Happy birthday to my mentor :)

I am a strong believer of the fact that people come into our lives for a reason. Sometimes we understand their need in our lives, other times we don’t. But they are there to bring meaning to our lives or make us understand the meanings of our lives.

Among all the people who have made a remarkable difference in my thinking and in my approach to my life is my husband’s eldest brother. And today, I wish him all the happiness and love, as he celebrates his birthday!

This post may come as a surprise to him or shock him too, but these birthdays are the best times to thank people for their presence in our lives and how it means a lot to us. So, I hope he’ll bear with me for writing this.

He has this simplistic way of looking at things and never minces words to express his thoughts. This is something which I yearn to be – “I live my life in my own terms”.

Another amazing quality which I am in awe of, is his magnanimity to give and not to think or talk about it later. What makes him unique is that he doesn’t have an air about him. A quality which I aspire for…

And since the time me and my husband have turned entrepreneurs, he has been a great source of positive energy for us. He has this way of appreciating us for the work we do and also encourages us to take more risks. The apprehensive me has learnt to let go and be more energetic in taking up new projects. This mentoring has enabled us to grow as an industry with the values intact.

As I believe in the fact that some people come into your life to teach you something or be there for some reason. Here is a person who inspires me to bring the best in me, just with his presence in my life.

And my heartfelt gratitude to my mentor, as he celebrates his birthday today!

Sunday rumination – Life’s always throwing lemons…

Its up to me to decide if those lemons are meant for making a sweet lemonade or to make a spicy hot pickle or just crush it out to clean the whites of stains 😀

Actually every lemon that gets thrown at me is an opportunity for me…

…to distinguish the good from the bad, in my own way

…to move away from closed doors and start looking at small windows that are trying to open for me

…to understand that some incidents happened in my life to change my course of journey and to make me think differently about the same situation

…to turn the sour lemons to sweet melons, just by looking only at things which give me happiness

…to ignore the things that cause hurt and pain to the heart – oh yeah, this could be a daunting task, but well worth the effort, as I love myself more than anyone, now a days

As I woke up this morning, “When life throws lemons, make lemonade” came to my mind…its one of those bizzare thought process of my sleepy mind. Just out of the blue, I started thinking more about that line. As I loaded the clothes into the washing machine, I thought that it need not be lemonade always and it could also be made into a pickle – the citrus-y spicy can make the tongue wanting more of it!

And when I was making coffee, came the philosophical thoughts – some days are like that – I just learn to take it as it gives me myriad of thoughts and critical analysis of myself. The only difference to the whole scene today is I don’t carry on the guilt of not performing to my standards. After all the thoughts are processed, I realize that I am more important to myself and my happiness is more important to myself and it is one of the treasured things which I should not forego at any cost.

So, keeping myself happy, whether with lemonade or lemon pickle, I go about my day, writing my thoughts in my space – a recording to be read another day to calm the mind and soothe the heart.

Friday musing – Wearing what you want with confidence…

I can say with great affirmation that I decide what to wear, clothes, accessories or anything.

But there are other kind of people too. One set of people are driven by their children. The son or daughter decides what the mom should wear. “Ma, wear sari when you come to school” “Ma, wear salwar kameez when you drop me at my friend’s place” – this and that. It can even go to levels like “Ma, don’t wear jeans…it doesn’t suit you” “Ma, those big bindi on your forehead – I don’t like” “Ma, wear small studs for your ears, these jhumkas are for younger people” – And I feel like throwing some very bad curses at all these comments as these are very opinionated either by the children’s peer pressure at school or by the family’s comments and decisions on what suits the woman / mother. Of course, its only her and always her and her dressing sense, which is under scrutiny.

Then there are women, who are uncomfortable in their own skin – they feel fat, ugly and not fair skinned – may be all put in one. It takes too much of insecurity about one’s own self to be critical of one’s body and deciding against wearing clothes which may not suit the body type. After all, we’ve this one life to live, which we can remember. Why not live it fully, by wearing whatever the heart desires!! Why should someone die in the hope that one day they can wear slim-fit jeans? Why not buy and wear them today?

Another major deterrent is the fact that the husband find the wife fat or ugly.  He doesn’t want to go out with his wife anymore, because of her body shape or structure. His reasons “She wasn’t like this before the children were born”. It takes a lot of maturity on the part of the husband to understand the consequences of being pregnant with a child and going through the process of delivery. The hormones play havoc on the women, who go through these stages. Some put on weight on their thighs alone or back alone or it could lead to different health issues after a post-pregnancy depression. Without understanding all these, the husband just wants his wife to come out of a pregnancy and delivery stage, looking like those movie stars. Excuse me…man, you’re not fit to be a human at all!

While it takes a woman of very strong confidence to look down on those kind of people like the dust in her shoes, many women are still struggling to fight their own fear of “Am not good enough for my husband”!

The other day I saw a woman, shorter than me but wearing a long kurti with side and center slits and tight pants. From my point of view, it looked nice on her, as she was wearing what she liked. But I did hear a comment like that the dress doesn’t suit her because she is short of nature. It seems that short women are supposed to wear short kurtis so that they look tall. Really? Which world do you live in…people? Even if this is true, let that woman be the deciding authority on whether she wants to look tall or short.

Sari designs – “Oh…these are for the older women”
Spectacle frames – “M’am choose something your age…this is for the younger generation”
Heels – “Oh no! A big no no for older people”
Dupatta / shawl – “A must for women, especially the heavy bosom ones”
Anarkali type kameez – “A big no for fat women”
Crisp cottons – “Thin women look like sticks wearing sari”
Myths…myths…all made by our own society…

Is covering from head to toe, an apt dress??

Also, saris are the most desired attire for married women – Really? Women wearing other kind of dresses don’t remain married or what?

First, we bring up the girl child in our homes to hold on to all the fears of the previous generations. She cannot wear pants, she needs to wear pavadai davani after puberty, she needs to wear sari after marriage, no other dress code is allowed for her.  And it’s the societal prejudices that drive the women to dress in a particular fashion.

It takes a woman, an extreme dose of strength, inner guts, trusting her intuition, a don’t-care-about-others attitude and most of all, excessive loads of self-love to be herself and wear what she desires – clothes / bags / jewelry / bindi.

So, love thyself first woman!!
Wear what you want and be happy 🙂

Ratnadeep shopping and redeeming the coupons!

One day, my younger one called me with excitement in her voice. “Ma, a new professor came to class today and when she spoke, I was reminded of you and your story about buying those dinner plates using redeemable coupons”.  She went on to explain her professor’s story of how food coupons given in her husband’s company were collected and used to buy the snacks for the whole family. It’s not that the snacks were unaffordable to her. That small act of using the coupons to redeem and buy for the whole family gave her such immense joy.  And my daughter saw me in her; yes, I’ve been there and done that too.

A decade back, I was living in Hyderabad. Even though I used to visit supermarkets occasionally for some on-the-way shopping, I never really went to any supermarket for my monthly grocery shopping. I wasn’t against it or anything but I was way too fond of my local kirana shop, near my house. I just have to call him and give a list over the phone and tada…the things will be home delivered asap. The shop called Lucky Stores had a great sales strategy – the sales people were too friendly, very helpful and emergency orders were treated with utmost urgency. And most of all they understood my broken hindi and didn’t make it a joke of sorts 😉 A casual look at the shop may be deceptive but they had all the brands stocked inside their shop. I still remember how my younger one will proudly showcase her different variants of Lays chips to all her friends, which was not available in other shops – yes, Lucky Stores had very unique stuff too.

And then, we moved from that place. I missed Lucky Stores.

Then I started exploring the new place, went on long walks to know what shops are around, where to buy what, asked people around on shops they trusted and stuff like that. Then I discovered Ratnadeep Supermarket. It was like love at first sight. I loved the shop and I truly felt the shop loved me too 😉 The girls were in love with this shop for they had a whole section upstairs where they can browse through books, games and other stuff they like, while I can do my work.

My work at Ratnadeep comes from meticulous planning. Since I remembered the aisles in Ratnadeep like the palm of my hand, I wrote my grocery list, in accordance to the things arranged on the aisles and my movement from one aisle to another. It was a pre-planned routine. Certain things are bought month after month, like rice, pulses and other regular stuff for cooking. I used to linger more on the aisles for cosmetics and toiletries where I was spoiled for choice with the multitude of brands displayed.

The first floor had displays of stationery, books, games, CDs, crockery, cooking utensils and many more. And I always gazed at the beautiful crockery and used to make mental notes on what all I can buy that month, and what to buy the next month.

In all this planning, I used to hoard the gift coupons which Ratnadeep offered. I used to get a coupon for every 100/- I bought. I saved them so carefully and kept counting it after every month’s grocery shopping. Then I used to go to the crockery section and check on the favorite item of mine to see if the coupons I had was enough to redeem against the price of that crockery set. It’s not the fact of not being able to buy that set, it’s just that the feeling of satisfaction and happiness at redeeming the collected coupons was too overwhelming and made me glow with pride. And with those coupons, I had bought two sets of 6 dinner plates and I value that as my prized collection.

So, have you bought things by redeeming your coupons? How did you feel?

No flashy cards…

I was a hoarder for membership cards. I loved to flash those colorful cards around and get points accumulated to my account, not money…mind you 😀

And whenever I bought purse, it was always a huge one. More than looking at space for money, I always checked for the no of cards a purse can hold. And within a matter of seconds I filled up all the card holder space and will carry another separate card holder for all the left over cards. It was a difficult phase to decide which are the important ones to carry in the purse and which can be moved to the card holder.

I’ve this fetish for buying certain things in certain places, ONLY. Provisions are bought in one store of my liking. Even if they provided good vegetables and fruits, I’ll not deviate from the loyalty I had for the small time vegetable vendor in my apartment. Am like that 😉

Jeans are bought in one store, kurtis in another, inner garments in another place…in effect I was always going from one store to another to buy the various things and absolutely enjoyed the whole experience. And in all this going around, I was accumulating points of loyalty!

BOOOOOOOOOOM !

I was jerked into reality and practicality just a few years back, when I started working alongside my husband. Time was the constraint and I had to do all the shopping I needed in one place and at one time flat. I was crying for shopping time, spent alone, cruising the aisles, looking at new products, new brands and all that fun thing. But, that love was getting split and I started enjoying the time spent building the business and learning the nuances.

The bolt came when I tried to redeem all those cards which I had collected for years. While I imagined an amazing equivalent of money for all those cards, I was dumped down from my card-collecting-high-pedestal and made to understand that all those colorful flash cards were for nothing.  The money redeemed was just peanuts. Maybe all these were there when I signed those forms for membership, without even reading the fine print, but I felt disappointed.

I stopped going to different outlets and tried to buy things from one single shop, so that it’ll ease me from getting into those traffic chakravyuhams !

Now a days, I buy from the small time vendor, who brings produce from near his house or a nearby farm. One old lady brings drumsticks from her garden and sells it to me at my office. Another lady makes ghee at home and brings it for selling. Drumstick leaves are gifted by my staff.  There is joy in buying from these people. And they bring good products and you can check the authenticity of the products. The happiness they feel when I buy products from them is immense and equals my satisfaction levels.

There are no more flashy cards but only toothy grins as return 🙂

Window seat’s visual wonders !

Window seats are my fav – by car, bus, train, flight…you name it! Maybe I should remember to book a window seat when I travel to the Moon or Mars 😉

Clicked from the car, sitting in the last seat of  an Innova…

And this from the moving train, the TV Tower of Doordharshan in Chennai 😀

One from the window seat of a flight…am trying my best you see 😛

One from the moving bus too 🙂

And lastly one from the Rear view mirror 😀 😀

 

Day 24 – The “Shawl”story

Just don’t get it wrong – Chennai is not freezing – neither am I in the colder places – nor am I wearing a shawl.  People like me always refer to Shawl as this beautiful Kashmiri one which is used during chiller climates or as a beautiful accessory to a sari or dress.

And then there are others – who refer to the simple dupatta or a stole or a dirty towel as shawl – mind-boggling, I tell you !

Especially in this conservative land, where I live, the use of a shawl is a must, whether you wear a night wear (nightie), salwar kameez, jeans + tee shirt, jeans + shirt, jeans + kurti – anything apart from a sari, you need to wear a shawl to cover your boobs; of course, apart from the basic clothing.  Those people wearing nightie at home, just come down to drop their kids in the school bus in that nightie – Oh ! And covering themselves with a dirty towel which is perfectly defined as Shawl, in this land !

Girls are brought up conditioned by this rule – wear a shawl always ! Cover your chest, hair, face – anything you want.

Boys are conditioned too by this rule – any girl not wearing a shawl is bad – just bad.

I was shocked first, then saddened by the whole damn thing.

During my recent train travel, I met this sweet girl, who was travelling with me. She had come to Chennai for work and on the first day of her job, she wore a sleeveless kurti and jeans. Even if the company allowed the women to wear such dresses, all her co-workers were stunned and started criticizing her and her dress for she cannot wear sleeveless to work – the reason “Idhu Chennai ma” (This is Chennai). She had the shock of her life, as she is so used to wearing such clothes at her place – Bangalore.

But I made sure I’m not affected by this and neither are my girls.

Clothes do not define my personality. PERIOD.

I dislike wearing dupatta…OOPS…Shawl !  I may use it as an accessory whenever I like it but certainly not to define my personality !

There…its out of the system…and I’m relieved 😉