Rupees To Dollars

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Ok the Mother India posters are a bit too much but thats the image that comes to mind. So let me elaborate on what’s brewing in my head!  

Recently, I was talking to friend of mine and the topic about how far we have come in life came about. We talked about how life has changed over the years. Much after the conversation was over, it lingered within me.  It has been twenty years since I left my home country and moved to the land of golden opportunities. Opportunities were many and the outcome was golden but looking back at the journey, I realized it was not easy at all. Every aspect was an uphill task and it took a lot of endurance and determination from all of us to get to a cruising level.

All about relationships: When I first moved west, I did not know anyone, no family and no friends. Everyone I knew and relationships that were built over the last 20 years had to be left behind. In this new country, everyone was alien. Not having a job was another impediment, since there was no place to actually go out and meet people. Then slowly people trickled into our lives, a friend who introduced us to a friend of theirs and they inturn introducing us to two more, so on and so forth. We latched on to every one of them and tried to fit in. We cooked, we hosted, we played, we talked, we partied, just to have some people to talk to. The perseverance paid off, slowly we built our own little family here. Our kids played and grew up together. We helped each other out in times of need and fought with each other too just like families do!

Where the time went: We had a lot of time for each other the first few years. There was nothing much to do. So our evenings were dedicated to reruns of ‘Married with children’ or ‘Seinfeld’. I also can own up to unashamedly spending my afternoons glued to ‘The bold and the beautiful’ and ‘The young and the restless’. I remember waiting for him to come home from work so I could tell him about all the new developments in those soaps. Then one day I realized everyone on the show had slept with everybody and that I had turned into a couch-potato with a soap addiction, I decided to call it quits!! And that truly was the end of it and I never looked back again! But the point is that, it was lonely. There were not many places to go to and not much money to be frivolous.

The part about money: Yes, we started out with none. It was not an easy path. I remember that right before I moved here, he asked me if I would like an apartment with a washer-dryer in the house or a common one. I distinctly remember not even understanding what he meant and wondering, why on earth would I want to go wash clothes in a common place. He of course got us an apartment with the washer/dryer and it was only after I moved in that I realized we were paying a small fortune to have that luxury! We had to think about everything twice. We wrote budgets, planned where the money went and what we could afford. K-Mart was our answer to everything. The cheapest most affordable store. I remember that we went to restaurants/movies once  in 4-5 months. We just couldn’t afford to be frivolous. Slowly, we grew. We worked hard, saved and survived. It took us about a year to just furnish the apartment. But it taught us the value of money. Life was definitely simple with real problems.

Today when I look back, I think we did good. Our kids have everything they want today but I wonder if they realize all the sweat and toil that went into us getting where we are today. What they take for granted today was out of reach for us a decade back.

So the big question I am stuck with right now is this: Should we as parents make our kids also earn their money to teach them its value or just be parents and give them what we didn’t have so they don’t have to face the same hardships? Someone once told me, if you get your kids to enjoy all the luxuries of life, they will get so used to it that they will aim big and make sure they at least get what they are used to, if not more! While I do feel like Mother India and I am sure he feels like Father India, do we really want our kids to experience those days? I don’t think so! This was our journey and we crossed it. I am sure they will have their own journeys to make. 

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Inked!

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Call it craziness, a crisis or a dare to myself. I wanted a tattoo. Yes, the permanent, non-removable, needle piercing, painful kind. It took me two years after the initial thought invaded my mind to actually get it. Over the period of two years, I did a lot of research, spoke to people, drew tattoos on my body with permanent marker to see how I feel about it and looked up symbols that I could use.

The first time I really came close to getting a tattoo was when I was on a vacation with my family and friends. A friend who was a tattoo veteran with a prior tattoo wanted her second one and so she motivated me to get my first. We went around looking for a place to get our tattoo but unfortunately the place was closed for that weekend.

Having come that close to getting a tattoo, I knew I had to get one soon. So I spent time reviewing places close to my house where I could get a good one. Since I have extremely sensitive skin, I had to find a place that used natural products, would be careful with their art and be patient with me. I did find such a place which had good reviews. My friend was in too and we both decided to get one soon.

My next step was to make an appointment. To my shock, when I called them, they said I would have to go in person to make an appointment and also pay a deposit. I instantly liked them! They seemed very professional. So on my way home that evening, I stopped at their place and made the appointment for the following day.

The final step, in preparation was to actually decide on the tattoo I wanted to get. So after much thinking, I decided to go with four stars; one for my hubby, one each for my sons and the last one for all the people who have made a big impact on my life. I signed it off with three dots which is my signature to pretty much everything I do!

The day finally came and I woke up feeling excited, scared and apprehensive. I was worried about the level of pain I was going to experience. We reached the place and soon enough I found myself on the chair with my wrist laid out in front of him. It was ready to be prodded, pricked and inked. Did I tell you I took my son along for encouragement?!

After reaching there, it was a a long process of explaining the design, the artist creating a stencil and applying it to my skin. So the longer it took, the more antsy I got and there was a point when I was ready to bolt. Fear or ridicule for chickening out was the only reason I stayed. Finally, the artist was ready and I was in his parlor with my arm stretched out.

Steve, my tattoo artist pulled out all the tools required for the work. First came out a drill machine kind of tool, next came the needle. I almost passed out looking at the needle. It was about 6 inches long and pretty sharp! I looked at Steve and said, “Why can’t you put some topical anesthetic and then start poking the needle?”. He smiled at me and very seriously said, “Sashi, you have to earn the tattoo, its not for everyone.” Okay! So I wondered what I did to earn this pain. But I wanted it. I guess the want was enough to earn it.

He turned on the drill and dipped the needle in the ink. The hum of the drill, bore into my nerves and I almost panicked even before the needle touched my skin. He said I could look away if it scares me but I wanted to watch the needle do its work. And then I felt it. Almost like a needle scratching my skin, nothing more than that. I realized I had stopped breathing. I let go of all my apprehensions. It was not bad at all. Some stars hurt more than the others but I guess it was a part of the soul behind the tattoos.

Twenty minutes later, I was the proud owner of a tattoo. I felt elated, free and accomplished. Yes, its just a tattoo. But you gotta get one to know one.

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Bajranji Bhaijaan: Being Human

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Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a sheer pleasure to watch, from the first frame to the last. The first ten minutes of the movie and the last thirty are all it takes to convince anyone that the money paid and time spent was well worth it. The movie uses a good dose of comedy to teach us a few lessons in secularism and tolerance for cultures. Many superstitions and prejudices are slowly broken and delivered to the audience with a smile. The movie truly shows what it means to be a human. ‘Being Human’ is all that is needed to make this world a peaceful place to live in.

Salman Khan as usual delivers with style. The honesty and earnestness with which he portrays his character, immediately has the audience rooting for Bajrangi all through. Special mention has to be made about his willingness to share the screen space with a six-year old. The two make a fantastic couple and their onscreen chemistry is very endearing.

On the other hand, Kareena Kapoor Khan hugely disappoints. Neither is the role meaty enough nor is her glamour quotient high. She fails to impress us in any area. The makeup looks atrocious and she is made to look like a starving raccoon all through. The zero size is not impressive anymore.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui delivers once more with another short but powerful performance. He is a born actor and the ease with which he slips into his role is commendable. He shows his comic side in this movie and instantly connects with one and all.

Finally, the real star of the movie is Harshaali Malhotra. Yes, she is just six-years old and she plays a mute child but then thats what makes her performance even more powerful. She can give any star a run for their money. The movie completely belongs to her. The way she emotes in the entire movie, is so natural and perfect. The one scene I would like to mention that is oscar worthy is the one towards the end as she runs, with Nawazuddin chasing her with a camera. Just watch the emotions on her face as it goes through myriad changes. That one scene can convince you of her stunning performance. And then let me not even start about how absolutely adorable she looks in every frame!

The first half of the movie completely unfolds as a Salman Khan Films movie, with the usual, dance, fights and comedy but the second half of the movie has the Kabir Khan Films stamp all over it. The second half is where Kabir Khan weaves his usual magic and shows what he is best at. The cinematography is spectacular with Punjab and Kashmir being presented in breathtaking shots, frame after frame. Pakistan has been shown in a good light and once again we realize that the enmity between the counties is mostly media created. The people on the other side are just like us. There are many bad ones and a few good ones. Just like the rest of the world.

The only area the movie fails in is the music. Not many songs stay with you once the movie is over. Adnan Sami’s sufi rendition being the only song worth mentioning. The chicken song is very different and stands out from the rest. It is a fun song with a foot tapping track. The rest just stay with you as long as the track runs.

On the whole, the movie constantly moves you to tears, either with the rib tickling comedy or the emotional strings it tugs at in scene after scene. Looking around me there was not a dry eye in the theatre by the time the credits start rolling. Once again Salman Khan has delivered. What a great way to say ‘Eid Mubarak’ to all his fans.

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Moment Of Metamorphosis

They say growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional. So when does one actually ‘feel’ grown up. Is it that moment when you realize Santa Claus and tooth fairies are a myth? Or when you find out Shaggy is a weed  smoking hippie that talked to a dog and ate all day? Or when you realize Bert and Arnie might be gay?  Or when you realize teenage life was much easier than leading a life full of responsibility?

It hits everyone at different times of their life…or in some cases, not at all!

Thinking about it seriously, there are some milestones to cross to get to that point when you have truly realized that life has changed for you. A change that has made you stronger and better than who you were. The hardest part of growing up is letting go of what you were used to; and moving on with something you are not.

There are some tell-tale signs that experiences bring forth that show us how much we have changed over time:

  • Life makes you stronger and you realize one day that you are strong enough to let go of your friends. You don’t need to cling to them or identify with them for everything.
  • The day comes when you stop chasing girls/boys and start chasing your dreams. When you know you have a dream and are passionate about making it come true.
  • When you realize your ‘gut’ is your true friend. Because it’s the only one that knows you, understands you and will give tailored advice for you.
  • The day  when you stop thinking about who you are, who you should be and just enjoy being ‘you’. It’s about not needing anyone to tell you how good you are, because you already know you are awesome.
  • To be courageous enough to love or tell someone you love them and not worry about getting it back.
  • You also develop a higher level of empathy towards all people around you. So much that you can listen to all sides of the story and empathize with them.
  • Then the day comes when you realize, being selfish is a good thing. Because you know now that unless you take care of yourself first, you can never take care of anyone else.
  • Learning to use social media for what it was meant; to socialize. To not use it to seek attention or gossip about others.
  • Knowing what your passions in life are and making an effort to follow that dream. To take time to pursue it everyday and feel that inward satisfaction.
  • You realize that you are strong now so you don’t have to stay and fight every little fight and argument. You choose to keep your dignity and walk away, with your head held high rather than fling insults and lower yourself to their level. You know you don’t have to prove yourself to anybody.
  • When it dawns on you that when you cry, you cry alone. Only you can wipe your tears, pick yourself up, and move on.
  • When you realize that as you grow up, you find out who you are and what you want and the friends who you have known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories but you find yourself moving on.
  • And finally, when you are able to look back at your past and realize there are a number of things you would have done differently… if only you were grown up!

So where do you think you are? Or like Rugrats would say, “Are you all growed up?”

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My Journey through Life —with love {Part-3: Bonding with love}

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Another relationship where love happens automatically and without any complications is the one between siblings. Most siblings are known to fight in the early stages of their childhood and almost 90% of the sibling’s rivalries ends in the tightest bonds of friendship as they move into adulthood. In the early childhood days the relationship is more competitive depending on the age difference between the siblings but in almost all these relationships there is an underlying feeling of protectiveness. When an outsider threatens the relationship, the underlying love for each other shows up and they put on a united front to show their protectiveness towards each other. As they grow into adulthood they outgrow their petty fights almost always and they end up being life long friends. What is notable in this relationship is that here again is a relationship based on trust. Once again its blind trust and is unquestionable. Whenever a person needs comfort and there arises a  need to be loved or needed they more often than not turn to their siblings. Here they are sure that they will be trusted, well received, listened too and be loved even if they don’t deserve it.

We all know that people need loving the most when they deserve it the least. It is during those low moments that one needs someone who cares. One is sure in the fact that even if the world shuts them out and even if they don’t deserve it, their siblings are always there for them, that is the basis of this relationship.

I too have a brother and like most other kids fought like the proverbial cats and dogs. I remember beating him and getting beaten up royally by him. Ofcourse I would scream murder after that and get him into royal trouble with my parents. Regardless all thru my childhood I always believed and took it for granted that my brother would always be there for me. Well he was. Being the younger one I would always run to him when I had a problem and he was always there for me, though it was hard to admit I needed his help. Now as adults it comes very naturally to ask for his help, talk to him and pour my heart out. I am also very certain of his unquestionable love and trust, as I am, of my own pledge of love and trust for him. He is one person I can count on always and I know that he will be there for me, as I will for him, no questions asked. That’s the bond we share, that’s the miracle of this relationship. These are relationships which are pre-defined and exist within those parameters and under normal circumstances they function very close together, warmly and affectionately, co-existing but never demanding and always there when you need it.

In my relationship with my brother I realized that it never really mattered that there was a lot of age difference between us. What mattered was that we could connect and it wasn’t always that I needed help. Even though I was younger it never stopped him from sharing his troubles with me. Even if neither of us could do anything about the problem we still found solace in just talking to each other about it. What we both needed and got from each other was the knowledge that there is one person who loved the other a lot no matter what and that gives the strength to move on.


And then  you flip the coin and look at the other side! Sibling rivalry is as real as sibling love, be it Cain & Abel, Thor & Loki or the desi Ambani brothers, we have read all about them. The rivalry arising from a struggle for power and money. They say money can destroy anything and anyone. In the case of these power hungry people, it does stand true. In my journeys, I have come across some siblings who are constantly trying to do better than the other. They expend so much of energy just trying to think up of ways to beat the other. The negativity that starts when they were young stays with them even in their adult life. When talking to one such sibling pair, I was told that the main reason this competition actually started was because of favoritism shown by the parents. So one sibling invariably felt slighted and needed to constantly fight for attention. Yet, they say they don’t feel particularly happy at the other siblings misery but definitely feel miserable at the others’ success. It a competitive rivalry.

There is also the place value of the sibling that matters. Depending on what number you are at in your sibling line, the treatment you get also varies. If you are first in line, you have too much responsibilities, the middle ones are forgotten and the youngest get blamed for everything that happens. When there are many siblings, the oldest takes on the role of protector and cares for the younger ones, especially when there is a big age difference but in families where there are just two, the fight continues until they grow out of it.

To conclude, the typical sibling relationships are very simple. Everyone is sure of what they have and what they give. The boundaries are clear. Ultimately everyone is happy.

Here are some quotes, that sums it all up very beautifully:

  1. “To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.”
  2. “Our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago – the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider…. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled.”
  3. “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.”
  4. “Having lots of siblings is like having built-in best friends.”
  5. “Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring–quite often the hard way.”

 

….coming up next is friendship! Stay tuned.