A New Mountain…

Since I promised, I delivereth! Last week, being my birthday week and a birthday year that saw literally my re-birth, my sister and my best friends decided to make this extra special by taking me to those mountains whom I love and run to always! The Himalayas. They looked up the place, the hotels, the things to do, the itinerary and just about every single logistic, including food, food, more food and some more food. All I had to do was sit in the car and enjoy some magnificent views with loads of chatter and laughter!

The place is called Sirmour in the state of Himachal Pradesh, in Northern India. The resort we were staying in was some 700 hrs. drive from Delhi and we made a pit stop in Chandigarh ( about 5 hrs from Delhi ) to pick up our other companions and have a wonderful lunch with their family, with some awesome treats cooked by my friend and her mom in law. We reached Sirmour the same day in the evening and primarily spent the evening in eating, drinking and relaxing. The next day after a 10 different courses for breakfast, we set off for Renuka Lake, a 45 mins drive from our resort. This is the largest lake in Himachal Pradesh (660 m) and is regarded as the embodiment of Renukaji, the wife of sage Jamadagini and mother of Parshuram, one of the ten Avtars of Lord Vishnu ( One of the 3 most powerful trio in the Hindu Pantheon; the other members of the club is Lord Brahama, whose lotus fell to create the lake we visited last week & Lord Shiva, the rockstar God of Hindu Mythology) . Shaped in the profile of a woman, legend has it that Renuka was beheded by her son Parashuram, following his father’s instructions. Renuka had earned her husband’s fury for not dutifully filling up water in the clay pot for his rituals, as she got distracted and infatuated by the sight of Gandharvas, who had taken the form of men, bathing in the river. Thus infuriated, he ordered his three sons to kill their mother ( Don’t even get me started!) Of the three sons, only the third son Parashurama agreed to execute the father’s orders. Later, pleased by his obedience, Jamadagni bestowed a wish for fulfilment upon his son and he prayed to his father to restore his mother back to life & thus Renuka was brought back to life! While I have many many issues with this legend, the fact remains the lake is beautiful, the wooded walk gorgeous and the temple dedicated to Renuka Devi peaceful. We had an amazing lunch and then headed back to the resort for some bonfire, drinks and snacks and at 12 in the night a birthday hoopla for me ! There was cake cutting, gift opening and a brilliant birthday video put together by these lovely people with birthday messages from all my friends and family ( these best gift ever! ) The birthday day was a lazy day spent eating a long breakfast (again 10 course ) in the sun , followed by more soaking in the sun, a delicious lunch at a quaint open air café and some more bonfire shenanigans’. The next day in the afternoon, we headed back to the city with memories of a delightful and joyful birthday, with many things to be grateful for – my health, these generous friends, who put their plans on hold for my sake and my most awesome sister! It is good to be alive and well and that in itself is best celebration of all!

I leave you all with pictures of people, places and food from this adventure!

Needless to say, these few weeks have a le grande! I am now spending some quiet time before the start of a new year which will bring what it will bring, but for now and here, things are just perfect!

p.s. Himalayas are the youngest mountain range in the world hence the title , a New Mountain!

More Updates on the Big C

I know it has been a while since I came around to posting anything but there was too much going on in the life and time was scarce. Most of what was happening in the life was a good; some minor hiccups here and there but for a change nothing to get my life off kilter and most of it was good – celebrating all the Indian festivals, travelling, meeting people and all that that makes life good! But I did want to pop in for a few updates.

To begin with, as of last Friday, I have completed my chemotherapy and per my CA Marker tests, as of now there seems to be no evidence of disease. I may have to undergo some minor radiation in January but that is again preventive and the doctors are still debating whether I need it or not. Of course I will be on medication for a while with exhaustive medical check ups every three months. Also I have been advised that my Chemotherapy side effects, especially the fatigue, body ache and weakness may last upto a year and I may continue to have some bad days; however for all events and purposes, I am well. I am healthy and I have been living life pretty much like I used to before I fell sick! This in itself is one of the greatest and most awesome blessing and I have so much gratitude for this fact!

Celebrating the last of the Chemotherapy Session with my amazing Medical Team & Sister at the Hospital

Now through my journey, I came across a lot of misinformation, myth and a general casual or complete horror approach to this illness. Most folks seemed to think that being diagnosed with Cancer was end of the road and I may as well wait for the sword to fall. While several others inundated me with nonsensical information and a certain section of people whom I considered friends , abandoned me, perhaps thinking that I may need assistance or whatever. Since my diagnosis I have spoken to several other cancer patients who tell me of similar experience and ghosting is one common social side effect of Cancer. Needless to say there is a need to spread information and raise awareness and more communities to not only help Cancer patients but also caregivers or even people not directly affected but in some way touched by the disease through illness of a friend or a relative. These are not happy or pleasant things but t as data shows an increased rise in Cancer diagnosis across geographies, these become increasingly important things to be told! As a result of all this I started an Insta page to support some of these myth breaking conversations, provide general information about reducing cancer risk and caregiving 101. I also followed it up with a blog page ( work in progress ) and you can find me here ( Insta ) and here ( Blog ). It would be an honor if all you could drop by and follow and most importantly share some feedback and thoughts on what I can do more!

For now I am just grateful that as I approach my birthday on 23rd of this month, I am healthy and well and can live every moment like I used to and like I would want to. I realize this as one of the greatest of all blessings and am humbled and saddened to think that many are denied this everyday! I am truly lucky, here and now and that alone is best possible gift of all times!

And Now for November…..

Ah!! November, glorious November, how I look out for thee, every year! It is in thine hope that I passeth months, that be March to September!! Finally, cold weather, holidays and celebration; what I ask is not like about winter coming? Atleast, winter in my part of the world!

Anyhow, how do I plan to celebrate this month, you ask? Oh! there are so many  possibilities that this month opens up in this city – walks along the 600 year old ruins, explore the less traveled hikes, visit the historic eating joints whose gastronomic delights can only be cherished in the colder weather!! There is so much to do and I will be doing NONE of it!!! Oh! Ye! Gods! Why have thee forsaken me??!! Work and yet more work and yet more work that never seems to go away – are there any other Project Leaders/Program Managers, working for big Wall Street Goliath’s, who can confirm that my misery is not alone??? It would make me feel better immensely, you know, the misery loves company perspective?? Such is life, I with all my exuberance for these seasons have no option to enjoy it and then there are people whom I know; who have all the means in the world and take no pleasure in the season or nature or for anything that is intangible! In fact they seem to take no pleasure in anything at all except in being miserable, both to themselves and others!

Anyway, like I keep saying again and again, Thank God, there are books for the likes of us to make everything so much better! This month though, I have limited reading time, so I have a very short list of books as part of my November Reading plan. To being with, I wrap up the 18+ month long, brilliantly innovative The Pickwick Paper Read Along hosted by O. An amazing event, hosted by an amazing host, which I loathe to see come to an end! But things are the way they are and I am sure O will figure out something fun and unique for us to have fun with, in the near future! I had planned to begin a much anticipated Re-read of The Brother Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I read it for the first time last year with Cleo but I kind of rushed through it to get to the end. Since then, I have been wanting to go back and savor its finer points and I had decided long back that a year since I first read the book, I will revisit this marvel again! I was also under the impression that work would slow down during these weeks. Towards the end of the year, giving me ample time to get through what is for sure a big fat book! However, I propose and my company disposes, and though there will be less time, I will still begin and see how I muddle along, even it take me the whole of 2018 to savor and finish the book! I also have Winter of the World by Ken Follet, the second in his The century Trilogy; I have it so I will read it, but so far it’s very ho-hum! Finally Brona, at her awesome best, is hosting the #AusReadingMonth event. I have enjoyed it every time I participated in this event in past, and this year I will for sure take part again, if only I can decide how many and which book. I should have a post dedicated to that event very soon! Finally by way of fun reading I have Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell and The Semi Attached couple by Emily Eden. I got great reviews of the former, especially from Jane and I really enjoyed The Semi Detached House by Emily Eden, so I do want to explore her second and what is her last novel!

There it is then, my grand reading plans! Just to add, besides the excruciating work load, I also have some parties to attend for adults and babies (my nephew as well my God Daughter turn 1) and some other social activities which I have to accommodate, besides completing a Leadership certification course for which I had signed up for in the middle of year! Needless to say, this will be one hectic month!!

 

A Very Special Date

Raahrarraaahhhh!!! Tara Dum! Tara Dee!!! Roll the drums and bring on the fanfare, for today, ahem! ahem! we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Mockingbirds, Looking Glasses and Prejudices!!! (Virtual confetti being showered!!!) Yay!!Its the big 5 blogaversary!

It’s been 5 years since I started this blog after being rather disgusted over a over-hyped thing I saw at the mall on Valentine’s Day. As most know, 5 years down the line, my thoughts have not changed much as was evident from my last post. Oh! Well…everything changes and nothing does. But not really!

Over the last 5 years I have gained so much that I could scarcely believe was possible when I started out that February morning of 2012! I have written more blogs not only for myself but also for many other sites. I have felt myself improve as a writer and in the process become a more evolved individual. I have a read more books and ventured into literary spheres which I would have scarcely ventured into had it not been for all of you opening up the erudite vistas for me. I have read such a variety of non fiction, classics and poetry than I would have thought possible in February 2012, forcing me out of my comfort zone and making me look at the world at large in whole different perspective! I have read Metamorphosis by Ovid and Bewoulf because of Cleo. I have read science fiction because of Stefanie and found innumerable lost authors, thanks to Jane who has a knack for finding these authors. There are sooooo many others who have made me read so many different things! You all have helped me not only read more but also do things that I would have not thought possible from participating in marathons to cooking yumilious carrot ginger soup!! You have made me grow in all possible ways! Most importantly, I have made some awesome friends – friends I have not met, but who have stood by me through thick and thin, through deaths and dumpings and cheered me on when I was promoted or took one an adventurous road trip. Through 1000 miles of geography and cultures that separate us, they came together as a bunch of kindred souls while helping me navigate through the choppy waters of life! Finally my readers, thank you for sticking around and reading my blah-blah. I am sure you do not always like what I write and may often be bored, but thank you for sticking around and reading anyways!

Since I was/am feeling all sentimental anyway, I thought I will complete the trip to the very end and feel nostalgic as well. Therefore I went back and read some of my older posts and thought I will share some of them with you, especially the ones which most seemed to have enjoyed and were also kind of personal blogging milestones –

  1. Satire be my song….List of 10 best satires from all time – February 19th 2012 – One of my very fast posts, about things which I liked the best – books!
  2. Love and Mutiny in the Time of British Raj – July 1 2012 – I begin to get into the groove of book reviews.
  3. The Year Through Posts -December 7th 2014 – Inspired by Jane, this seemed a perfect way to wrap the year!
  4. Defining Style – An Alternative Perspective – February 17 2015 – Where I venture out of bookish blogs and start posting for other sites!
  5. Celebrating Freedom – The Home and The World Read Along – July 19th 2016 – I host my very first Read Along!

It’s been such wonderful 5 years of learning, fun and cherished memories! Thank you for being part of this wandering with me and for enriching my life with your ideas, enthusiasm and thoughts!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The missing clue of relatives and social networking

I once believed that introduction to Facebook was one the most epoch-making events in my life. I was finally in touch with friends who were once so dear to me but had lost track off. I could now be in touch with them and other people easily without drafting a mail or calling…posting on the wall was enough!! The world was perfect; I had reached an equilibrium between my social side that wanted to keep in touch and my lazy side that had issues with making too much of an effort, thanks to Social Networking. “Like” was the key to liking life…..life was perfect! But in the words of Yogi Berra “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

And then came the relatives…….

Now on any normal day, most people would concede that relatives are one of the more irritating fractions of their lives, considering the fact that most of the time we are also relatives to someone and might be part of the irritating fractions. (Self-Introspection is good and helps us develop into…whatever it is Dr Phil thinks we should develop into!) Anyway since the relatives’ piece is always dicey, I stay away as much as possible, especially considering they are my relatives. Now I know you are all raising your eyebrows and nodding your heads and are ready to contest with the wildest story about the most asinine relation you have. However I win hands down…you will just have to believe me (not like you have a choice considering I own the site) and take it from me literally that when I say I have a real bad case of relatives, I do!!

After haunting me through my childhood and young adult years, they suddenly in masses decided to invade my cyberspace. I was getting request from that cousin and this aunt and that uncle……the works. Woebegone if I decided to refuse (not that I could refuse, so I pended all unpleasant friend requests), there would be calls from the East to my mother who is in North, who would then call me in the West and ask me why was I being rude to the FAMILY. (Yup! She is a bit of a cookie herself; but years with my father have made her saner; though she breaks out now and then!) There would be no way to explain to her that I was not rude and I had not refused and really, I needed some space! The second stage of the ordeal, after becoming friends with me would be to get curious about me. I live more than 2800 km from them and thank powers greater than me for this miracle; if they can go crazy on a virtual social networking site, then imagine what they can do in circumstances where I am physically present. Every photograph is peered into with comments like “Who is that guy?” or “What are you drinking?” or better yet “You are clubbing again!!!” This is absolutely nothing compared to the phone calls my mother would get from the FAMILY about how these days I am partying everyday (cause somebody tagged me on some clubbing pictures) or the Guy in the photograph does not look good enough to belong to the FAMILY (For Christ sake! He is a friend and is already married/engaged/gay!) My mother would with her streak of cookieness call me and well you know what happens when mothers and daughter’s collide. It’s apocalypse times 4! Then comes the last and joyous part of embarrassing me in public “You have put on so much of weight! This is your father’s family genes taking over!” (Duh! I have always been what I would like to term as “Pleasantly plump” and this fact is not an earth shattering revelation for them to proclaim with such suprise and at least I am “pleasant”) Or better yet “Your sister looks much better!” I love my sister and she is gorgeous! But why do you have to  compare and contrast on a public page for the world too see?  My favourite of course is any photo with a restaurant ambience would without fail merit a comment in the lines of “Eating again?! Living live King size are we not! Have you seen the mirror lately?”

Now I defy you to come up with more nastier and embarrassing examples.

Net result is that I have really really given up social networking. There is indeed a silver lining to everything and enlightenment came as I discovered that as I move away from FB and such sites –

  1. I am mailing a lot more again and reading mails and receiving them is a pleasure which I had forgotten
  2. I have started calling people over the phone a lot more and the human touch is always special
  3. I opened an account anonymously on another site and it’s fun to be free of all social imposed restrictions and standards
  4. I do not have to spend a considerable time of life refusing My Calender and Farmville and Petville request
  5. Finally the FAMILY has no idea where or what am I up to and they are forced to call my mother who can only divulge what she knows and I make sure she knows only on a need to know basis

I still have an official Facebook page, which I still log in for the sake of keeping in touch with people who matter and generally check out the madness around me, but I really kick of my shoes and pull out all the stops in mails and the “Other” page of my life!!

The complete and profound “joy” of gift buying

It’s my best friend who also doubles up as my flatmate’s birthday next week. Next week is also another friend’s birthday as well as another colleague’s whom-I-don’t-like- but-have-to like-for-business-reasons. So what all this translates into is a weekend of shopping for appropriate gifts. Now here’s the thing – I do not like shopping! I think I am one of those abnormal girls who really see’s shopping as a waste of time and does not indulge in it unless her clothes have turned to tatters or the house is falling apart and needs new furnishings! I abhor shopping; the thought of it makes me want to cuddle further in my bed and disappear. It brings back all thetraumatic memories of my childhood where I had to follow my mother around in the malls while she shopped and I sulked because I wanted to buy a book and sit in the ice cream parlour reading it while eating through a double Sunday! Thus with such an amazing baggage I abhor birthday/marriage shopping even more.

I think gift cards are the way to go, but several people have told me that personalized gift buying is more kind and demonstrates you cherish the person more than a cold gift card. Now I do not see what’s wrong with a gift card- give me one and I will spend it in a jiffy in a bookshop. I would much rather prefer it, than have people who have no idea which author I like or do not like gifting me something I really detest (Like Ms Meyer) or something I have purchased centuries ago, but they want to gift it to me because they have recently seen the movie and think it’s a new book (Like John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy- why cannot they Google the publication year and save everybody the trouble is beyond me!) I know it’s the thought that counts and I do appreciate the gesture that this non reading population makes in going to a shop and hunting for stuff which they have no idea about but think I will like, but really I do not need 4 copies of Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul just because he won the nobel prize and I said I like his work at some gathering!

Anyhow, the problem is not only with this non reading population that wants to gift me something; the problem also is what I gift to this non reading population. My flatmate is easy – I gift her some Kinglsey Amis and Terry Pratchet and she is as happy as she can get. My friend is also easy – I will buy her Mircea Eliade’s Bengal Nights and I know she will be one contended kitten. But the problem arises for the third one, the-colleague- whom-I-don’t-like- but-have-to like-for-business-reasons. And it’s not about him but all those upmarket people with scintillating lives and vacations in France with their Gucci/Prada bags and what nots – what to gift them?  My biggest strength in the shopping arena is out of the window – they do not read and I don’t want to give a Salman Rushdie that becomes a decorative piece in their drawing room shelf.  I am not sure what Perfume; oops sorry I believe its eau de cologne, to give them. Like my book reading, they might already have something which I choose or worse horror horror for them, the product I bought is too downmarket. I must add a note about gifts of music –even if they do like music, it will be techno or trance or something where I will be completely out of my depth – which is very much western classical and Jazz and of course I will buy something they will can download or do not like. I have tried changing tactics and buying them business utility products like a leather laptop bag only to have found out later that they have already have a designer bag and mine has been designated to the back of the attic filled with some old family papers which no one cares about. It’s the same with crockeries. I buy a dinner set only to realize that the couple already has 7 of them of which three of them are real bone china. I am bad at buying clothes – the shirts I buy are either too large or have too many check patterns for that person to wear. Most of these people are not close enough for me to splurge on a watch or a piece of jewellery (even if they were close enough- my budget does not permit me to buy a watch for myself, let alone gifting one!…remember I am quintessential struggling writer here) One cannot gift shoes, and pens seem to be too much of a  trifle in today’s days of computers. Flowers are very temporary as are food items like cakes; besides they are more of an addendum gift but hardly the main course if you know what I mean. And though Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaims that “The greatest gift is a portion of thyself”, I am very confident that my friends and acquaintances do not want a portion of me (for many of them knowing me even for a limited period of time with all my quirks and weirdisims might is in itself a challenge) and I definitely do not want to part with any part of myself away from me for them!

So I am stuck….what does one gift a person who has practically everything and is not quite into cultural and what I feel eminently more giftable interests like reading or music (my kind). So I am reverting back to the good old gift card – buy it, fill it, gift it and forget about it. I cannot personalize the gift card, but atleast I know the person I am picking it up for will end up using it for something he or she likes or wants instead of me  giving them something they do not like or want!!!