Smile Please, The Sky Is Pink

Recently I watched two movies that really touched my heart – Smile Please and The Sky Is Pink. Some stories resonate with you, making you think deeper, giving different perspective to a particular situation.

Nandini, the successful fashion photographer in Smile Please, struggles to come in terms with the diagnosis of early stage of dementia. She finds hope in Viraj, a stranger, who makes her believe in herself and continue to pursue her dreams.

The Sky is Pink is a rendering story of a couple who make it their mission to take care of their daughter diagnosed with a rare generic disorder. Daughter’s survival and happiness becomes a prime purpose of life for a mother, who is undergoing many personal struggles within.

  • Smile Please and The Sky Is Pink movies highlight the role of a caregivers during critical times of illness

Both the movies focus on another important aspect – role of family and friends during illness. Personal experiences have made me realize that it’s the immediate family and caregiver who many times need hope, direction and empathy.

The care givers go through a different journey – coming to terms with the diagnosis, doctors, taking sensitive and important decisions, finances, etc. Above all an emotional phase – dealing with the patient, people around, managing daily lives, so many of them. At this point it is hope and their courage that helps caregivers sail through this storm.

Perhaps it’s the reason why I connected so deeply with the story and emotions. Last three years I have discovered so many aspects of my own self while attending to my mother’s illness. Deep within you become empathetic, start valuing people in your lives, making you realize the importance of good health, finances and even your professional and personal goals.

How did this phase change me?

  • I started taking care of my own health
  • Becoming fit and eating health became more important
  • Developed patience, empathy and more gratitude
  • Overcame psychological barriers
  • Learned to cook some more recipes

Hence, Smile Please, The Sky Is Pink have faith and hope, discover yourself during the darkest of the times!

Blogging: 3 lessons I learnt from my Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts in its new avatar turns two today. This new journey has taught me these three key lessons:

Cherish your personal thoughts: It was a wakeup call for me when I decided to renew my blog. In the race of time, professional and personal commitments we tend to forget our own thoughts. Things that matter, relations, memories you cherish. Random Thoughts became my place to stop, reflect and pen my opinion, experiences and observations.

Set Goals & Plan Ahead: This was a big takeaway while writing and developing Random Thoughts. Without planning, thinking ahead and putting down my blogging topics, time management, it would have been impossible to shape my Random Thoughts. I fumbled like how! It also made me think about goal setting and planning, not only for this blog but imbibing it in my daily life too.

Be Consistent: Often my mind is buzzing with so many ideas. I feel like exploring new things and experiences. My josh is high and I start doing a few things, but then it fizzles out. Random Thoughts was a rude reminder for me to become consistent in everything I do.

A deep Gratitude for everyone who encouraged my Random Thoughts. For your guidance, feedback, love and hand holding me.

2020: The year of micro resolutions and micro influencers

As the New Year dawned, two important words etched in my mind – Micro Resolutions and Micro Influencers. Unconsciously I have been thinking about it, making sense of the personal impact of these terms in 2020.

Micro Resolutions: With New Year comes New Year Resolutions – breaking some habits, embracing few, making personal and professional goals. I was never into making New Year Resolutions nor a person to plan things. While I always knew my area of interest, I did not really plan every career move. Instead I worked towards somethings, few happened along the way.

A believer of experience is the best teacher, deep somewhere they taught me to become conscious of my goals or to know what I really want. Importantly, a philosophical inclination made me aware of the need to take action to achieve my goals or my prayers.

A step further was to breakdown these big goals or ideas into small achievable goals. The universe was leading me to become more focused; some in-office trainings, my philosophical practice and even the circumstances. Hence when I read Ravi Kiran’s LinkedIn post about the need to make Micro Resolutions – it was a cue to win small victories for big experiences. Thus, began my journey towards making micro-resolutions, leading the way to big experiences through 2020.

Micro Influencers: Speak to any marketer or a media professional, a common denominator in the conversations will be micro influencers. Increasingly brands want to engage with these niche influencers, experts who will influence the opinion of their customers. Their social media profiles and presence is sought after to gain new customers and build equity.

Are these micro influencers only in the online world? The response to my post My Foodie Santa turns 93 validated that micro influencers are everywhere; they need to be tapped at the right time and in a correct manner. My memories about our uncle and his love for food resonated well with our friend circle. It became my most read post as uncle’s well wishers connected with the post. This experience took me back to my thesis while studying marketing communications. Then I had dwelled on the impact of word of mouth communications in choosing travel destinations and hotels.

Micro Influencers are nothing but a contemporary version of the word of mouth communication. Your product, service, offering or even a creative concept needs to connect with their passion and interests. These influencers, whether online or offline, will engage with you or influence your choice with open arms.

What comes to your mind when you think of micro resolutions or micro influencers?

Welcoming 2020 with Gratitude, Steep Goals

Personally, 2019 was extremely challenging. Looking back, I feel every month threw new challenges at me – professionally and personally. Someone recently told me ‘Life happens when we are busy planning’. As 2020 dawned my sense of Gratitude became even stronger and set steeper goals.

2019 was of self-reflection, self-discovery, edging me out of my comfort zone at so many levels. More importantly it taught me to develop a greater positive attitude towards life, with a deep sense of gratitude.

Every failure or a setback has a huge learning for us. My biggest test was in May 2019 when cancer yet again gripped my mother. Since then it has been a roller coaster – of emotions, understanding relationships, learning and unlearning. More importantly, at every stage it made me aware of immense gratitude towards every soul we touch in our lives. These times truly show us our life path. We were grateful we had blessings in abundance.

Taking care of my ailing mother was also a journey of self-discovery. Maybe it became a reason for personal reflection. It boosted my confidence in managing housework. I experimented and learned to cook many preparations that I was hesitant to make.

I renewed Random Thoughts yet again. Originally started in 2010, I had stopped blogging for long. In January 2018 yet again, I gave this blog a fresh outlook, but it was still not consistent. Last six months I started observing some many things some consciously some unconsciously.  It edged me to pen my Random Thoughts more often. This was another attempt at making this blog a platform for my Random Thoughts. This time my new role in content was indirectly helping me improve my thoughts, giving me confidence to explore new topics.

By now social media timeline was flooded with year-end reviews, opinions and personal resolutions. 2019 threw another challenge at me, elbowing me to be stronger and believing in myself. It gave me my 2020 objective and set steep goals for myself.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

What are you looking forward in 2020?

My Foodie Santa Turns 93

Christmas is here – at office, in beautifully decorated shops and malls, special gift hampers on display and cakes been baked. Secret Santa makes this season of giving more fun at work. Since last few days our work desks are overflowing with surprises – pastries, waffles, cakes, muffins, even health food & cookies! These happy vibes made me ponder about my original Foodie Santa who turns 93 today.

Yes, my Foodie Santa. He introduced me to the true joy of giving so many years back. Looking back, I realise he has been our own Santa. Unlike the old, fair, chubby Santa, my tall, lean Santa in crisply ironed clothes is young at heart. He is always ready with delicious goodies and treats perfectly chosen for the occasion – wedding, birthday, pooja, festivals or just a warm visit to meet friends and family.

Owners and staff of every restaurant and shop he frequents greet him with equal warmth and love. He fills his sack of food, love and joy at these places. A delectable spread of mithai, farsan, biscuits, puffs, hot breakfast or a bag full of fish bought at the market. It is happily emptied at your house over a hot cup of tea, jokes and laughter.

A hearty meal of traditionally cooked fish, bhakri and rice is reserved for weekends. As a child he would diligently send message to me and my bother to be ready for lunch. A cab would arrive sharp at 11.30 am, taking us to famous seafood restaurants around Dadar, Lower Parel and even Fort. The popular khanavals like Anant Ashram (Girgaum), Jai Hind (Dadar), Kshirsagar (Parel), Highway Gomantak (Bandra) came into my life because of him. Else we would head to Bhagat Tarachand and Badshah falooda in town for a rare vegetarian meal. Dare not try to pay for your meals! Such is his aura that restaurant staff will not accept payment from his guests.

On our breakfast trails were local eateries in Dadar and Matunga – Prakash, Mysore Café, Ramanayak. We also enjoyed a brun maska, omelette at Café Colony in Dadar (East). On other days, he will knock on our door with a box of goodies from Parsi Dairy, Merwans, D. Damodar or some other well-known place.

My Foodie Santa is now little frail but young in spirit. Still walks down the lanes and by-lanes meeting people and friends. Urging us to make our next meal or a travel plan. Occasionally taking a bus ride just to wander around. Over weekends he enjoys a hot meal of fish curry and rice or simple dal cooked by me. For his love for food and feeding, will still drag you to a nearby restaurant when you cross paths.

As he turns 93, I am ready to celebrate with his favourite delights. For all you know he is our own Santa, teaching us the joy of giving and loving!

Who is your own Santa?

Memoirs of a changing political fabric as Uddhav Thackrey becomes Maharashtra CM

Last few weeks the state of Maharashtra and the nation witnessed some unforeseen political developments and power struggle. An unprecedented turn of events for the state known for a strong political culture and some robust contribution to the Indian democracy. As I write this Shivaji Park, a stone throw’s away from my house, is getting ready for the oath taking ceremony of the next chief minister Uddhav Thackrey, the Shiv Sena supremo and the heir.

Shiv Sena and BJP alliance had an unceremonious fallout after contesting elections together for 30 years. Observing this political drama, I realized in some way I have witnessed this change closer home for the last three decades.

In the mid-1980s a little girl would see Shiv Sena shakha and its workers as a call away for help – ambulance service, blood donations, etc. Growing up in Dadar, cradle of Shive Sena’s birth, was not a surprise to see Balasaheb Thackrey’s car (there were no convoys then) passing through some wadi for corner meetings. Public meetings were not glamorous, even during election time. The only big meeting was the Dasara rally which would fill Shivaji Park with saffron flags.  Once the Shiv Sena – BJP friendship became stronger Lotus symbol accompanied Bow & Arrow on the posters and pamphlets.

This teenager was then a by-stander to another significant political development. In the pre-TV and internet era locals in Dadar gathered outside counting centers to know the election results. EVM machines had not made their debut yet. The josh was high in Dadar during 1995 Assembly Elections. Accompanying her father to Shiv Sena Bhavan on the counting day, she saw a huge crowd errupt with joy as one particular election result was declared – Bala Nandgaonkar had defeated Chagan Bhujbal in Mazgaon. As Shiv Sena – BJP alliance inched closer to the government formation, Gokhale Road leading to Shiv Sena Bhavan was full of people, Shiv Sainiks celebrating on every naka. The culmination was the oath taking ceremony at Shivaji Park. With the downing sun, Manohar Joshi, senior party leader and resident of Dadar, became the first Shiv Sena Chief Minister.

In next few years another wave swept Dadar. Like the rest of Maharashtra, this Sena stronghold was torn between the big split – Uddhav & Raj Thackrey. Through her window she would observe a symbolic struggle. On important occassions the statue of Prabodhankar Thackrey – a social reformer and Balasaheb’s father would be surrounded by two flags with different symbols – Bow & Arrow and Railway Engine. Festival celebrations also saw this impact. Krishna Kunj, in a sleepy lane near Shivaji Park, became popular for its resident – Raj Thackrey. Dadar supported Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, elected its MLA and backed corporators in the BMC elections.

Last decade was another transformation. Now a working woman with interest in political science and developments, the change was palpable. National political environment was not the same – rising power and clout of BJP was visible in the neighbourhood. While people were pro-development, there was some disillusionment and an underlying soft-corner for Shiv Sena.

Amid the political wrestling and the game of Kabaddi, it remains to be seen how will Thackrey Sarkar be different, will Dadar yet again be witness to a new Shiv Sena? This time it is the other Thackreys – Uddhav and Aditya.