Big Fat Indian Feast of the Unknown

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                                                                                                                                            Image Source: Google

Why are you still lounging around like a couch potato?? We are getting late for the wedding. Go, dress up now!”, my mom grumbled, as she put on her bangles. I continued to pretend ignoring her words, while aimlessly browsing through the channels on television. Though my fingers were busy clicking buttons on the remote control with my eyes staring at the screen, my mind started slightly waning away from my idea of a perfect evening.

How long will you sluggishly switch channels on this idiot box and ultimately end up dozing off? Why not do something productive?”, my mind echoed.

What? Productive?? Is that even a thing to do? My mind has been suffering with some serious issues lately, in regards to my definition of happiness. Nothing gives me more joy than snuggling into my couch, with no damn thing to worry about! But why is it turning into my antagonist?

I can never be wrong! There is something beyond the couch that gives you immense happiness. FOOD!!!!”, reiterated my master mind.

Oh yes!! How could I overthink food? And wait! The wedding! Weddings mean only one thing to me- Food!! And lots and lots of it! Yes!! A big, fat wedding feast is all I need!

I hesitantly bid goodbye to the greatest pleasure of my survival- my cozy, comfy couch, without which, my life wouldn’t have been the same! As I stood up stretching to prepare myself for dressing up, I noticed my mom all bright and shiny, ready to head out for the wedding. “I’m coming with you. Wait for me”, I notified her. “Hurry up!”, she replied. I was least interested in playing dress up as my priority was nothing close to looking nice and pretty.

Finally, we reached the wedding venue, which appeared more like a food destination, rather than a place of celebration. My mother found her ‘known faces’ and went ahead mingling in a crowd full of dazzling, flashy ensembles. I went on my own way to find a perfect corner with least number of people, expecting minimum or zero drama. Luck worked in my favor and I found the perfect place, though no way close to my cozy couch that I abandoned.

As I waited restlessly for my mom to find me, I noticed a queue of people waiting as restlessly as me to congratulate the couple and head towards the dinner. In the process, I happened to get a glimpse of the bride and groom and wondered, Who are these people? Do I even know them? Are they friends/ relatives? Or may be, I should have at least read their names at the entrance. But, well! Who cares?!! I know what I’m here for, why bother about the unknown?

My mom finally found me and asked me to join the bandwagon to congratulate the newly wed. “I can’t pose for pictures with strangers. You have fun! And be quick, I’m starving!”, I quirked. I realized that the crowd in the wedding hall slowly started diminishing. Except for the ‘best wishes’ line, there were hardly any people around. I was pretty sure, everyone has headed for the feast. Well, I’m not alone then! That’s the reason most of us attend weddings anyway. If a movie was to be made on wedding ceremonies, the newly weds shouldn’t be considered as the lead cast. They just play a supporting role to the main lead- Food!!

Thankfully my mom was back and we were finally a part of the feast I was waiting for! With a colorful and varying number of appetizers, salads and main course, my appetite only kept scaling up beyond my control! And hey, this repeats for every cuisine! They have Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Italian. Whoa! This is an addendum for all my efforts of getting away from my warm couch. Not to forget the innumerable varieties of desserts, ice creams and fruit salads! But where do I start? Should I stick to a single cuisine? Or try them all? But what if I’m full midway? Or should I have more appetizers and stick to one cuisine for main course? Uff, this is tough! Screw it, I’m gonna savor as much as I can!

I started off my expedition for food, with a confused mind, but a hungry tummy. Hunger always wins and made me end up with a full plate of appetizers irrespective of cuisines, though my mind yelled to stop! I hogged on to try some of my favorites and then experiment with others. As I was nearing completion of the stuff on my plate, I realized I was full. So full, that a glimpse at the main course was no longer appetizing. The salads no longer appeared alluring. Screw the desserts, I don’t even wish to have a look at them!

My intention to satisfy my food cravings was left halfway. The sole purpose of my mission to attend this ceremony failed miserably. My stomach was full, but my mind was dissatisfied. Disappointed with my below average capability of doing justice to a feast, I headed home with a heavy heart and belly.

Soon after I reached home, I jumped onto my couch that I deserted. In a while, I opened a pack of chips and started snacking away. Well, if this is all that I can do, why do I need a feast?! “Lesson learned!!”, I warned my brain.

 

Daily Prompt- Feast

For Posterity- Handwritten Letters

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When was the last time you ever sent or received a hand written letter? Never? (Too bad!) Has it been years? Like once upon a time? (So you are aware how they look like!) Do you still receive or happen to send out letters/ postcards adorned with your very own handwriting? (Lucky soul!!!)

If I could single-handedly prevent something that is about to disappear from falling into oblivion, it has to be handwritten letters! I’ve been fortunate to get a number of opportunities to write letters. Though they were mostly official/ formal request letters for the banks or leave letters to the Principal in college, I wrote them (no typing!). My lethargy to type and take a print out, in spite of having the resources, might be counted as one of my excuses to hand write. Whatever may be the reason, I’m glad I chose to write over type. Informal letters to loved ones have lost significance anyway, so why not grab the opportunity to write while seeking permissions and authorizations?

Technology has taken over every sphere and one such instance gave rise to ‘writing’ being replaced by ‘typing’. The last time I received a handwritten letter was more than a decade ago, when my family and I moved to a different place during my 9th grade of schooling. After relocating, things weren’t great, life wasn’t smooth, though not the worst. I was unsure if I was slowly getting accustomed to the newness the new place had to offer or was feeling lonely deep inside for missing my old life. Could not make many friends in the new place due to language and cultural barriers. So obviously, I either spent most of the time at school feeling the voidness, or at home quarreling with my brother over Pokemon and Tazos!

One fine day, as I reached home from school, my mother handed over a letter that I received. Never did I receive a post on my name until then. Hence, my curiosity knew no bounds. The handwriting on the cover made me elated, as I was more than familiar with it! A letter from my dear friend back home, came to my rescue after months of loneliness. How better can it get, when I receive one during Friendship Day week?!

I could feel her attempt to communicate through her words on the paper I was reading, through her handwriting that I can never forget after having exchanged notes for years. Her handwriting was always very different from many others I knew. It was crisp with vivid curves and broad, clear alphabets. She was way too generous with spacing between words, thus quickly running out of pages in her notebooks! All these ran in my mind while I was not only admiring her writing, but also reading her letter with a smiley face.

As usual, she used up all the paper of the inland letter without utilizing it to its full potential. I could feel her emotions and felt so close to her through her writing. It had her personal essence that I could not find in the new place. The letter and my moment of reading it was priceless and I wished to cherish it for a lifetime!

Mobile phones weren’t revolutionary yet. They were a thing of the wealthy and definitely not an obvious need in every household.  STD call was the most used way to communicate with people living in other states. We communicated often over phone, but the feeling that came with the letter was beyond everything. I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience that feeling. I was always astonished and amazed at the way my grandmother exchanged letters with her sister until very recently. But now, the mobile bug has not spared them either and they communicate via cell phones.

Ever since the popularity of emails and SMS emerged, handwritten letters started losing significance. Now, they are a thing of the past. We live in a world, where proposals are done over Skype and break ups over text messages. I wonder if the current generation kids are even aware of a handwritten letter’s existence!

No matter how emotional the text message is, with innumerable emoticons, how detailed the email is, with more than necessary GIFs and images, they can never match the personal connection felt from a handwritten letter! The handwriting of a person connects at a deeper level, as it is a part of their personality that they share on a piece of paper. But a typed text is the same irrespective of the person typing, thus lacking a personal touch.

Try to write a letter and send it to your loved one. I’m sure they would cherish it for a lifetime in a world full of texting and typing. And who knows? A dispute over a text might lead to a break up, but an explanation via a handwritten letter might lead to a happily ever after!

 

Weekly Discover ChallengeFor Posterity

Zootopia- #AtoZChallenge


If there is one alphabet that I was sure of what to write about during the AtoZChallenge, it has to be Z. Ever since I watched the movie Zootopia two months ago, I wanted to put down my thoughts about it. It’s been a while since I felt like writing about any movie, especially animated. For some reason, I get more influenced by animated movies with animals in them. May be because I feel more stimulated with emotions, when portrayed through animals. One such movie that moved me after The Lion King, was Disney’s Zootopia! This is not a generalizing review on the movie, but about why I liked it.

Image Source: Google

Anyone can be anything” in Zootopia.

This being the theme of the movie, Zootopia is a big city where every creature, from the biggest elephant to the tiniest rodent live in harmony. The city is presented more or less like New York, with high skyscrapers and busy lives.

There is this bunny, Judy Hopps living in the countryside who dreams of becoming a police officer, inspite of the society threatening her that it’s no good for bunnies. Judy moves to Zootopia for her first job posting and is the only tiny animal and the first rabbit cop in a class full of bulls, tigers and muscular carnivores who fit the bill of belonging to the Police Department. Given her size, she is underestimated and is assigned with parking duty, even though she graduates as a topper at the Policy Academy.

With unfavorable events turning up, Judy encounters a case and is challenged by her boss to take up the case. In order to be considered seriously at the Policy Department, Judy agrees to solve the mystery. Now, she is forced to work with a witty street smart Fox, named Nick Wilde. He helps her with the case and an ample number of twists turn up as the case is solved, eventually leading to a bigger mystery than expected. How Judy solves the case and emerges a hero with Nick’s help is an old wine in a new bottle. But there were certain aspects that I loved in the movie:

Busting the stereotypes:

The movie was all about showcasing beyond the typical. First, a female protagonist, next a bunny. A female rabbit who wants to become a police officer, something very unsual. The societal pressure of discouragement when an underdog wants to achieve something beyond their clan’s imagination was aptly captured!

Why should a Fox be always considered a cunning animal? Breaking this stereotype, the movie depicts how a fox suffers all it’s life due to lack of trust and just with the fear of being labelled as cunning by all the other animals. Something synonymous with the real world. Humans are pretty good at labelling or judging, specially based on established standards and perceptions. This movie tries to bust that notion.

Attention to detail:

Zootopia is no way less than New York! They have the busiest transportation system feasible to every shape and size of the animal world. There are special areas for special breeds. The malls, streets sound similar to those of real big cities. For instance, little mouses shop at Mousy’s just like our Macy’s. The Police Department very well imitated the NYPD. While our world went crazy with the evolution of Apple and it’s half eaten apple logo, Judy Hopps skypes her family once in a while from Zootopia in her iPhone with a half eaten carrot logo! May be they too had an evolution of a Carrot company that has been a pioneer with innovation! I felt giving importance to such tiny details that just pass over in a jiffy and usually go unnoticed, was impressive.

I would do no justice while talking about this movie and not mention the ‘Sloth’ episode at DMV. This was the most hilarious scenes I have watched in recent times! Genuinely entertaining, without pretentious humor. I bet no one would watch this scene without bursting out into laughter!

Motivational theme:

Anyone can do anything! How cool is that! The movie wonderfully showcases how an underdog emerges a hero against all odds, with mere determination and positive outlook. The society never stops reminding us about who we are and where we come from, but our ability to think and achieve beyond what society labels, leads us to real victory!

If you haven’t watched this movie, please do watch it! It’s fun and enlightening.


Yearlong Yearning- #AtoZChallenge


It was one foggy morning in the month of October. Rohan woke up to the sound of bursting firecrackers in the neighbourhood. The fog was only an illusion created from the continuous burning of fireworks. It was Diwali- The festival of lights and prosperity. Rohan was much excited for Diwali than usual this time, as it has arrived a month earlier compared to the previous year. Not because he can light firecrackers in advance, but because his yearlong yearning to see his dad has come down by a month!

Rohan’s dad lives in the Middle East and Diwali is the only time he visits his family every year. As Rohan’s mom was busy preparing festival delicacies in the kitchen, Rohan jumped around the house with anticipation for his dad. “When will he be here?? I can’t wait to see him!!”, yells Rohan, doing fake cartwheel stunts with excitement. “So do I dear! He should be here by afternoon. Meanwhile, go burst some firecrackers with your friends”, his mom replied while deep frying some savories. “Nooo, I’ll burst them with Papa. He promised he’ll teach me to burn the new rockets this time. I can’t wait!!”, screamed Rohan.

It was half past six in the evening. Rohan’s dad was still not home. Rohan hasn’t stopped pestering his mother about his dad’s arrival. His mom has been trying to reach Rohan’s dad since hours, but in vain. The air of excitement began to fade. They actually began to worry, as they came to know the flights have landed on time. Rohan’s mother was tensed and felt pity looking at her 9 year old’s yearning for his dad. All the festival sweets and savories were lying on the table sans attention. Rohan’s mom was busy enquiring his dad’s friends back in the Middle East, while he looked helplessly at his mother.

At quarter past 9 p.m, the door bell rang. Rohan rushed to the door, while his mother was on the phone. “Papa!!!”, yelled Rohan and hugged his dad. His elation had no bounds. His yearning for yearlong has finally come to an end. “What happened?? I couldn’t reach you, we were so worried!”, Rohan’s mom inquired. “I missed my connecting flight and had no time to either recharge my battery dead phone nor call you to inform. I had to board as soon as I got the new ticket. Also, I thought this would make a nice surprise!”, Rohan’s dad replied winking. “This is not a pleasant surprise!”, his mom bawled. The excitement was back in the air, with a sense of relief. Rohan clinged to his dad and was living the moment, a moment he has been waiting for, since a year! “Ready to burst some rockets son?!”, his dad asked, while holding him tight. “Yes Papa, I’ve been ready since last Diwali!”, Rohan replied with a twinkle in his eye.

Xerox- #AtoZChallenge

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I was eight years old when I first encountered the word- ‘Xerox’. My family moved to another city on my dad’s transfer. By the time I joined a new school in the new city, it had been 2 months already since the academic year started. So I had to catch up on all the notes I missed. When I approached my teacher about the same, she suggested to get all the missed notes ‘xeroxed’. I wasn’t aware what in the world it meant. Nor did I have the courage to ask her for confirmation. But I felt I read or heard the word earlier, though I wasn’t sure when or how.

I told my mom about what the teacher suggested on my missed classwork. She nodded casually and said, “We’ll get it done over the weekend.”What does getting xeroxed mean?”, I asked out of curiosity. “Just to create a copy”, my mom replied. It’s finally weekend and I accompanied my mom to get my friend’s notes xeroxed. As we walked towards the shop, I saw the shop’s name titled ‘XEROX’ in all capitals. Ahaan! So, this was how I knew the word, the names of stores get registered in the mind sometimes. There are a plenty of Xerox stores across every street in every city. So, it’s highly unusual even for a kid to be unaware of the word. I stood watching the machine create ‘xeroxes’ of the notebook pages one after the other. First experience with anything (even Xerox) remains very memorable, isn’t it?

Ever since, for years, I’ve been visiting the stores to get Xerox. At some point during my high school, I came to know that the word Xerox was not a verb. And that, it was actually a company’s name that manufactures the photocopier machine. I was enlightened about the right word ‘photo copy’  only then! For some reason, I was surprised. I started wondering how a company’s name can be actually floating around as a verb so well, that even the stores have it as their official names to create a photo copy? Oh well, may be that’s the brand value! Since then, whenever I hear someone saying the word xerox for getting a photocopy, there comes an instant smile on my face, which is rather misunderstood.

Years later, when I google the word Xerox, it actually gave me the results saying it is an “act of copying using xerographic copying process.” Oh, so now it’s officially a verb! The Xerox Corporation was actually worried about the brand becoming a ‘generic word’ and started advertising on how xerox does not mean photo copying, but a  machine that creates one! It’s impressive how major well known brand names turn out to become verbs. May be it’s a way to portray how well they conquered the world and made us dependent on them!

Next time you hear yourself or someone uttering, “I googled for the place” (Just like I mentioned about googling for the word Xerox!) or “I shall Skype you next week”, remember that they aren’t verbs, even though they’ve earned a place in the urban dictionary!

 

 

 

 

Overlooked Outdoors- #AtoZChallenge

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The month of April reminds me of the excitement I used to have as a child for summer holidays. April meant, the last few days remaining to expel the year long struggle of studying. The fun part of summer holidays was definitely ‘playing outside’ the whole day. I remember how my brother and I went home only to eat and sleep. The rest of the day was spent on the streets and the playground. Wow! For some reason, the words ‘playground’ and ‘playing outside’ sound so strange and alien now!

We never ran short of games and sports to play outdoors. Summer to many meant watching kids jump around in the neighborhood. There was chaos, excitement, a breath of fresh air with kids reminding everyone of their wonderful childhood memories. Now I’m past the summer holidays phase, as all I look forward for is only the weekend. But thinking of my time in India during the summer of past few years, I hardly got a sight of kids jumping around on the streets. That always made me wonder, if there are no kids around? Or do they just stay indoors playing on PlayStation or Xbox? Is that even real playing? Or are they busy ‘utilizing’ (wasting) this valuable time at a coaching center to crack those crazy entrance exams?

In a country like India, where physical fitness and wellness takes a back seat, the need for outdoor activities has lost significance. Schools without playgrounds or physical fitness hours are no longer rare. The main target for most schools is to produce a bunch of ‘toppers’ of Board Examinations or Mathematics Olympiads. They no longer care to allocate time for outdoor activities. Even if they do, it’s just for the sake of it and not for training students in their areas of interest. Schools who stick to their principles of ‘overall development’ of students still exist. But the craze of parents to get their child ahead in the rat race, makes such schools lose their reputation. As a result, even the good old schools have to end up following the herd to survive.

As a kid, I used to wait for an opportunity to get out of the house to play and have fun. Once I got back from some physical activity, I concentrated better while doing homework. Whereas, days when I never played, my concentration levels dropped. This is true for every child. It is proved that engaging in an outdoor activity/sport and an art enhances a child’s concentration and grasping. Making children aim to nail those exhaustive entrance exams due to the country’s fetish with mainstream career goals, does no good than a wasted childhood.

I see kids now waiting for an opportunity to grab the iPad or the smartphone to play virtual games. How can this be even close to a physical activity? Spending too much time with electronic gadgets and video games only strain eyes.

My young, smart cousins are not even aware of the games or sports that I used to play at their age. While they laugh at my inability to play a virtual game any better, I pity them for missing something called ‘actual fun’ a.k.a ‘playing outdoors.’

 

 

Lesson Learned-A Lazy Lass’s Tale: #AtoZChallenge

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March, 2000

Mia was busy switching channels on TV while lying on the couch. She just got home from school after giving an examination. As she kept restlessly shifting from one channel to the other, she heard the door get unlocked. It was her mother, who was home after a hectic day at work. “Make me something to eat. I’m hungry and I’ve got lots to study for tomorrow!”, yelled Mia. “Okay dear!”, replied her mother, sighing at her 15 year old. Mia was least bothered to make a sandwich herself as she was lethargic. Nor was she concerned about her mom’s busy day. All she would think about was about the test, the next day. Her mother ran into the kitchen for a quickie, so that her studious daughter could eat and get back to her mission of acheiving good grades.

The next morning, Mia’s mom was busy packing lunches for her dependents who don’t consider multi tasking a big deal. “Mom! Where are my hair clips?? I can’t find them here!”, screamed Mia from the bathroom. “Look for them on the table, I saw them lying there last night”, answered her mom, sans any grumbling. Mia was not only lazy enough to find the assets for her mane, but also seemed inconsiderate of how hard it was every morning for her mother.

August, 2005

Mia was now in college. She grew up to be a smart and matured woman. She very well realizes how much work her parents put in for the family. She appreciates her mom’s sacrifice every morning. One night her mom fell sick and her dad was out of town. Mia was upset about her mom’s health and had to take the responsibility of chores. She was willing to take good care of her mother, but her lethargy dominated her willingness to cook or do the household chores. She pacified her mom saying, “I’ll order food and let the maid do the dishes and chores tomorrow.” Mia’s mom had no complains about her daughter not helping her, but was worried about her laziness. She was concerned about her future, as someday she would have a family of her own to take care of! 

December, 2009

Mia had bigger plans. She moved to another country for her higher education. Her parents never stopped approving her decisions, but were concerned about her survival on a foreign land. 

Mia is now living independently and has many responsibilities. She needs to attend school, do her assignments, work part-time, cook, do chores as well as pay bills. She enjoyed her new newly found independence. But once past the honeymoon stage, she realized the pain her parents have been going through for years. Best part was that they never considered it to be hard to manage their family. They enjoyed their responsibilities. Mia is now finding it difficult to manage everything she has to, as she was never used to! Multi tasking is alien to her. After a long day, she needs to cook her own meal. She has to go to work on the day of an examination. She needs to keep a track of all the bills and their due dates. She repents, she curses herself for being lazy all her life, as she is unable to relish this independent life of her’s. She hopes to get used to this newly found lifestyle with time.

Why didn’t you ever order me to do things? Life now would have been so much easier!”,Mia whines. “But I learned my lesson!”, she continues, each time she calls home.