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

F – Fishy Tales #AtoZChallenge

Last Sunday I visited a fish market after very long time. It was refreshing in many ways. While malls, e-stores are convenient, I enjoy buying certain things myself and Fish is one of them. Observing my grandmother and then my mother I have learnt buying a fish is an art and bargaining is the masters! I am fairly good at art and fail in masters.

In my childhood we bought fish at the doorsteps. Our regular firsherwomen would visit us at a particular time. During my primary schooling, it would be the time for my school bus to arrive. The sight of my trying to jump over the huge fish basket was common. Granny would be checking the fish and bargaining with one eye on me to see if I am going down the staircase without falling. On some days I would get a chance to watch this routine process, try and imitate my grandmother. My cheeks would grin with a smile when the fisherwomen slipped couple of more pieces of prawns, Bombay duck extra to please me.

Over years we developed a different bond with fisherwomen. I would be eager to wave them out if I see them around in the area. Granny also knew what kind of fish to buy from which lady. Each of them had a unique way of selling fish. Many years later when I attended wedding of one of the fisherwoman’s grandson, I realized what this bonding was. The smile on her face on seeing us at the wedding said it all, likewise for us!

It was my mother who taught me to buy fish from a market. A few years later she started buying fish. Again she had her set rules and preferences. Our fish destination was the famous City Light market at Matunga, it remains so.  This market is packed with people and a variety of fresh catch.

My mother would take a direct bus from office, buy fish and come in time to cook it for dinner. Her shopping bag introduced me to huge pieces of surmai, king size prawns and fatty pomfret. On weekends I started accompanying her and was learning other side of household shopping. Buying other necessary items, other than fish. How to make effective use of this single visit. Round it off with a spicy pani puri !

And what I called the Masters – bargaining I observe from my father. After every visit to the fish market he asks me – what price did she quote, how much did u bargain for? Then I get advice on how should I bargain, what should I quote.. something I am yet to learn.

How can I trade these fishy tales for an online delivery? Will you? I rather enjoy my fish and the happiness!

E – Exercise #AtoZChallenge

  • What have you done?
  • Your clothes are fitting loose now
  • You have lost weight
  • Are you dieting?

These are the common comments I hear from people I meet. Feels little weird for a person who is used to the other extreme comments – being called fatty, advised on how weight control is important, judging the food I eat because of my weight.. the best answer I developed for this was to Smile.

 Like every other obese or overweight person, I always thought of getting fit, exercising, following diet but could never do it. Having read blogs, social media posts of the struggles, the common factor for many like me was motivation and to stay motivation.

A simple ‘statement like be careful while standing on the chair /table, it will break’ is enough to lower your confidence. What is the best way to start? Gym, yoga, cross fit, walking, swimming, so many options and social advice we get…

For me, the shift happened in my mind – When I broke the psychological block of fitness. Most importantly when I got the right encouragement; positive encouragement. I started seeing some visible results; I slowly started believing that I can be fit.

Yet again there was an obstacle. Traffic, travel became an issue to manage to reach fitness center on time. One day of bunking the workout session becomes a bad example to take it lightly. Finally I again stopped exercising. But in this phase my mind had become stronger to pursue exercise whatever the case.

In next few months I found another fitness center. This time I again received the required encouragement. And this was the second shift in my thinking.  I met an encouraging trainer, patiently listening to me and my body. He shattered another psychological block –

“Weight Loss is not important, You being Fit is more important” 

With this he never allowed me to go near the weighing machine. He says , “the day people start commenting and noticing change in you, the results will be seen.” Playfully I started addressing him as a doctor and not a trainer. Every day he would ask if there is any body pain, few days later he will try to understand what difference I am noticing. I realized this was his way of studying if the workout is helping me. He helped me release the conscious and subconscious pressure of losing weight.

Most importantly I started enjoying workouts. Looked forward to my gym sessions, changed my other priorities, tried to accommodate my exercise more meaningfully in my daily routine.  I have surprised myself my hitting the gym at 10 pm.. even if it is for half an hour.  Started becoming restless if I missed it for more than 3-4 days..

4 months down I have not lost much weight, maintain low carb diet becomes difficult. The biggest change has been my attitude and perspective of looking at fitness. That’s when the external comments just become a part of this process.. not something to be bogged down with. Today also I Smile at the comments, but with a different attitude & I’m loving it !

How have you overcome psychological blocks?

D – Dadar #AtoZChallenge

Our birthplace is always close our heart. For me it’s Dadar – a central place for all Mumbai citizens to travel. Dadar in literal terms means steps. And indeed it has been a staircase for me to become the person I am.

Often we relate our behaviour or who we are to a particular country, city or a town. From the Indian context it would mean a Delhi vs Mumbai person, Mumbai vs Pune person. We unconsciously develop traits or identity of a particular place. On thinking deeply, I think it is our immediate neighbourhood or a place that plays a critical part in this process.

While I am a ‘Mumbai girl’ Dadar is a part of my personality. It is associated with connectivity, buzzing with people, socio-cultural developments, theatre and sports, markets thronged with shoppers. I find so many similarities and identify with many other.

  • Growing up in Dadar has been like a sponge. It offers ample opportunities to absorb and learn – from cultural events, sports, educational institutions to political developments. Probably my curious mind was developed because of this.
  • The Badaas attitude – The safety, security and cohesiveness of this place never made me think twice of making my own choices. Not to be afraid, discover new things, and meet people – providing a free and open environment.
  • Dadar has taught me to be inclusivity. To get along with people and be a team player. The old wadis, long last neighbours creates the community bonding. Teaches you to be caring, compassionate and makes one an empathetic person.
  • Enjoying culture – Festivals are an intrinsic part of Dadar from every angle. Traditionally People across the city and from outside throng Dadar market for festive shopping. It makes me wonder with so many shopping malls, new shopping places and hip places why is Dadar market always buzzing with people. Maybe the answer lies in its identity.
  • Food and its evolution – Dadar is known for famous Maharashtrian eateries, local seafood favourites and popular street food joints. In today’s scenario, it doesn’t offer many ‘cool’ options for pubs and clubbing. But it still has a distinct evolving food culture. Think of it, I am so much like that. I love to explore new restaurants but yet stick to my roots with a typical CKP fish preparations.

Last but not the least how can I forget Dadar chowpatty and my love for sea!

Have you ever wondered how your birthplace has shaped your personality?

B – Books #AtoZChallenge

Since I started blogging again, I realized many bloggers participate in different online challenges, contests etc. One of the popular challenges I realized was #AtoZChallenge, during the month of April. I always had it on my mind to participate, but time just flew by I realized it’s already April.

As a new to the blogging space, I didn’t know how to go about it. Also bloggers plan themes for this challenge. None the less I decided better late than never. So here I am attempting my first ever challenge with Random Thoughts.

B – Books

Books always intrigued me since childhood. I use to subscribe to a neighbourhood library during summer vacations. That was the time I read a variety – from glossy magazines, autobiographies, fiction, to the teenage books of Secret Seven et all…

But the most special memory is of sharing books with my grandmother. My father had subscribed to another local library which gave two books at a time. He use to mostly bring Marathi books so that my grand mom could also read. Thus, there was a time I was exposed to a lot of Marathi books. Looking back, it was a golden period as after that I did not really catch on reading Marathi books.

As in other aspects in our lives, there came a phase I completely stopped reading for myself. It was always related to academic or professional reasons. During this time my mother started second phase of her education – so we again had Marathi books in our house.  My brother caught to reading, which led to completely different kind of books – on finance, self – development, history & wars and also on exercising and following good diet.

My interest in reading books was subconsciously and consciously reviving. Meanwhile, I found another medium to keep in touch with reading. BooksonToast, a Youtube platform that one of my colleague started. Instead of browsing endlessly on the net, I started following the videos. It was a rich online resource, again exposing me to a vast variety.

This variety is what I have always enjoyed. In that sense I am not restricted to a particular genre, author or style. So I never really had a favorite author, but enjoyed the company of book !

Consistency – the key to success

I restarted my blog around this time last year. One day I realised  I  have stopped thinking on my own – my writing and thoughts have been restricted to my professional requirements. It was good enough a trigger for me to relook at blogging..

When I started afresh, it also offered me an opportunity to learn so many things. Because blogging itself had changed so much. Apart from writing posts, there were so many other skills I wanted to learn – making creatives, using different tools etc. I was happy with the initial response to my posts.

There came phase when I completely stopped posting. Not because I did not have anything to post, but just could not put my thoughts together. Weekends passed, weekdays were occupied. That’s when I decided I needed to be consistent.. it comes with so many other things – planning, writing, thinking.  So today for the first time I just logged in and started penning down my thoughts…

Another area I really worked on being consistent is in exercising. I have earlier written about how I overcame the psychological barrier about fitness. But this time I decided to be consistent. I put exercise over everything else for last 3 months – social life, work. The results started showing. I started feeling good, That’s when again I slipped. I missed my sessions. But the good thing was I was missing exercise.. I again decided to challenge my inconsistency..

These and some other things have made Consistency my measurement of success for 2019.  I want to be consistent is every task I do.

What are your tips of being consistent?

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Mumbai’s jungle….

As we boarded the bus, the honking of vehicles, glittering street lights, sounds of breakfast sellers, morning walkers faded away to a thick envelope of trees and foliage. Wading through the way, I realized my mistake of not carrying a jacket along. It was cool, windy inside Mumbai’s very own jungle – Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

We had joined the nature trail to the park’s highest point. Our guide Nilesh made the 6 km uphill trek a pleasant discovery of the national park and its expanse:

Bamboo Hut Walk – A dense walk earlier, bamboo trees give 60% more oxygen than regular trees.

Ashok Van: I associated this name with an area around the park. The trail showed me, it’s a dense area with ashoka trees. So thick that the temperature can be 3-4 degrees lesser in this part, sun rays barely pass through to the ground.

Ghost Tree: It reflects moon light and keeps peeling itself to become white. Can be seen from the highway, resembles a lady in a white saree. Insects and birds flock to this tree for mating.

Karvee Trees: They flower once in 7 years. Flowers grow together, die together. Tribals use these trees to make huts.

Kanheri Caves: The Park has over 100 caves and was a Buddhist city of trade once upon a time.

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The Ghost Tree
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Bamboo Hut Walk
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View from the Highest Point

The nature trail brought alive a city landmark, which otherwise lays confined to our textbooks. More so, it made me aware of the need to explore my city as a tourist and equally appreciate the surrounding nature.

What have your experiences of rediscovering your city?

Travel date with Mom

This year I planned a long standing solo travel and a hard earned break to celebrate my birthday with myself. When my father and brother came to know of my plan, their first reaction was – take Aai along. For a while, I was that grumpy child not wanting to share my toys with anyone. And she would be the other child waiting to put her shoes finding the smallest opportunity to go out.

Few days later Aai & I boarded an early morning bus to Nashik. My solo holiday break was now going to be shared with her, and my dream of going on a solo trip continues. We enjoyed wine tasting & tour, a lazy lunch, bought some farm fresh vegetables and most importantly relaxed!

This was probably our 4th or 5th holiday together, just me and her. The first time we travelled alone was to Nainital, almost 10 years ago. Remembering all our holidays, I realized we both have agreed or are comfortable on a certain pattern and enjoy it:

  • Non-touristy holiday – Either travel off-season or visit a place that is not very crowded
  • Homestay over hotel – I introduced her to homestays, and now she prefers it over hotel. A good farmhouse / nature stay and home cooked food!
  • Local food – At restaurant I was thinking of ordering some Paneer starter. She quickly said order Misal, eat local food we keep eating Paneer all the time.  My memory jogged to our Coorg holiday where I took her to a Tibetian restaurant, a first for me too
  • Comfortable travel – Bus, train, flight, car; mode of transport does not matter. It has to be comfortable and flexible to travel
  • Relax or enjoy some activity – While I was busy acknowledging birthday wishes, she enters the room and says “they have so many books. I picked up books on travel, philosophy and wildlife”. The wintry mornings meant we woke up late, bathed in the morning sun followed by a hearty breakfast. Realized it was a luxury for both of us

On our way back home she mentioned she trip has given her the confidence of travelling again, eyes have regained some strengthen to look far, sun is not hurting much.. She was finding a new ray of hope amidst her journey of recovering from a major illness.

A different birthday present I gifted myself…

5 Marathi children songs that bring me smile!

A few days back I noticed a young mother’s Tweet about rapping Sassa Sassa Kapus Kasa to her twins. Her Tweet made me nostalgic and next day I woke up humming Asava Sundar Chocolate Cha Bangla. I wondered when was the last time I heard someone humming Marathi children songs… couldn’t recollect.

This weekend we eagerly went to watch second part of Bhai – a biopic on Maharashtra’s favourite writer, director, orator Pu La Deshpande. Bhai is a visual treat for all those who have read, watched, and heard Pu La Deshpande. The simple, emotional and beautiful rendition of Nach Re Mora Ambyachay Vanaat Naach again took me back to my childhood. After almost two decades I still enjoyed this song, mind going back to the time I use to listen to it as a young girl.

A young girl growing up in early 80s I was blissfully unaware about whom the writer, composer or singer was. For me, Naach Re Mora and some of other children songs were a part of my childhood. They bring memories of my aatya feeding me food while reciting Chandoba Chandoba Laplas Ka, me singing Nach Re Mora while playing on the swing… Somethings are so intrinsic to your upbringing that you do not want to associate them with anything else.. Like while watching Bhai I realized that song is written by GaDiMa and composed by Pu La Deshpande..

That evening I found myself searching for these songs on YouTube and reliving this childhood magic. Sharing with you my childhood favourites –

Asava Sundar Chocolate Cha Bangla: I imagined this bunglow while listening to this song. Chocolate chya banglyala toffee cha daar… I perceived this bunglow made of all chocolates from Nanu Mama’s shop, where we usually use to buy toffees and biscuits from. No wonder chocolate is my weakness!

Naach Re Mora: I think this was my all time favourite. I had never seen a real peacock, untill a few years back. My village tales were made of mango trees and rain. This song brought peacock’s picture in our school textbooks live to me. Maybe my liking for rains was subconsciously ingrained by this song?

Zuk Zuk Zuk Agingaadi: I have a funny memory of this song. My father use to take Mumbai local for work. All the stories of my village were related to ST bus or road travel. So I use to think who goes to a village by train?  One day I asked my Aaji, she said some people travel to village by train. The other train travel I associated was with Pune, as visiting Pune meant going by Deccan Queen. Somehow I associated the train in this song with this.. Again I had never visited Pune till then.

Chandoba Chandoba Bhaglas Kaa: Our house had big wooden window overlooking a tall tree. Watching the moon over this tree is one of my distinct childhood memories. As a toddler, my aatya use to make me sit near this window to feed. This song was her way of making me eat.

Gori Gori Pan Phulsakhi Chan, Dada Mala Ek Vahini Aan: I liked the rhythm of this song. I imagined a Vahini been pampered and loved. I got this love from my family in reality. I liked the hot chapattis that Aai prepared. This song refers to Poli and Shikran. I was delighted that Aai’s chapattis are mentioned in the song!

What children songs did you grow-up listening to?

Ganapati Utsav: Creating special bonds and shaping personalities

As the evening unfolded families from the neighbourhood slowly started moving towards the mandap. One at a time, each family seeked blessings of the elephant god, making their offerings as their favourite Bappa was all set for the journey.

Elsewhere someone was helping decorate the cart, making flower arrangements, helping elderly seek darshan of the Bappa, uploading food for people on the way…. this camaraderie amongst the glitter of decorative lights is what has made Ganesh Festival special since my childhood.

Ganapati vacations were more sought after as we could participate in so many activities – sports, fancy dress, poetry & elocution, attending Ganapati aarti. Volunteering for prasad distribution, managing queue at the mandap, conducting cultural activities. Cherry on the cake was if you win some prizes.

It has unconsciously shaped me as a person – team work, community bonding, skills and interests. Probably the only sales job I have done till date is to sell lottery tickets. Lottery was star attraction of our sarvajanik Ganapati. As a kid, sitting at the counter, convincing people to buy that ticket for Rs. 2/- was excitement of another level. More so when you could sell more tickets than your friends!

I always associated some of the popular devotional songs, traditional renditions in Marathi only with Ganesh festival. In the era of 2-in-ones and cassettes one could hear contributions of stalwarts like Sreedhar Phadke, Arun Date, and Anuradha Paudwal only during the 10 days of Ganapati. Mornings started with Suresh Bhosle’s Omkar Swarupa followed by the aartis…evenings were for listening to Mehendi Chya Panavar and other popular songs.

Over the years celebrating this 10 day feast changed- for good & bad. Came under the influence of other external circumstances as Mumbai started grappling with so many other issues around it. Our personal involvement also changed as life moved on.

But what remains undeterred is the spirit of togetherness that Ganapati Bappa brings along. It brings so many people together, creating special bonds and lifelong friendships. Last five decades, people moved houses, changed cities… the visarjan miravnuk is like an iron that holds them together as they seek Bappa’s blessings for one last time.. Ganapati Bappa Morya!