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.

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.

The Crown & The Queen’s world

I finished watching The Crown Season 3 in four days. Though OTT has become our primary entertainment, I am not a binge watcher. Then why is The Crown special? It’s the evolution of the young Elizabeth to the Queen, the monarch. The series reflects the inner struggle, journey of so many women, thus making you reflect on so many hidden sometimes not so hidden emotions. The first season made me go back to the history books and political developments. It hooked me to Netflix.

While the plot unfolds, glimpse of the life of royals – the drama was personally fascinating. I remember seeing images of the Queen on television, photos of their annual Christmas parties or royal weddings in newspapers. History textbooks referred to the royals from colonialist perspective. They taught us that Lord Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India. The closest I came to Royals was on a tour of the Buckingham Palace during my stay in London. Other memories are that of passing by the palace on the eve of Prince William’s wedding or seeing the palace in Edinburg. So, The Crown lifted the veil for me of the royals and opened my mind to the British history.

Each season reveals so many facets of Queen Elizabeth. The narrative has changed my perspective about the Queen as a person. Her relationship with her father, love for her sister, decision to marry Philip or passion for riding is what every girl wants, dreams of.  The young Elizabeth wears The Crown, reluctantly and with a lot of apprehension. As she assumes this new responsibility, time and again she juggles between her personal thoughts, emotions and views against those of the establishment, family and the crown’s legacy.

Elizabeth learns the ropes of power, decision making, diplomacy with a kind heart. Her dialogues with successive prime ministers demonstrate this change – from vulnerability to decisiveness. The Crown Season 3 has ample evidence of the Queen and their maturity. Her concern for the school children caught in the mining incidence, efforts to save sister’s marriage, helplessness in matters of Prince Charles personal life or her visit to the ailing uncle -all stuck an emotional chord.

Watching her journey made me reflect on our daily lives. Some rules we have to follow or can decide to over rule as we assume responsibility – personally or professionally. Every woman at some stage has to decide between her dreams and her duties. Balancing once personal relationships while in office or position of power. More importantly it is what we take from these incidents is makes the difference. As the Queen thanks her uncle – His not accepting the crown changed her life forever. At the cross roads of life, our decisions and thoughts have the power to transform our lives.

G – Garden View #AtoZChallenge

I ways associated garden with swings, see-saw, slides. Where children play. Recently I moved to a new house, which overlooks a garden.

Garden for me has somehow changed. I see people walking, exercising, morning yoga classes, someone comes to the garden to study, while someone else is working on a laptop maybe before going to college or a meeting.

I have started enjoying the silence after garden closes. So many times after a hectic day my best way to unwind has been to sit next to the window looking at the garden. The trees, grass, smell of the fresh watering & dim lights are soothing.

Yesterday was Gudi Padwa, a new year for Maharashtrians. Sharing the picture of our Gudi with a garden view