Category: Everyday life

Jatropha Red

Image courtesy Plantsguru

My red flowering plant is infested by woolly white plant bugs, woolly aphids (I learnt after googling). I have been trying everything to get rids of these bugs – neem oil, alcohol spray, soap water. They give in to the treatment only to resurface under some leaf or some hidden branch. I have chopped off a few branches as well to rid my plant of the sticky bugs. My red flowering plant in the meanwhile (Jatropha Red it’s called) is trying to bloom despite the bugs. The flowers, a little droopy maybe, some buds I had to get rid of thanks to Mr Aphids, refuse to give in and burn bright red in indignation, in hope.

I sometimes feel like the Jatropha Red, fighting the worms, trying to save my buds, struggling with the exasperation, the gloom and the despair, feelings that seem to haunt me often nowadays. And sometimes I wish I could be like the bug. No matter how hard I try to put it down up pops its woolly head shamelessly under some leaf or some branch, ready to put up a fight. The brazenness of the woolly aphids has only made me more determined. I keep a close watch and attack them the moment I spot their dull white. I spray insecticide, I chop off the infested branch whenever possible and I am getting better of them for sure. They will be gone in no time, I know for certain, and my Jatropha Red will bloom in all its glory. Meanwhile, the red flowers, although droopy, give me hope. No matter how bugged they are, their red drowns the annoying woolly white.

It maybe apt to stretch the metaphor of the bug-infested Jatropha Red to the dire straits that we are in. Badly bugged by the infamous Corona Virus we are struggling to bloom, to fight, to stand tall. So many people we know and love have succumbed to the virus or are caught up in a tough fight. Oxygen cylinders are scarce, hospitals have run out of beds and crematoriums are running overtime and even setting up funeral pyres in the parking lot. Those who may not have been affected physically are trying to deal with the mental anguish that the virus has caused. As we try to support the ones we love, frustrating efforts of procuring an oxygen cylinder or a hospital bed or shelling out thousands to a black marketeer to procure a vial of remdesivir, we struggle to put up a brave face. 

At times we break, the masks of our gallantry crumble, we feel scared, hopelessly sinking into an endless abyss. Some nights we lie awake trying to make sense of all the uncertainty and the bleakness around us. In the morning we pull ourselves out of the bed, the hollow feeling dragging us along. But then hope buds and we look beyond the darkness and the despair. 

But no matter what, elections should happen and so should IPL.  Our political leaders are busy addressing poll rallies or blaming each other for the mess that we are in and our cricketing gods are happily playing IPL.  Our cine divas are busy vacationing and scorching the beach in skimpy bikinis or posing in designer masks. After all, we need to be entertained you see, even on our death bed.  Thank god for a few exceptions like Sonu Sood!

Eventually we conquer the hollow feeling and like Jatropha Red, we bloom despite all the gloom. We stand by each other and help each other out to sail through these very difficult times, probably one of the worst crises that humanity has encountered. And I am sure like the Red Jatropha we will beat the ugly bug.

I Want Real

Back to back video calls, webinars, phone ringing constantly, e-mails pouring in. Regular calls with the team to discuss and plan the day for don’t see each other anymore. Scrambling to meet deadlines, virtual office seeping into our evenings and nights…

Calls with friends and family, sometimes on video, for we don’t know when we will meet them for real… COVID-19 pushes us into the bounds of our virtual worlds.

After all the calls and video conferences and deadlines, if we are left with some time, we browse the OTT channels to watch a movie or a series. Or we surf the social media platforms and talk about our life virtual. We can visit the Louvre or Niagara Falls virtually if we like or take a Jungle Safari.

The masked Normal

Yes, virtual, that’s what our life has become. For real is so rare, real needs to be handled with so much care. We don’t need to struggle to hide our feelings anymore for our faces are masked for real. We can’t hug, we can’t kiss, we need to maintain a 6 feet distance or our lives are at risk. Going out for a coffee or drink, taking an impulsive weekend trip are things of the past. The ‘New Normal’ that we once talked about is the ‘NORMAL’ now. Who knows whether the ‘Old Normal’ will ever return?

Yet our optimism or rather our foolhardiness knows no bound. The moment the virus shows some abating we throw all caution to air. Go out unmasked to weddings and parties, election rallies and marches, play Holi and take a dip at the holy Kumbh. Scientific arguments can’t win over idiocy and COVID-19 returns in full glory or rather in fury.

We have lost 2020 to the pandemic and now we seem to be losing 2021 to our callous attitude. Yes, we have all been locked in for too long, these restrictions have frustrated us, the virtual world is getting on our nerves, but if you want Real, get Real! Let’s not nurse any false sense of hope and optimism, only with utmost caution and care can we bring our Real world back, or at least some semblance of Real!

When Friday lost its zing!

Photoshopping to bring the zing back

Friday before a long weekend, that too the Holi weekend! What cheer it should bring, such excitement, so many plans. But surprisingly it feels like just another day. I drove to the neighbourhood market in the morning, and everything looked so usual that I almost forgot Holi’s round the corner. With a ban on playing Holi in public places owing to the surging numbers of COVID cases again, the sale of gulal is on a low. As I was driving back, the anchor in one of the FM channels while talking about a new movie casually mentioned how Friday movie releases are not such a great affair anymore. Queuing up before a movie hall to catch the first show of a much-awaited film was such a big deal once. With the pandemic, lockdown and theatres remaining shut for months, I haven’t watched a movie on the big screen for over a year now.

Fridays when I would hum to work, try to wrap up the tasks at hand as soon as I could and then catch a movie or go for a drink or just head home and watch TV till late thinking happily about the weekend ahead, is a distant memory now. With work from home kicking in post-COVID, Fridays have lost their zing and weekends their charm. The phrase ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ doesn’t ring true anymore. Work spills over to late evenings and weekends and holidays as well. “You are home after all”, is the attitude. Though I am not an advocate of going back to the ‘old normal’ when we would brave the traffic for hours to reach office on time, I do feel work from home needs boundaries. Personal time and space need to be respected.

Work from home has taken some sting off Mondays too. Monday morning blues are not so gloomy anymore, could be because we are forever checking our emails, attending calls even on weekends. Nothing feels special about any day, one day just tumbles busily, sometimes lazily into another. Be it the sting or the zing it’s spread evenly across all days. Each day looks so alike that at times I almost forget which day of the week it is.

Maybe I am just bored, maybe it’s the curbs, maybe it’s me still trying to make sense of things. Whatever it may be, Friday for sure has lost its zing!

The thing about Nothing

Have you ever felt the urge to do absolutely nothing? Just lie on the bed for as long as you please or sit idly with a cup of coffee. No emails that need your attention, no phone calls, no meetings, no deadlines that beckon you. Do what you please with your time or do nothing at all.

Podering upon Nothing

The thing about nothing is it takes us years to realize that it’s perhaps the greatest luxury, the one precious thing that we are all running after. Having to do nothing or rather having our days at our beck and call, idling away, or doing what we please. It’s the joy of being a ‘Superannuated Man’, were Charles Lamb revels in his new-found freedom, of having done away with the routine of a job. It’s on the one hand about doing away with the mundane and tending to tasks that have long been left unattended, things that give us joy. To write, read, paint, cook, travel, or maybe teach the not so fortunate children. But then, nothing doesn’t pay. While the tasks that we choose when we bid goodbye to the mundane may sustain our soul, our bodies demand more, so back we go to the mundane.

But a routine job may not always be that mundane. We do enjoy our jobs and it’s not fair to term them as dull – the short deadlines, the challenges, rushing through the days juggling between different tasks does give us an adrenaline rush. And trying to steal a few moments from our busy days to do the things that are close to our hearts, or just, do nothing. I have often wondered if it’s the elusive nature of ‘nothing’ that makes it so precious. Once I decide to give up the mundane, will nothing come back to bite me? I will read and write, translate all my crazy ideas to beautiful pieces, I will travel as much as I please, such tempting pictures my imagination paints. But is it the mundane routine that prompts my muse? What if nothing or the freedom to do anything I please is not as inspiring?

As 2021 walks in with many hopes, a few questions and uncertainties still hanging in the air, I ponder upon nothing. And these rainy, gloomy January days that the year opened with in Gurgaon seem perfect for lazing and doing nothing. But the new year brought newer challenges. So, every morning while my heart desires to do nothing, my mind restlessly scans through the to-do list pushing me out of my warm winter bed. A long winter break is all my heart desires as I rush through my daily chores and phone calls and zoom meetings, I yearn for a day to do nothing.

My Tryst with Natural Remedies by Gargee Vidyarthi

I have always been keen on natural remedies as have sort of distrust in the modern medicine.  My faith in therapeutic ways of Nature was strengthened when I visited Novdanya Farms in Dehradun in the year 2013.  There I got first-hand experience about how nature has everything for us.  That set me thinking and then in the year 2016 I read an article in Times of India about these women who were using various Natural Products at home.  From then onwards there has been no turning back.  I started with Garbage Enzyme, a sort of Phenyl with multipurpose uses. It can be used as a bodywash or to remove stains etc. This enzyme’s use are many and this convinced me that I could make the shift from using chemicals to natural products

Thus, my journey to minimize chemicals started. I switched to soap nuts or reetha for washing clothes and its effectiveness in cleaning them and removing stains is amazing. The clothes did not lose their colour or fade away.  Now I use reetha water along with, washing soda, vinegar and baking soda for stubborn stains.

The shampoo that I make with reetha/amla and shikakai ensures that my hair remains soft and healthy. My daughter who is in college has perfected the art of making the shampoo even in hostel and she actually gave me the input that we should increase the quantity of shikakai as this results in softer hair.

We have two Labradors and this is the second year when they have not got ticks etc. the reason is that they bathe regularly with neem water and eucalyptus water. Their fur is softer and shinier.

Slow cooking in Mitti Handi

The success with these products prompted me to change the way I cook also. One day I chanced upon to see a video on Mitti Handi (Earthen Pots) and I decided to try and cook in them. Lo and behold the taste was better. I have changed my way of cooking completely now and indulge in slow cooking. No use of pressure cookers for me. I cook dals, non-veg, vegetables in handi’s only.  I use handis both on Gas or Chulha. Truly speaking, the food can be kept outside without refrigeration for a long time. 

I now dabble with creams also and make cream with aloe vera gel + coconut oil or sesame oil. This cream is wonderful and when made with sesame oil acts as a Sunscreen Lotion also.  I use kaajal as well as eye liner which is homemade and this kaajal keeps my eyes healthy.

My tryst with Natural Remedies has been beneficial in more ways than one. I am able to save a lot of money but the main benefit has been health. I try to minimize chemical use and be in touch with earth.  Life has actually become simpler and joyous.

The joy that one gets when making something with our hands is what keeps us grounded with life and nature. It is because we have lost our connection with mother earth as our homes are also far away from the earth due to skyscrapers that our mind and our bodies have also drifted away.

Shifting from chemical and preservative is lot easier than one thinks.  Yes, it does require patience and desire, yet the benefits are tremendous.  Hope that you all will also make the shift. happy Shifting.

 Sharing recipes of my products:

Reetha Shampoo

Reetha – 100 gm/         Amla –  100gm/   Shikakai – 200 gm/ Hibicus leaves – A Handful/  Aloe Vera (Fuesh Gel) – 100-150 gm/ Methi Dana – Handful/ Curry leave – Handful

Soak everything together in warm water overnight and then boil on very slow heat for nearly 1 hour. Let it cool and after the shampoo cools down strain it and use it.  It stays fine for nearly 20-25 days.  Use it like normal shampoo though it may not lather so much but it cleanes and conditions the hair beautifully.

Hair Oil

Coconut oil: 100 ml/    Sesame oil:  100 ml/     Bhringraj :       10 gms/     Brahmi  :       10 gms/      Methi dana :   10 gms/     Kalongi       :   10 gms/     Dry Amla    :    100 gms/     Curry leaves :  a few/    Mehendi leaves : a few/   Hibiscus leaves and flowers : a few

Mix everything together and boil till on slow fire till all the leaves are burnt. let it stand overnight and then strain and use it.

My Story of beating the Pandemic by Titas Mazumdar

The world is, without question, being tested and so are its residents. I am a Mom- Manager- Maker (Home) being challenged every single day and is juggling between the priorities and making the best use of this never dreamt situation, I am in. I often ask this question to myself ‘Do I have a choice’? Probably not

If I am not positive, If I am not happy , If I am not myself then my family won’t be happy, my team won’t be productive and energetic and my house will be on fire and this is the wrong time to be on the negative side of anything with limited choices around.

So yes, I am making the best use of this time to stay positive and keep myself happy and enjoy every ounce of this new NORMAL. In my 17 years of career, I never got the flavour of WFH and somewhere in my heart I yearned for it.  I always had this longing desire for WFH and then all of a sudden someone with a Magic (Curse) wand just granted me one, that too without an expiry date.

The first two weeks of the lockdown – Dreadful is a lesser word to describe it. Country, state, society, office, house all going haywire to cope with this new setting. We were logged in to our office network literally for 16 hours to ensure zero downtime to production & business, ensuring the entire team was well equipped with all setup to work remotely, juggling between tens of excels, hundreds of stats and thousands of numbers, sending back and forth the same data again and again…wondering what’s happening all around. That was the time I felt I don’t have control on anything.

The websites flashing the corona numbers and us checking it like a cricket score, the Whatsapp University flooding with advices and threats, pressure cooker whistling amidst conference calls, kids spilling juice right next to the work station, spouse entering into meeting in the same time in the same room, and you don’t know where to run and hide. Yes, we all went through this and can relate easily.

 And when you are a mom at home, doesn’t matter how many people are there, you will be the one called first for any tiniest help required, how many time you might have asked your little one if she is hungry before your meeting starts, answer will always be “NO.” But the moment you enter into the call you will see the tiny soul coming with tears in the eyes out of hunger, and you don’t know where are you going wrong. You want to bang your laptop or phone, but patiently you go around with your laptop attending the call to search some munchies.

Now next nightmare these new online classes – Zoom, MS Team, hangout –teacher screaming, parents juggling between links, microphone turning on and off, video standing still – Super CRAZY morning for a Super MOM. Then comes your house, you cannot neglect either where you are arrested for 24×7, 30 days a month. Yes, it is equally demanding as your family and team, it needs washing, mopping, dusting.

Making time for creativity

But now after 4 months of working from home, happily I can say all these are HISTORY. Yes, we have won over our initial struggles to set our priorities correctly be it work, parenthood or housekeeping.  Slowly things settled down in course of time. We all started breathing in fresh air. Gurgaon surprised me with air quality of 40-50 AQI.  No travelling to office during rush hours, no traffic congestions, no unnecessary running to Shopping centers and movie halls during weekend. Someone far in the universe played the game of “STATUE’ with our planet earth….everything stopped with a jolt… and with this STOP, the earth started healing.

A paradise flycatcher – a rarely seen bird  visited my society one fine morning to say ‘hello’, dark nights gifted us with twinkling stars, I sit now hours with my daughter showing her the ‘milky way , the seven sisters, the Orion’ like my dad used to show during my childhood. I was able to see those tall buildings by the side of Dwarka expressway, Manesar and bit of Delhi from my 15th floor terrace which were until 2 months back covered with dark clouds and smog. My garden started blooming with rainbow colors by the touch of nurturing hands twice a day which was next to impossible in my pre-lockdown days. I sit at ease and have morning tea and breakfast with my family on a weekday – did I ever think of this before?

It’s amazing to see my child learning in front of me. I used to return home at 9pm dead tired after work and hardly had any time other than weekend for my daughter. Now we spend hours together before and after work talking and reading books. I am teaching her to read and write Bengali, our mother tongue. Yes the universe has given time to mankind to slow down and heal …..And as we heal, we are letting nature heal too. Good quality time with Family is not locked down, Creativity is not locked down, Reading is not locked down, Sunshine and hope is not locked down.

I am hopeful this time good or bad will pass slowly like a mixture of nightmare and sweet dreams. One day we will join again, cry for our losses, laugh on the moments which we spend together with family which was a rarity otherwise, we will talk about the new ways of life which we created post pandemic, we will once again sing and dance together holding hands but never to forget what this PANDEMIC taught us…The biggest lesson of our lives till date- To take a Pause and count our blessings ….if we wake up to the dawn of 2021!!

Hope in the time of pandemic by Poonam Tibrewal

These are truly strange and unique times. The ongoing global pandemic is not just affecting one country, one continent or one society, it is affecting the whole world equally! COVID-19 has removed barriers of ‘we and they’, ‘here and there’, and has stirred up the value of belongingness among us. It has demonstrated that our globe is one single interdependent community. Though the crisis has brought the world to a halt today and sadly, the health and economic impact will be disastrous, I feel that from an emotional angle, the pros will outweigh the cons making us a global community with more empathy.

Despite the lingering uncertainty, COVID-19 silently offers us an opportunity to reflect on our spiritual side. In taking a moment to pause it helps us to be a little less reactive, to find some clarity that can help us be more responsible in the face of strong emotions. For instance, in many countries we saw societies pulling themselves together with the national anthem, or just singing together out of our balconies/windows, united to face this common threat.

Yes, these are scary, difficult times, and they are likely to get worse before they get better. But as we shake our heads at the reckless behavior featured on the news, or we throw up our hands in despair wondering how we can make a difference,we can introspect and look for ways to do something to make things a little better. I saw many such small acts of kindness around me. Whether it was friends who cooked meals over several days to be distributed to the migrant workers, my daughters who created beautiful things out of waste and generated funds to buy food for birds and street dogs, neighbors who helped senior citizens with essentials since they couldn’t step out. In every moment of darkness, it seems, there are countless moments of light — small gestures of compassion and connection that allow people to show who they are, how they want to live, and what matters to them.

For me personally, I’ve found myself reconnecting with family and friends on the other side of the world, and it eases my mind a little bit knowing we’re doing similar things. We find ourselves joined together across the world, waiting for Covid-19 to reveal our future. I’ve also found that this is a really good time to reflect on my routines. The constant protests about the lack of time…not enough with family, not enough to pursue my hobbies. Now with this sudden gift of time, did I do everything that mattered to me? Or has the very definition of what matters to me changed in the face of this adversity? Being constrained for months many of us wonder if there will ever be a real life outside our homes. Our tasks are now more about subsistence, not profit. We cook and we clean. We ask for help as help and don’t disguise it with marketing jargon like “collaboration” or “partnership”. In this new normal I find myself pondering, even looking forward to an imagined future…a future full of hope, dreams and a world which is worth saving!

This crisis has given us all a much-needed pause to reflect on the things that need to be protected and conserved. Maybe this is what will see us through over the next millennium and even after!

Communication consultant Poonam Tibrewal enjoys reading and writing in her free time. During the lockdown, she discovered her passion for cooking. Poonam is a mother of two adorable girls, Aliya and Amira. She engages with her daughters in various handicraft projects like painting bottles, making things out of waste to keep them meaningfully engaged while they are at home.

Wardrobe Woes

Last night I had a dream. My saris, blouses, dresses and tunics were floating around me and talking to me. ‘When are you going to wear me again?’ asked my purple kanchivaram in her silky voice. I had worn the purple beauty only once during my cousin’s wedding, I recalled. Pretty pink jamdani glared at me angrily. I had almost forgotten about her. My range of designer blouses, tunics and dresses started jostling for my attention. Golden stiletto and red sandal started accusing me of neglect. They started dancing around me as if in frenzy, pulling me in all directions. The golden stiletto suddenly kicked hard on my ankle. Startled, I woke up. ‘What a crazy dream or rather a nightmare!’

I switched on the light and opened the wardrobe. All my clothes were in the right place. Saris stacked up neatly on top of each other, blouses stuffed in the drawer, dresses and tunics hanging close to each other. I opened my shoe closet next. At least 30 pairs of shoes snuggling close to each other, at least 10 pairs that I haven’t slipped my feet into in months. I took another look at my prized sari collection. Many of those, especially the expensive ones haven’t been worn in years. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep. The images of my overstuffed wardrobe and shoe rack suddenly started mocking me. Locked up at home, with social distancing the new norm, I was quite clueless about when I would get to wear all these clothes and shoes again.

The image of me prancing around as girl in a flowery frock flashed before my eyes. I had about 8 to 10 ‘good clothes’ then that I wore for birthday parties, weddings, for visiting friends and neighbours etc. – frocks, skirts and tops mostly stitched by mom, a few pairs of jeans, and two pairs of shoes, besides the school going shoes. With what sounds like a limited wardrobe now, I was considered to be a well-dressed girl back then. I was very happy accepting hand me downs from my older cousins as well. It was a done thing then.

My mom, who loves saris, owned about 4 to 5 expensive saris then (besides her regular cotton, organza, and silks) that she should wear for weddings and special functions. It was absolutely fine to repeat those saris. She had a beautiful rani pink tanchoi silk sari that she would wear for such functions quite often.  Later, when the sari started coming apart, she cut it and made a beautiful kurta for me that I cherished for many years. She would also wear a beautiful peacock blue kanjivaram with broad red border every now and then.

I started becoming more ‘fashion conscious’ during my college days. Mom stitched clothes were not enough, I wanted branded clothes. When I started working, I would spend a lot of time in Sarojini Nagar hunting for fashionable clothes, knock-offs that would fit my budget. From street fashion, I soon moved to the branded stores and then to the glittering malls that offered great deals on international brands. E-commerce sites that offered everything from lingerie to footwear at an enviable price further added to the allure. My wardrobe was spilling, my shoe rack was full, I had more purses than I could carry, but I just couldn’t stop buying.

Sari day at work

With years I became a little more discerning, chose style over fashion, or so I thought. I developed a fondness for saris like mom and started buying saris from all over India. Be it Bengal cotton, south cotton, chanderi, baluchori, ikkat, bomkai or kachivaram, I have them all. The cotton and the silk ones I would wear often to work. The more expensive ones were worn for weddings etc. I have also built a collection of exclusive dresses and tunics, thanks to my designer friends.   Though I have been spending money on saris and other expensive clothes it didn’t feel like a waste. ‘These are classics that would never go out of fashion’, I would tell myself.

My wardrobe made me feel good. I was ready for all occasions. But every occasion demanded something new because repeating an outfit is an absolute no-no. How could you wear the same outfit or sari before the same crowd? Posting a picture on social media in the same dress twice? Thus, I ended up with so many saris, clothes, and shoes that I love and that look great on me. Ironically enough, I have worn these beautiful things only once or twice, just because I can’t repeat myself. Seriously, when did I become such a hoarder or a show-off, or both!

“This has to stop. I am going to wear all my clothes over and over. I am going to repeat my saris because I feel beautiful in them.” Maybe I am a bit delusional with the extended lockdown or maybe I have more time to self-reflect or maybe it’s both!

A showgirl sans audience

Locked in all alone in my apartment, no one’s coming, no one’s watching me, I can do pretty much as I please. I can don my finest clothes and walk around, or I can choose to wear nothing. I can be on bed the whole day and laze around. I can read or watch TV through the night and get up at noon. I can sing, I can dance, I can scream (as long it doesn’t reach my neighbours), I can be a mess, or I can be perfect. Who cares? No one’s here to judge and comment on my choices. What freedom!

A regular day at work before COVID

Yes, that was my initial feeling of glee (in these gloomy times) when the lockdown was first announced. But alas, it was short-lived. I blamed it first at having to work from home. “If I didn’t have to open the laptop at 9:30 every morning life would be so much better,” I grumbled to myself. Then I realized my weekends were no better. So obsessed I was with cleaning every nook and corner of my apartment, cooking a perfect meal that I managed to have lunch only at 4 on weekends. After that, I would be too exhausted to do anything, usually not in such a great mood.

Lockdown, which in some ways has been a break for many, has been utterly exhausting for me. I go to bed planning the next day’s chores “I have to be up by 7 and clean the balconies, chop the veggies and then close a proposal before the 10 a.m. call,” I would mutter to myself at night like a prayer. I would jump up in the morning and chide myself for waking up late for there’s so much to do. I pushed myself almost to the brink – the house had to be perfect, meals cooked, all the tasks done well ahead of time. I even dress up every morning for office (my living room now) or a call, that’s something I actually enjoy.

Many moods: work from home

In the evening when I would finally relax with a cup of coffee, I would look around me with some pride and satisfaction. I would look at myself in the mirror and smile. But then, the feeling of being let down and being under-appreciated would come gushing back. My friends who sometimes are not able to call me every day, my colleagues and acquaintances who don’t seem to appreciate me adequately would be frowned upon. For, strangely enough, I would feel like a martyr. “I am doing so much from morning till night (all for myself, on my own accord), and no one cares.”

Many moods: work from home

But why should anyone care? Why should I care whether anybody cares about what I do within my four walls? But unfortunately, I do. I guess we all do, whether we like to admit it or not. We have a bit of a narcissist strain running in us, we are all bit of show-offs. We love to be acknowledged, we love to be appreciated, we love all the attention we get. My life is my show, my performance and I am the protagonist or the showgirl. Not having an audience for our show has perhaps been one dilemma for people like me, who are locked in alone. Though I was a little ashamed when the realization first dawned on me, it’s not such a bad thing, I guess. My urge to show myself off is something that is driving me along as I wait eagerly to catch up with my friends and family once this is over.

Now that I have accepted the fact that there’s a showgirl in me who’s missing not having an audience around, I am much more at peace with myself, I am much happier. I have stopped blaming others for not being there, I stopped being hard on myself. The showgirl does as she pleases, she smiles at herself often, she ponders, she relaxes. And most of all, she takes good care of herself, for when she steps out again, she would like to put her best foot forward!

A novel twist to the desi New Years

It’s New Year time, I mean time for desi New Year Celebrations. Be it Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Noboborsho in Bengal or Vishu in Kerala, most regions in India usher in New Year mid-April, sometime between 13th to 15th April. These days are significant for each community marked with new purchases, feasting and cultural celebrations. People visit their places of worship, layout traditional feasts, visit each other, there are so many social dos.

This year, however, it was different. Locked in to tackle a novel virus we did not have much to celebrate for. With social distancing becoming the new norm, any kind of function or social visits were out of the question. Some of us did manage to dish out feasts at home with whatever ingredients one could manage. Picture of homecooked delicacies on social media and WhatsApp groups did bring me some cheer. We wished each other in our virtual world while the real world wore a deserted look. We prayed in the solace of our home wishing for our old world to be back soon.

Photo courtesy Abhishek Rana

Nature, on the other hand, had a different story to tell. There were celebrations all around. As I went to my balcony at night in my good noboborsho pyjamas, after a plateful of special Maggi for dinner, a glowing Venus greeted me in all her glory followed by her friends twinkling with joy in a clear night sky. The plants in my small balcony garden have never looked greener, blooming periwinkles are such delight to my eyes. Ganga water has become fit for drinking and Yamuna has never been this clean before. Dolphins have been seen on Mumbai beach, peacocks and deer are out in the road. The most polluted cities of India are filled with Oxygen. The story is the same world over. Nature is revelling as we humans are locked in!

My blooming garden

We vain humans. For all our successes, our march to progress, we forgot that we are but a small cog in the grand scheme of things. We forgot that we once worshipped and celebrated nature, and not destroyed her mindlessly. Indian New Years, that usually fall in the fag-end of spring, mark the beginning of harvest season, celebrates Mother nature before sowing new seeds. Nature has been an inherent part of our culture. Epitomized as Prakriti, a fertile woman or a mother, who conjoins with Purusha, the man, to create and nurture the world – the world that consists of all things living, not just humans. 

Spring Sky. Courtesy Riti Chakraborty

Other civilizations across the globe, have their own lore’s of nature, of man’s oneness with nature. Gods and Goddesses in both Hindu and Greek mythology symbolize many forces of nature. Noah’s ark that saved his family from the great Biblical flood also sheltered thousands of species of animals. In fact, God commanded him to do so.

But for us, the educated urbane lot, these are just mythological tales, mere lore that the novel virus has thrown back on our face, rather mercilessly. Yes, a rude jolt was what we needed, but it remains to be seen how long we stay awake!