Monday, June 30, 2008

A wife's diary

Whether or not it happens with other couples, my married life sometimes rocks. Umm, rocks as in, the boat. Being a grasshopper, I am often tempted to jump the boat when it rocks. After all, I know how to swim.

But what if there is a storm in the deep blue sea, and I drown? But how can I stand the heat in the frying pan?

So I ask God to send me a parachute, and I hover over the boat.

Instead of going to a counselor, I go to google. And I interpret one of my favorite poets.

Here is Kahlil Gibran, on Marraige.

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.

Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

---- There is no point in asking what on earth made you marry this guy. Because right now, you are such a mess that you probably cannot remember that love is a reason, greater than reason itself----

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

---Make a discipline of giving time to yourself, let go the ideal, 'a family HAS to have fun together'. If fun has to happen, it will happen when the kid is in the toilet, you are in the kitchen, he is on his comp: why not?---

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

---a bond of love, if you must have, make of a blue ribbon, not a legal document. Let him yell at the kid, let the kid yell back, why not trust natures vagaries in the process of bonding? ---

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

---I got this the last time. We now have multiple sources of income, different bank accounts. Then why does the little girl within, still want daddy to look after all her needs?---

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

---Meditate. Sing. Dance. Blog. :) ---

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

---Don't say, 'This is not a lodge,' every time he comes home late. ---

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

---If I am a pillar, and if I am standing straight, the weight on me is less if I can trust the other pillar. Move over, expectations. Welcome home, acceptance. ---

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

---Yes, now square those shoulders, cut the strings of the parachute, and get back to work---

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Don't blame the Congress

More than the inflation, what worries me is the result of next years polls. The way everyone is going on and on about the rise in prices, Congress might get ousted by the BJP.

Manmohan Singh may not be a flamboyant Prime Minister, but he is a good man. The Congress has waved tons of loan of the farmers. Where are they going to get this money from? All they have done is to remove the governments subsidy on oils.

Every few years, inflation has to happen. Our earning capacity is also increasing, so why blame the Congress?

I am aware that it might not be as simple as this. But I really hope that the Indian public does not swing to vote for the saffron party just because they don't want to spend more on necessities.

If we want India to shine, why should the farmers stay in the dark?

A word aint enough these days

'Ai, can I take my football to school?' asks my little boy.



'Ask your teacher. If she says yes, then you can take it. If no, then not. Okay?'


Cut to, evening, bus stop.

'Ai, I asked my teacher if I can get the football to school. She said yes, I can. Then I asked her if she will write in my diary that I can get the ball to school. She said no.'

She died in the open, under a tree

How does one prepare for death? By reading stories on how some of us die happily?
This is Sandra, a cancer patient who died in the open, under a tree.
I found this post via this blog, which I came across on this blog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ramesh Balsekar is back home

This is the third update on my ninety years young sweetheart.

He is back home from the hospital.

There are no talks yet, though he does meet people on request.

He picks up the phone, but I haven't called him.

I love him to bits, but its not personal.

It's good enough to know he is safe inside his nest.

It's good to know that the shoe rack outside his door is not empty.

If I do call him, I will say,

I don't know for sure if you are a Buddha, and it matters not.

If we never meet again, you are the one person to whom I have nothing more to say.

For I have had the privilege to say to you, over and over again.

I love you.

And yet, its not a personal love.

I don't want to own you.

Maybe, I already do.

Monday, June 23, 2008

For a moment of clarity

I was in a car, on my way to the railway station, getting a lift to get out of Ahmedabad. My train was two hours away. We planned to have dinner in Swati, let the brat ride a small car or play a video game, maybe a coffee, and then the station.

So we were in no hurry. And my eyes were wide open.

Nirali was explaining to Pavan why he should sit on the backseat, when I saw a man raising a big bamboo to hit a woman sitting on the roadside.

I closed my eyes.

'What the hell is that man doing?' Nirali asked.

'Oh, thank God, he is just threatening to hit her.' I said, when I saw the bamboo still in midair.

'Can we do something?' Nirali asked.

'Stop the car. I will get out.'

'Be careful.'

A sparse crowd was beginning to gather. The man, who I later learnt was a guard at a building nearby, was hurling obscenities at the woman, waving his stick in the air. The woman was in rags, and matted hair, holding a plastic bottle to her mouth and looking back at the man. Although she seemed to be almost cowering, she did not look scared.

I was behind the man. I gently touched his shoulder, and got him to lower his stick.

'She is completely mad!' he kept repeating. I nodded.
'She throws stones at people. She threw a stone at me. On my back! For no reason! She threw stones at that auto rickshaw! Ask him. She is completely mad!'

I looked at the lady in question. She had a semicircle of stones near her feet.

I assured him that we will get rid of her, got him to leave the scene, and told the crowd to get lost.

Then I sat near the woman on a bench and called Nirali.

'Do you know any institution that would take her in?' I asked her.

'I think I do. Meanwhile, why don't you get her something to eat? She might be hungry.'

I went to a shop next door and bought some dhoklas and a bottle of water. But to give them to her, I would have to risk those stones.

The semicircle of stones had closed to form a circle. That must be a good sign, I thought, and sat next to her to offer her the food.

Huge black eyes looked me over with suspicion. Then she took a bougainvillea flower, put it in a small plastic glass and put it in front of me. I took the glass and said cheers.

And then she attacked the food. Boy, was she hungry. No wonder she was throwing stones. I stood up and saw my friend smiling at us.

'I have called someone who knows someone who will come,' said Nirali.

'Cool. Where is Pavan?' I asked.

'I have locked him in the car. You better go and sit with him. I will wait here.'

'Ai, what is in the glass?' the brat asked me as I opened the car door.

'This is a bougainvillea flower.' I told him.

'Who gave it to you?'

'A moment of clarity gave it to me.'

'I see.'

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let life flow

This is the second news update on Ramesh Balsekar's health.

And this time, it is second, not third person account. Sanjay Inaamdar just called me from Mumbai to say that he just met Ramesh in the hospital and he is doing very well.

He is out of the ICU, he was sitting on his bed, walking about, and he talked with visitors for about twenty minutes.

And when the nurses came in and asked him how he was, he asked them back, 'That you should tell me. You know my reports.'

And a couple of minutes ago, I got an SMS from Rupa, saying 'Ramesh is doing well and will start talks by month end.'

Here is another video of Ramesh, a western rendering of one of the bhajans we sing at the end of the satsang.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The comrade

This is an acknowledgment to my friend, who I met briefly on a traffic signal.

Doing my bit for the Tsunami victims, I had gone with a group of friends to collect money from the public. After getting the checks (from relatives, mostly) and having exhausted all the known resources, tin boxes in hands, we hit the streets.

'I don't want to see any pairs. Each of us will take a separate corner.' I said, with more courage than I felt.

I found a safe corner at town hall square. I would walk into the traffic when it slowed down for the red light, and jump out just before it turned green.

'Tsunami mate!' , I would say, jingling the box. ('Mate' is 'for' in Gujarati.)

Those who looked back at my face, my eyes, more often than not, reached into their pockets. The box took in coins, even some ten rupee notes. I always said a cheerful 'Thank you.'

After an hour, I realized that the auto rickshaw passengers were more eager to put cash in my box. The car drivers avoided my eyes. So its true, I thought. The middle class is much more generous than the rich.

And then, horror of horrors, a real beggar joined me. A middle aged, dirty, if-he-could-beg, he-could-work kind of beggar. If I started on one end of the road, he would follow me. I was getting extremely hassled. Should I confront him or should I take a tea break? What will I say if I confront him? More important, what will he say to me?

The lights turned green suddenly and I stepped on the square.

I turned around to see the beggar smiling a 'hello comrade' at me.
'Tsunami mate?' he asked me.

I nodded, slightly unnerved by his sweet smile.

He took out a five hundred rupee note and slid it in my box, and walked away!

Thank you, comrade. Thank you for the donation, and for the dignity you awakened in me for all beings.

The progress of the toothpaste

Once upon a time, when I was a green college student, during a film appreciation class in the Film Institute, I told Professor Chabria,

'Sir, I don't think advertisements have any effect on the masses.'

'I see. So why do you think advertisers spend so much money on ads?' He looked pained. I think he was planing to talk about effect of colors on the subconscious mind or something.

'I don't know, they are wasting their money, it seems to me.'

This post is a belated, written apology to Prof Chabria.

This morning, the pre-school bedlam is like any other morning. Me shouting at the brat to hurry up every two minutes as I cook and pack his lunch.

'Ai, come here for a minute!' he shouts from the bathroom.

I take his towel and go to the bathroom. He is full of soapy bubbles.

'See my stomach, Ai. See how it is smelling.' he says happily.

'Very nice. You applied shampoo?' I asked.

'No, I put toothpaste. Now my whole body smells nice. Good idea, no?'

Monday, June 16, 2008

Where death is a friend

Sometimes, when I am all alone, I think of death. My death. I feel sad, and sometimes, a little scared.

If I take life for granted, why does death not yet feel like a true friend? For surely, He is all that is waiting, at the door. There is no other way out of here.

Although I am a confirmed Ramesh (read Advaita) fan, I admit I have gone out shopping for death. In other words, I did not buy Ramesh's take on the end of life being end of book, not just chapter.

Among the stuff I read, what appealed to me most were the near death experiences, NDE, where the patients come back unexpectedly from nearly dying, to tell us how beautiful it is in heaven, and how they just did not want to come back. How they met Jesus, how they flew with the angels with a body so light, how they met their old dog (ok, this one I have added, but why not? ), how they were told that they have some work left to do, so they had to come back, etc, etc.

So a couple of years ago, when I was transcribing a book for Ramesh, when I was alone with him, (it wont look good for an old timer to ask questions during satsang, right?), I asked him about death.

In fact, I specifically asked about the near death numbers.

'Do you think all of them are mind woven?' I asked him.

'The point to reflect upon is,' he said, 'that most of them, did not want to come back!. Which can only mean one thing. That the process of dying might be painful, but the moment of death has to be a moment of utmost freedom.'

There, I got it straight from the horse's mouth.

His eyes twinkled in his old face and he said, again, ' Old age, ill health, the process of dying might be a drag, but the moment of death, Grasshopper, has to be a moment of utmost freedom!'

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And he is talking a lot!

This is a news update on Ramesh Balsekar's health.

I have been wanting to put up this post since a week.

Ramesh has had a laser surgery a few days ago, some problem with his gall bladder. Though he is still in the ICU, he is much better.

It seems he told Heiner, an old timer, 'I am not going just yet. I am going to be around.'
The report is, that he is up and about, and, he is talking a lot!

Here is a recently updated video of his, from his daily talks in Mumbai.

Friday, June 13, 2008

'I am old enough now',

said my seven year old, as we walked back home from his school bus.

'I am old enough to cross the road by myself. You don't have to drop me to the bus stop every morning. All we talk about is how to spell August and how to spell September. As it is, I spend all day at school. Why should I study when I am not in school? I like to look around, at the different yellow buses that take other kids to school. I like to look at the other kids waiting for their buses.'

'Yes, you are right. These things are also important.' I said. 'Even I like to see yellow buses. Can I come with you to see the yellow buses?'

'If you must come, we should talk about things I like to talk about. '

'Ok, done. We will talk about things you like. So what did you do in school today?'

'I picked up these dry wooden pieces from the forest near our school.'

'Yeah, they are nice. What are you planning to do with them?'

'I will paint them, then give them to my friends.' he told me.

'Good idea.' I said.

'Ai, do you know how to cook food in the open?' he jumps to the next thought.

'I know, but you tell me.'

'Well, first you take three bricks, and put them like this, like this and like this, and then you put some wood pieces in between the bricks, pour some petrol over it, and light a fire. Simple!'

I stopped in my tracks.

'Don't tell me you lit a fire in the forest near your school?'

'No, Ai, we just talked about it.'

'Talk all you want. But don't ever do it without adults, ok?'


'And what happened to your cough?'

'Its gone!'

'Good. Where did it go?'

'I don't know where it went, but I know how it went'.

'Ok, Tukru. How did your cough go?'

'There is a puppy in my school. I touched the puppy and my cough just went.' he explained.

'I see. It was a divine puppy was it?'

'No, it was black and white.'

Fruity tips

Just a minute, I will just go and peel a pomegranate to make this post smell genuine.

Ok, you do not 'peel' a pomegranate, you cut it in half, then one fourth, then arch the back and then remove the yummy red seeds.

I did go through a fasting binge once, a fruit juice fast for three days. I lost three kilos (unintentional) , got over insomnia, (was too hungry to stay awake), felt very peaceful and rested, was all praise for the Naturopathy (Nature cure) ashram near Pune where this happened, and, never fasted again.
I do love fruits, though. Sprouts are supposed to be as good as fruits, if not better.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

While I napped, I got hacked

I honestly don't know if the napping had anything to do with it. It's so rare for me to sleep in the afternoons. But I was woken up by an unlisted number, calling on my mobile.


'Hello, Is this the grasshopper?' said a man's voice.

'Tell me your name first. I don't speak to strangers.'

'I am the do-gooder. Your old friend. Good uncle.'

'Oh, Uncle good. Good you called. How are you?' I said , sleepily.

'You are in Bangalore, aren't you? ' he asked me.

'Yup. Lovely weather.'

'Then you have been hacked.' he announced.

'Hacked?' I asked.

'Someone stole your email account and wrote to all your contacts, asking for help, for money.' said the do-gooder.


'Yes. The mail says that you are in Nigeria, that you lost your purse in a taxi, you have no money...'

'From my email address? Are you sure?' I asked, walking towards my hibernating comp.

'Absolutely sure. All your contacts have been copied. Hundreds.'

'Oh No.'

I opened my comp. My gmail account was signed in, but as soon as I touched the mouse to go to sent mails, it signed off automatically, in front of my very eyes!!!

Suddenly my land line started ringing.

'Hi grasshopper, this is your far off cousin.'

And my mobile started its chime.

'Hi, far off cousin, please hold for a moment , I have to answer my cell.' I said.

'Hello, Grasshopper, this is your Rakhi brother.' said my cellphone.

I took both cell and landline near my mouth and said, 'Guys, brothers, I am fine, now let me solve this problem. Thanks for calling, bye.'

I tried opening my Gmail account, and, holy cow, it wouldn't accept my password! My beautiful password, my favorite word of the last six years! Username and password do not match, it said, in an ugly red.

How could they just divorce like this? Without a fight, without a warning!

I held my tears in check and called the hubby.

'Look down, you will see, Cannot access my account, there will be a long form, just fill it to the best of your knowledge, and it says it will take five days, but it wont take that long, OK?'

'Ok, but hang on, will you? I will need your help with the form.' I pleaded.

'Sorry, I got to run. I am performing. Best of luck.'

So this computer illeterate dealt with her formophobia and, with three to five to seven tries, finally filled in details of herself and clicked submit.

------------------Two years, sorry hours later-----------------

I opened the computer again and viola! A new password, and my old gmail account opened, all mails intact. One mail is extra. It already has 15 replies. 'Help me out,' reads the subject line. I open it, and watch the horror show.

How are you doing today? I am sorry i didn't inform you about my traveling to Asia for a program called "Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Lack of Education, the program is taking place in three major countries in Asia which is Japan , korea and Malaysia . It as been a very sad and bad moment for me, the present condition that i found myself is very hard for me to explain.
I am really stranded in Nigeria because I forgot my little bag in the Taxi where my money, passport, documents and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel am staying, I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me. I am now owning a hotel bill of 450$ and they wanted me to pay the bill soon else they will have to seize my bag and hand me over to the Hotel Management, I need this help from you urgently to help me back home, I need you to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need 1200$ to feed and help myself back home so please can you help me with a sum of1650 to sort out my problems here? I need this help so much and on time because i am in a terrible and tight situation here, I don't even have money to feed myself for a day which means i had been starving so please understand how urgent i need your help.i have decided not tell my family so that they will not be worried.when I return I will tell them and they will understand.
I am sending you this e-mail from the city Library and I only have 30 min, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay back your money as soon as i return home so please let me know on time so that i can forward you the details you need to transfer the money through Money Gram or Western Union.Hope to hear from you.

Below was my standard signature and blog address. The replies were interesting, revealing the personality of my friends.

Do gooder : This is a spam. Grasshopper's account has been hijacked. I just spoke to her in Bangalore, she is fine.

Close friend : Hey, this does not sound like your voice. Is this real?

Ex-boss : Grasshopper, where shall I send the money? Please send a phone number too. ( So sweet of her.)

Ex-boyfriend : Tu nahin sudregi. ( You will never improve.)

I quickly wrote a disclaimer mail, with a subject, 'I have been hacked, please don't help'.

hello all,

I am so sorry, but the last mail you got from my email address, with the subject, please help out, was not sent by me, but by some internet thief, hacker, whatever. I am in Bangalore, safe and sound in my home.

A few days ago, (less than a week, in fact ), I got a mail with the subject, Account Verification. It said that there was a clogging in the gmail system, because of which my account might get deleted, and I should send them my username and password if I didn't want that to happen. I fell for it.

Thank you, those of you who called me and warned me that this has happened. I have changed my password, which I was avoiding since a long time.

sorry again,

warm regards,

I fell asleep, shaken by the robbery, of my personal space. By the very fact that this can happen, is there anything, anything of value, that is personal? And, if I am not a person who is personal, who am I?

But the very next morning, my question subsided as my mail opened to a bukey of flowers, a host of replies, from friends long forgotten, expressing relief that I was well, wishing me well, teasing me, asking me how I was, remembering me, ...... , ahh....., so this is who I am.

I realize, with certainty, that I have to chose, between internet and enlightenment. Any guesses, to what I chose?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Graduate's socks

A few nights ago, I met a Prof who asked me to work up some content for making a two minute speech at a graduation ceremony.

I sat on my comp that night and thought. Is there anything I know that might help these youngsters, brimming with youthfulness?

No answer.

Ok, what if I go back to myself, when I graduated. Is there anything of value that I can give to my-younger-self, twelve years ago? When exactly did I graduate? How come I don't remember? Oh, yes. I was sitting with Ramesh those days, like full time, every single day. And I couldn't pull myself out of Mumbai to go to Poona even for a day, to get that Film Institute diploma.

Those were the days, dipping, pouring with Guru-bhakti. The fascination with his feet. I remember knitting him a pair of ankle socks with the thickest wool you can find, for Guru Poornima. In retrospect, I must admit Ramesh is an extremely tolerant fellow. Who would need woolen socks in Mumbai? But he accepted them, he even let me touch his feet on numerous occasions when I 'tried on' the socks to check for size! And to think I put on those socks on him on Guru Poornima, and prevented the rest of the seekers from touching his bare feet.

Getting back to the point of the advisory board. If there is anything I would like to say to myself at that point? Prof, dear sir, it would take less than two minutes.

In one word, 'Salaam'.

However, I understand that those who turn up for the graduation ceremony, are, like, not sitting at their Guru's feet. So here is a nice, long piece of inspiring talk. Shorten it, if you can, and put it in your socks!

This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.

‘I’m a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter’s night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve received your test results and they’re not so good.Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch.

I would be rotten, at best mediocre at my job if those other things were not true.You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here’s what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you’d care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm this afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger. Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister.

All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough. It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids’ eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again.It is so easy to exist instead of to live.

I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived’.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

And thy will be done

I am not going to say who told me this story. It was an old man, with a white beard. Who loved talking, and Oh, did he talk a lot. When someone talks like he did, I like to listen. When the talking comes from a deep understanding, listening follows effortlessly.

'You know how Christ got enlightened, don't you?' he asked me.

'Umm...Not exactly, no.' I said, nibbling at my dinner. We were dining at an ashram, I won't say which.

'It happened on the cross.' he stated.

'On the cross? How?'

'Well, to begin with, it wasn't a good day for Christ.'

'True. He was crucified. They put nails in his hands and feet. Must have been very painful. ' I said.

'Yes, but that part wasn't so bad. He was an ace meditater, so he was aware through the pain. He asked Father to forgive his tormentors.' he said. I gulped.

'What was worse,' he continued, 'was that they did the same to two other thieves. Christ was crucified along with two others. Ok, one of them was innocent, but the other was a common thief.'

'Not good company.' I said.

'Nope. Not good company at all. Christ, after all, was the Son of God, no less. He didn't mind being crucified, he kind of knew it was coming, he could take it. But.' he paused, to see if I got it.


'The point is, my lady, whenever there is a but, complete surrender has not happened. '


'And this but became a question. Jesus looked at the sky and asked, 'Why, Father? Why this bad company?'
Even on the cross, Christ was still a seeker. He sought a question. However, he was a true seeker. Meaning, he waited for the answer. And the answer was, 'Because that is my will.' Christ accepted the answer, and the surrender happened. '

'Oh. And then he said, 'Thy will be done.'

'Yes, then he said, 'Thy will be done.'

'That is so beautiful.' I said to the old man. 'Thank you.'

'You are most welcome.'

Friends of the Earth

When the school holidays were about to begin, I looked forward to late mornings. What I didn't realize was that I will be mommy, 24 into 7. Continuous cartoon network bang swoosh ting tong. All meal times are instruction times. Any phone call and you are pleading with the brat to not disturb. Evening walks, any outdoor activities, full of requests to buy this, go there, why this, why not that. DVD time, the brat will hold the remote and suddenly pause the film, because I am not answering his questions. Questions like, 'But who is Shahrukh Khans father, tell me no. Not Amitabh Bachchan?'

Schools were invented, I discovered, not for education, but for maintaining a sanity level of parents.

After the brat left for school today morning, I found myself sitting quietly for an hour, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood. If that sounds like meditation, it wasn't. I think my body-mind was taking time to adjust to someone's absence.

I was about to start work, when the hubby called from Delhi.
'Chill out,' he advised me. 'Take two three hours off.'

And so I found myself answering questions to this questionnaire, to determine how happy I really am. Almost all such stuff, I generally find useless, full of preconceived notions about how to be happy.

However, one particular question had me thinking.

In the past 12 months, how often did you help with or attend activities organized in your local area?

And I remembered two events. One was an event organized by Pavan's school, Riverside, last August, a street smart fun activity where I shot a film. The other was a tree plantation event. After we planted the tree, we would go every Sunday to water the saplings. This was one thing both of us enjoyed, me and the kid. No questions, nor conversation were needed. We would fix the pipe, extend it as far as possible, fill water in the buckets, and gleefully water the plants.

Both events happened in Ahmedabad.

Now that I am in Bangalore, I wonder where I will find something similar. While I plan my working life to make a living, I should also look for something that will expand my concerns beyond my home and give us that sense of belonging.