Uncategorized: Lifein2suitcases Mother-daughter relationship Parent-Child relationships Pratishtha Durga random thoughts Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
It’s a strange relationship that we share with our parents. Loving them for what they have done for us, and hating them for what we think they have done to us. I see this complex relationship all around me. Having lost both my parents, I can now look at these bonds objectively. I never try to rationalize or try to find a solution. Won’t work. You can never tell what fuels these complexities.
I feel that as children grow and need their parents less, it creates a void, an irreparable vacuum in the parents’ lives. For years, they gave up on their needs, stayed awake late, ran around in circles, compromised their ambitions, all for their children. Now they are needed no more. The son does not like to take a packed lunch from home; he wants to eat out with friends. The daughter does not like the Cartoon channel anymore, and thinks that daily soaps suck. The child you reared is suddenly a stranger. She speaks a different language has friends you have never met, likes movies you might as well not watch, and hates sports. It gets difficult.
For the child, it is equally convoluted. You loved being mothered, but now you are being smothered. You don’t like Kiwi, but cannot convince Mom that Pear is the fruit for you. You outgrew Aerosmith, and moved on to Western Classical. You hate Dad’s neon pink t-shirt, and know people make fun of him whenever he wears that. You try to get him to throw it away, but he won’t budge. Your mother refuses to get rid of the chipped and ugly china set that only sees the light of the day when Aunt May comes down for a winter visit. And you hate the new drapes they went and bought when you were out for the weekend.
I don’t know if there is a way around it. All families are dysfunctional in their own, unique way. Unlike Chemistry, there is no set formula, or equation here. You put a set of parents and a growing child together, and there is just no telling what you will get. That’s why siblings can be so different. All you can do is find your own, different way to survive the madness.
Did I ever hate my parents? Of course. Like every child born to human parents, I sometimes wished they were different. At some stage, I wished they were cooler, younger, richer, less nagging, less protective, more social… I never found them perfect, and they weren’t. But they were good parents. Like most parents are. And most days, I loved them to bits. The days I hated them sometimes come and haunt me, but I know that’s a part of being human. I miss their nagging sometimes. I miss being fussed over.
So whether you are a parent or a child, trying to understand the other party, I say, quit trying. Just go with the flow. Revel in the days you love each other, survive the days you hate. It all gets better in the end.
Uncategorized: being childlike Benny and Joon Bucket List Dealing with grief life changing project living alone Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
You know, there are so many things not even my closest friends know about me. Not deep, dark secrets, just things too inane to be brought up in regular conversations.
Like how Michael Bolton’s song “When a man loves a woman” shaped my dreams of the love of my life. Or that I am absolutely crazy about Rishi Kapoor, and I think he is one of our finest actors, understated, elegant, subtle. He is all the things our so called legendary performers are not. And that I still go weak in the knees watching “Bobby”. Not many people know that I think that Dev Anand was the most handsome star Bollywood ever had. And that I am a sucker for Rom-Coms, and can watch classics like “When Harry Met Sally, “Sleepless in Seattle”, “Roman Holiday”, “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, and “Prelude To A Kiss” over and over again. Barely anyone knows that I find it hard to sit in my house when I am alone: I walk around instead.
I don’t think any of my current friends know that for years I almost worshipped Lenny Kravitz. That I once loved mangoes, but don’t seem to like them very much now. Or that I think “Benny and Joon” is the sweetest movie ever, and it’s my favorite pick-me-up flick. I don’t think I would have brought it up that I think that George Peppard was not of this world. Or that I like big dogs more than I like small dogs. That I sometimes feel that my heart is breaking into a million tiny bits when I see a silly looking, smiling Labrador walk past me. I don’t think that I have ever mentioned that I found poetry through my ex-husband, who I think is one of the most talented men I have ever met. And the funniest. I wish we had chosen to remain best friends instead. And that I am done with the bitterness now and that I am very, very proud of him.
Oh, and I love Chinese cuisine, but the Indian variant of it. I think Gnocchi rocks! I don’t like alcohol, never did, never will. I don’t understand smokers. I have tried to get excited about wealth. And failed. I am unapologetically unambitious. That sometimes I wish I could scream and scream and scream, and that sometimes I feel like doing that in the middle of the day, when I am surrounded by people, and my face is aching from all the smiling and chatting. And that I’d rather be alone and quiet, and that silence is not something people associate with me, and that’s proof enough that no one on this planet really gets to be on this side of my shell. And that I shared that silence with my mother as we both sat and watched rains wash down our balcony. That I know that my mother would have loved it if I had been a dancer. That I sometimes shut my eyes really tight and try to remember how her voice sounded, but always end up losing my calm. And I cried when Micheal Jackson died. I felt so sad for him.
I’d like someone someday to make me breakfast in bed. No one has ever done that for me. I feel I have loved more than I have been loved and some days I find it so unfair, but most days I am okay with it. That I would, for a change, want to be reckless and walk off. Just walk off. Just like that. Something I have always wanted to do, ever since I was a child but know I don’t have the courage to do. That I want nothing more than a small cabin in the hillside. That I like getting wet in the rain, but hate Mumbai rains. And yes, I don’t like to see myself in the mirror because the girl I once was hasn’t looked back at me for a decade now. I like lamps, and think overhead lighting gives people headaches. I like the color red, but think I can’t really carry it. I once bought a bright red lipstick and really really liked it, but someone close to me said I looked like a common whore when I wore it. I never wore red lipstick after that. I wish I had Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak: It seems so handy. I think God looks like Terry Pratchett. And Devil looks like Neil Gaiman, only cooler. I wish I could also have a flash mob wedding like Neil Gaiman did. I want to shave my head but think I will look too ugly. I wish I had some exceptional talent. I would like to learn how to ride a motorbike, but am too chicken to do it. That I am victim of my fears, insecurities and inhibitions, but I fight them the best I can.
So yes, there is lots more. Yeah, I know there is nothing profound back there. But you know what, after yesterday, I could do with a little randomness.
Uncategorized: Birthday Wishes life changing project Mother-daughter relationship Pratishtha Durga random thoughts Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
It was my birthday this Sunday, 22nd May. I brought it in with a few friends. There was food, beer, home-made Tiramisu. And lots to remember. Another year got added to my age. Another year went by. Another year of experiences gathered. And now, I have a year less to do what I need to do before I die. The clock just keeps ticking. I see how time is running out, for everyone around me. I see people cling to their dreams, unable to jump, afraid there won’t be a net to break their fall, afraid to take off, unable to fly. I am myself suffering from post birthday blues, and my view of the world is a bit negative right now.
Why must I have such different dreams? Dreams that go against the grain of normal living. Dreams that might become a loved one’s nightmares. Why can’t I want a house, a big car, a huge bank balance, just like everyone else? Why can’t I see clearly what needs to be done? Am I missing the signs? How do you know if you are making the right choice? Shouldn’t I be thankful that I have the luxury of choices? No one around me is truly happy. They seem to have everything I think will make people happy. And yet, they are unhappy. So what truly is it that I seek? Is there a map, a recipe, an equation? And where is the time to look for all the answers when another year has been lost?
I am so tired of all the questions. Am I even asking the right ones? Phew! I am getting old, God. Show me the way fast. I don’t want to lose any more years. Do questions bother you too?
Uncategorized: dealing with death of a loved one Dealing with grief Lifein2suitcases Mother-daughter relationship Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
A couple of years before I was born, my parents lost a baby to foetal maternal haemorrhage. So when she was expecting me, my mother was extremely apprehensive. She was scared of losing me, and would talk to me when I was in her womb. She read a lot, rested a lot, and prayed a lot. I was fortunate enough to be one awaited baby. So when I was born, it came as a shock to my dad when one of my aunts commented that it was unfortunate enough that he had a girl, but having a girl who was dark-skinned was just plain tragedy.
Neither of my parents took her comment very well. In my own home, I was a little princess. They tried to protect me from this vapid and shallow perception. My mother always made me believe that I was the most beautiful girl in the world. But the inevitable happened. As soon as I started going to school and interacting with the world, the color of my skin came up again. It haunted me in my teenage, when well-meaning relatives and family friends suggested “cures” for my dark skin. They taunted my mother for letting me play in the sun, and for enrolling me into a karate class, when she should have been rubbing some miracle ointments on my body in order to make me fairer. She was also accused of not doing certain things during her pregnancy which would have ensured a fair baby. It did not matter that I debated well, was a school captain, and a good student. I was still dark-skinned.
The color of my skin followed me into my marriage. In a family of largely fair-skinned people, I must have stood out like a sore thumb. Now I am well into my thirties, and it is still a part of the package. It does not matter that there is lots more of me, other than my skin. It’s the color of my skin that people see first. But there is more to me.
I love the color of my skin. It’s mine! I also love blue, and I have a blue themed bedroom. I also love the color red for all its fierceness. I love white meat over red meat. I love Asparagus, green and white. I like cheese with crackers. I like doodling, even though I am no good at it. I like candles, and I feel nothing beats their soft, dreamy light. I like ice-tea. I write poems sometimes, though I never
read them out to anyone. I don’t like the dark, but am not scared of it. I am fond of babies, and feel that all mothers are special and beautiful. I like fresh flowers in my house. I love the smell of Rajnigandha. I like Khus (vetivar) and find it to be the best summer drink ever. I love having friends over, and I am very proud of each and every one of them. I love with abandon, and I love much. I am no dancer, but I love dancing anyway. I am a strong woman, and people have admired me for my poise and strength. But I am also emotional. I can feel others’ pain. I never baby-talk, and am often guilty of calling a spade a spade. I cook. I like adding up the numbers on the number plates of auto-rickshaws around me, when I am stuck in traffic. I talk to my two potted plants kept in office. I talk to dogs, and cats, and birds. And sometimes to myself. I hate getting into a cab first because I hate sliding in on the cab seat. I hate going to the gym, but manage to drag myself there. I am scared of water, but managed to learn swimming. I like overcoming fears, and my biggest fear is insignificance. I have endured pain, heartbreak, grief, betrayal, manipulation, and I have survived, with my wit intact.
I like putting nail-polish on my feet and kohl in my eyes. I have always lived beyond my means, loved my food, and hated sycophants. I doubt this will ever change. I am sincere, mostly honest, mostly fearless, and mostly friendly. I can be a bit of a bully sometimes. I hate being bullied. I like cheesy songs. I like strawberry milkshakes. I also like chocolate milkshakes. I love Nigella Lawson for daring to the woman that she is. I am all this and more. Much more.
But strangely enough, sometimes, all people see about me, is the color of my skin.
Uncategorized: dealing with death of a loved one Dealing with grief Lifein2suitcases Mother-daughter relationship mothers and daughters Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
There are so many things I wish I had said to my mother. Too many emotions and thoughts I left un-worded and unspoken. And now, she is gone. I want to believe in afterlife. I want to believe that she can hear me talk to her. I’d like to believe that what I am about to write will somehow reach her. Some of the things I could not tell my mother when she was alive…
I am extremely proud of you. My heart swells with pride when I hear people talk about what a dedicated academician you are. I want to turn around and tell them that you are the best mother a girl can ask for. I think you are gorgeous. You smell like all the good things in life. You laugh like a girl, and you have fabulous skin for someone who has never really been to a spa or a beauty salon. Your eyes are what I miss in myself. I wish I had them. They shine with pure and simple joy when you are happy, and become a bottomless ocean of sadness when you are hurt. I love the way you dress up. Your crisp, cotton saris and long hair make you look like God’s favorite angel. You look so dignified sitting in your office, officiating as your college’s Principal. I love the way you tell stories. I am in awe of your knowledge of world’s religions and philosophies. I wish you had done your PhD. I know you wanted to. I think you made the best Rajma-Rice in the world. You sang so beautifully. I really, really wish I had your voice. I wish I had something of yours apart from memories and regrets. I wish I had called you more often, and taken you out to where I thought you’d love to eat. I wish I had bought you lots of chocolates and made you eat them. I wish we had taken a trip abroad, together. Just the two of us. I wish I had made you read some of the books I liked and read some of the books you loved. I wish I had read up more on what was happening to you. I wish I had watched some more movies with you, and told you some more stupid jokes. I wish I had stayed by your side when you needed me most.
I would give anything to spend just one more day with you. I have all this love inside me that was meant for you. And now, you are gone. I wish you were still around. I miss you.
Uncategorized: dealing with death of a loved one Dealing with grief life changing project Mother-daughter relationship Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
Why is it that the only kind of love talked about is romantic love? I feel stifled knowing that the world expects a woman to give all her love to a man. Years ago, when I was reading Diane Ackerman’s book on love, I had thought of the love I feel for life, for every living creature, for my friends and family. But most movies and literature limit themselves to love between a man and a woman. So when I read Emma Donoghue’s book “Room”, I was deeply moved. “Room” is a beautiful story about a mother’s love for her child, and her struggle to keep their sanity and love intact in the darkest of settings. The story is narrated by 5 year old Jack, who with his Ma lives in a locked room that measures eleven foot by eleven. When he turns five, his mother reveals to him that there is a world outside the room. The story is a hope filled celebration of the love between parent and child.
I started this blog to deal with the loss of my mother. Little did I know that soon I would be grieving my father as well. But I don’t want my life to be about loss. I want it to be a celebration of love. I have a few dreams for myself and my friends often tell me that I am doing too much. I guess that’s a whole lot better than doing too less. Among my dreams is to live in a village and teach children. I also want to travel across the world and share other people’s stories. I want to truly, completely be able to love my life.
My mother taught me that love should not be tied down into definitions. Language is one of mankind’s biggest limitations. We feel that everything must have a word for it. But that’s neither true, nor possible. Love is an idea, and not just an emotion. I will not put any boundaries on it: physical or emotional. I will love fearlessly, with abandon, and without definition. And in doing so, I hope I will finally be able to understand it.
Uncategorized: being childlike de-cluttering life life changing project Lifein2suitcases Pratishtha Durga Simplyfying life Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
Childhood. So much fun! And then, we grow up and all fun stops. Sad, right? Anyway, one of the highlights of my fun filled childhood was my little piggy bank. Smart as they were, my parents had taught me the basics of saving with a very sweet, simple game. If I saved nine rupees, dad would exchange the money for a crisp ten rupee note. Likewise, coins worth ninety could be exchanged for a handsome 100 rupees note. I loved watching my money “grow”. It was such a satisfying feeling. I would give my post-school ice-cream and samosas a miss, and feed the money to the pig. And all that mattered was the fun exchange between dad and me.
As an adult, you all know of my shopping addiction. It is a difficult addiction to fight, and I mostly do a good job. Today, I have no credit card to my name, I carry a minimum amount of money on my person, so I would not be tempted into emotional binges. And I have started feeding the piggy again. And it’s been fun. Every time I iron some clothes myself, which is quite often, I put the saved money into the pig. Any time I find a stray coin lying anywhere in the house, I feed the pig. So yesterday, the piggy refused to “eat” any more. Today, I took out forty five rupees worth of coins and put in a 50 rupees note. And I cannot tell you how much joy it gave me!
I know it’s a silly game, but it’s fun. Let go a bit today. Do something silly. Do something you did as a child. Eat candy for breakfast, or sleep in late. Make faces and dance all over the house. Eat two ice-creams, or make a mickey-mouse mask. Just do something that you’ve been putting away for long. We all might be dead in 2012, or we might still be alive in 2050. Either ways, having a little fun today won’t kill you tonight.
Uncategorized: de-cluttering life life changing project Lifein2suitcases Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya The Big Purge The Big Purge Challenge
by Pratishtha Durga
It’s painful. You don’t just pick up things and give them away. It hurts. Things are not just objects kept in your house. They are remnants of a life you’d known. They are triggers for memories you had hidden or lost. Like landmines, they go BOOM into your face. I think that’s why it’s so hard to let go of things. Past is like death. It’s so hard to believe that a lot of what you loved and cared for is gone forever. That no matter how hard you wish or try, it will never be again. And simple material things are like small pieces of that past we cling on to. An old book, a medal from a school quiz, old pictures, a broken bracelet, oversized shoes, undersized clothes, a cracked mug, notebooks, magazines, old jars, movie DVDs that don’t work. They are ghosts of a past we can no longer visit and reclaim. Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. I have started packing away my memories and have had to call upon unknown reserves of courage.
Purging is not just about things. Memories are tricky. Sometimes the same object can trigger good and bad memories. Sometimes a single beautiful memory runs into several objects. Where do you draw the line? Books suddenly become precious and useful after having gathered dust for years. Clothes suddenly threaten to come back into style. Note books tease with some forgotten pearls of knowledge and wisdom you hadn’t previously discovered. Where does one begin to let go? Now is not the time to become weak. An hour ago, I was almost in tears as I prepared for the final garage sale of The Big Purge. Yes, after pushing the deadline several times, I have finally gotten around to set a date for the sale. I am setting the dates for the sale on 5th and 6th March, 2011. A weekend where I would be selling or giving away a huge chunk of my life’s belongings. Everything from books to accessories to shoes to linen will be for sale. In the coming days, I will try and post pictures of some of the things I will be selling off.
There. It’s done now. There is no looking back. Time to begin the journey.
Uncategorized: de-cluttering life Dealing with grief life changing project Lifein2suitcases living alone Mother-daughter relationship Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya The Big Purge
by Pratishtha Durga
2010 is ready to call it a day. Last week of the year. And this year has been very different from any other year of my life. I made some goals for myself. I missed some and achieved the others. All in all, I did not just live through this year, I grew up a year. I learned swimming. I lived alone. I cooked my own meals. I travelled alone. I made some new friends and said goodbye to some old ones. I grew my nails, and I cut my hair. I wrote a lot. I connected to a lot of people. I gave away bags-full of clothes, CDs, and other things. I shopped less. I reconnected with schoolmates. I cried and felt good about it. I called friends over for dinner and had a great time. I read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies.
I missed my mother and learned that there is no cure for grief. I got locked out of my house and ended up having an unplanned sleep-over at my friend’s place. I ate at new places and went back to some old favourite restaurants. I had a “Plant Burger”. I went on a full-moon harbour cruise where I meditated and prayed with a group of Wiccans. I hosted my first ever Halloween Party. I learned to read Goddess Tarot cards. I rediscovered Jazz. I started singing again, and learned that in order to enjoy singing, you don’t need to be very good at it. You just have to sing. I played with other people’s dogs and missed my own. I watched my father get weaker every day, and learned to live with it. I drank Sangria in Spain, and ate Maggi noodles in Ladakh.
And so many more things to recall. 2010 has been a memorable year. It has made me a bit more of myself. So I wait for the next year. I had wanted to avoid a “Let’s welcome 2011″ post. But I’d be undermining the contribution 2010 has made to my life, if I did not pay it this tribute. Rest well 2010, you did good.
Uncategorized: de-cluttering life Lifein2suitcases Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya The Big Purge The Big Purge Challenge
by Pratishtha Durga
I mentioned that alongside my de-cluttering project, I will also do posts on the process I have been following. I intend to do it in no specific order. See and apply whatever you like.
Let’s start simple. How about your wardrobe? The first step is acknowledging that you might have a problem. We all love to buy new things, but how much is too much? If you have got cartons and boxes filled with stuff you have forgotten about and a wardrobe full of clothes you don’t wear, ummm… perhaps you might want to call it “too much”. You see, I have learned from experience that we hardly use a handful of clothes from a big wardrobe. At least, I do. I am dressing up a lot better now that I have lesser clothes and accessories. I have let go of pieces that don’t quite go with anything else. I have let go of clothes that are a size too small, and have been lying in wait for a long time. When I get to that size, I can always let go my current clothes, and buy the smaller size. Your personal style changes. There are things you would no longer be caught dead in. Let them go. The first stage is simple. Almost all of us can find a few articles of clothing we have been thinking of retiring. Say goodbye to them, right now.
And then, harden yourself. There are clothes you really love. But face it, you are well past the waist size they looked good on. Or they might have been a gift from someone you care for and you don’t want to let that memory go. Oh, come on! You can do it. Just take a deep breath and take them out.
Now, let’s get to the shoes. I have dozens of shoes that all pretty much looked the same. What I really need are a couple of formal shoes and a set of everyday work shoes. So I am keeping back a comfortable, black kitten heeled pair, a cute silver pair and a pair of red shoes in heels. For everyday wear, I have a set of comfortable shoes in a palette that goes with a wide set of clothes. And of course, a pair of really good quality walking shoes. Ideally, your shoe drawer should have ample space to breathe. If you treat your shoes well, they will last you for years. I have had to live with the bitter truth that because of my bad knee, I will never be able to wear some of the gorgeous high heels I have in my shoe drawer. I am giving those away to friends. It hurts, but it must be done. I want to live with what I use and nothing more.
Moving on to accessories. I love scarves, and stoles, and bangles, and necklaces, and earrings. Oh, I love earrings! I have so many of them! Even after giving away boxes filled with them, I still have more earrings than most girls possess. So, I plan to give similar ones away. I have now given away almost all my extra scarves and stoles, and use the ones I have as often as I can. It gives me so much satisfaction.
When you have a smaller wardrobe, you have to make it work harder. So, it’s important to know what you want your look to be. I have zeroed in on solids, with a few colorful prints. Solids are easy to accessorize, and with jackets, shrugs and scarves, you can create many looks with just one shirt. Oh, and jeans in different washes are a must, even for a small closet. You can easily take them from day to night with just a little variation of accessories and make-up. Speaking of make-up, I am now down to just my daily skin care kit, an eye pencil, a kajal stick, and a lip gloss for every day wear. I don’t wear lips-stick, and I have never been too fond of make-up. So I don’t see the point in keeping any with me. If you do use make-up, buy little and use it all up. Nothing beats the joy of finishing your bottle of foundation, and using up your entire compact. But it’s important to remember that make-up must be used up within a certain period. And never ever compromise on a good make-up remover. If you plan to own less in life, own the very best. Remember, the idea is to bring quality to your life, by weeding out unnecessary clutter.
So there, that’s a start. The same rules apply to men too. Less is indeed more. Get rid of the Frump and look better. It’s a win-win situation!