Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Fathers' Day

"A father
is a banker
provided by nature."

The one liner may be funny,
but its not
in jest.

A father is the one who,
when you are packing for a trip
and the mother is busy packing things to eat
secretly tucks
some extra money
in your backpack
for you to find later.

When you ask a father
what he wants
for a birthday, anniversary, or Father's Day
the answer is usually "Nothing."

When people think of
unconditional love
they think of mother
and miss out
on fathers
smiling gently
as the family
narrates a picnic
or a day of vacation
well spent
while they toiled
at their work place.

To fathers
who invest
their time, involvement and love
in nurturing a child.
While also working
to provide..

Happy Fathers' Day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

10 day itinerary in Switzerland for Indians

1. You do not need 10 days in Switzerland if you are from India. If you want to see Jungfrau and Titlis, go to Eastern Himachal. If you want to see the rest of Swiss, to go Western Himachal or southern reaches of JnK.

2. Book EVERYTHING directly. Not through a travel agent. This includes insurance, ticket, visa and stay. The Swiss Airlines website offers insurance. Just take that. Everything else is a breeze. The VFS website for visa was more helpful than our stupid agent.

3. The place is one painting after another. There is good architecture and everything is overpriced.

4. Don't stay in a hotel. Use AirBnb and book an apartment. Europe has no concept of service. Better to at least get a good space for yourself.

5. Do not stay at the following places:

6. Buy a first class Swiss pass. It is better than the DB pass for Germany in that it covers all forms of travel within Swiss and gives you flexibility.

7. Do NOT buy cuckoo clocks or anything else. Everything from the same brands is available in India much cheaper.

Will share the itinerary etc. soon. But basically, we are bored to death on the 7th day.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

How to lose your advantage

In a country of 22 recognised languages and 2400 dialects, 90% of our reading is in English. Most of us cannot even read in an Indian language fluently.

Its not tragic for the languages. Its tragic for us. Our entire thought process is limited to what one language can offer. Its like being born in a university, and choosing to spend your life in a pre school.

Today's Gratitude

2 awesome things happened today..

1. I opened the balcony and heard the unmistakable sound of a.. lizard. Needless to add, there was a frantic Where-is-it search. After a while, I realised, the sound was coming, not from the vicinity, but from the green patch in front of the balcony. And its not a lizard.. its the sound of crickets in the forest. I have not stopped smiling since!

2. My son was trying to go play, and was wondering when his friends will reach the park. Suddenly, the doorbell rings, and I hear the loudest "Where are you, my friend? I am here!" - The entire gang was here!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The flora of Sikkim

Sikkim is a botanist's dream come true.
I am not a botanist, but the sheer variety or plants and leaves leaves one speechless.

So this trip, I tried to find out more about the local flora of Sikkim. To my utter dismay, while there were articles on the internet, not one of them referred to the local names of the plants. They had weird Latin names and some description. But the thing is, the people who live in these places have had a long standing relationship with these plants. They have names, and uses and truly a deep connect. Why is that knowledge not being captured anywhere?

So this is a different sort of feature on Sikkim flora. The next day, I took my driver with us as a guide, and requested him to tell me anything he could about the plants we found on our way. The Sikkim zoo is amazing for plant varieties, so that's where this is from.

The names are mostly Nepali, though some day I would love to go back and do the same thing with a Lepcha guide too.

Brush. About 1.5 meters in height. Red flowers in Feb-March.

Flowering shrub

सिंघानी - goat fodder

लांकूर - Timber. The leaves are dark, and roughly the size of mango leaves.

Cow fodder only.

This one is simply called red flower. Flowering shrub

सातो कावला - Tall, sturdy stem used for timber

पतले कातूस - used for timber

लाल चन्दन - USED FOR TIMBER

Jungle Patti. Used as cow fodder.

चुलात्रो  - only used for cow fodder

सांप का मकई - No particular use, and not a plant the locals are very fond of.

सांप की मकई leaves. The leaves have a gentle magenta outline and veins.

धूपी  - All conifer leaves are burnt in the gompa/ stupa for incense. And the smell is truly heavenly. Since they are used for Dhoop, hence the name Dhoopi.

तुसारे is a flowering shrub. No other use.

लालू पत्ती - flowering shrub

शिष्नु - edible leafy vegetable

Punjabi Bhuna masala

My mother was right. If you cook the masala gently over a low flame, it will reward you with amazing color and texture. 

Many years ago:

 Me: But how will i know when the masala is ready? 


She: When it is ready, it will automatically stop sticking to everything. It will let go of the pan that held it and the ladle that drove it.

Applies also, i think, to people. When we are ready, we spontaneously let go.

The Punjabi bhuna masala - the way it is made at home. No artificial color added.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A dream...

One of my bucket list dreams is to create the next Ceaser or Capitalism Labs out of India. Does anyone else share the same dream?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Personal Credo

Why I never have an answer to those " 5 year plan" type questions? I live by this:
Today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.

That's all.

On Mother's Day..

I honestly did try to look for a Mother's Day pic with my mom, Ishaan's paternal grandmother, my bhabi, and the other awesome moms i know.. then realised.. there are so few, because the mothers are the ones taking the pictures!
The mother is not in the picture, because she is the one creating it.
Happy Mother's Day, dear moms of my life.

Monday, May 08, 2017


So, the last few months have been a spate of health issues. So weird and sudden that i told my mother to get a pooja done. First, there was the ankle that led to bed rest. Then, the dry eyes and eye inflammation that made it impossible to see the screen and do computer based work for more than 2 hours a day. Then, the right shoulder just lost mobility one night, leaving it possible to do only small things.
But here's what that did.. it eliminated all distractions. It taught the importance of walking, cooking, raising a hand to paint or work on the keyboard.

And here is how I changed as a person:
  • I smile more.
  • I used to be grateful for my legs every morning, but never more than in the last 5 months. I REALLY know what a blessing it is to be able to see, walk and use your hands. There is nothing more precious than this.
  • I smile at children and strangers a lot more.
  • I used to wave at children from a bus or train. Now I really see the beauty of that action.
  • I've started to see my life from that moment of death, and from there, there is only this thing that we need to do more of - love, hug and laugh. Meet friends. Spend more time with the family and accept them as lovely, special human beings that we have chosen to spend our lives with.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Bernd Hoesslin Pilot

On April 9, 2017, Bernd Hoesslin was a pilot with an Indian airline - Jet Airways. Jet is one of the only 2 surviving full service airlines in India.

This amazing pilot said the following: "You bloody Indian get out of my flight." It was a racist comment. He was de rostered after this.

The reason I am writing this post is that if you are doing a reference check on him, you should know this. Apparently, he also physically assaulted a woman and a physically challenged passenger.

It doesn't impact me personally because I have not flown Jet Airways for many years. But if you want to hire pilots like this, please leave a note here so we know that we should avoid that airline. Yes, we are customers like that. We don't speak. We vote with our dollars (oops, rupees).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Natural History marvel

Humans are the only species in natural history that will procreate themselves to extinction.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Shri Ram Center's play: Appointment with Death (Agatha Christie) (Hindi) - A Review

I wanted to introduce my son (9 years old), to Agatha Christie for a while now. And then I heard of this play. It was a Shri Ram Center play, so I was reasonably confident of the production quality. The show time of 11 am meant that the child could enjoy the play without sacrificing his own play time.

That decision turned out to be so spot on. The Shri Ram center auditorium is anyway enviable. The production quality was superb and the play itself was very well dramatized. The best part was, that the play was in Hindi, so my mother could enjoy it too!

The long prelude to the death could have been shortened, but overall, it was a fantastic experience, and I truly hope that more people will find time to enjoy this awesome play. Good plays are scarce and scarcer.

Book Review: Predictably Irrational

Have you heard of Behavioral Economics? If, like me, you thought that Econometrics, Behavioral economics and other things that start with "eco" are masters courses in some part of the world that we do not want to explore, you must rethink. 

This is beahvioral economics explained in the easiest, most fun way. I have used some of the totkas given in this book and they are fool proof!

Here is the simple, short review of this book:
1. I will give it to my child to read before he is 12. There are less than 10 books on that list.
2. In my library, it is in the section that never gets lent to anyone.

In short, its a must read.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Software Reboot and types of longing

We upgraded our software
The world and I
After rebooting
we realised
that we are now
with each other.


Given the shrinking tolerance I have for the world, when they do it, it will seriously be "mercy" killing for me. :-p

There is the good kind of longing
and the bad kind of longing.
The good kind of longing
has a name, and a face
and therefore, it has a hope
or lack thereof.
Either way
it is certain.

And then there is
the bad kind of longing
which has no words
no face to reflect itself
no name
in short,
but the longing itself.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Ainve hi...

चाँद और आदमी में , एक बात तो सामान है. अगर बढ़ता नहीं, तो घटता है.

Man and the moon, have one thing in common. If they are not growing, they are shrinking.

गुरुद्वारा / Gurudwara

जब मैं गुरुद्वारे के अंदर नहीं जाती,
तो गुरुद्वारा
मेरे अंदर आ कर
बैठ जाता है

कभी सुखमनी की अष्टपदी बन कर
कभी पंज पौड़ियों दा पाठ
कभी चौपाई साहिब की धुन में
घुस ही जाता है
किसी न किसी तरह से
मेरे अंदर.

आ बैठती है
बचपन की बीड़
"गगन में थाल रवि चाँद दीपक बने तारक मंडल जनक मोती "
की ऐसी धुन की सूरत
जो अब
सिर्फ मेरे मन में सुनाई पड़ती है। 

रूठा हुआ पीहर
ऐसे ही मनाता हो शायद
या शायद
किस्मत ही मेरी अच्छी है.

For you, kj,  the translation:

When I don't go to the temple
the temple comes
to me.

Sometimes, it is a favourite prayer
suddenly in the head.
The melody of a favourite hymn
One way or another
it makes its way
inside me.

The chapel of my childhood
makes itself right at home
through the tune of a hymn
not heard anywhere else since.

Perhaps this is how
they reach out to daughters who are married
away from their homes
Or maybe, just maybe
I am exceptionally lucky.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Just like that...

I want to record this.. I don't know why.

Today, I lost my watch. I looked all over. Finally, at night, when I had given up, it was there...on the nightstand. Exactly where it always was. It wasn't there 2 hours ago.. promise.. I saw ... searched it very thoroughly and it wasn't there.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

when i miss dad....

I haven't been to a Gurudwara in ages.. for some strange reason, I am mad at God. I don't know why. I don't want to go to the one place that gives me peace.

So when I miss dad, I listen to these 2 shabads:


And someday, I hope to get to a Gurudwara... Some Day....

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Katranein/कतरनें - Amrita and Sahir

Most posts in the Katranein/कतरनें  series come from a story, novel, movie or another reference. Usually I leave the reference out because the katran is complete in itself.

But this Katran will need reference. This is an imaginary conversation between Amrita Pritam and Sahir Ludhanvi, right after Nagamani is released.

A brief on the story - Amrita and Sahir loved each other, but Sahir thought he wasn't good enough for her, so he always denied that he loved her. Please read more on this if you'd like. You will also need to know Nagamani, if you haven't already read it.

वह : तुम कितनी  अलग अलग चीज़ें लिखती हो. पर सब, है तो मेरे ही लिए न?

यह: नहीं तो! सब कहाँ तुम्हारे बारे में है? तुम दिन भर में इतनी सिगरेट फूंकते हो. सब मेरे नाम की हैं क्या? सब कुछ, तुम्हारे नाम का नहीं है. 

वह: झूठी!

यह: थोड़े से झूठ का हक़ तो, मुझे भी है. नहीं?

Monday, February 06, 2017

कतरनें / Kataranein

She: Why should you matter to me, and why would I matter to you?

He: Because we do. बस. 

Monday, January 30, 2017



Latin is much better, see? 

When people do things they love..

When someone is doing what they love doing best, all the veils on their heart fall away. All the layers of paint worn to be who they should appear to be, are washed out.

To see someone doing what they truly love doing, is like seeing their soul naked.

Things to do in Shimla #1- The Himachal State Museum

Getting there:
In front of the Oberoi Cecil hotel, is one road that goes to the Viceregal Lodge. The other, smaller road that goes up to the Doordarshan Kendra, is the one you need to take. There are no signboards. Go right up to the end of that road. You will reach the Himachal Pradesh State Museum.
Tell the driver that the car goes right up and there is enough parking there.
Once inside, feel free to lose yourself entirely and completely.

Things to do:
If you have young children, they will enjoy the Indian Army section a lot. I went to see rare examples of the Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art, and was suitably rewarded.

There is a real palki of the goddess for the famous Kullu Ka Dashahra, and there is a model of the Himachali temple - whose architectural style varies considerably from temples elsewhere in the country. There is a room dedicated to local murals and the Chamba Rumaal - beautiful embroidery that looks the same on both sides.

There is a section with the traditional dresses of all regions of Himachal. It was pure delight!
The biggest surprise was the sculpture from the Himachal school. I had no idea! It was a total learning experience.

There is also a coins gallery. Though not as good as the Coins gallery at the National Museum, Delhi, it is, nonetheless, a great resource for children who have never been exposed to the coin heritage of India. If you are accompanying a child, please do take the time to read, and then explain to the child.
One of the things that I cannot get out of my head - is a coin of a bull with inscription in Kharoshthi. The bull is shaped exactly like the bulls found on the Indus Valley seals, but the inscription is in Kharoshthi.

If you are an IVC fan (and I am), that coin is remarkable. It provides, to my knowledge, the only evidence of continuity from the IVC to the later Indic civilisations.

The other things of note are the miniature paintings and murals depicting women. In these late 18th century paintings, women can be seen writing, reading, playing with a top, smoking a hookah, and drinking wine. These are all solo portraits (meaning no need for a male subject in the picture). This was the India of over a 100 years ago. I think we need to pay attention to these pictures and understand what we are missing in our "modern" world.

In short, this museum is your window to the heritage that is Himachal. The clothes, the crafts (there are wooden masks too), the instruments, the jewelry, miniature art and the manuscripts, the coins and the sculptures, the embroidery and the murals. This is a treasure trove, if you have the time to invest.

The staircase that greets you as soon as you enter the building. Amazing!

Traditional Himachali jewelry. What are these pieces used for?

Lady playing with a  traditional Indian toy - lattu

Lady drinking wine - Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art

Lady writing letter - Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

Hookah Time. Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

A Gurudwara from 2 centuries ago. Guler, Pahadi School of Miniature Art

Model of the Shiva temple - Notice that large reception area and the Kalasham that is unlike anywhere else. Also notice the almost 100% wood construction.

The famous Chamba Rumaal

Traditional Himachali instruments

Vishnu - Himachal Sculpture style

Surya - HImachal Sculpture Style

Details about the Himachal Sculpture

This cute British era letter box in front of the museum

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Because i am Sherlock and must break everything down to logical bits and definitions..

He: Do you miss me?

She: I don't miss you. I remember you. The frequency at which we meet, is called "memories". Memories are not missed. They are remembered. Habits, are missed. When we remember, we think of you fondly, but we don't want you to be around. Its nice, and its in the past. When we miss, we want you around. Right Then. As if it would somehow make us more alive.

People don't realise that the only variable that moves the pointer from "remembering" to "missing" is the frequency at which our subconscious minds expect an association. In short, "Being There."

So there, now you know, why I don't miss you. I can't.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review - Bheeshm Sahni - Sankalit Kahaniyaan

Bheeshma Sahni - Sankalit Kahaniyaan

आजकल, किताब पढ़ना यूँ भी आसान होता है, क्योंकि ज़्यादातर किताबें घड़े पर पानी सी होती हैं।  पर कुछ किताबें, चिपक सी जाती हैं. चाह कर भी उन से हाथ या आँखें हटाई नहीं जा सकती. ऐसी पुस्तकों के बारे में लिखने का मन करता है.  

किताब के पीछे लिखा है - "इस में कहानी की यात्रा में ही हम रस लेते हैं" ये ऐसी ही किताब है - एक एक शब्द में रस लेने वाली. हर कहानी अपने आप में एक अलग , नया संसार है. इस में जितना हुनर लेखक का है, उतना ही कौशल संकलनकर्ता का भी है. 

ये अलग वक़्तों की कहानियां भी हैं, और आज की भी. कहानी का अपना रस - जैसे "डायन" में मिलता है, वैसा शायद किसी और में नहीं. एक रोमांटिक कहानी... बस, पढ़ी जा सकती है, रुक्मणी की कल्पना की जा सकती है. उसके बारे में बताया नहीं जा सकता. कुछ कहानियों का बस, अनुभव ही अनिवार्य है. 

"साग मीट" एक और कहानी है, जिस में कितनी और कहानियां छिपी मिलती हैं. हंसी भी आती है, रोष भी होता है, दुःख भी. 

जो लोग अभी उम्र में छोटे हैं, उन्हें ४ साल तक स्कूटर खरीदन का इंतज़ार, या दंगों में बिछड़े बच्चों की खोज के किस्से, जाने पहचाने नहीं लगेंगे. और फिर मन में आता है, जो मेरे देश की जीत है, तो ये है, की ४० साल बाद, हमें ४ साल स्कूटर के इंतज़ार के बारे में कुछ भी याद नहीं. और जो मेरे मुल्क की हार है, तो ये है, कि जिस मुए हिन्दू-मुसलमान के फसाद में "पाली" और "वीरो" की कहानियां बनी , ७० साल बाद भी, उस फसाद में कोई बदलाव नहीं. मौलवी साहब कुछ और कट्टर हो गए हैं, समाज सेवक कुछ और निर्भीक।

ये कहानियां कुछ कुछ ऐसी हैं, जैसे कोई मोहल्ले में बीच में बैठा हो, और हर घर का कुछ कुछ झरोखा दीखता हो. और ऐसी भी, कि जैसे कोई माया महल में घुसे, और कोई शीशा किसी दुसरे शीशे सा न हो. हर शीशा बिलकुल अलग, पर बेहद मज़ेदार. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

कतरनें / kataranein

अगर वो कभी जुबां खोले, तो मैं उस के जीवन का सारा विष नीलकंठ बन कर पी जाऊं.

पर ऐसा कभी नहीं होता. कितने साल बीत गए.. वो चुप है, और मैं तृष्णा ग्रस्त।

Monday, January 16, 2017

Zaroorat / Need

बहुत ज़रूरी है। 

मोहल्ले में हो
एक ही ऊंची सीढ़ी
तो दीवार चढ़ने के लिए
अहम् की दीवार
लांघनी भी पड़ती है

जब डिनर सेट
शर्मा जी के यहां से
और कुर्सियां
वर्मा जी के यहां से हो
तो मेहमान नवाज़ी
सांझी हो जाती है। 
दुःख सुख भी

हलकी सी गोंद है 
जो सब को जोड़े रखती है 

बहुत ज़रूरी है। 

Update: This post made it to the Tangy Tuesday Picks of Blogadda! Am so surprised! 


Book Review: Detective Ben

I love detective fiction. Everything from Sherlock to Nancy Drew to James Patterson to Mary Higgins Clark.. u get the idea.

So it was with some excitement that I picked up this Detective Ben - my first in the series.


The plot was thin, if at all. The absence of spellings might work for some people, it was a torture for me.

And in short, I usually do not review books and movies that I don't like. But this was begging that we should warn other readers.

Please avoid.

Book Review: Itvaar Chhota Pad Gaya by Pratap Somvanshi

बड़े दिन बाद, एक ऐसी किताब जिस के हर शेर पर वाह! निकलती है.

कविता, बड़ी अजीब चीज़ होती है. बिलकुल माया के जैसी. जिसे लग जाए, उसे लग ही जाती है. पर आज भी हम ५० साल पुरानी किताबें पढ़ते हैं. इस लिए, जब कोई नयी किताब आती है, तो उस से बड़ी उम्मीदें बंधती हैं. इस बार, एक किताब है जो उन सब उम्मीदों पर  खरी उतरती है. बार बार किताब के पन्ने आँखों में मिश्री घोलते हैं. बार बार मुस्कान स्वयं ही आती है. ऐसी कविता, काम ही पायी जाती है.

ज़रूर पढ़ें.

Poetry is like Maya... once you are in its grasp, you cannot escape. You will always thirst for good poetry. But we still read poetry that is half a century old. So when a new book of poetry is released, one views it with much anticipation. This is that rare book that meets the expectation. On every page, there is a smile. Almost every sher makes you go "Wah!" in your head. This is awesome poetry. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lohri Traditions

Makar Sankranti is a festival that is celebrated all over the country. Sharing here, the Lohri/Maghi traditions of Punjab. Please share the traditions of your own culture. It will be great to have a compendium.

1. Til Mooli
In the morning, before we eat anything else, every member of the family takes a small piece of radish, and a pinch of black sesame seeds. They sit with another member of the family (usually someone older) and take 5 resolutions for the coming year. These are the things they value in life. The person sitting with them confirms each resolution verbally. It is a very beautiful exchange. Usually, they go something like:
Til mooli chakhaan? (Should i taste this Til mooli?)
Response: Chakho ji. (Please do)
Ghar Parivar rakhaan? (May i value my family this year)
Response: Rakho Ji. (Please do)
Vyapaar Maan Rakhan? (May i value my trade and my prestigs?)
Response: Rakho ji.
Deh Rogta Rakhaan? (Wellness)
Rakho Ji.
Yaar Dost Rakhaan? (My friendships)
Rakho Ji.
I love the Til Mooli tradition. It forces us to focus on the 5 things that matter most in life, and provide a verbal affirmation to value them in the year.

2. Mai De Lohri
Small batches of girls and boys go from house to house, singing traditional Lohri songs and collecting goodies from every household. This is the Indian Trick or Treat. There is a song for girls and one for boys.
You can get them here:

3. The Bonfire
Perhaps the best known tradition of Lohri is the bon fire. At this time, the Rabi crop is either just harvested, or near there. People take this corn, rabri, gajak, peanuts and other winter goodies. They light a bon fire and circle it (almos always,this is a community bon fire, around which there is much singing and dancing and fun). Once you have circumambulated the fire, your Lohri basket becomes "prasad" and you must share it with the other families, also partaking of theirs.

4. The song and dance
Self explanatory.

5. The "Bai Khichdi"
On the night of Lohri, the family makes chana dal khichdi and keeps it overnight. The next morning, the whole family eats only bai khichdi. That old khichdi is symbolic of everything that the previous year stood for. With that breakfast, we bid adieu to every resentment and happiness of the previous year. With that breakfast, our association with the previous year is over.

6. The "First Lohri"
The first Lohri of a couple, or of a newborn, is considered very special. There is much celebration, and people travel to be with their families for the First Lohri of a special arrival in the family.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


When a pebble sinks
it makes
no noise.
It is the same
with people.

कंकड़ डूबता है
तो आवाज़ नहीं होती
लोगों का भी
ऐसा ही है.