Friday, 21 October 2016

Second chance at forever. ..Book Review.

  Book: Second chance at forever. 

 Genre:  Romance.

Author: Summerita Rhyane.

It's a Kindle Edition. 

   'Second chance at forever', brought back memories from almost two decades ago - college days,  when I devoured romances hungrily!  Times, when the whole idea of a tall, dark, handsome knight  riding on a white horse and sweeping me off my feet made me all giddy and dreamy-eyed. Something similar, but a tad bit more sensible came to mind as I read this book. The age range of the characters and my own awareness about the realities of life made the difference!

   'Second chance at forever' is a love story of a different kind. Stuti, the heroine, is a widow with 2 year old triplets and an old mother-in-law to care for.  She  is a working woman, fighting a battle of bringing up her children singlehandedly, with some help from an understanding and a supportive mother-in-law. On vacation to Rajasthan, she runs into Revath, her old boyfriend, who is now a fashion photographer - a man Stuti had parted ways with almost 6 years ago. A man, who chose to live a free life than be tied down to a commitment. It is a story of the passion that is rekindled all over again.  Of emotions that come a-knocking at the doorway to their hearts as memories from the past and realities of the present make them wonder if they can dream of a future they would otherwise never have had.

    The intensity of their passion hasn't ebbed with time. However, now, there are Stuti's triplets and their future to be considered. Ironically, dealing with children is not a strongpoint Revath can boast of  and which is a constant source of worry for Stuti. The ups and downs the two go through as they  come close to each other and grow distant all at once is what the story is all about.

    The romance between Revath and Stuti warmed the cockles of my heart, as did the heart-touching innocence of the three little angels. The fervent hope that the two characters put away their differences and begin a new life kept me going. The story does feel too long-drawn in places, but then that's how romances have always been! Full of raw emotions and loads of romance that is quite absent in real life, there's a reason we turn to these books to enjoy some of it vicariously, isn't it?

   It is a fine book to pass long and empty hours; a story with  suspense that makes us question if true love and happily-ever afters exist in our world. A story about the travails of a single mother and  the balancing act she has to manage in order to earn a decent living and bring up her babies. It's a good read if you are looking for some change of scene from your regular suspense thrillers or sci-fi dramas.

 It's an ebook which you can find on Amazon here:



Thursday, 29 September 2016

A healthy heart in a healthy body.

“I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association with BlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.”

 "My heart is beating,
keeps on repeating,
I am waiting for you..."

   It's a song for the love struck hearts from an old hindi movie. As I was humming it this morning, I came across the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative for a healthy heart and my mind tweaked the words from the above song a bit:

"My heart is beating,
keeps on repeating,
"Are you lookin' after me?"

   Indeed, if  our heart could verbalise its innermost feelings, this is what it would ask! The poor organ gets battered, bruised and neglected big time, what else would it wonder?! Do we ever stop to ponder that our heart, too, has a shelf life?  In our hectic schedules, rarely do we give it the time, consideration or care it deserves. And, one day, all of a sudden, the worn little thing gives up in frustration, waking us with a jolt, but with no time to rectify our mistakes!

   If we were to give some consideration to all the effort  that our heart takes in order to keep us going, we would definitely give it the TLC it so deserves. Just a few minor changes in our lifestyle would ensure our heart stays shipshape, WE stay shipshape! A few necessary changes in our diet will do the trick, as we all know but fail to put into practice.  Oh, and also, moving our butt off the couch and giving a good workout to our lazy body will make sure that we stay young at heart and so does our heart!

  I can vouch for the fact that these minor changes have helped me feel the difference.
  Some time ago, when I realised how I was ill-treating my body by eating anything I fancied and exercising only in my dreams, I decided to clean up my act. Blessed with a lean built, I took it for granted that I would never have to worry about a thing. Alas, how wrong I was! Every type of body  requires a diet and an exercise regimen that will keep it fit and healthy. Of course, life is not in our control, but, taking care of ourselves for the long run is!

   To begin with, I introduced oats in my diet. Those who find the grain tasteless and sand-like, will wonder why I torture my taste-buds. But, believe me, oats can be enjoyed - with milk/curds, a handful of dry-fruits or even veggies, some spices and a dollop of amrit, aka homemade ghee! It was a tiny step towards a healthier me! A 1 kilo packet of Saffola Oats always finds its way into my monthly shopping cart at the grocer's. And, I am not saying this because I write a post for Saffolalife!
  Eating healthy also meant restricting the junk food intake. I do indulge in some sin-foods every once in a while, for, what's life without a few sins?! But, I make sure the quantity of fruits and veggies is much more than the quantity of junk food entering my mouth. My heart blesses me for being so caring towards it, towards myself!
    Last year, I began practicing Yoga - something I had been only thinking of doing for a long time..  An hour long, early-morning  workout is now my favourite part of the day! Yoga, as we all know, is the best exercise for our body, mind and soul - a fact I have realised since some time now.  For, gone are the mood-swings, the depression and the wild bursts of anger -  all of which harm our dil and leave the poor organ all achy and sad. There are times when things do go awry, but now my happiness hormones help me cool down faster and bring life back to normalcy. My workouts not only leave me feeling rejuvenated, but also leave my heart thumping happily! At times, I can actually hear it sing with an impish glee!
   I understand that finding time for oneself early in the morning may not be possible for everyone, so maybe one could find some time at night, for a walk after dinner. For, any physical activity (an exercise or a dance form)  not only helps the blood run through your veins and gives your heart a good workout,  but also acts as a mood-uplifter. It wakes up our happy hormones - serotonin, endorphins and dopamine - and is also responsible for charging us up, mentally as well as physically! It needs to be done religiously, though. Sticking to a schedule is an effort, but rest assured that these efforts will not go in vain.

  And, lastly, stay happy. H A P P Y.
  We don't own all the troubles in life. In fact, life is much better than we think it is. Most of our problems are imaginary, things we just think about.  Condition your mind to de-clutter on a regular basis and fill it with happy thoughts.  Spend time with your loved ones, discuss your problems with your closest people and  programme yourself to accept the things you have no control over. Life comes with its own set of idiosyncrasies. Learn to live with life the way life  has learnt to live with you!

 So, smile, please. Thank you! ;)

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Calling - Unleash your true self. Book Review.

            The Calling - Unleash your true self, is an inspirational book written by Priya Kumar. An award winning and a bestselling author of books like 'I am another you', and 'License to live', Priya Kumar brings for us a book about a journey within. A journey we all need to make in order to  discover our true selves, and the reason behind our presence on this planet.

           Books that belong to this genre attract me, in that they motivate me and help me realign my perspectives and gain some clarity and peace of mind.  And, this book does just that. In a language that is lucid and a style that instantly makes you feel at ease, the author narrates the story of Arjun  and his journey that changes his life forever.   I found it somewhat similar to The Alchemist in nature, which also happens to be a tale about a man who embarks upon a journey learning about life and about following one's dreams.

       The story is peppered with maxims all along; maxims that leave us stunned with their candour and awaken us to certain realities about life and ourselves. Here are a few that made me  pause and reflect upon and helped me find answers to questions that have gnawed at the back of my mind for quite some time.

*     If you don't like the rain, rise above the clouds. Cursing the rain won't make it go away, but it will surely make you wet!

*    Death is not a solution because life has never been a problem. How do you propose to solve a problem that did not exist?

*     LIfe does not test you at your level, it tests you at a  level higher than yourself. You don't choose the test.  The test is always a step ahead so that in reaching beyond it, you grow beyond yourself.

*  Sometimes we are so annoyed with people that we don't heed them at the times they are correct. We continually hold their idiosyncrasies against them and deprive ourselves of the value that they could add to our lives.

*   You are the creator of your own world. What others do in your world is on your wish, your intention and your calling. 

* Don't be a slave to money. Be the master of your destiny. Stop running. Start living your life.

      Life,  if we observe closely,  always offers us a second chance. A chance to redeem ourselves, better our performances and learn the true purpose behind our arrival into this world. Seldom do we recognise these second chances, for we are too busy stressing over our humdrum existence.  But, the lucky few who do grab the second chance vouch for the fact that it changed them, changed their perspectives and brought about a sea change in the lives they had been living.

      The first chapter  in the book reminded me of the movie, Bruce Almighty, where the character of Jim Carrey is guided by God Himself for bringing him on the path of righteousness. In The Calling, Arjun is assisted by his young guide, Chandu, and a Sadhu he meets on his trip to Hemkund Sahib, to discover himself and  his real purpose in life.  I found the story intriguing, but also a tad tedious in places. However, it picked up pace in the latter half and reached a perfect denouement.

    If you are a fan of The Alchemist, which I am sure you are, then you might find this book equally interesting, as well as helpful. It might even bring about an awakening and help you reach the place you ought to be. A line in the book perfectly helps unravel the mystery behind the matters that often leave us baffled:

       The destination does not hold our redemption, but the journey towards it does.

   That might help you come to conclusions about the whys and the wherefores of the quirky journey called life!



Sunday, 18 September 2016

Chikoo and I - A love story.

Young man, Chikoo.

        Chikoo was an un-planned pet - much like an un-planned pregnancy.  Hubby felt that  bringing home a puppy would add some much-needed cheer to our world. But, I argued, that if getting home a pet was so important, then why not get a fish? It would swim in its bowl all day, minding its own business, but a dog  would spend its entire day minding other people's business; what if that got us in trouble? Moreover, we knew zilch about caring for a dog.
      Sadly (for me), any further argument was pointless, for, the deed was done and the 'furry package' was on its way home. I decided to deal with it as unsentimentally as I could; it was an animal, after all, who knew nothing about 'emotions'. Ironically, the moment I laid eyes on the said  package, I melted! It was love at first sight when the fur ball looked up at me, tilted its head to a side and asked, "Hey, who is this girlie?" I swooned over those chocolate brown, very expressive eyes!
     Things happen for a reason, I deduced.  People  walk into our life for a reason.
      (Thank you, hubby, for bringing Chikoo home.)

       It did take some 'getting used to', but the pup and I  began accepting each other's presence at home. In the initial months, Chikoo's love was reserved only for his 'dad'; he was brought home by the man, so naturally he was his hero! He was a permanent fixture by hubby's side  - at meal times, at bedtime, and also in the bathroom, giving his dad some quiet company! As the days passed by, I, too, began taking care of him, his meals, his grooming; more importantly, I began getting involved in his 'upbringing'. And, it felt good!

     Still, he was daddy's boy and daddy was who he wanted all the time. He would even insist on sitting on his lap  in the car. I would try and hold him in my arms, but he would wriggle out and reach for his dad, much to my chagrin!
   Once, when hubby was driving on a busy highway, Chikoo,  freed himself from my arms and stood right in front of hubby, obstructing the view ahead; he wanted to sit on his  dad's lap! Hubby hollered at me to pull Chikoo away lest he ram his car into another. My throat went dry and my heart in panic mode as I grabbed hold of Chikoo and yanked  him back. There were a hundred vehicles moving  along at breakneck  speed and here was this brat with his strange demands!

     Enraged, I muttered, "I take care of you, feed you, bathe you, clean up your mess, and you shower all your love on your dad?!" Chikoo  looked at me, perplexed, wondering why his little wish wasn't fulfilled!  Bad dog?
     No, darling dog, bad me!
    We humans couldn't be more pathetic, could we? demanding love like that! I guess, this is the reason Chikoo entered my life - to teach me things I was ignorant about.

"Mamma, may I? "
      Over the years,  things began to change. We grew closer - Chikoo and I. He began regarding  me as his mum, or so I would like to believe. For, he  followed me everywhere I went. He would grab the end of my kurta with his teeth and walk alongside me, not letting go even for a short while.   Now that he is old and unable walk as well,  or stand unassisted, his eyes follow me wherever I go. His favourite place in the world is the entrance of the kitchen, where he plonks himself and keeps watching me with his big, brown eyes - observing my movements and chatting with me about this and that. Yes, his eyes really do talk!
    Every time someone asks him, "Hey, Chikoo, come on, let's go for a walk!" Chikoo gives me that questioning look and asks, "Mom, what do you say? Should I go, or are they just kidding?"
    Mamma's boy!

Chikoo and I. 
     Life, as we know it, is ever-changing.  People change, relationships undergo changes, and when that happens, life tends to get lonely. It hits you hard where it hurts the most - your heart. It happened with me, too. Accepting this change was difficult.  The loneliness became too much to bear; friends stayed too far to meet or talk with. At times, the silence at  home would seem deafening,  and I would burst out in tears. At such times, the only soul by my side was my son.  Chikoo  would  read my mind in a jiffy. A few sniffles from me and he would know his mum would soon turn on the waterworks.
    In an instant, he would trudge up to me, place his paw on my knee and try to calm me down, "Shush now, mom, I am here for you, am I not? Stop crying, please!"   I would gather him in a tight hug  and thank him over and over again. Despite the pain that had begun troubling him, he only cared about me!
      It's something Chikoo has taught me over the years:
      To be there for your people. Always. For, you may be the only person by their side in their time of need! I am not as large-hearted as Chikoo, but I am learning. Being selfless is not easy, though. Wonder how these babies do it!

    There's one incident I would like to share before I end this post.
    Few years ago, we met a gentleman who needed a male Labrador to mate with his Labrador bitch. We agreed to help  out and drove Chikoo to the kennel where he would meet and mate with the 'girl'.  Unfortunately, for the father of the, er, bride, things did not go as planned. The girl was very aggressive and hostile towards my peace-loving Chikoo! So, the idea had to be dropped and we brought Chikoo back home. When I informed my sister-in-law about how the belligerent girl had driven my son away, she burst out laughing. "Shilpa, you sounded like a typical mother-in-law when you said that! "   
    Well,  yes, I am Chikoo's  mother and I will not take it kindly  if some  hoity-toity chick turns down my darling son!

     12 years ago, I had not an inkling that an animal would change my life, my thinking, my heart; an animal I had decided to deal with "unsentimentally"!
     I must say we have come a long way, haven't we, Chikoo baby? Or, should I say, I have come a long way? Eh, sweetie?

Dedicating this song to Chikoo, who came into my life and changed it, for the better.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

A cheery post about my son!

            Twelve years ago, on a grey August evening, hubby called up from Pune to inform me that he had bought a puppy.  The fretting and fuming that ensued is not really worth mentioning here. But, all of that changed the moment my eyes fell on this cute little furry package  that hubby had brought along with him! I fell in LOVE. Period. Of course,the apprehensions  that followed this emotion were a-plenty.
     "This little guy will now make a mess of my beautifully maintained house!" I rued. And, as if reading my thoughts, the moment Chikoo stepped into our house, he peed on the door mat! In typical doggy-style, he made the house  his home by marking his territory!  For me, it was a sign of things to come.
    Torn bedsheets, chewed furniture and footwear, uprooted plants, scratched arms (mine), you name it. But, he was a family member now. A package deal!

     In the first few months, we heard not a sound from the guy. Not even a faint woof! I wondered if we were  to enjoy 'it' as a movie from the silent era! One day, though,  hubby played a prank on him and Chikoo barked. He actually barked! I heard it right up to our 3rd floor apartment. Wow!
    "Ah, the little fellow can talk!" I heaved a sigh of relief.

     Chikoo was one inquisitive little pup. His daily routine included  investigating every nook and cranny to see if he could learn something new and interesting about his new world. Little things caught his fancy. The tiny idols of Ganpati Bappa and Shri Krishna, the Shivling, the flowers my MIL offered to the gods in her temple - these were like his play-mates. He would approach the temple when no one was watching, pick an idol of his choice, take it for a grand tour of our house and then drop it off in some cozy corner, or under some furniture. Most often, when the said idol was found to be missing from its rightful place, I would find it relaxing happily under the bed or the wall unit! These deities sure must have enjoyed a change of atmosphere!

      He also was a keen observer of his surroundings and his people and their idiosyncrasies. Once, I had to rush downstairs to look at the veggies the veggie-vendor had in his cart. I opened the door and was about to descend the staircase in a hurry, when little Chikoo barked at me to stop. I turned around wondering what had happened, and what do I see? He ran to the balcony, picked up one of my sandals that I had placed there  to dry, brought it to where I stood and set it down at my feet!
    "Aren't you supposed to wear this when you step outdoors, woman?!" He asked with those very talkative eyes.
   "Awwwww.....!" went my heart. I grabbed him and kissed him, much to his amusement!

       This loveable old saint of today was a real brat when he was younger - a bundle of energy. And, all of that energy he would vent out only when I took him for his walk. With his dad, he walked like a gentleman! My mother often teased me when she asked who walked whom! Young dogs can be tough to control. And, Chikoo was no less. He just had to spot another dog, or the markings of another dog across the road and he would drag me all the way to that place. What a sight we must have been! Gosh! People often asked (very sarcastically) if I needed any help in holding his leash if I was finding it difficult to manage.
    Several times I found myself  on the ground on all fours, with the leash in my hand and my rambunctious dog dragging me along in unbridled  excitement! Can you imagine the level of embarrassment I endured? All because of this little imp! Uff! I must have lost my temper a hundred times thanks to all of his antics, but don't all mothers go through it? I giggle when I think about those times - lovely times, with my lovely son!
     Nope! Pulling -hair- out- of-frustration times, with my little devil!


      On the other hand, he was also very caring and protective about me. Once, when we were returning from our morning walk, I spotted a mentally deranged man on the other side of the road throwing stones in our direction and  shouting obscenities. Chikoo saw him, too. He quickly grabbed the leash in his mouth and pulled me hurriedly all the way home, stopping every few steps  only to turn around and see if we were being followed! My heart thudded in my chest! Had it not been for Chikoo, I would have freaked out!
   And now, he is a bit too protective. Last year, when I was taking Yoga lessons at home, exercising  in those strange positions, Chikoo would keep looking at me, alarmed at why I was standing awkwardly and not sitting down comfortably! My Yoga teacher found it rather amusing, nay, adorable, actually! She would gush at his caring attitude towards his mamma!
   " baby!" 

    There are countless stories of Chikoo -about  his naughty streak that drove me mad, his loving nature that melted my heart, his intelligence  that made me proud of him. I guess, I will do a post on each of his attributes. Writing about it all in one post won't do him justice!

    I hope you all enjoyed reading this post, as against the last post that made many an eye well up. It's just that I have come to depend on my baby  so much; watching him suffer in his old age gets unbearable at times. Most of the times.





Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A list of things I love.

        I have been reading this book, "Until I say Good-bye", where the author, Susan Spencer- Wendel is suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral schlerosis) - Lou Gehrig disease (an irreversible condition that destroys the nerves that power the muscles). She has about an year left on this planet which she decides to spend in the company of her loved ones,  travelling to places she had always wanted to. She wrote this book on her IPhone using her thumbs, as the rest of her fingers  became useless with time.

      There is this  page in the book where she has made a list of all the little  things she loves and feels we all keep such a list.. I loved the idea and decided to come up with my own! It took me some deliberation to  come up with a list of things which give me a sense of contentedness, things  I find  therapeutic and which help me feel buoyant on indulging in them.  Seemingly insignificant things but, which bring about an exhilaration and a happiness to every cell in my body!

      So, here's my list.

 Kneading the soft folds of fur on Chikoo's neck. I just have to grab a handful each time I lie by his side - which is  often - and revel in the  calming effect it has on me!

Lying in bed, holding Chikoo in my arms, and feeling his body move as he scampers about in his dreams! Yes, dogs do dream, and believe me, it's a sight to see!

Staring into his chocolate brown eyes.

The colour - chocolate brown.

 Chocolates. And, eating those sinful little pebbles when no one's around. I NEVER share my chocolates!

My chocolate brown nail colours and lipstick.

Conversations with my mother and my girl friends.

Day-dreaming in the peace and quiet of my home when there's not a soul to intrude upon my privacy.

My space. My thoughts.

My beauty sleep.

Rain, petrichor, the rainbow, the lightning and the thundering. I love it all!

The white frangipani and the pink lilies.

My books.

Scrabble and  Sudoku.

Sexy voices  -  making-me-go-weak-in-the-knees kinda sexy voices!

Beaches. Shells. Sand. And, the sea.

Sparrows and their chirps.


And, yes, silence.

           These are just some of my favourite things! There's a song with this line, isn't it?

What are some of the things you love? I would love to know!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

This one's for Chikoo.


 The drum beats from a distant Ganpati pandal wake him up with a start. The whining comes almost instantly. Music blaring out of  loudspeakers, crackers going off even at a distance fill Chikoo with fear. I rush to shut every window in the house, but to no avail.  I fail to make our home soundproof for my boy. Sigh.

       I gather him in my arms as he lies whining and crying in fear. Trying to soothe his nervous heart, I speak to him in whispers, to reassure him that the sound will not enter our home, ever! All the efforts to calm him down fail miserably. I let out a deep breath and sit by his side, fuming and cursing the people who fail to show some consideration towards their fellow beings.

        The music dies down only to return with a force that sends Chikoo in another fit of yelping  and crying. He tries getting up on all fours - a feat for my arthritic dog - to move to a place where he can find some peace. Alas, standing up is something he hasn't been able to manage independently since months now. He drags himself here and there, all the while crying in pain and fear. His joints have been acting up despite the array of medicines he is being administered, and his hearing, too, shows signs of ageing. Sounds like the knock on the door fail to reach his ears, but the bursting of crackers drives him insane!  Finally, I help him onto  a sofa and sit by his side - my patience evaporating, my strength giving way.

       Life as a pet parent is tough. Your "child" ages before you do, suffers the pain and agony of old-age before you do, finds it difficult to express his feelings vis-a-vis his pain, and withers away silently right in front of your eyes. And, what can you do? Nothing,  except watch helplessly. You do your best to keep your fur-baby as comfortable as humanly possible to you, you give him the best of medical care and then, keep waiting for the moment. The moment when he will stop suffering, the moment when he will be gone to a much safer and quieter place, albeit, far far away from you. Tough, isn't it? Caring for  a pet dog is not easy.

      A week ago, I had this horrid dream where I saw an image of a lifeless Chikoo lying unnoticed in a corner of the house for more than a few days! I awoke frightened, my heart beating wildly, a weird sort of a vacuum in my chest. I kept mum about it, but then shared it with  my SIL and frightened her, in turn.  Couple days later, a  friend of mine informed me how dreams foretell the future. I know what the future holds for my son; it's just that I don't want that future to arrive into the present so soon!

     Every day, I cuddle up with Chikoo, click pictures of him, with him, in a bid to make memories for my future. I agree with my optimistic SIL that my son is fine and he still has time, but the pessimist in me argues that time always comes unannounced, therefore make the most of every moment that you have with him, for you know  not what the next day will bring along with it!

     All I hope for him is that he lives the remaining days of his life free of pain and suffering, if that is possible. I am here to take care of him, but, may he tell me when the time arrives for him to cross over the rainbow bridge. And, yes, may he wait for me to join him there someday and then take me around to show me all his favourite spots!