February 1, 2016

Being Burnt Wasn't A Bad Thing Afterall #10YearAnniversary

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching -- they are your family. ” ― Jim Butcher

Do you believe everything happens for a reason?

Well, maybe you should.

31st January 2006

It was the day I finally decided to start studying for placements which were due in a month. I was in the 3rd year of Engineering and unlike the others, I hadn’t even started preparing yet. But there was still time. I would just go down to the mess, have dinner and attempt a night out, which in Engineering lingo meant study throughout the night.

Well, little did I know then that a night out I would certainly have but not at all in the way I had imagined.

Present day

Sometimes the best of things can happen to you in the weirdest of ways possible.

Given a choice, which would you pick- Joy or Sadness?

The former, surely? I would too. But don’t you think that at times the sadness which precedes joy makes it even more worthwhile?

Think about it.

That crushing feeling in living away from your family also brings with it the realization that there are people in your life whom you love and who love you back.

Those tears at failing to achieve something is also accompanied by that warm feeling of having a drive in life, something which eggs on you to do better and better always.

That disappointment at losing a game comes with the satisfaction of having tried your best.

That guilt at having done something wrong is followed by the relief at having repented, the realization that it was wrong.

Notice how something bad is always followed by something good.

Yes, that cliched sweet are the uses of adversity philosophy is actually true, something I found out thanks to an accident which happened 10 years back.

It was something which at that point in time I thought was all bad. But now that I look back, I realize how thankful I am for it to have come to pass.

31st January 2006

On my way back to my room after dinner, I stopped at one of my senior’s. It was cold, the coiled room heater was on and I found a seat next to it. There were four of us there that day. Two seniors and my roommate apart from myself. We started talking about companies which were about to visit our campus, how underprepared we were and then about movies we were going to see that weekend. And then suddenly, just like that, in the middle of a conversation, the long skirt I was wearing caught fire.

Everything happened so fast that for a fleeting moment I thought fire would be my undoing. I was going to die. Yes, that thought crossed my mind. I stood up, the fire engulfed my legs and nobody knew what to do. We were all scared, shocked, almost numb.

But almost as a message from God, an idea struck and I started rolling on the floor to put the blaze out. Thankfully, it worked and I lived to tell the tale. How could I die? My life was just about to begin. Yes, my thighs were badly burnt and I suffered for a long time after that day but it was all in preparation for a wonderful beginning in my life.

Present Day 

It has been 10 years since that fateful night. The pain, the burns all of those seem hazy and inconsequential in comparison to what I remember about that night.

That night culminated to this life I have today with S. That night is more about the memory of waking up to S near my hospital bed. That night is about the beginning of something that completely changed the course of my life.

Let you in on a secret? 

Every guy from my year in college made it a point to visit the hospital while I was there. No, not really to see me. Well, maybe seeing me was part of the bigger plan, the plan to find a girlfriend for themselves, start a new love story because all the girls from the girls’ hostel would definitely be there. No, it wasn’t a bad thing because it was college life after all. But things really didn’t go as planned, sadly for them. What happened, on the contrary, was a love story between the unlikeliest of pairings.

Yes, being burnt wasn’t so bad after all. The scars to this day remind me of how an accident brought S into my life.

Sometimes I think,

If my skirt hadn’t caught fire that night, S and I would probably have never got together.

If I had worn jeans instead of that skirt then the fire fiasco wouldn’t have happened and again I wouldn’t have had this life with S.

A rather twisted way of looking at things, I know. But it’s probably true. In fact, I know it is certainly true.

It is strange how in spite of so much pain and suffering, all I remember about this incident is the start of something wonderful with S. The human mind, and of course the heart, work in mysterious ways. How they remember the good and just push the hurt, pain and struggles into the background. Strange but marvelous, right?

Well, I guess happy anniversary to me!

I leave you today with this quote to reflect upon.

Always in life bad times will lead to great times. - M. Night Shyamalan

Linking this to the Lost & Found Blog Hop here
Thanks, Vidya for telling me about this :)

January 29, 2016

Be Future Ready, #DoYourHomework

A new life in your hands suddenly throws a whole new perspective on life. You realize how much her life depends on you, on your choices, and entirely too. That's when the need to plan for your child's future assumes top most priority.

It has been a little more than two months since I have become a parent, a mother and still there is this urgency in me to plan for my daughter's future. Perhaps, that's what happens to everyone. My parents felt, still feel, the same way about me and now I about her.

But why is it so important to plan for your child's future?

Every parent, and you too if you are one wants the best for their child. There are no two ways about it. And to do that, planning is a must.

Ten to fifteen years back, perhaps, we had followed our parents' footsteps, chosen conventional career options. The cost of education too wasn't so high then as it is today. And no one knows what the cost would be, say, twenty years down the line. For that, parents need to plan.

The children of today have so many career options. Hence, it is not wrong to say that the choices would only multiply in the future. However, that shouldn't stop parents from fulfilling their children's aspirationsSo, for that too, parents need to plan.

To let children follow their dreams you need to plan, you need to do your homework, we parents need to do our homework. 

A campaign, Do Your Homework, actually showed how parents are eager to ensure their children's career choices, conventional or not, are realized. To ensure that their children's options, and hence wings, are not clipped.

Parents need to plan for their children's future to

  • be future ready.
  • not limit the choices available to their children.
  • handle the high fees.
  • be prepared for foreign education.
  • be equipped for living expenses in addition to course fees.
  • most importantly, fulfill their children's dreams.

How do we as parents do it?

We need to know how much it could cost and how much it would cost to help our children realize their dreams. The planning needs to be around this very important fact. 

  • We can use something like an education calculator or the Homework App to find out education costs across courses and countries.
  • We can help children explore different career options by helping them know about various professions.
  • We can as investors educate ourselves on the options available.

The point is to be future ready. 

Let us be on the same page as our children and give them the career, the future and the life they so desire. Let us do our homework and do it well this time.

January 28, 2016

How The Man I Married Made Me Feel Grateful This Week

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan

Have you ever been surprised by the ones you love?

Of course, you have.

What I mean to ask is - have you ever felt overwhelmed with joy by something being done by your loved ones, something that is so true to who they are as individuals but which still managed to surprise you pleasantly?

Yes, the people you love can at times, by a simple yet special gesture, leave your heart feeling warm, fuzzy and full of pride.

It's true. S actually did something this week which has left me beaming with pride. Every once in a while, he manages to surprise me in ways I never knew possible.

The surprise

So, the other day I was putting M to sleep when my maid asked for a raise again. Now, she has been working with us for about 4 months now. There is no doubt I love the way she cleans the house and how she never misses a day without informing but I didn't want to increase her salary so soon. You know, they can sometimes take this to be a norm and keep asking for a hike every few months. Hence, I just asked her to wait for a couple more months and then I would definitely do the needful.

She,  however, just like the first time around, asked me to discuss it with S before saying no. It's not her fault actually. Haven't we as a society always believed that only the man of the house has the final say in all decisions, especially financial ones? But I digress.

Anyhow, at that very moment S was in the other room listening to the entire conversation. What happened next made me realise what a wonderful man I had ended up marrying, what a wonderful man indeed.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank

He came in and asked my maid how many daughters she has, where they were studying and how much it cost. She was, maybe, a little surprised at this sudden turn of conversation. But they continued, S in Hindi and she in a little bit of Tamil with broken Hindi.

We found out that her eldest was going to a Government school, free of cost. The youngest one though was just in UKG, in a different school where the monthly fee was about Rs. 2000. That's when I realised what he was about to do.

S told my maid that he would pay the school fees for her youngest daughter, every month. He told her that we won't be increasing her pay instead help her in this way.

"You need an attitude of service. You're not just serving yourself. You help others to grow up and you grow with them." - David Green

However, to make sure that the money was not being used for something else, his one and only condition was that she bring the payment receipt every month. It was for us to know that the money was actually being put to right use, as school fees for her daughter.

The look on her face was priceless. Of course, she was worried I would end up fighting with S for offering this but we managed to allay her fears eventually.

I am so happy and slightly ashamed that I couldn't come up with something like this to help her. 

While I keep harping on how we should help people, S goes right ahead and does it. That's what I love about him. Thank God, M has him to look up to!

I'm so grateful for having him in my life. I'm so proud that I have a family, a life with a man who knows whom to help and how to help, who does all of this without expecting anything in return. I'm really grateful.

Well, that was all for today. Here's a quote I leave you all with,

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ― Charles Dickens

Linking this to the Gratitude Circle Blog hop hosted by the awesome Vidya Sury

January 24, 2016

Do Away With Superstitions To Invest Well #JanoTohMano

It is common knowledge that as people we are a superstitious bunch. Whether it is the fear of a black feline crossing our path while striding purposefully to our destination or the discomfort of an unwanted sneeze just before stepping out of the threshold, these beliefs find their way into our minds in one way or the other.

But are superstitions any good?

Of-course not but somehow we all tend to believe in these in varying capacities. Perhaps, the fear of challenging fate is what gets us to do that. While it is less than harmful to retrace our steps to negate the effects of a black cat crossing our path, we can’t say the same about our reactions to others.

While all superstitions are harmful, some are more so as compared to the others.

Remember the forward messages we keep getting? Forward so and so message to 10 people to avoid bad luck or share a picture 100 times to make money. These are anything but hoaxes playing on our weaknesses.

We might think who believes in such things? I did too. But once we ponder seriously we realize that there are people who actually do so. And the scary thing is, they are not much unlike you and I, these people.

If I can wait 5 more minutes before leaving home at the behest of a untimely sneeze, in spite of knowing fully well that it’s just another superstition, imagine what more gullible folks might do? Especially when it comes to money matters or getting favorable returns.

Superstition in Investment is never good.

While it would be great if forwarding a certain message to a bunch of people could earn us some bucks, the world doesn’t work that way. Making money is just not that easy. If it would be so everyone with a mobile phone would wind up wealthy, without much effort too. Poverty would be a myth. But that’s just wistful thinking.

We need to make sensible and informed choices, you and I. No amount of forwarding messages can do that for us.

Investment isn’t something for which superstition can do the leg work. No, sir.

The thumb rule for investment is knowing where we are putting our money to predict the returns. No ritual or belief can do away with that very important step. It is imperative to have a sound investment strategy to grow our wealth. While there are several ways to do that, investing in equity mutual funds could be an option.

Our investment mantra should be ‘Do away with superstitions or unwarranted beliefs while investing. Know and Invest.' #JanoTohMano

Would we walk into a tunnel blindfolded at the promise of great returns at the very end? Or, would we find out about the tunnel before hand, keep our eyes and ears open before walking into it? I’m sure given a choice we would certainly pick the latter.

Yes, we need to know before believing, not just give into beliefs blindly when it comes to investments, always. It is about our financial security after all. So, do away with superstitions to invest well.

January 21, 2016

Everyone Wants To Teach Me How To Be A Mom

© www.nabanitadhar.in

Don’t you sometimes feel smothered by unsolicited opinions hurled towards you by people, friends or at times even random strangers?

Don’t you feel appalled when people find it’s okay to advise you on your own life, even when you haven’t asked for any?

Everyone seems to know, no actually, everyone believes they know better about how to live your life than you yourself do. What you should wear or eat, where you should study or work, what kind of person you should be, they assume you are doing it all wrong and must listen to what they have to say. Tell me this, haven’t you wished this cacophonous buzz to just stop once and for all?

Well, I have. And more so in the past few days.

Everybody seems to have an opinion on the kind of mother I should be, now that I am one. 

The advice just keeps pouring in.

I like to experience life by myself. I need to do my own learning and make my own mistakes.

I don’t need any Tom, Dick or Harry, rather any Tara, Diana or Heather telling me what kind of mother I need to be. 

That’s just how I’m wired.

But that doesn’t stop people from overstepping, does it?

From whether I should use Pampers or cloth nappies for my daughter to which creche I should put her in. From why I’m using Pampers and not cloth nappies to why I’m not using kajal on her. God! It just doesn’t stop.

Everything I do is wrong, apparently. And I’m not saying I’m all perfect but can’t I learn how to be a mother to my child on my own. I’m sure I’ll do just fine.

For the record, I’m not a person who oversteps her boundaries. I never force my opinion down someone’s throat. Never. So, when my personal space is breached, I just can’t handle it.

Why can’t people just respect boundaries?

Sometimes I just want to tell them that M is my and S’s responsibility and, thank you so much but, you needn’t worry about her. Yes, we are new to parenting but we’ll manage.

Nobody is born a parent, right?

And it’s not only about the how-tos, mind you. You are scrutinized for every statement you make.

When I wrote that delivery was one of the most painful experience in my life, I apparently should have added that M makes it all worth it. Because, without that explict statement, I 'm just a sefish woman, a bad mother. Which I certainly don’t understand because isn’t every mother a good mother?
To say I miss work is apparenlty the same as saying I don't value the time with M. As if I can’t be a mother and an individual at the same time. As if yearning for going back to work or simply going out on my own is wrong.

It is like I have become a walking, talking example of terms and conditions applied. So, if I say something which, God forbid, sounds sacrilegious to the mommy brigade, the asterisk at the end would signify that M does make it all worth it.

Are we really that harsh on mothers? I didn’t know. I mean I did to a certain extent but it is very overwhelming to live it. What’s hurtful is that mothers do that to other mothers. Yes.

I remember reading how a stay-at-home mom thinks that working mothers are being unfair to their children. 
I remember specifically one such mother commenting on how someone can leave their child in the care of some unknown person. Of course, the other way round is not rosy either. Working mothers judging stay-at-home moms for giving up their careers is not unheard of. 

Actually, you can pretty much just say that any mother judging the parenting methods of another is a norm.

Why can’t we keep our views to ourselves? I get that we can’t stop judging people, especially those who make life choices in complete contrast to ours. 

But do we really need to make it a point to throw our views out there when we clearly know it’s not the right thing to do?

I know this post sounds like a rant and maybe it is. I just want to tell those nosy people, as good as your intentions are, please back off. Let me be the kind of mother I want to be and if I need to change let M be the one to tell that to me, not you.

Well, I’m not going to ask if you have experienced this because I’m sure you have. So, mothers just go on and tell me your stories of being judged for your parenting and life decisions? I’m all ears.

January 18, 2016

5 Things You Ought To Remember Before Planning A Trip

Who doesn’t love a change of scene?

Everyone does. A move away from the monotonous everyday routine, even if just for a few days, is one everyone wishes for. And the answer to that desire of escape lies in one word, travel.

Sometimes this desire is so strong that it’s very easy to get carried away with the notion in itself. And that, let me tell you, isn’t recommended at all.


Because when that happens you might forget some essential aspects. That eventually could land you in some very tough spots. Not something you would want happening on vacations, would you?

While the romanticism associated with travel is hard to avoid, it is also a must to allow some room for planning. Yes, as mundane as it might sound, you wouldn’t want to turn your escape into a nightmare. Even seasoned travelers would advise the same. While a surprise turn could be adventurous, you really wouldn’t want to be caught unawares in unfamiliar surroundings.

Now, I am, by my own admission, a reluctant traveler. But even then I like my vacations stress-free. Hence, I take planning extremely seriously and so should you. I dislike being unprepared for anything. I abhor untoward surprises in every aspect of life, even while traveling. While a last minute solution could work once, even twice but I wouldn't really advise leaving it to that.

You shouldn’t look for shortcuts when it comes to anything in life, even travel.

So, today I’m going to share with you 5 things that every vacationer needs to take care of to have that perfect few days away from pandemonium.

Travel Insurance

This might not seem very important but trust me it is. I know that the general trend is to omit this, thinking of it as an unwanted expenditure but it certainly isn’t. Cancelations, delays, medical expenses, baggage losses among a host of other unforeseen complications could be easily dealt with travel insurance.

Do don’t book tickets before your leaves are approved

It is always, always imperative to plan your holidays in advance, especially if you are working. These days with ticket cancelations having so many hidden charges, you wouldn’t want to have to do that, especially when it comes to air tickets. Unless of course, you don’t mind paying unnecessary charges to the airline industry from your hard earned money. So, book your tickets only when you have your leaves approved.

Avoid planning travels around festivals

This is something I can vouch for. I always end up taking vacation time during festivals, the result being having to shell out a huge sum on tickets. So, if you can avoid the festival season, do that. An added advantage to that would be less crowd at your destination, so a win-win in all aspects.

Prefer booking directing via hotel websites

While there are several travel sites which claim to give you great deals on bookings, I have from personal experience seen that it is always better to contact the hotel directly. I remember having done that while traveling around Europe and saving a lot in the bargain. You wouldn’t want to make bad investments, even if it is with respect to travel.

Check reviews before booking

I always say that the best thing about this internet crazy time is the enormous information at our disposal. So, make use of that to get your money’s worth. Take time out, sieve through all the available options and finally, settle in on one that best suits your needs in terms of fun and finance.

Well, those were some tips which I could offer you. Do not hesitate to add yours for one can never have too much of good advice. So, keep them coming.

While on the topic of financial security and insurance you might want to check out Exide Life. It is a brand that works on the principle that there are no shortcuts to long-term financial security, #NoMoreShortCuts. To lead a protected life in terms of being insured, it actually makes sense to do away with this quick fix attitude which we Indians tend to have. Always better to plan and be prepared. And not only for financial security but for your long term happiness to be insured as well. That’s what people at Exide Life try to work for. Check them out, here.

January 14, 2016

The Final Push : My Birthing Story

10:30 PM, 13th November 2015

I had just finished publishing the post, Meet the greatest Man I know, something I had really wanted to write when it happened. It sounded almost like a champagne cork popping and I knew the floodgates had opened. My water had broken and our baby was on her way, two weeks early too.

I had been feeling extremely uncomfortable that entire day. Somewhere deep, deep down I think I knew it would be my last working day, before my maternity leave. So, on this hunch, I even brought back home all my personal stuff from work that day. Yes, seems strange but I think I knew.

Once I realized that my water had broken, I woke S up. For a moment, we just stood there, just for a fleeting moment to acknowledge the enormity of what was about to ensue. Almost as if life’s reel was being played in slow motion for one second but by the next it was up to normal speed again. We called my OB/GYN and on her advice were to drive down to the hospital. The moment of truth, if you would call it, had arrived.

11:00 PM,13th November 2015

We got into our car, the bags carefully placed in its trunk but just then S realized he wasn’t sure if he had locked the door to our flat. So, he went back upstairs. Once that was taken care of, S had again forgotten his belt.

Now you would think this was no moment to keep forgetting things? But of course, it was. It was the perfect moment to do so.

This was just S being nervous. And who wouldn’t have been in his position? So, I asked him to calm down, go get his belt, lock the door to our flat and come down slowly. There was nothing to panic, everything would be fine. It was almost midnight so there would be no traffic as well. We would reach the hospital in 15 minutes tops. And we did too.

12:00 AM, 14th November 2015

I was admitted and moved to my room at the hospital, all the while leaking amniotic fluid. Trust me, it’s anything but comfortable. You would think that being a woman I should somehow have been familiar with such a leaking situation but no. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that when the damn amniotic fluid leaks, it pours. Everywhere I sat or walked, I left a trail. But that was just the beginning of the entire experience of childbirth, just the beginning.

I had felt the first contraction while on our way to the hospital. It was bearable and I for a moment floundered by wondering what the fuss was all about. It was nothing extraordinary. But then I reminded myself it was just the beginning and what did I know!

Contractions must have been designed by some sadist who hated women!

I was started on some drips and slowly, gradually I realized what the hoopla around contractions was. It was horrible. Initially, the time between contractions lets you breathe but as time proceeds it becomes impossible to do even that. Breathing, talking, sleeping or staying awake, everything becomes extremely difficult with contractions. Every damn thing.

Now before that day I had not really given a thought about birthing or breathing techniques, natural or c-section delivery. I figured I would take it as it comes. Of course, I knew everyone preferred natural delivery but honestly I had given no thought at all. It was almost as if I was expecting a stork to deliver my child.

As the pain increased, I begged the nurse on duty to do something. When my OB/GYN came visiting, I urged her to do something, anything. But it was only after a few hours of me crying that they decided to give an epidural. Finally. 

I was so relieved. At least, the pain would be bearable now. But there was a catch.

Not enough dilation means no epidural which means no respite from pain.

Dilation, of course. Did you know that they don’t give you an epidural unless you are dilated enough! So, I had to wait and bear the pain. Finally after requesting for almost about 7 hours, the spinal tap was made to administer the first dose.

I’m going to not talk to anyone who says epidural reduces labor pain or makes it bearable!

Was my pain reduced?

Of course not! I don’t know if it really works but for me, it just didn't. Maybe after the first dose, the pain was slightly bearable for all of 15 minutes but not after that. Not even after administering it the second time. By then I was delirious. I wanted to take the baby out of me, c-section it out of me so that these God-forsaken contractions would finally end. But my doctor, thank God for her, wanted me to have a normal delivery. So, she waited for me to dilate further. Every time she would come and say let’s wait for another half an hour. Then they would administer something in the drip, probably to help me dilate but the pain would also increase exponentially.

Dilation happens at a pace slower than that of a tortoise.

I remember cursing S for being in that situation, for all the pain. Even him telling me that everything would be alright ended up in a curt rebuff from me. And he, like a darling, listened to everything quietly. Of course, he had to 
which he did because in his words I was the one tasked with bringing a living being out of myself not him. I could see how much he wished it was him going through the pain and not me. It was written all over his face. I had never seen him so shaken up, never.

Labor pain is unlike anything I had experienced before. And this coming from someone who had gotten burnt badly once in college, experiencing terrible pain. But this labor pain was zillion times worse than that. There’s nothing you can do, no position you can lie or sit in that can reduce it. There’s only one way to get rid of it and that’s to deliver your baby. But to get to that point, the journey is hard, extremely hard.

Consider this. Take getting burnt and cutting off your limbs while conscious and multiply the pain a zillion times. What you get is not even close to labor pain.

The Dilation fairy finally waves her magic wand.

When I finally dilated to the point that a normal delivery could be attempted, I found myself surrounded by a number of nurses and doctors. Some nurses were asking me to breathe to make the process easier. Everyone was saying something and I didn't know whom to listen to, whether to concentrate on pushing, breathing or holding myself in a steady position! But let me tell you something, no amount of breathing makes anything easier. At one point, I had almost given up.

It’s exhausting. Imagine a fully grown women pushing your stomach with all her might. That along with the labor pain. I thought I would die. They urged me to push. I did but it was hard. Finally, they could see her head, crowning I think they call it? So, they asked me for my final push and put everything into it. 

They told me my baby’s heart beat was reducing, that she was in pain too. So, it was up to me to end both our pains. At that point, even S was in the room but he was horrified at the sight. The shouting, screaming, blood and gore, not an easy scene to witness.

The final push!

Somehow I gathered every ounce of strength I had, which wasn’t much, and gave my everything to one last push. It was so damn painful but I did. I almost felt that I would die it was so horrible. But nothing like that happened. The labor pain almost miraculously went away and I felt worn out. Almost like you do after a very high fever reduces.

The pain was gone and they had placed my baby girl on me. Of course at that point, I was barely conscious. What I mean to say is, I was conscious but in a haze. I had given birth, I was a mom but everything was a blur except for these three words - It’s a Girl.

If I were to describe my experience in one word, it would be exhausting, truly exhausting.

Will I go through it again?

Well, the jury is still out on that.

That was my story. All you mothers reading this do share your story with me. And the fathers, don't fall back I'm sure you have a story to tell too.

January 11, 2016

Star Wars : Let's #Yodify Our Grammar


Can you believe that we are into the second week of 2016 already? Time really does fly, doesn't it? Anyways.

How has the new year been treating you?

Only too well, I hope. Well, I have been busy with my baby girl, of course, but also with watching movies, quite a few actually.

S and my sister had quite a number of holidays and hence a movie marathon was on. And we did all of that between feeding, nappy duty and putting her to sleep.

Talking about movies, I hear another episode of the Star Wars film series has released. 

Are you a Star Wars fan?

To be completely honest with you, I haven't watch any Star Wars movies till now. But fear not, the contingency is already in place. This week I'm going to try and binge watch all the previous episodes. Wish me luck!

Anyways, the good folks at Grammarly have come up with an infographic related to Star Wars. To be more precise, an info graphic related to Yoda's quirky grammar. Now, I have done some reading up on the great Jedi Master, Yoda, and I must admit I've gotten all the more interested in the series now. So, I thought why not share it with you good folks as well?

So, here it is. 

In #Yoda style,

Think you what about it, know me let.

Yodify your Grammar Infographic