise.

One of the most difficult deaths to die, is to realize that one has to embrace one’s darker side, and yet not let it overpower you. The taming of the darker side and its subsequent co-existence is not an easy task – specially since, often the darker side decides to give up and pay back in an equal currency.  The nest is created, over and over again, and the fire is lit, over and over again, and the bird dies, over and over again. But, from within the ashes, the phoenix does rise.

And so will I.

Open Letter

Dear Reader,

For once, an open letter addressed to the anonymous, and yet, the ones for whom this is meant, got a personal message to read it. So, if you happen to be one of the ones who got a message from me, read carefully – I have a reason for it, and you’ll know it once you read it. And if you happen to be one of the ones who just stumbled upon this, enjoy the reading if you have some time, else feel free to skip this one. So, first the question, why an open letter and then personal invitations to read it? Because, this letter addresses the one issue (disguised differently) I know each one of us is going through and this one content deserves to be hosted on a common place so that each one of us (me included) can read it when we need it.

Life gives us a whole array of situations. We cannot hide from them, we’ve got to face them coz they serve some purpose. The worst part is, we do not know the purpose. These situations come without a warning and just hit you full on. This makes the “unpleasant” situations really difficult to tackle. Now we’ve got a few ways to handle it :

1.  Flight. Escape. Refuse to accept the situation. Refuse to admit to the problem, refuse to ask for help, refuse to even do anything about it. Just tell yourself “this is what it is.. sigh!” and look the other way, while actually you as a person are being affected and messed up with.

2.  Fight. Hate the situation. Tell it, “I won’t submit to you”. Just get angry and frustrated about it, coz it won’t go away just coz you want it to go away. Look at it with so much of aggression hoping that the aggression will get rid of the situation.

These two ways do no good. You can’t ignore things nor can you just fight something off like that – life is stronger than you, remember? And the basic idea is, if you could do this, then why would the situation arise in the first place?  There is a third way:

3.  Accept it. Accept that it is there to stay with you (even if it is for a while) and accept that it is there for a good cause. Feel the impact of it. You’ll suffer a bit, ponder a bit. You’ll go into your shell and want to be alone or you’ll want to be on the phone with someone very close to you. This is all healthy. It puts things into perspective. And once you have felt the impact of it, it would automatically stop bothering you and go away.

Life always has the best in mind for you – don’t mess it up by refusing to accept the best. Everything that has happened has been for a good cause, everything that is happening, is also for a good cause, and everything that will happen, will also be for a good cause. Life may not give you what you want, for a simple reason, that it is not good for you. A mother will never give the child with a sore throat cold water, no matter how much the child wants it. A mother will risk the child going hysterical, but will not give in to a desire just to satiate it for a moment, and then be in a worse situation.

When we discussed this, a few of you told me, “we should know what to choose”. You are right and you are wrong:  you can’t /don’t choose what to face, instead, you choose how you react to something. Its like – at the end of term, you are going to have exams – you cannot choose that. But how you react to it, is in your hand – would you bunk those exams (option 1 above), would you not study and turn up unprepared for the exams just to show your defiance to them(option 2 above) or would you accept that you have to face the exams, put in the desired efforts and do your best(option 3 above)? Options 1 & 2 would ensure that the problem is out temporarily, it would recur till you don’t accept to choose option 3. Option 3 would directly get rid of it – given the little bit of “suffering” you put in for it.

Yes, it is difficult. We have all slipped at some point. And I’ll admit – so did I – very recently. Knowing all of this, I chose option 1. And suffered miserably coz at one point in time, it did sink in really bad.  And then I chose option 2. I fought it, fought it bad and probably hurt a few of you in the process. And all I can say is, I am sorry. I have realized, I shouldn’t fight. I have realized, I need to accept a few things, and trust life that it is giving me the best, provided I am willing to let it give me the best. Time, they say, is the best healer. Let me give it time.

Lots of love,

Aditi

Fickle Relations

It’s amazing how fickle relations are in life… One moment something means a lot, and a split second later, you don’t even know what that something is… One evening, you think that your world will end if someone is not a part of it, and very  next morning, you are planning a life without that particular someone!

Well, in a way, such fickleness is good.. The moving out of something from this life, signifies place for something more meaningful to fit in. It signifies less of hurting and more of enjoying. It signifies readiness to move ahead in life and face whatever life has packed in for you with a bright smile.

But as fickle as I have seen them? One moment yes and the other no, and yet next, yes. Is this like a switch? Or is it that somethings just don’t matter if they exist or if they don’t? Well, I’ve been thoroughly surprised recently by someone close, and someone I thought I understood. And if that someone close has realized I am speaking about her, then please, take a few moments out to explain how it works…  is it something I don’t understand, or is it something that doesn’t really matter to you, or is it just that some relations are fickle and its best to leave them that fickle?

 

A Mythological Story on Destiny

I read this one long back somewhere ..

Whenever and where-ever a baby is born, on the 6th day after the birth, God Brahma, is believed to visit the child and write his/her destiny on the forehead. Now there was this great teacher. His wife has just delivered twins – a boy and a girl. When Brahma-ji was writing the destiny of the children, his disciple, was waiting outside the door of the room. When Brahma-ji stepped out of the room, this disciple begged and begged and pestered him to tell him what has he decided as the children’s future. This is against Brahma-ji’s principles and he tries to resist for long, but finally, since he’s getting late, he tells the disciple what he’s chosen for the children.

For the girl, he had slotted a life as a prostitute. And though she’d live a much cursed life, she’d be rich and earn pearls and diamonds daily. The boy, he blessed, a long and miserable life, with not much money to get by. He wrote a lot of hard work for the boy and then blessed him with a pair of bulls as his only companion. The disciple was sad but then, there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Years pass by. The great teacher dies. His wife dies. The children are left to fend for themselves, and sure enough, the girl is pushed into prostitution and her brother, lives a hard life. Then the discipline returns to find them. He’s saddened by their plight. He thinks a bit and then advises the children. To the girl he says, “You cannot help this life. It’s what has been charted for you, planned for you in advance. But, every night, when you take your customer, demand that he pay you in pearls and diamonds. Demand a big price, so big that you know, he cannot afford you.” The girl is bewildered and confused. She’s wondering if she should believe this stranger. However, one night of following his advice would not harm. To the boy, the disciple advises, “go to the market, and sell of this pair of bulls that you have. Sell them off to the first person you can, and spend the money you receive in return for them.” The boy is puzzled, but decides to follow the advice.

So, the girl, at night, refuses to take a customer, unless she’s paid her weight in gold. She does not get a customer that night. But when she wakes up in the morning, she finds a huge pearl and huge diamond beside her pillow. Encouraged by this, her brother proceeds to the market to sell off the bulls. He agrees to the first buyer and quickly spends the money in buying for his sister and himself, a decent meal. And then he returns to his place. And .. in the shed, he finds, a pair of bulls !!

The brother-sister are eternally grateful to the disciple. Though they are bound by their circumstances, they managed to get a good deal out of their destiny!! Life may not be good, but it was definitely not so bad for them. One just needs to know how to work around what’s written 🙂