Diwali 2020

दिवाली की ज्योतिर्मय आपको सदा उज्जवल रखे। यह जगमगाती हुई स्वर्णिम किरण आपको और आपके प्रियों को कंचन करे और कृष्णा कृपा दृष्टि आप को निर्मल करे।

May the starry brilliance of Diwali lights keep you radiant. May the lit tassels of golden hues make you and your loved ones pure as gold and find you worthy of Krsna’s graces.

—Sarika Reva Nalin

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The Comfort Wall – Some Loose Bricks…

“But that night in her dream she flew high above the earth in a moonless sky. Behind her, like a falling star, sailed a silver sled.”

― Chris Kurtz

Ya. Sad. When all from the old order pass on, only the ones who have watched them and grown with them know the pain of seeing the old world of childhood crumbling…

Sarika Nanda

Don’t get me wrong. The life ensconced in the love of children, parent, grandparent (notice the singulars here), sisters and brothers (cousins included), aunts, uncles, relatives, and relatives-in-law, and friends-in-law (creating new terms for acquired ones by marriage), and a beautiful group of friends gathered from various junctures of life that are, oh, so much a part of my comfort group. May God keep this inner circle of soul-comfort intact and safe.

This article is about the actors, stars, singers, and movies that become a part of you growing up. People embrace new singers, songs, actors, and so did I. But could I ever feel the gushes for anyone as I do for Kishore Kumar’s songs and his voice, or Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi and Shashi Kapoor – the Kapoor brothers. Could I ever forget Vinod Khanna, who I mourned by listening to a song from the film – Imtihaan – “Roz shaam aati thi…” in a loop for days. The comfort of watching a real-life couple of Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh in love in reel and romanticising. How many remember watching Irrfan Khan on TV in a skit, Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode, in an impactful performance even before he was a star? His was a long journey from box to box office.

The above list is of the people who created the comfort walls around you, providing food for your soul. When the threads of times past start coming off at the seams, or the bricks begin to come loose, there is a desperate attempt to hold onto those memories. These are the times that I wish I could stay completely immersed in those memories forever.

This is my tribute to my favourites, the fallen stars. Om Shanti.

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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COVID – 19: Lockdown and the need of the hour

I know people are hoarding as they are scared…this way essentials would reach only 1/4th of the population…also, save rations…don’t waste food…don’t make it a house party by cooking multiple dishes for each meal…stick to one dish…let this be an opportunity for the earth to breathe by easing the burden on HER…the nature is opulent…let HER get a chance to replenish…🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

Time for austerity and frugality… —Sarika Nanda

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Flashback – 30 Years…

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” …                

― Kahlil Gibran

It was a good day. There were doubts in the mind of a 20-something girl on August 11, 1989. There was still more work to be done, more education, more fun, and of course, the love of independence. However, she realised, and so did her family, that finding a soulmate is once in a lifetime opportunity. Reluctant at first, but she was a happy bride on this day, thirty years ago (February 27, 1990).

And what a life. There was whirlwind, hiccoughs, adventure, love, and loads of fun, all in six years.

At the wedding hall, sitting on the dais, the young couple was happy and dreamy. A match made in heaven did not seem a cliché. The first six years passed pretty quickly, bestowing me with a gift of two wonderful children, and in its wake, bequeathing a lifetime of love, friendships, and memories.

Thirty years did not go by in a jiffy or at the snap of the fingers. The short-lived togetherness and the long years of being alone – it was indeed an eternity. The only result is the love of two amazing children, of the life lived in those six years, of the numerous anecdotes still being shared, and the sweetness of many friendships created for a lifetime.

Always celebrating, every year in remembrance. What a day it was when so many people came together to unite two soulmates that even made the angels envious.

Here’s to the 30th anniversary and counting.

“Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.

― Dylan Thomas

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Flashback – Of Grandmothers and Adieus….

A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend

– Unknown

Whenever there is a mention of grandparents, there is mostly a reverence attached to it. Along with the reverence, are the reminiscences of warmth, various fragrances, heaps of wisdom, and unbridled laughter. Grandmothers are special, what with their cooking and knitting, and loving care. My maternal and paternal grandmothers find mention in many other articles on my blog.

I am as lucky as one gets when there is a chance to known both your grandmothers and learn many valuable life lessons from them.

My paternal grandmother, my daadi, who we lovingly called Beeji, was very old and wise. She is said to be 102 at the time of her passing. She never went to school and was never formally educated. She was self-taught and learned to read Hindi on her own and write too. She always signed her name in all legal documents. I always saw her either reading her Shrimad Bhagavad Gita in the mornings or her weekly Hindi newspaper during the day. She took care of the entire household comprising seven sons, two daughters and their families. She educated all her children to excel in life and all this she did single-handedly. The family lost my grandfather to diabetes when he was only in his fifties. At the time, only my eldest uncle was married, and the younger ones were studying. My Beeji had the strength that inspired me in my life’s journey. She did a remarkable job of raising all her children and managing the entire family successfully.

Not only was she aware of the current affairs, but she also took an avid interest in all political and social family discussions. Sometimes, she watched movies on television with me. I remember her liking Hindi film star Rajesh Khanna, especially in his movie ‘Bawarchi’, and she found him a decent actor. I am sure that my brother would remember all the jokes he would crack and make her laugh.

She always said, “never forget a good deed and the doer”. In my darkest hour, she was there with me sitting quietly for days and praying. Looking back, I know that her presence next to me helped. Till the very end, she could walk on her own. Small stature and a great personality, she was my rock.

My maternal grandmother, my naani, is not much different from my Beeji. A strong woman, she raised her family of five daughters and one son with an iron fist. Unlike my daadi, she was well-educated. She went to NCC and did rifle-training. She was a school teacher. She learned to tailor and could stitch men’s suit too. In the 1930s, she was the first in her district to go to a hostel for advance studies. Taking inspiration from her and her father, more families started sending their daughters from their village for further studies. She took ‘diksha’ in her sixties and studied the scriptures in detail. For the last four decades, she has dedicated her life in the service of the Supreme Lord. She has inspired others in the family, which include her eldest daughter (my mom), her only son and his wife (my uncle and aunt), to follow the same path. More than a decade ago, my aunt, followed by my uncle left their coveted careers as a doctor and departmental chief of a medical college, and an engineer and a successful businessman, respectively, in His devotion. My naani is still active and independent and is the thread that strings my maternal family together.


(My naani and beeji in the same frame…taken almost two decades ago…)

I like to think that I inherited many personality traits from both my grannies. They are my inspiration and my pride.

Today, April 23, 2021, I lost my naani. I could not attend my beeji’s cremation more than a decade ago. And now, due to COVID, I am unable to travel to Maharashtra for my naani’s  last darshan. It is so heartbreaking and I am updating this post tearfully.

Grandmothers are mystical creatures. My grandmothers were unicorns and fairy godmothers. May Sri Krsna take them in His fold. May my dear fairy Godmother attain Sadgati. She spent her lifetime in His devotion. May my Krsna embrace her. 

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Nincompoop Armchair Reformers

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”

― Benjamin Franklin

I am nauseated by these politically-motivated armchair reformers that I could barf. It is sick to see these “educated”, opinionated imbeciles, fed on the leftist philosophy, guzzling the best of Scotch in the evenings, spending vacations abroad and praising their infrastructure, and back home, shedding crocodile tears, not ready to spend a dime for reforms or charity. A lot of self-restraint is preventing me from hurling the choicest expletives at them.

In the last seventy years, their favourite political party has been using the vote-bank politics of “secularism” by doling out crumbs at an appropriate time, making sure that their voting bank remain beggars.

These dimwit armchair detractors condemn the state of infrastructure in the country and then slam the government when it acts, terming it a waste of money and resources. Do you, schmucks, not make a budget at home? How many of you think of the needy in your neighbourhood and tell yourselves and your families to hold off on a month’s WiFi or Cable connection and use that money to pay for someone’s monthly food?

Consider this: 1) infrastructure development provides jobs to thousands; 2) all money cannot be spent on doling freebies. There is a budget for everything; 3) without infrastructure, no other country will be willing to invest here, leaving no money for charity; 4) Had charity being the solution, the rich countries would not have any homeless, but they do.

Your favourite party emptied the coffers before leaving in 2014, pocketing all the money. They did believe in the saying, Charity Begins at Home, scamming coal, fodder, 2G, land, Jijaji etc. With coffers filling up again, they are itching to be back for another stint at “self-help”.

Water shortage is a tough situation, and a picture of a young boy drinking from a roadside puddle is regrettable. Have you wondered at the psyche of the photographer whose focus was the social media and the 2-minute fame it accords? I doubt that anyone travels without a personal supply of drinking water in this heat. Did the photographer offer a drink to the thirsty hapless?

Oh please, moron! For your sake, snap out of the socialist, Marxist mindset of a leftist and wake up you, an educated fool. The same leftists spend their entire day denouncing the world. They forget their socialisms in the evenings and take their sorry, tired selves to the lavish clubs for a nightcap. And, definitely not for a club soda. Think and research before you continue your idiocy and make me wonder if all the money, education, and “English-speaking elitism” is just that – an idiot with a chip on shoulder…

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Welcoming 2018

Read a post of a friend pointing at the same-old-same-old peace and love wishes ad nauseam spreading across the social media…agreed to a degree…despite this world crushing every positivity and loss of much of humanity, hope of a new dawn does keep the wheels of life turning, keeping all motivated, however nauseating it may seem at times…

Anyhoo, here are my wishes to all my readers…

Wish all of you and your loved ones a blessed year of 2018. May the new year continue to bring good tidings for the contented and bring a change of fate and answered prayers for all waiting for the tidings to improve…may the life be blissful and may Ishwar bless the loving heart…🎊🎉

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Flashback – Of Books and Sharing with Papa…

My paternal grandfather had a great collection of books…books that many in the family fought over at the time of selling the ancestral home. My brother got a chance to retrieve a few for his library.

Father was very fond of reading, and the germ bit my brother and then me. The brother went on to do his bachelor’s degree and the masters in English from the Delhi University. I did Science — Zoology to be exact.

In school, the top three students of each class could buy their choice of books as their prize. I remember collecting abridged versions of various classics each year till about eighth standard. Subsequently, I graduated to reading my brother’s collection. There was ‘Emma’, ‘Huckleberry Finn’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, ‘And Quiet Flows the Don’ and more.

Those were the days before the cable network and we depended on Doordarshan, which would acquire English language programs from BBC. So, there were Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister among other things. We would also get some American programs, like Here’s Lucy and I Love Lucy. I vaguely remember watching ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’, a BBC production. It was sometime in the senior school that I got hold of my brother’s Thomas Hardy and read the book. I loved ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’ and there was a contest on which was my favourite before Les Misérables beat them to it. I read a few Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, and then it became an obsession to read the book before watching the movie adaptation.

I would spend a lot of time in the school library reading Tintin and Asterix. Sometime in the eleventh standard, I found ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ in my school library. It was an 800-page, small print, daunting little piece of work. I loved it and kept getting it reissued till I finished it. When you think of Alexandre Dumas, you think of ‘Three Musketeers’ or ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’. Sure enough, papa had not read this one. I remember getting it reissued for another couple of months for him to read. And sure enough, he enjoyed it thoroughly.

Soon enough, I was addicted to Jeffery Archer. After reading his ‘First Among Equals’ and a couple more, I picked up ‘Kane and Abel’. A master storyteller Jeffery Archer had me completely hooked on to this classic of his. I had to share it with my father. He had to read this intriguing piece. We did not stop at that and read the others in the series — ‘Prodigal Daughter’ and ‘Shall We Tell the President’. We both were completely sold out to Archer’s books.

There are volumes that I can write about my father. But, this sharing of books was our father-daughter connect. Just like politics, or rather discussions, was, maybe, my brother’s connection with our dad. There are many more fond memories.

When my son started showing interest in reading, I unsuccessfully tried to coax him to finish ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. He did enjoy P.G. Wodehouse’s humour and his flamboyant and complicated style of writing. Then I shared ‘A Prisoner of Birth’ by none other than Archer. He was heartbroken when half way into the book his favourite character gets killed. It took me more than a few months of convincing to make him finally finish the book, which he admitted to liking immensely. I could not convince him to read J K Rowling, which my daughter read readily.

Someday my children will look back and figure out their best connect with me. It could be the movies and the serials we enjoy together. For now, I am happy to share my favourite books with them. After all, I have created a library for them for future.

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Flashback – Of Orderlies, Uniform Ironing and Shoe Shining…

In the earlier article, I wrote of some quirks of the men in my family, of the importance of crisply ironed garments and mirror-shining shoes.

I am always fascinated by the discipline of the armed forces and the elaborate customs like the rank distinction, formal dressing, dining, partying, and numerous other social traditions, that distinguish the ‘fauji’ families from the civilian population they protect.

My Pilot husband carried these traditions with pride and aplomb.

After our wedding, I moved to the station of his posting, and we stayed in his bachelor quarters for a few days. Luckily, his unmarried coursemate (and roomie) left for his annual leave right after our wedding, leaving the rooms to us. Finding married accommodation immediately in small stations was a challenge a few decades ago. Things have, hopefully, changed since.

Thereafter, a friend gave us the keys to his house for a month while going on leave for his wife’s delivery. Eventually, we were allotted our own temporary quarter.

The station has officers’ quarters for unmarried officers within the mess vicinity. The ground floor of these quarters is used as a temporary accommodation for married officers and their families, to meet the housing shortage. Bachelors stay in the top floor rooms.

The orderlies take care of the daily needs of the unmarried officers, like bringing early morning tea from the mess, arranging uniform, and polishing shoes. When required, they also bring food for the officers from the mess. They shop, do laundry, and clean the rooms, amongst other things. One of the orderlies, Munshi, was a favourite of most officers, including my husband. When I joined my husband, Munshi continued to bring the morning tea till we are on the first floor. The ground floor quarters had a kitchen, yet Munshi persisted for a few days, knocking on the door every morning with the expectation that my husband will take the tea from him.

Munshi was a tall Dogra, a local resident. An officer once gave him a long overcoat which he wore all winter. The man was towering but very gentle and endearing. Many young officers depended on him. I tried to keep him around for a while, but we both realised that I needed a maid instead.

My husband would not allow his uniform be sent to the local dhobi for ironing. Without an orderly, he took it upon himself to shine his brass buttons, iron his uniform, and shine his shoes. Uniform is a reflection of an officer’s identity. Despite all my loving efforts to take over the responsibility, he did not let me indulge. His simple logic was that he would not want to get lazy or complacent about at least this chore.

Except in a few places, the formal dressing is almost a passé today. Even in the corporate culture, the concept of grooming and dressing is getting limited to the senior staff, with the younger generation opting for Tees and jeans. The casual dressing is becoming a norm. Although it is heartening to find young children of the armed forces dressing for the mess events like new year’s party etc., the strict dressing rules are becoming a thing of the past, and the recent controversy around the United Airlines is one such example. The mandated dress code for the families of staff when travelling on staff ticket or buddy pass infuriates the internet and the social media. This generation will be remembered for its fragile egos and pseudo-outrage. People have opinions on everything, and they have the time to voice them too all day long. I dread the day when the armed forces will get embroiled in this dangerous trend.

I am all for the progress and change, but a change for the sake of it, undermining, or even destroying the basic fabric of culture and responsibility scares me. Maybe, I have become dated.

More anecdotes in my personal files soon…

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Flashback – Of Ironing and Shoe Shining…

My son was leaving for Mumbai in July, for a college competition. It was a short trip of five days, the weekend included. Two days of competition required semi-formal suits, which included blazers, but a tie was optional.

The responsibilities of packing for travel and shopping continue to be mine. There are times when I coax both my children do their own shopping. One of them is in the fifth semester of Engineering and the other is an Engineer in a software company.

While I was packing my son’s bags, ironing his shirts and formal trousers and I started reminiscing about my childhood in my parental home. My family carried some formal and colonial fetish about meals and clothing. Every evening, my grandmother would prepare the tea in a kettle with sugar and milk pots on the side and serve it with cookies etc. in the drawing cum dining room (eventually, the younger generation adopted a more American term, living room). On weekends, the family members would sit together and chat over their cuppa. The women of the family, especially the daughters-in-law, learnt to prepare the same in no time from my grandmother.

The men of the family – my father, uncles, and my brother – sported more conventional, full-sleeved, light coloured shirts with collars. I do not remember a time when I saw my father or any of my uncles wearing a bush shirt. I spent many a Sundays watching my father or uncles ironing their shirts and formal trousers for the week and hanging them in their wardrobes. The house had a designated ironing-place. The men spent Sunday mornings or early evenings preparing for the week, before settling to watch the Sunday evening movie on Doordarshan. In due course, the mantle of ironing shifted to my elder brother, and soon I became a part of it too. We learnt from the best. There was an ironing dhobi for emergencies.  However, men in the family did not trust or like his ironing. The spotless shirts without creases and razor-thin crease of the trousers were the trademark of the men in the family, which could never be compromised for the comfort of getting the job done by the dhobi.

Then there was the polishing of the black or tan-coloured shoes. Yet another skill I acquired from them. The brushing strokes and the use of cloth for buffing the leather etc. are precision skills and I learnt them all. My brother still irons his own shirts and has a shoe cobbler who comes weekly to shine all his shoes.

I asked my son to polish his black shoes to go with his formal attire. He just put some polish and applied some brush strokes. My maid and my cook watched me buff those shoes shining like a mirror and giggled at my skills.They never cease to be amazed by my culinary skills or my other tricks.

We have always had servants, maids and cooks and all other help as children. Despite that, we learnt cooking and cleaning and all the essential skills to sustain self and run a house. I am not sure if the times have changed, or my lack of time as a homemaker has affected the learning curve of my children. Their skills are limited in household chores. However, they have watched me manage the house and throw endless dinners and lunches along with my job. I only hope that if need be, they will rise to the occasion and acquire the necessary experiences required for effective house management. For now, I am glad that they are becoming good professionals and are good persons. All in good time.


||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||


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