army, life, love, relationships, Uncategorized

A Soldier’s Home: So Near, So Far

With the Republic Day patriotic spirit still warming my veins, my heart prompts me to write a tribute; for the soldier of course but also for the lesser known backstage force : His Family. Yes, he has one.

For once, I’m not going to applaud his dedication to duty, for that’s his soul and will always be. I’m not even going to comment on his daring, almost nomadic kind of life, for that’s what he’s chosen to live. I’ll take a detour today and lead you to a unique place…a place that’s just as much ‘bricks and cement’ as any other, yet waits to become a home. And when it does, there’s no other home that can compare to it in beauty, brightness and blessing.

A Home Less-Ordinary

There’s no place like home. Even for a soldier. He builds it warp and weft, twigs and grass, hands and heart with stars in his eyes and his ‘family’ by his side. Perhaps, every fiber and every twig in a soldier’s home is entwined with a story. Stories are woven into quilts, built into rooms, hung on walls… enter a soldier’s home and breathe those stories, eat them on his table or meet them round a corner.

Such a sweet parody of stories is his home. When I got married to an Army man, it took me a while to realize that in the Indian Army, the word ‘family’ is generally used for the soldier’s ‘wife’. Initially, I was amused… but gradually, I taught myself to converge an entire ‘family’ : its dreams, its hopes, its goals, its sustenance, its standing, its weaknesses, its strengths, its everything… into a one-relationship blanket of the wife and simply call it ‘Family’.

So, you see, the soldier does have a family. This family is so similar to a civilian one. It has needs. It is fond of ice-cream. It likes to go out. It looks forward to a vacation. It saves for a new dress. It gets pregnant. It gets the seasonal-flu. It grows an Adam’s apple. It requires a plumber or an electrician once in a while. It goes to school. It is apprehensive of the exam -results. It finds Math difficult. It has PTMs and Annual Days to attend. It learns to ride a bicycle. It loves to dance sometimes. It waits for super-hero movies to release. It tries various selfie-angles. It buys make-up and memory cards. Ohhh! it’s such a normal…regular family that you’d often confuse it with a regular civilian one till…

Till you look beyond. Till you read between the lines. Till you notice that the clothesline is missing the clothes of a man. Till you find the kids’ report-cards with a single signature. Till you smell a hint of his cologne in the bedroom. Till you discover a pair of eyes that could use some sleep. Till you catch the sound of every footstep that caresses the front door. Till you feel the emptiness amid the crowd.

And then, after having unveiled the silent sadness, as you’re about to leave the austere home with mist in your eyes, the telephone rings. It’s the soldier calling. He’s coming on leave. And suddenly, it’s Spring!

 

Some Festivals Elude The Calendar

Some festivals don’t have fixed dates. They come with the soldier when he comes home. They honor him and his family with their flexibility. They are happy to revisit his home. They are eager to gift-wrap their entire gaiety and cheer just for that home, at that time.

When he’s home, ask the soldier’s wife and she’ll tell you how it feels to be a Queen. Ask his children and the’ll never stop talking. Their scrapbooks will be spilling over with adventures and experiences and learning and happy pictures. These children, they treaure the feeling of being pampered, for the feeling takes time to come.

Yes, a soldier has a family. A loving, doting family that waits for days, one day at a time, for the soldier to arrive. They live well, for he wants them to. They keep all the school pictures and drawings handy for him. They cut his birthday cake. The little daughter makes elaborate cards with her felt pens and glitter for Daddy. The son makes plans for a time in future. The soldier’s aging father waits patiently for the surgery that he needs.

And the wife, well, she threads everything together. She becomes a veteran in hiding the tears that always come unannounced, riding on a memory…memories. She doesn’t falter for she knows she can’t.  She falls, rises and fights again. She lives a life that all can’t. She grows to value discipline and independence and resourcefullness. She learns to attend PTMs alone. She manages to keep the relatives in touch. She becomes the multi-taskforce she never knew she could be. She becomes the ‘family’ and then some.

I cannot conclude without the reference to pain in the context of a soldier’s wife. Her pain is very real, she knows it up close and personal. She can recognize its every feature and touch it. The pain…unforgiving, brutal, consistent… of waiting, of uncertainty, of safety…the pain of being incomplete as she courses through the routine. Her pain is often taken for granted by a rather casual world. Her sacrifice is considered mandatory. After all, it was her choice.

Yes, it sure was. She doesn’t regret it. She doesn’t regret the sacrifices. She wears her tears proudly. She knows what she has and she treasures it, protects it…nourishes it with all her might. She has the love of a soldier, a kind of love that is distant but rare. She fights to survive the miles. She fights to keep a home for him, a warm ,story-rich home that he can always come home to and carry in his heart.

A home so near, so far. A home that celebrates the reality of life in the Army. A home that stands for a thousand homes.

I dedicate this post to every single home, in villages or cities, metros or suburbs…every single home that a soldier comes back to. Blessed is such a home. A soldier’s home.

 

soldier
Homecoming Of A Soldier

 

 

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anger, children, cyborg, family, father, homemaker, meditation, work

The Hindsight Of Anger

‘You will not be punished for your anger, you’ll be punished by anger’ – BUDDHA

Let me begin with some ‘Anger’ facts:

*It is normal to get angry. However, if you’re overdoing it, it’s time for a reality check. Introspection helps.

*Anger comes with ‘Physiological Effects’. If you’ve experienced rapid heart rate, sweaty palms and taut muscles during a bout of anger, you’ll know what I mean.

* Anger can unsettle your mind. It may blind all your reasoning ability. It does mine sometimes.

*Sudden outbursts of anger have been linked to heart attacks. The risk of Stroke goes up too.

* Anger is not always triggered by people; sometimes, you may be the cause yourself. You better believe it.

*Anger may be an indication of pent-up stress/frustration.

* Anger is best kept at bay for a better quality of life.

*ANGER CAN BE MANAGED. We need to manage it for the sake of our family.

*HUMOR HAS THE POWER TO DIFFUSE ANGER. Imagine breaking into a smile when all you do is see red 🙂

Hi! I believe that all writing that’s ever written has some connection, however remote, with the writer. This post on anger, therefore, finds its way to me. I admit, I do get angry. Sometimes, there’s reason enough but sometimes it’s just my own everyday frustrations showing themselves off. I guess, like me, a number of you reading this face anger one way or the other. We just cannot seem to help feeling it, giving it power over ourselves, our relationships, our body, our mind and our lives in more ways than one.

GETTING ANGRY: THE WHYS AND HOWS AND WHENS

One thing about anger is that it’s an easy emotion to come by. You know, sometimes I’m just so surprised at myself. One moment I’ll feel all good about life and the next I’ll feel the steam rise. As a homemaker, I juggle too much and that’s why, maybe, even the smallest of issues can make me boil over. I did not realize this till some time ago. And then, one day my husband pointed out that the intensity of my anger is the same whether the issue is big, small or negligible. Eye opener? Yes. Jolt? Yes.

I was forced to introspect. And I’m glad I did.

What’s surprising is that triggers can be just so varied. Let’s see if we can identify with some of these:

  • For the homemaker and the wife: Let’s admit it people, the homemaker’s job is a thankless one. She is often mistaken for a kind of ‘CYBORG’. She IS taken for granted. She is expected to be onmipresent. I’m not saying that she isn’t valued, I’m only suggesting that it can make her edgy and push her against the wall. She does the job that makes all others possible. It’s because of her that kids can go to school on time all scrubbed and packed for the day. She gives meaning to groceries. She makes home the place to come back to.

And she can get angry. She ensures a clean washroom for you. If you forgot to wipe the toilet seat after use, you become a trigger. She ensures that your clothes keep finding their way back to you. If you manhandle the wardrobe, you become the trigger. She willingly invests her time and energy in her children. If kids neglect their homework, her anger’s triggered.

She loves her family unconditionally and gives her best. She wants to look good for her husband. She would plan for hours to make their ‘couple’ time memorable. She would buy scented candles. She would think of it all. And then… If the husband finds faults with the things she did during the day, anger comes quick and violent. ‘You’re at home all day, what do you do’? I wouldn’t even elaborate on that.

  • For the husband and father : I’ll play fair. Men are entitled to anger too. They have their own triggers that set them fuming. Agreed, they have their own roles to handle and a conscientious guy would work hard and provide well for his family. He would be sincere, faithful and responsible too. He would face his own challenges at work. He would also have expectations.

He tends to get angry when he finds the house in an uproar after a long day at office. His trigger can also be the wife who’s waiting to offload her ‘bad’ day on him. He can lose it when he finds frustration and accusations greeting him at the door. Nagging and mom-in-law issues also make him lose his temper when they figure in one and all the conversations he has with his wife.

THE MISDIRECTIONS

And people, anger is often misdirected. It is taken out on the innocent just because they happen to be in the way. Usually, the kids suffer. And the peace of the entire household goes amiss.

THE HINDSIGHT OF ANGER

…Is ugly. I always look back to find that I overreacted. I feel sad and remorseful. I wish for things to be undone. I wish for words to be unsaid. All that’s left of my angry moment is bitterness and regret. The worst part is that I know it, yet I cannot control it. And it hurts.

TAMING TEMPER

…is possible. And it’s YOU who can make it possible. A few simple changes in the way you think can make all the difference:

  • Try to come to peace with yourself and your life. There would be many things that you would want to be or get…but then, there would also be many things that you are and have. Counting one’s blessings brings peace. No one is born perfect.
  • People around you may be illogical, inconsiderate and incompetent…accept them anyway. Acceptance brings understanding. Not everybody is like you, just as you aren’t like anybody.
  • Meditate and introspect whenever you can.
  • It can be almost impossible sometimes, yet, learn to forgive and forget. Let go of all unhappy baggage.
  • Do things that you love every once in a while. A happy ‘you’ is a ‘happy family’.
  • Discover joy in the small things of life, stop awhile to play a boardgame with your children. A clean house and an uncluttered kitchen may not be happy places. happiness comes with people and activity.
  • Use your words wisely. Once out, they cannot be swallowed. And anger can really make you spit poison.
  • Make time to stay fit. Exercise. It doesn’t matter what you did in the day if you aren’t in a position to see your loved ones enjoy it.
  • Do get angry too! Release the pent-up ‘whatever’ but don’t let anger overpower you. Do be loud and give your kids a mouthful when they’ve deserved it but don’t let the noise disturb your inner tranquility.
  • Love deeply. Express your feelings. Hold your husband’s hand. Kiss your kids’ cheeks. Eat a piece of sinful cake.
  • Read this :))

You’re no bomb, so stop exploding !!!The next time you feel it coming, send it back with a smile. It’s time you said goodbye to anger and hello to life.

  • bomb-477229__180

 

green, lavender, life, morning, nature, story, walks

The Green Hedge With Lavender Flowers

Have you ever imagined what life would be like without punctuation? Or how would we survive if the mundane wasn’t punctuated by the special?

The best part is that all the commas and semi-colons of life have a way of sneaking up on you – surprisingly and silently. They come to tell you that it’s been some time since you stopped to breathe or feel or smile or cherish or give or love…welcome to the story of the ‘Green Hedge With Lavender Flowers’.

The story found me when I went mechanically on one of my morning walks, once upon a time. I kind of push myself for these walks. Waking up early to wake up the kids and pack them off to school takes its toll. By the time, I find that I’m not rushing against time, the clock generally strikes 7 am. It’s now or never I know, so I find my sneakers. Had I left it to them, they would never find me 🙂

And so, I flew down the stairs and walked towards the quaint road near my house that I generally walk on. It was a morning like any other. Saw some familiar faces. I like to read these faces. Some are talking ( Ahh…the Bluetooth days, there was a time when I found these self-talking faces crazy!), some are nonchalant, some are thinking, some are already defeated while some seem to be on a mission. We were all fellow-walkers, we all knew the presence of each other. We passed the same trees…walked on the same fallen leaves…saw the same dog poo lining the way…it is the difference in the sameness that caught my fancy. Let me grant it to our creator, he created such variety! I often wonder that He would never be aching for humor in His life up there, somewhere. Just by watching us all, he would be in fits ( Ugh!)

Anyway, I was talking about that walk. Ten minutes into the walk I happened to glance sideways and was caught by a peek of intense lavender, a color I cannot ignore, I like it so. I had to stop…I discovered tiny lavender flowers dotting the greenest of hedges. How come I missed this every day till today? How could I? I willed my fellow walkers to find the hedge too…to notice what I did. Nature is so moving, how can we afford to not be moved…

It was a moment to remember. Nature had found a way to make me stop and ‘Smell the flowers’ as they say. It made me better in some way.

Life punctuated. Routine broken. And happiness found. That hedge would never know what it did for me. It made me look forward to my morning walk. It made me glance at the clock for 7 am to come. It told me that it’s ok to stop awhile to bask in the gifts that were given to me naturally, gifts that I undervalued and overlooked. And, so, waking up wasn’t such a damn routine anymore. It became something more. I woke up at peace for I knew that the lavender would always be there to brighten my day.

What a walk I had that day and from that day onwards…

childhood, cooking, homemaker, technology, woman

Everyday Crossroads Of The Homemaker

Hope you’ve decided to have a good day ladies! Begin here, for here’s something nice that Thomas Wolfe, the 20th century American novelist said for you, ‘ There is no spectacle on Earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves’.

Well, whenever I’m starting to feel a bit low, I treat myself to some encouraging quotes. They make me feel all nice and warm about myself for some great people of the world found me, a woman, worthy enough to write about. Having said that, let me now come to the topic I chose for today. Am I not glad that the word ‘homemaker’ has come to find many constructive interpretations in today’s ‘tag-crazy’ world! Glad that the ‘tag’ ‘housewife’ finally took a break. Not that it mattered to us women anyway…we always knew that the main work happened backstage, so we never lost sight of the power our position always had. The best part is we never try to brag or else all those erstwhile circus-jugglers may come for lessons.

I have always felt that there can be no home without the homemaker. Whenever I look back to my childhood and think about home, it’s my mother’s face that appears smiling by. She was synonymous to ‘home’. She defined it. Without her we, the kids and our father were nothing more than lost herd. She anchored us to that cozy place we called our own. Perhaps, there’s something of her everywhere still… in the walls, the dishes, the linen, the cupboards, the corners, the rolling pin…that always draws us, the three siblings to the nest she made.I dedicate this post to her, my mother, who may have left the world only to stay forever in our hearts.

The Crossroads

Gosh! It got mushy…so let me now take you through a list of everyday crossroads that my mother must have found herself way back then and I find myself now…and I’m sure you do too!

# What to cook? God, I wake up to this question everyday. I even sleep with it sometimes. I dream of the contents of my grocery cabinet and refrigerator. I plan tiffins. I wish others could answer the question for me but I’m never satisfied with that too.

Solution : What helped me finally was a mental menu chart. If you want, you can opt for a physical one too stuck on your fridge with one of those cute magnet ‘paper-holding’ things. I chose the ‘mental’ one for no one in the family but me registers what treats exactly lie in the house. I even remember the quantity of the leftover spices in their packs. I surprise myself often at my homemaker’s acumen.

# Is there enough milk and curd? Statistics again. To ensure this every day, no one can even come close to the kind of mental gymnastics I indulge in. I win.

Solution : A bit of planning. And taking a minute out early morning to warm up some milk for making curd.

# Are the clothes in order? This one makes me crazy. Especially the school uniforms, they are merciless. I send them shining and they come back with color, ink-marks, some mud and lots of school-y mess. Clothes, why were there so many!!! From washing machine to detergent to ironing to stacking to sorting to finally stocking them in respective cupboards…Sweat sweat! If clothes could speak, they would know who to order around 🙂

Solution : I now try to enlist the help of my kids. But majorly, I’m the laundry service. I do thank technology though for being a helping hand.

# How much homework and tests to tackle? It is there everyday without fail – homework, art work, revision work…some kinda work.

Solution: I found it good to keep a regular tab on my kids’ diary. I made time to study their year-planner. I coaxed them to stick colorful time-tables on their pin-up boards. I guess that was cool.

The list is actually endless. But I’ll end with this:

# Did I do a decent job today? Was I a good wife, mother and whatever else I’m expected to be? Was I able to choose the right path at the crossroads? I hope I wasn’t too grumpy or angry…

That’s the ultimate beauty of a homemhomeaker. She can never do enough. She stretches herself thin and thinner. Yet, she manages to hold her fort. She manages to welcome her herd home. She tries. Her heart feels full as one day sleeps and she gets ready to wake up another.

couples children love life heart parents walk

Even Adults Need Reminders

‘Pickles Of Life’ often draws inspiration from real-life events. My posts may be inspired from someone I met, something I saw, felt or heard and other such memorabilia of life that may have passed me by had I not stopped a moment to dwell on them.

This particular post finds its roots at my son’s school. It happened in one of the meetings I attended there. A wise lady, in the course of the meeting said something that stayed with me ever since. It basically related to adults and how they get overlooked in the garb of their ‘adulthood’.

Dr Seuss, an acclaimed American writer once said, ‘Adults are just outdated children’. What a truly magical thought! In our world of today, we, adults are always proving our adulthood to someone or the other. We are either working or shopping for groceries, surfing through the news channels or giving advice, trying to run the rat race or jostling for recognition…every time, all the time, we are moving from one milestone of responsibility to the other.

Sometimes, we can’t help it. It’s something that’s expected from us by the so called custodians of society…its guardians, its well wishers etc etc. As adults life becomes a rulebook. Sometimes, even the adults forget that they can have expectations. They forget that they can feel, can be childlike if they want to be, can want hugs or kind words,  can laugh aloud, can watch ‘Superman’, can sulk, can complain…

My dear friends, we must never forget that we, as adults are not perfect. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to want to be lazy. It’s ok to crave for your mom’s cooking every now and then. It’s ok to get reminders too for reminders keep you connected to people who matter.

Well, think about it…have you, as an adult felt good when someone close to you reminded you that he/she loves you. Have you visited Cloud nine then? Isn’t it a blessing when you’re in a mad rush for office expecting an urgent call and your wife reminds you to carry your cell phone which you generally tend to forget? How about being reminded to pay your insurance policy premium? Don’t you benefit then?

Personally speaking, I relish it when my kids remind me to control my temper or check the milk on the gas stove or shutdown my laptop or be in time for the PTM. Such reminders make me feel cherished. Someone out there cares for me and wants me to remember mundane things of importance. Reminders are little miracles that carry the biggest powers. They can heal. They can iron out a number of life’s creases. And they come handy.

Do not shy away from reminders. I urge parents to still remind their adult children about whatever once in a while. I urge husbands to remind their wives of their first date. I urge wives to remind their husbands to go for a walk. I urge couples to remind each other of companionship. I urge brothers and sisters to remind each other of childhood haunts. I urge everyone to remind themselves to ‘remind’ others.

You know, life has much to offer if we’re willing to take. It’s good to remind and be reminded. It’s good to let your parents and grandparents know that you have a place for them in your mind and heart. Reminders are not just for children or for those with Alzheimer’s. Even adults need reminders.

communication, family, love, parents, technology

Conversation On Vacation

There are times when a thought strikes you, strikes you bad. It’s like lightning, an electrical storm raging through your mind, wanting expression…anytime, anyplace, anyhow. Am glad my laptop was handy.communication, technology, lovec3

Whom Do I Tell My Everyday Stories?

It’s a boiling day today and the air-conditioning seemed sweet indeed. Yet, I couldn’t sleep. The restlessness seemed pointless but restless I was. Was lying thinking about old times, old friends, college, family…snapshots of the past swept my mind one after the other. Through the still transparent sheet of my memory, I saw events, picnics, bubbly gatherings, shimmering evenings…and I saw conversations – long, short, meaningful, meaningless, smart, cute, romantic, informative…all kinds of conversations.

They all made me smile. They all made me nostalgic. I missed them. No one seemed to be conversing anymore around me. There were no heart-to-hearts among friends. No one was there to hear how you felt about something. Parents were unaware of their kid’s school routine. Husbands didn’t know what their wives did at home/office. The brother didn’t know that his sister could read storybooks by herself. The daughter-in-law looked surprised when her mother-in-law volunteered to help her son understand a rather tricky history chapter.

Come Technology, Solve My Issues…Will You Please

For once, I will not blame technology. Technology cannot overtake humanity unless we let it. We keep adding new and newer apps to our cell phones. We want to graduate from an 8 GB memory card to a 16 and so on. Oh! I cannot deny the lure of it all, Technology is sexy. It gives you a high. It makes you feel important. It pulls you deep and deeper.

I’m sure, all of us remember one thing at all times. Our mobiles. We remember to take them with us, we remember to charge them, we remember to check on them every minute if not every second, we buy them the latest accessories….we love them. We feel incomplete without them warming our palms.

Do we remember how our kids’ palms feel, when they press them against our hands? Do we remember the last family game we played? What was the last bedtime story I read to my daughter? Frankly, I find it hard to remember. It’s not that I don’t feel bad, I swear I do. Then, what’s wrong with me…I need someone to tell me. I need someone to talk to.

Fill The Air Again

People, we need to communicate. We need to jam all frequencies with our words. Let our hearts be ‘servers’. Talk, listen and talk again. Rest your fingertips. They are sore from all the texting. Rest your eyes. They seem nervous among people.

Conversation, Do Come Back : That Was a Hell Of A Long Vacation

Flow flow flow, flow with me and mine

Flow when I sit, flow when I dine

Where is your warmth

Where is your smile

Flow a little while

Walk with me a mile

My words seem lost

My home is cold

Hug me, hold me tight

Warm me in your fold

Flow flow flow….Flow with me and mine

Dear conversation, flow over some wine.

Lets bring the conversation back home again. This vacation needs to end. Lets fall in love with words again.

Uncategorized

Food Supplements : A Peep

fs
Pills Of Nutrition, Or Are They?

I often tend to think about things that have been there, always there, till suddenly the spotlight is on them, just like that! Well, off late I have been hearing a lot about ‘Food Supplements’. Even more than food itself. All the hullabaloo got me thinking and wondering and researching about this new craze and I finally decided to share a few thoughts.

My perspective is totally non-judgemental. I’m no expert on the topic, just someone who feels kinda fascinated by this fancy ‘Nutrition wrapped in pills’.

Food Supplements : A Brief Introduction

All of us are people of today’s world. We like to stay alert and aware. We like to eat right, or at least think that we’re eating right. Binges are excused.Supposedly, if we are eating balanced meals, we are getting the necessary daily doses of proteins, carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. If, however, our diet goes off-balance, our bodies are left craving for certain essential nutrients. Here’s where food supplements come in.

A food or a dietary supplement is meant to provide those important nutrients that one fails to get through diet in the required quantity. Clearly, not all of us need them. Still, I notice that everyone is looking for something ‘more’ beyond food. Someone wants to pop in a pill if it helps even complexion. Someone is mighty impressed with smart advertisements claiming to change their lives. Someone wants to pop in a family of pills just because everyone else is doing it. Very few, it seems are actually willing to understand the science behind.

Well, there are people who are believed to have benefited from using authentic and organically manufactured supplements. Look for one and you’ll find a thousand success stories. Still, I cannot bring myself to buy all the hype. Nor will I try to contest the fact that deficiencies do occur and sometimes, supplements can rescue us. The case is stronger for the elderly. Ask a 50-something lady about the trouble she’s having walking and a Calcium supplement would stare you in the eye.

Still, given a chance, I may try a food supplement just to sieve out the reality from the myth. I am a woman. I know that with time, my body will change, my nutrient deposits will deplete and I will feel drained. I do not wish to outrun nature. However, I do wish to take a walk in the early morning sunlight to refurbish my Vitamin D supply.

The topic has just begun, I’ll keep adding to it. Your participation and experience is very welcome. Lets make an effort to fall in love with the facts. Fiction is admirable though!