Friday, February 26, 2016


incense without fragrance
flowers without colour
song without tune
rocking that won't lull
silence without quiet
nights without sleep 
 grief that won't leave

but as time ticks
and seasons change
very slowly
you fill my void
with memories

you are
a memory
a reminder
a thought
a cue
a nudge
a hint
a suggestion
a reminiscence

my heart
you live

Too late for the Indispire post but better late than never!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A little planning goes a long way!

It happened one rainy Sunday morning, fifteen years ago.  My brother and I were lazily finishing our breakfast. It was upma- not our favorite. It looked like a gloomy day with no hope even for a bit of sunshine. 

Suddenly we heard our mother calling out to us from the front yard. We looked up at each other. It was not her usual purpose filled voice.  The one that is used to check on us about the status of our breakfast especially when it was upma or the one that indicated we had been watching way too much TV or the one that pointed to chores that needed doing. It sounded more like a painful cry. A cry of shock. We ran to the living room and looked through the window only to see our mother dressed in her pink floral nightie lying face down on the ground trying hard to crawl towards the front steps. It took me more than a moment to realise she had been hurt. My reflex has always been slow. I opened the side door and looked in horror.

One moment you are about your day, making your coffee and singing to your plants. The next you twist your ankle, slip and bang you knee on to an architectural detail on the wall tearing your ligaments into a million threads.  If it wasn't a Sunday, she would have been lying there till someone noticed.

I don’t know how, but my brother and I managed to help my mother up the sofa. I had never seen my mother cry in physical pain before. She probably did that last when my brother was born. It was horrible. The one person you depend on for everything is suddenly depending on you. With my dad slogging it off miles away in the Middle East and unfortunately not able to come immediately, we had to (gladly)depend on neighbours and close family to get her to the doctor.

Suddenly everything was different. I had to grow up. I was 
in my early 20s. But you can be in your early 20s and still not have to worry about growing up. I had to pack tiffin for my kid brother which he never ate. It was not how mummy made it. We had to arrange for some extra house help- a maid who was banished from our uncle’s house and therefore deal with the subsequent wrath that comes with hiring the enemy. I had to make sure my brother was studying. I had to make sure the dogs were fed. We had to arrange for another lady to stay with my mother at the hospital. We had to arrange food to be cooked and then take two buses to get to the hospital. Her surgery was on September 12, 2001. The newspaper was full of the Twin Tower attack. I had to convince my mother she was fine and that the world was not coming to an end. I had to go buy the medicines. I had to pay the bills. And a hospital is not a place anyone wants to spend. Especially someone just fresh out of college and ready to escape to a Bangalore MNC.

My mother was in a long and itchy cast for the next 6 months and I had to help her like she helped me when I was a baby. There was bath time, potty time, pee time.  I really don’t know how I did it. But I realised that when a crisis happens, everybody tunes in mentally and physically and somehow you get through it. Everybody finds the strength.

My dad called every day more than once. And though there were moments when I felt annoyed and angry that he was not there, or did not come. I realized later than he had already empowered us for a time like this. Without being there, he was there. He had taken accidental insurance for each one of us. He was spending his life alone far away to put food on our table. With his foresight, he was empowering us for unexpected and unwelcome situations. And we got back everything we had to spend as part of my mother's surgery and other medical expenses and more.

We never really understand our parents until we become parents ourselves. And I think it is when we begin to understand our parents is when we have really started to grow up.  

And now and then when we deal with with planned and unplanned situations it is good to be reminded that love and family endures and a little planning can sometimes go a long way. 

And yes there are insurance policies from a good companies that is worth every penny.

#KhudKoKarBuland  #BeEmpowered #Planforthefuture

Here is a video that says it all :


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Short Story - Cubicle Dairies

‘What an ass! The least the jerk could do was hang around for moral support. I hate you Mr. Maharaj’, I muttered to myself as I hit the send button.

I looked at the corner of my screen.  6:30 pm and we were still pretty far from where we needed to be. Software-wise and movie-night-wise. 

Neil walked by in his black shirt (my favourite), sleeves folded, and giving me a half nod. My heart fluttered, but no, not even he, with his awesome Greek-God like person, could make this evening any better. 

The movie was for 8PM. SRK’s new release at PVR, first night first show and our monthly team movie night.  Of course it was my brilliant idea. And it was a lot of hard work to coordinate and get each of my fussy team members to be available.  I had planned everything. I booked early, managed to get seats together -all 8 of them. Even the aisle seat for Mimi for her frequent bathroom visits.  I even pre-ordered dinner. It was supposed to be a perfect start to the long weekend.

But now here we sat in our grey cubicles, freezing in the overly air-conditioned wing of the e-Logistics department, cursing under our breaths; the friendly camaraderie replaced by impatience and annoyance. 

“Mr. Ramamurthy has advanced the deadline by two days. So, guys, we need to finish the first release today itself. So stay as long as you need to. I will arrange transportation back to your places, if required and let’s show them what an awesome team we are”, 'Mr. Maharaj' announced, this morning, expressionless and in an almost rehearsed manner. “And yes, you will need to come in tomorrow for testing and also on Monday.”

Stunned silence. And everyone turned to look at me, the reigning queen of ‘planning and execution’.  I had certainly not planned for this. 

Murmurs of dissent filled the air.

What the heck...!!

“Well apparently Mr. Ramamurthy is heading for his second honeymoon to Phuket.” 


“Don’t believe me? Check his status update on FB.”

“Isn’t he like 60?”

“Sheesh!!! So much for first day first show, Chitra. ”

“I think you all had movie plans tonight, no? You should just cancel and go after the project is over. ” Mr. Maharaj smiled an over-enthusiastic smile and left to the pantry with this coffee mug.

The day went by in a trance. No matter how much we tried, we were not going to make it. And now at 6:00PM, his highness decides to take off. He had politely refused the movie invitation and thank God, because you can’t really share pop corn and Pepsi with your PM, now can you?  And with most jokes naturally centered around him, it would be really hard for us to be ourselves and have any fun, if he had agreed to come.

“So, team, I’m getting out. I have some family over for dinner. Good luck. Ravi, please take over.”

Like puppets, we all nodded and smiled our wooden smiles.

“Ok then, I will see you on Tuesday.”And just like that he was gone. Suave and smooth. Tossing his longish hair back  and gliding out. Like it was perfectly okay.

And that was the end of the movie night. And the popcorn night .  And the SRK night.  And the long weekend.

Cuss words flew as soon as he was out of sight. 

Ravi, the eternal optimist was ready with his gyan. “Ok guys. Looks like we will miss the movie; which is awful. And Í hate him too but let’s make sure we feel good about something tonight”. 

Ravi, the sweetheart, blessed with kind eyes and an empathetic nature, was wasting his life in this cubicle. He was life coach material. He was the guy who could be on the cover of a self help book. When Ravi spoke, we all listened.

All lot of swearing later, we settled down. The movie started and the movie finished. And by the time, we left office it was 11PM. All of us groaning and moaning, stuffed on pizza and drunk on software code; we were drained out.


I was in a better mood the next day. My policy was very simple. If you have to work on a weekend, you might as well look fabulous. So I took my time getting ready. I wore my new coral hued top with a pair of white ankle-length pants; my neon nail colour looking great against my tan wedge sandals. Sunglasses on my head, smelling like sweet peonies and feeling like a million bucks, I made a ‘fashionably’ late entry. 

I was surprised to see Mr. Maharaj at work.  I really did not think he was going to show up. Didn't he say he would be coming only on Tuesday? 

He was standing up and seemed to be looking towards the door as I entered. Following me with his gaze as I walked the full stretch down the hall and into the cubicles.

‘What a pervert’ I thought, half irritated and secretly half flattered.

“Good Morning Sir!” I chirped and then suddenly noticed the dead pan look on his face. Everyone else was on a coffee break.

What now? I instinctively looked down to see if my top was properly buttoned.

“Chitra please come over to my desk for a minute.”

He pointed to his screen. “Do you know what this is?”

I started to read aloud and stopped after the first two words...

What an ass, the least the jerk could do was hang around for moral support. I hate you Mr. Maharaj’.

Déjà vu. That sounded strangely familiar. 

“What is this, Sir?” I asked suddenly feeling a knot in my throat.

“This is an email from you to me, Chitra around 6:30PM yesterday. Do you know who sent it?” 

What the hell??!!

There it was-staring me in the face-all my hate thoughts, well articulated and delivered directly to Mr. Maharaj itself. Like a slap on the face but via email. My knees suddenly felt weak. The room began to swirl around in slow motion. And my cheeks burned. “I don’t know Sir, how.. it emailed...” I mumbled, suddenly forgetting all my grammar.

“It’s OK. I know everyone is stressed out.”  He said sounding hurt. “You can go now”. 

Wobbling on my wedges, I managed to take the few steps required to reach my seat without falling down. Suddenly I did not feel fabulous anymore.

I checked and double checked my 'sent' box and yes I had sent that email. In my lividness, I actually typed out my thoughts and sent it out to him. My blooper -immortalized-forever.

Half the day I spent in a daze, hoping he would not report me while unsuccessfully trying to draft an apology. 

Mr. Maharaj did not come back to his cubicle after lunch break. Everyone began to speculate as to why he was looking so glum the whole morning despite the fact that the software was coming together, working great and even included some extra features.

"Maybe he had fight with his wife".

"Maybe he sneaked out to watch SRK's movie''.

"Maybe he is just hungover from last night." 

"Is it so difficult for him to show some appreciation?"
I pretended to be very busy.

Around 4:00PM I got an email. It was Mr. Maharaj. Expecting the worst, I opened it. It was addressed to everyone.


I know you all have been working very hard to get this release done and many of you cancelled your weekend plans to meet the deadline. In appreciation, I have arranged tickets to SRK's movie today evening at 8PM- Dinner is  included

Chitra, please collect the tickets from the reception.

See you on Monday. Have fun. 
Mr. Maharaj

Suddenly cheer (in the form of happy swear words)  and high-fives broke out in the cubicle. 

"See I told you it would turn out OK. Great going team!" Ravi shouted happily. "But how the hell did he find out we call him Mr. Maharaj!!!"