Friday, December 05, 2014


I glimpse a yearning in her eyes. A sense of unhurried grace to her step. I notice that ever so slight distance in her smile. Time to step back, I say to myself. She needs her space. I know she is fighting life and seeking her answers.

In her quest, I am comfortable at most times. But there are those brief moments when I know I have crossed a barrier and just then I lose her. To her little fortressed world, so ferociously guarded that I am at a loss. I know by gently excluding me, all she wishes for is to protect me from the dark space that speaks of her vulnerable self. She dislikes feeling fragile even with me.

These days she lives in a space far removed from the world she has always known. It is a world of white walls and sanitized rooms, of innumerable therapies whose names perplex us, of efficient and clinical oncologists and health care staff. A world where losing her hair has made her see how beautiful she is even without it. A world where she knows she does not have the gift of time.

Her eyes however continue to radiate hope, her face, a glow and there is an inner spark which I hope never dims.

She seeks guidance and reads books that speak to her about acceptance and mindfulness. She seeks a quickening in her spirit, to regain a sense of balance to living (it seems so far away now). She seeks the crisp air and the beauty of changing leaves. She seeks the familiar loop of the known where everything is just the way it was. She seeks laughter and music. Along with solitude and answers too.

I know all of this not because she tells me. My understanding of her is so deep that I know what she seeks. I know she is tired of being tired. I know she doesn’t want pain to be part of her passing. I know she hates to leave people but when her chapter ends she will go with the flow with sheer grace and courage.

And then she asks with a childlike curiosity laced with her unique wisdom, “Am I going to actually find what I want in this unfamiliar place with its lingering smell of fear? Is it here that I will unlock the mysteries of birth and death and everything in between”?

And I,

I tell her what comes to my mind,” Slay these demons of yours and make them your friend”. The oddest reply to a profound question perhaps but then how else does one answer this question?

I don’t wish to lose her and even when I do, until then I wish she treasures the life she leads and makes the most of it. This is what I seek for her. For her to embrace 
uncertainty and bravely slay her inner demons. For her to find the answers she seeks.

I sit by her side holding her hand silently just being with her grace and innocence.

 (A piece of fiction written for The Great Shakes writers group for a theme on Quest)


Home is where my heart is. And where family is. I believe it to be true. I also believe we can transform a house into a home wherever we may be. But what happens when we leave one home for another, leaving traces of ourselves behind? Does our energy linger on in those occupied spaces, like fragments scattered here and there?

Every home I have lived in is etched in my memory –there comes a sudden thought, a wisp of a remembrance, a twinge of nostalgia and then I need to pull myself back to reality. Each of my homes has allowed me to grow into the person I am today, allowed me a glimpse of the person I am within. Homes that came with the pain and pangs of adolescence and homes that helped me cope with life altering experiences through their sheer routine and rhythm.

Homes like the spacious sea-breeze blown bungalow I grew up in with its vast garden of trees, where I first learnt to cycle and was bitten by a gypsy moth caterpillar that infested our drumstick tree. Home then meant only one thing to me-“mom”. Her presence at home was something I took for granted, a soothing balm, her warmth, her sari pallu with its distinctive fragrance of the days cooking, the aroma of her hand-pound spices and chutneys lingers on. Her special Sunday lunches where I was allowed to taste what was cooking which mom called,”chakhna” (to taste) much before lunch time. Home to me spelt safety and security. It meant love that encompassed what I felt for all of my 13 cats and 1 dog. A home that allowed me the time and space to walk barefoot on the dew-soaked grass, to simply sit under a tree, to enjoy being hosed down along with the garden on those hot summer days. Of Friday pujas and fasts observed by my father, of sacred hymns chanted by him while he did the evening “aarti”.

Now when I look back, homes do come with associations.

Homes like our cozy tiny 750 sq. foot apartment on the 15th storey, where I moved in soon after I married and woke up to the sound of a mill siren each morning at 6 am. This home came with a sense of newness that pervaded my life - a new city, a new life and job and new beginnings. My small terrace garden housed pigeons instead of plants and the bay windows allowed me to simply sit and soak in the vast expanse of sky. A home where I made brand new friends, of daily evening walks, of pot lucks and sharing during festivals, of gaining wisdom from older mothers on my new mommy hood status. I remember being just so content with who I was and what I was doing. These friends have remained with me till today, be it through their well meaning advice that resounds in my inner world often or through social media. 
Time doesn’t seem to alter memories.

Since then I have lived in various homes - some serene, green and large, some overlooking the sea in its entirety (what a magnificent sight it can be during the monsoons). Homes so abundant in nature that it filled me with sheer joy and curiosity –the old sandalwood and jamun trees along with the mango and guava. Perhaps this home soothed my nerves in more ways than one. This was the home where I rescued a baby bulbul and nurtured back to life till she flew away. It soon became a home to wounded pigeons and even an eagle. 

And a home that allowed me the freedom to create my own vegetable and fruit garden and experience the joys of growing and consuming my own food. A home where we finally got our own pet kittens and for me after 18 years of not having had a pet it felt like a homecoming all over again.

Now I live in a home neither too big, nor too small- a home I call my own. It reflects me. The good and the not- so- good of me. There is the same hint of chaos in it as it is in me interspersed with a touch of calm. A space, my very own where I can simply sit, not do a thing and feel energized.

Home to me has always been the aroma of cooking, of the whirring of the exhaust, the hum of the washing machine, of the fragrance of the honey bush (kamini) wafting in and the sandalwood incense. The ghee stoked wick in my prayer room lamp as it dies down; its fragrance leaves me longing for more.

 How can I forget the innumerable dinner table conversations where everyone wants a word in till we invented our “talking spoon” (whoever wishes to speak /interrupt holds up their spoon)? The dining table becomes a centre point for everything-for homework and assignments for making to-do lists and for discussions. This is one tradition that has continued through all the years .Tables have changed with every home  but whatever be its size or shape it has taken the brunt of arguments and cold wars, of food stains and everything that dining tables stand testimony to.

The Friday puja/fast and hymn continues even today as my father now stays with me. Every time he recites the prayer I am taken back to my childhood home and the smell of camphor becomes a part of me.

How does one encapsulate what homes can mean? So intensely personal, individualistic yet each home is a step in the journey of bonding, of love and of memories. And I notice now as I grow older the bonding and love has gently and silently deepened. Without my knowledge.

Saturday, July 06, 2013


The thing about loneliness is that it catches you unawares.

I am beginning to feel it, in its essence and to be with it whenever it decides to visit.

When a child flies the nest, it is supposed to be a natural event that’s bound to occur at some point in time in ones life. However much I may know this to be true, I was unprepared when it actually happened.

The sheer sense of loss, of missing a quiet presence, the feeling of being overwhelmed emotionally that tears flow at the drop of a hat…I sum it up as an ‘Empty home-Heavy heart’ syndrome. I am told ‘give yourself time’, ‘distract yourself’; ‘it isn’t the end of the world’. Some friends look at me benignly; some don’t know what the fuss is all about.
But then I know, it’s not about what about others think. This is about me. The same measuring bar cannot apply to all mothers and daughters. I know that my daughter and I shared a unique relationship that words would do no justice to.

I wear something new and there is no one to ask, ‘How do I look’? I don’t get to hear, ‘Mamma, that’s not you, don’t wear this!” or “Mamma, I am hungry”…I miss all of that and more. I miss her gentle presence in our home. I miss the loud music blaring through the hallway disturbing my TV show. I miss the wet smelly towels she would leave lying around for me to pick up. I miss her attempts at making me relax and unwind. I miss our sharing on books, music, people and general observations that only she and I could do together. I miss our silences as well.

Her clean unoccupied bed lures me to mess it up. Her spotless bathroom dry, devoid of her books and odd lingerie makes me sadder than it should. Her cupboard, so neat and tidy now, the towels (blue and white) arranged awaiting her arrival some day soon...Her room is off bounds for me right now. I fear to step into it because I might just dissolve into tears and feel that ‘loneliness’ visit me again.

There are distractions, there is work to be done, and there is a life to live. I know that. But somehow I am lost in this ‘transition’ phase. I feel shaky yet stable. I feel the loneliness yet I feel blessed. I don’t want to be busy and distracted in the false hope that I will be okay. I want to allow myself to feel every bit of what I am feeling-the loss, the loneliness, the sadness, the moments –precious ones I have spent with Ananya as she grew up and see for myself how these 18 years have passed. And how in these 18 years I have changed as much as she has! This new stepping out of comfort zone is as much a challenging phase for her as it is for me and for us as a family.

There is an upside to this. I get more hugs from A, more ‘I love you Mamma’s’ from Diti. Syrah my cat never leaves my side as if sensing I need company. I am using Skype finally and can see and hear Ananya. I am making the effort to write and blog. I am also giving myself time to adjust to a home without her. I am learning to detach!

What gives me a kick is seeing her quiet confidence, her adaptability and flexibility and her courage in handling anything outside of her comfort zone.

There are going to be wistful moments, tear soaked meat curries (her favorite), silences, and moments of exasperation and imaginary conversations….

And in the last 2 weeks, I have begun to glimpse what lies ahead. It’s the norm. Letting go, however clich├ęd the term may sound is an integral part of ones life. Hold back and you are stuck. Let go and you are free. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can I ?

Can I walk through your streets again?
Wet cobble stoned
rain drenched
hair windblown
cheeks numb….

Can I sit in your charming cafe again?
Watching the world go by,
a warm fruit crumble
a sip of hot chocolate
That warms me in a way
nothing else can….

Can I have a glimpse of your grace again?
Of stylish booted feet,
striding in staccato rhythm
to an invisible beat…

Travelling to new places, observing people, listening to conversations, taking in the tiny details, being open to the newness of it all……..there is an undeniable charm to change.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Transition into our new home

The view from where I am writing now

my precious hibiscus

 I can actually see the hills and open fields from my bedroom window 

Another garden view

                                         our living room

We moved into our new home on December 25th and of all the 6 shifts I have had so far this has been the most overwhelming one.Getting out of comfort zones isn't easy . Though we moved to another part of the same city,to me it feels like I am in a brand new city which is going to offer me brand new experiences.
I love the peace and serenity that my new home has to offer.......
and am still settling down

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Letting go

The phrase ‘Letting go’ keeps cropping up in my life and in my activities almost everyday.

I have used it with my swimming instructor when he has tried patiently to teach me to swim (I have tried to learn a zillion times and failed each one) and I just can’t seem to ‘let go’. I can’t let go of the sides of the pool. I can’t imagine myself free in the water even on a float. I have the overwhelming need to simply hold onto something amidst that vast expanse of water. The more I delve into the why’s and how’s the more is I realize how futile it is to explain it to him. He knows like I do that it is all in the mind and unless I tackle that block, there is going to be no swimming for me. So I gave up trying to learn. Instead of tackling this ‘letting go’ feeling!
It came up again during my yoga classes while I was doing ‘shavasana’.I have been regular with yoga and pranayams now for some years with a wonderful teacher who is simple and dedicated. Most of all he understands what I mean by “letting go’. I delight in the fact that I am able to come out of my yoga sessions with deep stillness in me and also able to carry it through the day(most days atleast).While doing “shavasana” which is very often guided by him, I find myself reaching a stage where I don’t feel my breath. I am cold with no sensation in arms and legs and no breath. I don’t know what seems most frightening at that specific moment. A big part of me is simply letting go of everything of the outside world and my body. But I resist. My mind that was deeply relaxed is now filling up with stray thoughts of ‘Where has my breath gone? My body-has it melted into nothing? And then I twitch my legs gently to reassure myself that am still with a body and breath…

What I never understood until later is that if I simply allowed myself to be okay with all those sensations, I would move into a higher state of awareness of self. But then ‘Letting go’, you see prevails.

That one crucial moment when I am about to let go, fear creeps in.

I shared it with my yoga teacher who heard me out. He understood without me having to elaborate and told me when fear creeps in to become aware of my breath and to go back to the deep state in which I was in. It actually seems a possibility to me and a barrier that I am going to overcome.

Friday, December 24, 2010


It has been a hectic December for me.
I still find it hard to believe that I returned from a vacation just a month ago. It feels like its been years since I have had one...

I have enjoyed the last month of this year thoroughly. For a couple like us who don’t have much of a social life (in fact we are each others best friends), the last month has been an incredibly hectic social month. I don’t think it’s because of the Xmas season and holidays because then it should have been this way last year as well.

I had my mother in law visiting us after a year. I soon realized how easy it is to get used to having someone around at home. I am used to an ‘alone’ existence most of the day once the girls are at school. But now I had someone to breakfast and lunch with. I delved into different recipes of grilled fish/chicken and assorted puddings and my kitchen acquired different aromas over the last month…challenging yes but very interesting in its own way.

Ruchi my friend from Green valley where I live and who now lives in Germany was here on a fleeting visit.Atleast I got to meet her and spend half an hour with her and more with her daughter Prisha.

I had a sudden surprise visit from a very dear friend from overseas Vaishnav.He gifted us a Woodstock windchime that has added magic to our home...

Around this time we decided to host the Connect ticket meet –the 1st ever in Pune.We have hosted prayer meets when we lived in Bombay earlier and I had no worry about planning and hosting it. Once the meet details were posted, I met 2 members of our group from Pune who came over home and spent time with me asking me about the forthcoming meet and what it involved and how they could help. The meeting finally took place on the 19th December Sunday with a whopping 58 people attending and all of us praying for one another. Meeting the old CT members evoked nostalgia in me. Each of them has seen Anandita as an infant with her C-arch and in a severely spastic state. Very few could believe that she was the same child each of them had prayed for.

Meeting the new members meant new young energy and I felt like one of the old ‘been there done that’ members. Overall so much fun and energy that it’s incredibly hard to express it in words. I even blogged about the meet but fell short of words

Meeting Gauri after 8 months was like meeting a family member. She blends in so smoothly with my home and family that hers is like a gentle presence that I miss desperately once she has gone. Her mother, her calmness and love for my garden made me feel like reaching out to her constantly.

Judika from South Africa has been my friend since 4 years. Our children who have cerebral palsy in common brought us together through the Internet. We both tried our hardest to figure out how we had connected in the 1st place but didn’t manage to remember. I met her for the 1st time when she came down with her husband Naresh and her twin sons Shivaar and Shikaar.I am just glad I could finally meet her.

And then my Neha…My 1st friend in Padma Vilas enclave, Pune the 1st person I went out for a girls evening out leaving kids and husband behind with no qualms and guilt. Now that she visits India just once a year, makes even those 1-2 days when we meet worth the while and moments to be cherished. Some connections amaze me .Nothing to do with how we gelled and how much we had in common. just the fact that easy conversations with her were so much a part of my day and life that I do wish she still lived in Pune.One of the few friends I miss a lot and one of the few who when I meet, there are no gaps at all. We just catch up from where we left off

It’s now the last week of this decade and I don’t remember when I have had a single free moment to myself...this last monthNo gym no walks and suddenly I find I don’t know what to do with my free time.
But I would never trade these precious interactions that I have had for anything else in the world..

Connect Ticket meet

I have woken up today to a ‘feel good’ day. Not that I usually don’t but today seems different. My home seems different; the space I occupy, the feel and the sense of it all simply seems different.

Yesterday we hosted the 1st Connect Ticket meet in Pune at our home where for the 1st time we had around 58 people attending. And my home accommodated it all without much fuss. So much of goodwill and love generated that I could feel it from each one who attended-, the warm hugs, the big smiles, the appreciation and kind words Or simply put its also due to the fact that when one does something of this level, it automatically generates energy in one self.

All of us who gathered yesterday had a different purpose to being there. But one thing that we had in common was good intentions, an open mind and a prayer in our heart. And all of this collectively created an energy in my home and in me which has left me feeling content. and grateful.

Ever since I knew we would be hosting the meet for the 1st time in Pune, I knew space would not be an issue. Organizing the food I knew would be taken care of my generous large hearted Amit who would ensure the best.

I also knew instantly then 3 weeks ago when the meet date was fixed that my home would receive the blessings it needs. And we need it like anyone else does.

The afternoon began with the group of 18 members arriving by bus from Bombay to Pune...Ananya had made a lovely poster welcoming them and we had stuck it on the front door. Hugs exchanged, introductions done,lunch was served. We had catered from Shreyas-simple Maharashtrian vegetarian fare. Many new members began coming in and Pune members too as the session would begin at 2 pm.

There was the Om chanting after which the new members introduced themselves. Many of them had prayers for their close family members. The meetings are often hard to describe for me. We all meet with the intention to heal and interact and meet people who are like minded. Many share without fear of being judged. Many don’t because they fear being judged. Every one has the freedom to speak and share or not share. There is a creative visualization exercise and a meditation session as well. We also write down our prayers on intention slips and place it in the centre of the room and then all join hands and pray for everyone. Somehow the above lines don’t kind of sum up a CT meeting. The one thing I cannot include in the blog post is the ‘Energy’ one feels and senses amongst all of us, the home, and the words we speak...

Amit and I (and Ananya) have seen prayers work for Anandita when we faced the toughest challenge as her parents in 2001-2002 when we had to make a decision to keep her alive or take her off the respirator.

We have seen prayers work for us in coping with raising a child with special needs through all her rehabilitation procedures.

We have also witnessed how watching and changing the way we think has created abundance in our lives. And we have also been blessed at all times being guided to the right people at the right time—be it doctors, friends, support staff...

I became a member of the group out of desperation and helplessness when Ananditas condition was diagnosed. I wrote an email to Sridhar the person behind this group and its concept. Nothing to lose by asking for prayers was my thought then. Now so many years later I have truly understood the power of praying for someone I don’t know. There is objectivity and a sense of detachment in me that probably enhances the energy of the prayer I send out to the Universe.

(The meeting was held on 19th December at our home in Pune)


Monday, October 25, 2010

On Hearing and Phonak

On Saturday I finally managed to visit my audiologist after 3 long months and many cancelled appointments. I have recently shifted to using a Phonak hearing aid (Exelia art) since April this year. It was a major shift for me as I have been using Siemens for the last 12 years. Perhaps a disillusionment in my hearing quality, perhaps faith in my Pune audiologist and the fact that he was willing to give me a trial of an expensive hearing aid so that I could understand its nuances made me go in for the Phonak eventually..

Saturday was a new experience for me. I began using the Click n Talk wireless transmitter which turns my hearing aid into a wireless headset when I need to use the phone. My hearing aid uses the Phonak HiBAN (Hearing Instrument Body area network) and the click talk mechanism streams in telephone calls into both my hearing instruments simultaneously. The quality is digital and crystal clear. It does shut off outside sounds while I talk, so sometimes that can be a disadvantage. (When am on the phone, I may not hear my door bell).But the joys of having clear phone conversations is something I am beginning to cherish and delight in.

The click talk transmitter is part of my hearing aid and comes in as a valuable accessory. However it is not compatible with a Nokia hand set. It has to be used with only with Sony Ericsson mobiles.

So that meant in order to use it, I had to purchase a Sony Ericsson mobile.Amit and I soon realized that there were very few Sony Ericsson mobile outlets in Pune and sourced two of them. One outlet in Viman Nagar was hell bent on selling me the upper end mobile phones of touch screen. It put me off totally. I am such a non tech person that it takes convincing to tell the man, all I need a mobile is for talking, messaging and also a good organizer. For me it’s a necessity not a designer accessory. Anyway that outlet was not an option for me. Customer service and good quality at that works for me brilliantly. Not otherwise.

So Tilak road it was. After 2 hours at the audiologist, we headed for the outlet and finally managed to find the small little store.

We spelt out our needs. While the proprietor-a well heeled, intelligent person was really clued on to the type of mobiles, he had never handled a click talk and pairing it to the new phone and the processes involved. Initially he was perplexed by me and asked me where my hearing aids were. I told him I am wearing them and that the audiologist had already paired my hearing aid with the Phonak click talk. He looked at me in wonder and genuine curiosity waiting for me to speak more. He was keen to know how the devices had been paired and where. His questions were many but it delighted me when he told me that this was the first time he had handled a hearing impaired customer and figured out the click talk transmitter pairing...

I sensed his curiosity about my challenge .To many who meet me for the first time the challenge seems invisible because I am carrying on conversations like a normal person does. There are times I forget myself that am impaired. I was reminded of my challenge yet again at the audiologist where in the course of conversation the topic of television came up and he asked me how I was hearing the TV.Immedietly I blurted out that I watched the programmers with subtitles and not otherwise. He ofcourse sent me away with a warning that I did not want to make the effort to hear and how would I handle it 10 years hence when the hearing got worse. I ofcourse had to tell him, how much worse can it get when it’s already beyond 100 decibels. He is an encouraging audiologist while am the stubborn customer who tries to have an answer to anything he has to say….

The truth of his words still ring with me. I am at times just too lazy to make the effort to hear. I would rather understand the subtle humour of “Whose Line is it anyway’? through sub titles than having to struggle to hear what those brilliant actors are saying...