Styled for a second-look!!!

This post is my expression of style for the ‘A Style Of My Own’ blogger contest by Women’s Web and Trishla emart


Style

A chunky bangle/bracelet with a plain, old ratty t-shirt and jeans!

Green hip-hop shoes with khaki shorts!

A red-lipped smile with a mellow-colored dress!

This is my style!

I don’t dress to impress nor do I dress to stand-out. I dress to garner a second-look from people around me. Because I believe, just like first impressions, first look isn’t  enough to start a conversation/relationship out of thin air. I believe, a second look creates more interest and a kind of curiosity in the other person to know you better.

I was never a fashion-oriented person,  being too busy working 12-14 hours a day, I’d just throw  on something formal and rush out the door.  But over the last year, as I moved cities, gave-up full-time work and the bureaucratic mad-dash to a finish line (that’s nowhere in sight) I found the time to find myself and discover my likes/dislikes. I am still exploring this side of me and my self-expression through my clothes. But, on this exploration journey I don’t want to overhaul my wardrobe every few months and bankrupt my husband. And so I try some of these short-cuts to feel new and save some bucks:

  • While scouring a sale I found this very cute but very short skirt which was dirt cheap.  I knew I would never wear something so short so I turned it into a tube top. Now I team it up with a shrug/jacket/shawl depending on the place/occasion.
  • Whenever I get tired of my old bracelets and bangles, I wrap around a chain on my wrist, gives me a sense of novelty and I like small pendants dangling from my wrist, gives me the feeling of wearing a charm bracelet 🙂
  • On the other hand, whenever I am tired of an old bangle (bracelets wont work,  but bangles will be great) but don’t wanna let it go, I string it in a thick thread or chain and wear it around my neck. All you need is a colorful  thread and bangle and it brightens up a plain dress or t-shirt.
  • Am not a big fan of sweaters but am always freezing in malls and theaters. So my style-fix for such situations is wrapping a scarf on one of my wrists. This keeps me warm when I’m strolling and in the theater I untie the scarf and cover up my shoulders.

If you have any such style short-cuts please do share with me. I’m sure my husband will be very glad to see me try such short-cuts as he will be saved a trip to the mall every time I wanna feel new and renewed  🙂

A book-laden trip down memory lane

Recently, I read a friend’s post about her favorite books and it got me thinking that though I’m an amateur reader, I’ve grown and learnt a lot from the few books that I’ve read.  So today here am essaying my journey of growing up with these books and as I did the exercise I re-lived some wonderful memories of growing up, like: bending over each word, trying to read before even I could write or talk properly; or sitting in the bathroom late at night and reading so that  my mom doesn’t catch me; or skipping a gossip session in the hostel because the book is just too good to put down; or missing my train stop because am just too lost in the book. I’ve realized that books have been my first friends. I don’t have a very good imagination but whatever little I have, it is because of these books.  Anyways, cutting short my ramblings and getting to my list:

  • Fulwadi, Champak: My first, so-called books. Thanks to one of my uncles, whenever he used to come home he used to get these and other children’s books for us and I’d spend hours bending over them trying to read and understand each word. Panchtantra tales, especially the one with the flying tree and the saas-bahu was one of the repeated reads for me and my sis.
  • Enid Blyton books, especially The Wishing Chair: Don’t remember how I started on them but till date they’ve been the best books I’ve read. The innocent fun with flying chairs and trees and pixies.  They helped me add color to my long summer vacations.  Another set of books that added color to my Gujju-world were Bakor Patel books and Jhaver Chand Meghani stories. During this phase, another big influence  on me was Roald Dahl, and especially Matilda.   I absolutely loved Roald Dahl books and in a span or 2-3  years I think I read Matilda 2/3 times and I’d be lying if I said that like her I didn’t try telekinesis. 😀
  • Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys Super Mystery series:  While the murder mysteries were themselves a lot of fun, the added element of whether something will happen between Nancy and Frank made them all the more enjoyable. These days more than the books, I remember the process of getting them from the library, the series was in great demand in school and I had requested my school librarian, “Ma’am, please let  me cut the queue for  just one day. Will finish and return the  book within a day.” Added to this was the ban imposed by my mom, “No reading such books,” and hence late night, furtive reads in the bathroom.
  • I then moved on to more murder mysteries of Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason and while I was still exploring this section, I saw Jeffery Archer’s The Eleventh Commandment. The Jeffery Archer era ended only after I had read all his books available in my school library. My most favorite and repeat-read is Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.
  • Intertwined along with my crime thriller phase was my Stephen Covey phase which started with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and included all his books and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I learned a lot from these books, especially with the help of one of my teacher’s  in school.
  • But as I finished school, my self-development phase halted halfway and I got distracted by Sidney Sheldon and Mills & Boons.
  • When I got bored of Sidney Sheldon’s larger-than-life characters, I turned to the likes of Frederick Forsyth, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, and Danielle Steel and ofcourse more Mills & Boons. Bombay is a paradise for people like me who want to read a new book every two days. The road-side vendors carry all sorts of books and take measly 10/20 bucks as reading charge.
  • During my post-grad, I got inducted into the world of theology and mythology with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.  And also, thanks to an uncle of my mine for leading me to Devdutt Patnaik and Jaya. Till date, my favorite mythological fiction is Chitra Devakaruni’s Draupadi.  Amish’s Shiva Triology was a fun read but not very impressionable. Ashwin Sanghi surely impressed me with Chankya’s Chant  and I warmed up to Rasobel Line after an initial state  of confusion. Am still exploring this genre with Asuras next on my to-read list.
  • In between all these I turned to an odd Gujarati novel or Chitralekha from time to time,  thanks to my mom, whose a voracious reader. I remember my Chitralekha phase, I used ask my mom to store them because I was addicted to the short-story there, so every vacation when I went home from Mumbai, I’d sit with the stacks to read Kajal Ojha Vaidya’s Yog Viyog and Tarak Mehta’s Duniya na Undha Chasma. I’ve read a lot of I K Vijlewala and Kajal Ojha Vaidya books and next on my aspiration list is the entire Ashwini Bhatt novel range that my parents purchased last year.
  • Since the last few months, I’ve been trying to read books on management, women leadership and empowerment but I often get distracted by fiction from time to time. My aspiration is to read a lot of Indian authors, a lot of different genres in fiction and some non-fiction books like biographies but don’t know if I’ll ever get to it. The only good thing is that I still have a lot of time to find out if I’ll ever achieve this goal.

A big thanks to all my family members and friends and those gazillion road-side vendors in Mumbai who introduced me to the world of books and will surely turn to you again as I am still nowhere done with this journey.

Call for help

Over the last month, I’ve   been kind of inactive. It’s not because I’m not thinking about writing. In fact I have 6 posts in draft mode but somehow when I go back and read those posts I don’t feel like completing them.

Am thinking about a lot of things these days but am in a total stage of confusion and still searching for faith and writing ability. My confidence in a lot of things is shaken, including my writing capability. I’ve never aspired to be a writer nor have I ever thought that I’m a good one, but I had thought that I had the ability to pen down my thoughts and feelings but of late even that has been alluding me.

Do you have any ideas about how I can get back to feeling myself and gain a little confidence to start writing again. Please help!

Always and never

He’d always remember to visit the temple before taking a big decision or for every occasion but never thought of going to the temple without any reason.
She’d always bend her head in prayer and ask for one thing for everyone in her family but she’d never prayed to God to give her the strength and capability to provide those things for her family members.

He’d always bring her flowers on her birthday because she’d told him that she loved flowers but never thought of doing something different for her.  She’d always send cards and gifts for her parents on their birthday but never thought of picking up the phone and calling them just like that and telling them how much she loved and was grateful for their life lessons and support.

There are so many things I do very often (they’ve become more of a habit than a nice gesture) thinking that these are nice deeds or that the other person loves it but what I fail to do is take it one step further. I don’t know if my “nevers” will come to the “always” side but I want to continue the “always” and try and bring the “nevers” into the “occasional” column.

ઘરના ને બહારના વચ્ચેનો ફરક

“તમે તો ભાઈ ભગવાનના માણસ હો!”  આવું કોઈ આપણને કહે તો આપણે તો ખુબ જ રાજી થઈ છીએ અને ઘણાખરા ભાગે આવું આપણને બહારના લોકો પાસેથી સંભાળવા મળે છે.  આપણે ઇચ્છીએ છીએ કે લોકો આપણને પસંદ કરે, આપણા માટે ઉપર જેવા સારા સારા વાક્યો કહે અને તેથી જ we put our best foot forward in front of outside people.

મારા મનમાં હવે એક પ્રશ્ન ઉભો થાય છે, કે જો આપણે ઈચ્છીએ કે બધા આપણને પસંદ કરે તો આ ઈચ્છામાં શું આપણા ઘરના લોકો શામેલ નથી હોતા?  આપણે  ઘરે પહોંચીએ કે તરત જ આપણા ચેહરા ઉપરથી “ખુશી”નો મુખોટો ઉતરી જાય છે. જે વ્યકતી બહાર ખુશાલ અને હસમુખ હોઈ છે તે ઘરે આવીને ચીડિયા બની જાય છે અને આવા લોકો પોતાનું “ખુશી”નો મુખોટો ઉતારતી વખતે એવું વિચારે છે કે “ઘરના તો મને ઓળખે છે”; “If I can’t be myself at home then where else will I be myself?” આવું શું કામ થાય છે? જ્યાં નવા સંબંધ હોઈ છે ત્યાં આપણે કેટલું જતન કરીએ છીએ પણ બીજી બાજુ સંબંધ જેટલા જુના હોય ચીડ-ચીડાત એટલી વધારે હોઈ છે.  અને આ ભૂલ કોઈ એક વ્યક્તિની નઈ પણ સંબંધ બગાડનાર બંનેની હોય છે.

The point is that, you can ofcourse be yourself at home but that should not come at the cost of hurting or being rude to your family members. I am not asking you to be someone you are not but make an equal effort (given that they’re your own family you should infact be making more efforts) to make them like you and not hurt them.

મારા મતે, જો બંને વ્યક્તિ ઘરમાં પણ બહાર જેવું જ સારું વર્તન કરવાનો પ્રયન્ત કરે તો સંબંધો ક્યારેય કડવા  ન થાય.  Infact, ઘરના લોકો એક બીજાને compliments આપે તો તે કોઈ બહારની વ્યક્તિએ આપેલ compliments કરતા વધારે genuine હોય.

Ofcourse, it is easier said than done. હૂં આજે આ લખું છું ત્યારે હૂં પણ આ સમસ્યા સાથે ઉલ્જ્હેલી છું. હૂં ઈચ્છું છું કે હૂં મારા family members ને ખુશ રાખું, દુખ ના પહોચાડું અને at the same time આ બધું કરું not at the cost of my happiness. Still searching for an optimal solution. Any thoughts?

Cracked!

It was past midnight and after her nightly ritual of book-reading she turned around to switch off the bedside lamp when she saw a huge crack in the drawer in her night stand. She switched off the light with a resolve that she’ll check it out in the morning.

Next day she got up and in the course of her routine, she forgot about the crack. Again at night when she switched off the light she resolved to check it out and forgot the next day. This continued till the drawer had to be replaced.

He came from office at his usual 9.00 PM, all tired and irritated. He took out his wallet to place on his night stand and saw a slight tear at the corner. He thought over the weekend he’ll go and buy a new one, it doesn’t suit a manager level guy to carry a torn wallet. But weekends came and went and he only replaced it when the tear turned into a hole and change fell through it.

He came home from office and saw the dining table was dusty and the sofa cushions were awry. He didn’t say anything, thinking,”she’ll manage the house and its chores in her own way, I shouldn’t impose.” The next day he came from office, the table was still dirty and the cushions were no better. It continued, until one day he walked into the house and lost his temper and they fought from dusk till dawn, bringing up incidents from the last 10 years of their marriage. And all over what, a dusty table and awry cushions.

She was telling him about a tragic incident in her friend’s life and how they should try to visit her in the next month or so but he was so tired that he didn’t listen. She thought, “I’ll let it be today and will try tomorrow”. The next day, again she tried to tell him about how her day was and he was busy watching the news. She thought, “he needs to relax, I’ll talk later.” The tomorrow didn’t come and while she forgot that she needed to tell him the incident again, she remembered that he didn’t listen to her.

They were both seeing the cracks in their relationships but not doing anything to fix them. However, unlike a night stand and a wallet, its not easy to live with cracked relationships and nor is it easy to replace a cracked relationship with a new one.

Love versus Love

I’ve been wanting to write a short story for sometime but never had the courage or time. Now I’ve tried for the first time and because all my life, and especially over the last year, I’ve just guzzled on all sorts of bollywood, hollywood, hindi, english, TV serials and romance novels, my first one is kind of a love story. I dunno much about building characters and plot lines, I’ve just written what came to mind. I’m not sure if I like it but I hope you like it 🙂

So here goes………Love versus Love……………

She turned around to catch a last glimpse of the receding train and that face peeking out from the door. She felt she was breaking into a million pieces as she was saying goodbye to a new life. She was thinking that she was probably going to regret her decision of not climbing onto that train with him tonight but she had a duty towards her family too.

Shivani was a single mother of two, widowed at a young age. She was living with her parents half the year and with her in-laws the other half. Atman and Shivani had been married for 9 years, before Atman died in a car crash. She took it as fate and moved on with life, vowing to herself to be both mother and father to her kids.

Shivani was brought up in traditional and practical household and like a typical wife, her priorities in life were her household and her small home office. She did not really have the time or the imagination or even the expectation of the Mills-&-Boonsy love that one reads about and watches in movies. Marriage with Atman was easy and manageable, he was patient, kind and understanding and that was all that she needed, so she was happy and content with life. But once that comfort was taken away she didn’t even once think of marrying again because it is not easy to accept someone’s wife and kids as your own. And since love didn’t really feature on her priority list, she was content with the support of her family.

But of course, love doesn’t really announce itself before coming into your life. Unexpectedly, Shivani bumped into an old college buddy, Rohan, at a stationary shop and before they knew it, cupid had struck. Rohan and Shivani met frequently and knew that they had something special but they never said it out loud. Rohan was aware of Shivani’s situation and knew that it will be a difficult process for the kids to accept him and also for both the families to agree to such an alliance, especially since he had never married before. However, he knew he wanted to go the distance with Shivani so one day he asked her to marry him. He said, he had a job offer in another city, in a few months time, they could get married and move to a new city and a new life for themselves. Shivani was shocked and she asked for a couple of days to think over her response.

She spent the entire night thinking. On one side was her love for Rohan and one other, was her love for her kids. Marrying Rohan would mean a new life for her and her kids where they all will no doubt be loved and cared for but there was a big what-if hanging over head: What-if her kids did not really accept him; what-if his family didn’t really accept her kids; what would be the equation between all the siblings when Rohan and Shivani had their own kids. It is one thing to sit in a coffee shop for a few hours, gazing into each other’s eyes and dreaming of a life together and it is another thing to live out the grueling daily routine which is rife with all sorts of social and familial pressures and which strips off the love from your eyes; leaving behind a reality which is difficult to accept if you haven’t really thought it through. In the end, she needed to decide between best quality of life for her kids (best because if she stayed single she could avoid the entire trauma of settling into a new family for her children) and better quality of life for herself (better and not best because Rohan did truly love her but what would happen once the initial love-laced blinkers would come-off his eyes?). In the end, the love between a man and a woman is a risk and Shivani was not willing to take that risk, not because she was afraid of the consequences, but because she felt her needs were sub-par against the needs of her kids, Rohan’s life and both their families lives as well.

And so, she stood there at the station waving goodbye to her first love, while holding her life-long love, her children in her arms.