Aloha! Woman's Day :)

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Ahalyā draupadī sītā tārā mandodarī tathā ।

pancakanyah smaren nityaṃ mahāpātakanāśakam ॥

Early in my life, I heard this shloka of the 'Pratah Smarneeya Panch Kanya' which says that Draupadi, Ahilya, Tara, Seeta and Kunti/Mandodari  are the five holy virgins and by chanting their names first thing in the morning our sins are abated.

It made me realize the futility of adornments. The hollowness of words.
Those who were mauled and molested to be called eternal virgins! 

Somewhat like the Nirbhaya Act of our times.Where we fail on all grounds of humanity and morality, when we found ourselves worse than barbaric animals, we try to heal (?) and replenish by making the victims sit on a pedestal, converting them into saints, angels, Devis and martyrs.

There are innumerable examples of female stereotyping, but for me, it goes deeper than that. The basic reason for it seems to be the ability to give life which a woman possesses and a man does not. Perhaps this deep rooted insecurity of this power of her goaded him to create rules and traditions.This deep-set insecurity is in the psyche, as well as in the genes. 

So, she is either a Goddess, the pious and the giving one, benign, smiling benevolently, patient and forgiving OR a witch, the bloodthirsty one, selfish, conniving, sly and scheming. A Total terror. 
 Nowhere is she accepted as Manvi .. the Human. A person.
A person having small dreams and moderate aspirations. Lakhs of men can survive a dull life of daily drudgery with aplomb, but for a woman to be happy being just a teller is looked down upon! She needs to prove herself by being nothing less than a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw or an Indira Nooyi. Otherwise, her education is a waste! 

She is not accepted as a person with human weaknesses and human follies. Not allowed to falter in speech, dressing and behaviour!

It made me wary of being good or bad actually, of being labelled.
I was determined to be happy.
To take responsibility for my mistakes and credits of my heroic deeds which I seem to perform left, right and centre! (Yeah yeah, I am still pretty good there.)
I also felt most males as a bundle of clueless energy, not knowing in which direction they ought to run but I never felt them being better or lesser than females. They were just different..well, slightly. 

Hence, I faced the discrimination , the mindset, the stereotyping simply as a human and not as a female. I have actually taught myself that. Not to mind such comments/questions like,  You are a late riser? Don't you like cooking? You like wandering aimlessly?  yak-yak ..
Yes. I am an owl who likes to burn the midnight oil and why don't you take charge of the morning chores if YOU are an early riser? I enjoy cooking but I don't feel an adrenalin rush to realize that I have to be in the kitchen five times a day daily, like Forever! 

Munshi Premchand once  said, 

"If some traits of a male come in a female she becomes demonic and if the female traits enter in a male, he attains godliness."

Do not misinterpret it as he simply meant that The Perfect Raymond's Man, The Ideal Suitable Boy, when imbibes only a few of the feminine traits like of compassion, unending affection and patience, he becomes God!
Urvashi, our very own celestial nymph has said that to Pururva, her heroic and valiant lover, who was so smitten with her that in order to invoke her soft feelings he went on for days singing about his own heroic deeds! To which she simply replied -

 *देवालय में देव नहीं केवल मैं हूँ 
मेरी प्रतिमा को घेर उठ रही अगरु गंध 
बज रहा अर्चना में मेरी, मेरा नूपुर  

Meaning it's the masculine energy adorned with the feminine nature which makes him complete - a God from a warrior. Without her, he is just a doer, an achiever ..with 'her' he becomes a creator.
The feminine energy is that elixir which is said to be dripping from the hood of the deadliest venomous pythons and snakes, protecting them from their own poison. 

So I give two pence to dress up according to the in-thing and not even one paisa to be considered as an 'in-sync' person. I simply can not afford to care! 

I am the only sari-clad bahu in my entire family including the extended khandan.. simply because as a child I used to see my mother get ready for college in smooth shiny silks, pastel chiffons and crisp cottons with peacocks sauntering on her hems and creepers dangling coyly on the pallav! No one, including my strict and ultra-modern mum-in-law, could put me off from getting decked up in sarees! I would drape the whole six yard (anyhow) and emerge confidently to face the world rather dazedly pass through the world, as I used to be too engrossed in adoring the softness of the saree, the colours which make me feel as if I had draped myself in a piece of sky or am in Eden with flowers blooming shyly all over me!  

And for a full one year, I have teamed-up my sarees with a pair of powder blue running shoes! Don't ask why as that was the need of the hour..err.. year. They were cute as a blue bunny but for some reasons unknown, the neighbourhood aunties at my in-law's home felt otherwise and found them to be hideous! *rolling eyes*
Obviously, I did not pay heed.
 I was and still am too busy living this one life to the fullest. 

It does not matter to me if the world knows about Tandava only, as I know the Lasya.
The extremely soft dance of Parvati, the dance of grace and beauty,  which she performs in response to Shiva's roudra Tandava - the dance of destruction. It's through Lasya that she harbours the seeds of life, protects the fauna, nourishes it with her tears of love and  caress the scorched black earth back to life. I firmly believe in that part of the balance and no one can stereotype me for it. Unless of course, I am willing to be.

* In the temple it's not the Lord, but I
The incense fragrance encircles  my idol,  
The bell of my anklet tinkles in the worship of I

The Post is written as my views on Being Woman for my dear friend  and fellow blogger Dr. Kiran Acharya.  To read her wonderful post talking about gender stereotyping vist HERE. 

Her post is studded with nuggets of  wisdom from some of us women bloggers, which we have experienced, gathered or wilfully lost !. 

I am indebted to Kiran for this beautiful initiative :)

Image Courtesy: Here  

Urdu : मौसम

लो फिर से लौट के आया है प्यार का मौसम
खत-ओ-किताबत-ओ-इतंज़ार का मौसम

चाँद जागेगा फिर सर्दी की लंबी रातों  में
कि इस पे छाया है फिर उस खुमार का मौसम

फूल शरमायेंगें, कलियाँ ये गुनगुनाएँगी
'हया की लाली से कर लो श्रृंगार', का मौसम

पँछी खिड़की पे आज बैठे फिर से इठला कर
मुंडेर पे सजी महफ़िले-गुंजार का मौसम

फ़क़त वो इक नज़र गिरी हमारे हिस्से में
उसी रविश से है हर पल बहार का मौसम

बला की शोखियां बिखरी थी अब तलक हर ज़ू
हमें मिला खिज़ां में, अब निखार का मौसम

खत-ओ-किताबत -ओ- इतंज़ार -  (season of) writing letters and waiting (for the reply)
खुमार- intoxication.   
हया- shyness 
महफ़िले-गुंजार - congregation of twitteri6ng birds , here ( musical notes of ecstatic hearts).      
 हर  ज़ू- every where.                       
खिज़ां- autumn.                                      
रविश- time, moment, pathway


दफ़्न था जिस्म, फना रूह, मर्सिया खत्म कब का
पर ये उम्मीद है कि आज भी मरती ही नहीं

न कोई तंज़, कोई शिक़वा, कोई बदमजगी-ए-दिल.
दिल की कलियाँ हुई ऐसी कि बस खिलती ही नहीं

दरख्तों में खोई तितली को क्यूँ शहर लाये ?
सरे- बाज़ार उसे राह कोई मिलती ही नहीं

शम्मा रोशन, चरागों से नूर बिखरा है, फ़क़त,
रौनके-दिल बुझी ऐसी कि अब जलती ही नहीं

इस तरह से बचाया आपने दामन हमसे
गोया मनहूस बाद अपने कोई हस्ती ही नहीं

बेवजह भूल गए बेपनाह चाहने वाले
अब भी पूछोगे कि, " क्यूँ तुम कभी हँसती ही नहीं?"

तुम्हें हो नाज़, नहीं, ना सही, हमको है गुमां
तुम्हारे बिन कोई शै दिल को अब जँचती ही नहीं

ख़ुदाया खैर, ज़ब्त की हद हो चुकी कब की
कैसी ये बर्फ़ तेरे दिल की, पिघलती ही नहीं!

मर्सिया- the poem of mourning and lamentation                                                         तंज़- sarcasm
फ़क़त - just, only, ,महज़                             शै- entity, any thing, object, or dead.

स्मृति : Sigils (Haiku)

dewdrops shimmer bright
hushed sigils of love fall down
...empty coast of night

                                                                                                    तुहिन बिंदु
                                                                                                    टूटे तारे... सजाते
                                                                                                    धवल प्रात:                              
                                                                                                    स्नेह-स्मृति हों जैसे
                                                                                                    मौन मूक प्रेम की

A beautiful urdu version of the above by Amit Agarwal can be found here... :)

जाने कैसे

मार्ग था सीधा सरल, संतोष धन, आशा सखी
ज्ञान दीपित, प्रेम प्लावित, वीथियाँ करुणामयी...
जाने कैसे पथ ये तुम तक मुड़  गया 

चाँद सा खिलता निशि में 
सूर्य सा सोना उगलता 
पवन से भी तीव्रतर मेरा 
हृदय ऐसे  विचरता 
जैसे खुले नभ में उड़ा जाए 
अकेला एक पंछी ...
जाने कैसे फिर ये तुमसे जुड़ गया 

सीखा मेरे मद से 
भंवर ने गुनगुनाना 
हास से फूलों ने सीखा 
और मेरे कण्ठ से 
मधुमय सुधा सा राग फैला ... 
फिर भी मन तितली सा मचला, उड़ गया? 

सुनहरी लकदक से सज्जित
कुछ सुधामय बोल मीठे
था प्रथम, था नया अनुभव 
बुन लिए कुछ स्वप्न झूठे 
जाल सम्मुख देख कर भी, 
बस फुदकना डाल पर उस
नेह का बंधन ये ऐसा पड़  गया।

निस्तब्धता में स्वर,
वही, गुँजार सुनना
और रव में मौन-स्मित
उपवास रखना 
जान कर भी यूँ
बधिक की राह तकना...
श्वास की गति तक ये क्रम अब पड़ गया..

जाने कैसे पथ ये तुम तक मुड़ गया।

ग़ज़ल : फ़िकर

जब कभी चाँद को दहलीज़ पे लाना होगा
धूप ढ़ल जाएगी, उजालों को जाना होगा।

लफ्ज़ सस्ते थे, चमकदार थे, सो, खूब चले
फिर कोई दानिश लन-तरानी का निशाना होगा

जरा सी बात है कि हम नहीं रहे हमदम
जाम पकड़ोगे तो शर्मिंदा मयखाना होगा।

दुआ है नये सब दोस्त ज़ैब-ओ-अक्लमन्द मिलें
वरना दिल फिर कोई हाथों से दबाना होगा।

क्या फ़िकर है, यही, डरते हो लौट आएंगे?
बाद मरने के भी अब हिज़्र निभाना होगा।

दहलीज़- threshold
दानिश- wise                                           लन-तरानी- rhetorics, words of mockery (or) false praise
 हमदम- soulmate                                 मयखाना - winehouse
ज़ैब-ओ-अक्लमन्द - embellished and intelligentहिज़्र - absence, separation from beloved.           निभाना- Observe

Painting in greens with Royale Atoms

Planting trees, controlling mindless urbanization and reviving our water bodies are a few of the many measures we take to ensure healthy and clean outdoors but how many times and how many of us have ever  looked inside our personal sanctuaries- our homes for the same?  We know about the importance of living in well lit and ventilated homes but in the world brimming with lucrative offers in building materials, paints, home furnishing and décor items, we can hardly boast of making environment friendly and judicious choices any more.

We need to be careful about what we use as   fireplaces, un-vented gas stoves, heaters, wood stoves , improperly installed chimneys emit carbon mono oxide, nitrogen di oxide, Radon, particulates , hydrocarbons and children growing up in such homes have more respiratory problems than those growing up in cleaner homes.
Similarly, in modern décor we need LOTS of shelves, cabinets and wall panelling  made from pressed wood products made from adhesives having urea formaldehyde resins which can cause watery eyes and itchy , burning throat and other breathing related problems.
Asbestos found in ceiling panelling and textured paints can cause Asbestosis even lung cancer!
Radon is emitted from cracks in walls and ceiling, dirt floors and sumps.
The latex paints, many types of varnishes, wax, cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic and hobby products contain organic solvents which can release organic compounds while we use them and, to some degree, when they are stored

While other domestic pollutants can be encountered by planting indoor plants, proper ventilation, using covered gas stoves, filling up cracks and regular cleaning of sumps, the pollution free paints piace a problem which is now solved by the Royale atoms- a paint that help purify the air.
It offers Activated carbon technology to help reduce indoor air pollution and is specially created to disintegrate foul smells which is wonderful! 

Beside this it gives a smooth matt finish, a Teflon surface protection and is environment friendly as it's VOC safe. Under standard conditions, it reduces the formaldehyde levels by 80-85% in 24 hours! 
See the video below or visit here for more info on this. 

To be able to touch the walls without worrying about stains and about the hazardous chemicals, to be able to breathe in the air inside our homes without worrying about the pollution, to have this security and confort of fresh, fragrant and pollution free air for a mother -to-be and for the new born, is something of a dream. It is a luxury which is now made possible ke for all by the Royale Atoms.
 To be safe inside our homes, to breathe freely , to welcome new generations in a world full of green plants and homes complete with modern facilities for a smoother life yet without indoor pollution and with less carbon footprints of modern living is a dream which is now a reality. We change the world by planting trees, using our natural resources judiciously outside and in our homes, simply by painting the walls with Royale Atoms...Offering pure air in Atoms of colour.

The post is written for Indiblogger #environment and AsianPaints #cleanairbeautifulhomes

Happy Grandparents Day!

When we say family matters the most, do we mean just spouse, children and parents (sometimes) both sets( rarer) or by family we mean The Family, the entire khandan full of uncles, aunts, cousins and yes, the Grandparents? Hardly.
But, for me family means everyone.
And, fortunately, both my children have inherited this and are blessed to have the most lively set of grandparents.One, the Baba-Amma showering them with gifts and the other, a retired old granny doting on them just the way only a retired, once strict and wise granny can!
My son shares a bond of mutual respect and affection with his granny as right from a very young age he admired her for her resilience and intellect, for raising his mother (I) single handedly and for carving out an enviably admirable social presence due to her knowledge and behaviour. He has her as a role model in terms of etiquette,  wisdom and character. On the other hand,  his airy head sister, simply snuggles in the lap of her Nani Ma and breathes in the same mild fragrance of sandal which I used to associate with Mum when I was young. She is the one to get the pampering simply because of the sweet nothings she keeps on twittering into her Nani's old ears.

Now both are planning hard to make her feel special on this Grandparent's day. Sometimes working in sync, at other times, trying to outdone each other... They both they both have agreed on one thing that they'll first dazzle her with their new set of acquired knowledge, hi-fi bhai with his Sanskrit language and badminton skills and jumping zapak sister with her dance moves!
Then they'd prepare delicious tea served in the a coffee mug (gifted by them)  followed by chocolates (which will be devoured by the bro-sis duo) a book and a SAARI! Their combined savings of 1000 bucks have already been deposited in to the safe hands of the Man of the House in return of online shopping.

Drawing sheets are being torn for making greeting cards, A4 sheets are getting all coloured in weird designs for writing long wishes for Nani- Ma...the responsible grandson's wishes include asking Nani-Ma to take care of her health, to eat almonds, chew properly, eat slowly, not to walk on wet floor, to keep her glasses , phone and a 'danda' ( wooden staff for thieves) handy and check the lock at the outside
gate...whew! The sister has memorized and will just prepare a card.  She has much to talk and share with the detailed plans of their future trips together, places they'd visit together, things they'd do, stories they'd read, delicacies they'd savour together...  with some practical problems also getting a mention here and there like the colours which are hard to find in hair clips or about that favourite pair of shoes which is getting smaller somehow and many more such important matters.

I see all this activity, hear all this discussion with a routine natural countenance but, deep down I am touched...and, I am thankful.
 Gratefully, they are still too naïve to plan a McDonald outing combined with a movie and are still unspoilt by the razzmatazz of huge packets of glitzy presents...they did not even planned/ thought of a visit to an amusement park! Without realising, on a subconscious level, all they are planning is to make HER happy! They are trying to spend time with their Nani-Ma AND they are trying to make  that time memorable too!

And, I know that this is the best gift they are going to give to her.. the gift of Time. Irreversible  and indestructible.
To make her break into that  warm wide smile on seeing them, to be with her, to lie down with her, over those starched and fragrant sheets which smell of security and comfort,  one on each side tucked in with her, holding her weak wrinkled hands into their soft and plump ones..the image of passing of love through generations.
Happy Grandparents Day!

 This is how my children are planning to celebrate their grandparents day , what about you and yours? :) 

The post is written in response to Blogadda prompt #LoveJatao on Grandparents Day.

I look forward to hear from you how would you celebrate Grandparents Day. Do share a selfie with your grandparents on Sept. 10, 2017 on Twitter or Facebook with #LoveJatao & tag @blogadda to win a goodie from Parachute Advansed.
And celebrate Grandparents day with Blogadda.

बारिशें: गज़ल

चाँद जा डूबा, भरी धरती ने आह,
देखो फिर से बारिशें होने लगी।

 रंग नाज़ुक उड़ गए, खुशबू फना
लफ़्ज़ों में झूठी खनक होने लगी।

कह दिया, 'तुम हो' यही काफी मुझे
जाने क्यों तुमको ख़लिश होने लगी?

जो चले जाते हैं फिर आते नहीं
मेरे दर की हर कड़ी रोने लगी।

रोकने से कौन रुकता है यहाँ?
रात फिर भी रोज़ तकिया भिगोने लगी।

आज फिर धक्का दिया दिन को जरा
तारीख़ें जैसे ज़हर होने लगीं।

कूकती थीं कोयलें जो बाग में
सय्याद को ख़ुद से नज़र होने लगीं।

झूठी खनक- hollow sounds  (of fake concerns) resonance

 दर- door                                                             ख़लिश- burning restlessness,
सय्याद- hunter, the one who ensnares birds for sale/kill/ selfish reasons


जब भी तारीकियों को बैठ आप सीते हैं
ये दमकते सितारे लगते रीते रीते हैं

ज़रा सा मुस्कुराया चाँद, गुफ़्तगू कर ली
आप समझे कि आप साथ मरते जीते हैं!

वो जो रोये थे आप किस्से कहानी पढ़कर
वो फ़साने, वो लफ्ज़ मेरे आप बीते हैं

क्यों ना निखरे अदाएं लहरों सी मचलें, आखिर
एक मुस्कान पे सौ आंसुओं को पीते हैं।

पलटे जो गर, तो जा ही न पाओगे कभी
मेरी नज़रों में रूह नापने के फीते हैं।

तारीकी - a tenebrous gloom, dejection                                                              रीते रीते - empty, listless
गुफ़्तगू - chat                                                                                                           आप बीते - autobiographical
क्यूँ ना निखरे अदाएं - why not the flirtations become more deadly                                                                                         आंसुओं को पीते हैं - as I gulp down tears( which adds salt to the coy looks!)
 रूह  नापने  के फीते -  tapes to measure/ recognize your soul...(as you are my soulmate)

Image courtesy: Pinterest

Autumn : Haiku


                                                                           season's master stroke                                                                                                                                                lands lit in gold amber hues
                                                                             swan song of  verdant


क्या करें

                                                 मुस्कुराते हम हैं हर तस्वीर में
                                                 झिलमिलाती इस नज़र को क्या कहें?

                                                 इक मुक़्क़मल ख़्वाब होती ज़िंदगी
                                                 दिल तेरी यादों का घर, अब क्या करें।

                                                खामोश है, सुनसान है मेरा मकां
                                                तेरी बातों का असर, हम क्या कहें?

                                                उलझनें कमबख्त दिल को कम ना थीं
                                                है तेरी रंजिश भी अब सर, क्या करें...

                                                सुर्ख़ अल्हड़पन, सिंदूरी शोखियाँ
                                                आज गुमसुम गुलमोहर वो, क्या कहें...

                                                बातों से महका, लदा किस्सों से था,
                                                उस शज़र पे आज पतझर, क्या करें!

                                               पढ़ते क़सीदे थे कभी हर बात पर
                                               आज शिक़वे बस मुसलसल क्या कहें!

                                               बारहा शब के अंधेरे कम ना थे
                                               मौत जैसी इस सहर का क्या करें?

झिलमिलाती -  shimmering with tears                          शज़र- a tree in bloom
मेरा मकां - my soul.                                                          मुसलसल- connected, chained, always
बारहा - often.                                                                   सहर - morning, dawn