A Love Letter to Appapan and Ammama


I met Appapan and Ammama during my summer vacation of 1997 in an apartment that we used to live in. Cochin being a conservative city at that point of time, my mother was quite forward about my clothing (shorts and t-shirt). Some of the residents of this apartment were not pleased about the same and hence I was restricted from playing downstairs during the evenings by my mother. In this scenario Appapan and Ammama a retired honorary lawyer and teacher moved their residence from Mumbai to Cochin into the same apartment. They came into my rescue and told my mother, “we cannot change people’s minds and attitudes, our grandchildren wear what your child wears, so do not be bothered”. This marked the beginning of a friendship between a 7 year old and two probably 60 year olds which turned out to be epic.

Through these two wonderful people, then came into my life Tony, their grandchild and my childhood best buddy. Appapan and Ammama gifted him with a gear bicycle on the 5th of March 1997 on his 6th birthday, which was my initial motivation for the friendship. Though he was not very fond of sharing this birthday present, he was forced to do so by Ammama. Later, I became Tony’s temporary replacement during his absence on some of my vacations, where I had full possession of his birthday gift.

Appapan and Ammama’s house was like a child’s heaven where there was unlimited food, TV, games, free stock market classes and no restrictions. Appapan also used to be my partner is crime for stealing roses that our neighbor grew on the terrace (to keep under the Jesus picture). Appapan’s mundu became my secret spot when folded to hide these roses. Though, Ammama would come up with the “Thou shall not steel commandment”, we never bothered and their apartment became my primary house. At times when they were not home, I used to slip in small flowers and letters for both of them to read when they come back.

During the end of one of my vacations, I went to say goodbye to both of them and still remember Appapan hugging me so tight, then he ran into his bedroom and started crying. Though Ammama’s eyes teared up she had more control over her emotions. Later even though they moved out of that apartment, I tracked them and made surprise visits to them at a place called Koraty. When I met with the accident, even though they were quite unwell and Appapan was hardly able to walk, they use to manage to come down in a cab to meet me.

Yesterday when Tony messaged me about Appanan’s death and funeral, my first thought was to cancel my ticket and fly to Mumbai to bid farewell to him but then again my mother told me that he is somewhere there watching me. My last memory of Appapan was when he was alive and let in remain that way forever.

Some people come into your life and leave footprints that can never be washed away. Three such people in my life are Appapan, Ammama and Tony. I could say that I loved Appapan and Amama more than my own grandparents and they mean so much to me.

Thank you Appapan and Ammama for making my childhood so beautiful. I am going to miss you so much

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All about my mother


I love my mother because she is really unique, sweet,  simple and the most loving person that one can find in this world.

She loves me more and more, no matter what I do.

unnamedOwing to my grandmother’s death, my mother was married off when she was 18, and then I was born when she turned 21.

She always said, that she never liked me when she saw my face for the first time, since I was the person who was responsible for all the stretch marks and sutures on her tummy.

She was always scared to hold me because she thought that I was so small that I would slip right through her hand.163784_474418618906_3837446_n

From the time I remember, she used to go to the University every day and come back in the evening bus.

I would climb on the gate looking for her. She used to get me Frooti and Banana chips on the way back from East Fort.

For her by then I was more of a friend than a daughter and it was the same for me too. She used to share all her troubles, anxieties and hopes with me. Though I did not understand most of it then, it makes a lot of sense to me now.

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When my grandfather was not at home we always played in the rain and finally I would end up sick which led to the removing of my tonsils when I was 6.

At the age of 8 I got my own bicycle in which I tried going to school by. I still remember my mom waiting nervously on the road looking for me, waiting for me to return.

When I was 9 she broke her leg on my birthday. On that same day, my grandfather passed away due to a heart attack. She was bedridden and hence couldn’t go for the funeral.

Fr Charlse who went to help my Mommy grabbed my birthday gifts and colour chalks from the road which I had asked for.

That was the first time I saw someone in the hospital with broken bones and I thought that she would definitely die and I cried for days. Mom had a huge plaster on her leg for 6 months and she feared that bed bugs would lay eyes on them because somebody had said so.

She always came to school in the afternoon to feed me and all the children would later make fun. She was the one who completed my notes post the lunch session, taking the books of my classmates.

One time, for perhaps the first time when we did not get tickets for a movie, I was sad all night. The next day she came to my school much to my surprise and informed my teacher, that my paternal grandfather had passed away and then took me for the same movie which we had had no luck with earlier.1009948_285844334898326_927973318_n

One day she came home after her German class and told me that she saw a toy for 500 rupees. Though I had not seen the toy, I said that I wanted it and she sold her German book that she had got as a gift to buy me that toy.

She worked all her life to send me to the best school in Dubai, sent me to the best tuitions, bought me branded clothes, the best food ,everything that she did for me was the best.

There were never ending fights and arguments with her but then everything would end in a day’s time.

We had big plans for my wedding which we had been planning for since the time I realized that I had a memory, but most of it did not work out as I met Joe and got married in a month’s time.

  1. 419197_10150601080343907_2025331895_n (1)But the only problem was that I was always open with her and she gets involved in unnecessary situations and gets me into trouble.

For Example, Once there was a rumour that my 12th grade class teacher was pregnant which I happened to tell her. She congratulated her for the next open house which got me into serious trouble.

The second instance I remember was when one of my classmates during my first year in the University poured ink on my hair right after a haircut. I told this incident to my mother during the final year of college. She brought this topic up while having a casual conversation with the HOD. The HOD raised it as major issue where the student was almost about to get suspended.

Mom was never a social person. She spent most of her time at home reading books and praying. She even had her own library in our Dubai house and in our native place. I was her all time partner in crime. We have done so many mischievous activities that I can neither write nor even tell anyone. Dad was like a school teacher and we were like his students trying not to get caught.

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Towards the end she even left the job as the CFO of a group of companies and flew down to stay with me near the university.

Honestly speaking, I think she never wanted me to marry and go far away, neither did I want that. But then I guess this is life. But our friendship will be till death and beyond and I cannot love anyone like how I love my mother.

We even have the same close knit friend’s circles since the time I opened my eyes. They are the people whom I hold close to my heart and their opinions matter to me. They are my real family.

A Page from the Diary of an NRI Couch Potato


First Surprise Visit to see my mom all alone

It was a chilly rainy evening when my leave application with the forged signature of my mother got accepted by the hostel warden of Jonas Hall. I was preparing for a surprise visit home since a month and hence felt extremely excited to proceed further.

The bus halted to a stop and I had been nervous since it was my first journey alone in a place like India. It was about midnight and the bus was filled with men alone including a father with 2 children. Unfortunately it was a hot monsoon day with high humidity in the air and no air-condition in the bus.

My travel companions were a middle aged man and a youngster, probably a college student engaged in watching pornography. I found myself restless continuously pushing away the middle aged man trying to lean on my shoulder in between his sleep.

For some reason I couldn’t sleep for a minute. I laid down on the small uncomfortable seat watching the people snore and sleep. In between I tried to read a book and listen to my IPod. As my fellow passenger found it disturbing I and my “porn addicted acquaintance” were compelled to switch off our electronics and the lights. Though it was winter, the inside of the bus was hot, stuffed and humid; hence I was compelled to open the window to get some fresh air though it was drizzling. The windowpane was rusted and the street lights illuminated the roads partially. I found clouds of different and could sense the smell of fresh soil where it rained after a very long time. I also could see the other vehicles passing by in high speed taking advantage of the zero traffic night time.

Commuters travel on a bus on a highway near Midnapore town

After a journey of about 5 hours the bus halted again in the midst of a bus station where I got down with my bags to have a cup of coffee. As theft was a common phenomenon in India I was compelled to carry my luggage wherever I went. The toilets were dirty and unhygienic with no water or tissues. I wore an expensive pair of leather stilettoes which my mother gifted me from Dubai for getting good grades in college which got soaked and damaged in the mud and rain water.

With the help of the conductor I managed to load the luggage back into the bus. On the move, I saw the half sleepy and cranky bus driver shouting at the conductor for no specific reason. There were children unattended and crying probably out of thirst or hunger. Their parent was totally drowned in his sleep and was hardly bothered about the noises they made which I considered as sheer insanity. They also played a pirated copy of new Tamil movie on the television fixed above in the front loudly and people still found it peaceful to sleep.

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As I managed to get in, I could see myself in the front rare view mirror and could relate myself to a crow sitting on a telephone wire on a rainy day. I found the seat extensively uncomfortable due to the heat and the humidity inside the bus.

In the midst of all the chaos I felt exhausted and fell asleep. I woke up at about 5 am in the morning hearing the whispers, murmurs and loud laughers of the men. I looked around with my droopy eyes and found that the man with children has already left the bus. I also noticed that I was the only woman in the midst of 10 other men including the wide awake middle aged travel companion and the college student who watched pornography the previous night.

I expect to arrive at my home town at about 7 am in the morning and found myself stuck at Palghat near the paddy fields as a tire of the bus got punchered. I got up quickly, grabbed my bags and stepped outside. As I made the conductor opened the luggage space he found a beggar hiding beneath inside traveling with us to Kerala. The men took charge and started chasing him. I was worried about whether any of my belongings were stolen. The other men started to ogle eve tease and make foul comments. I couldn’t stand them a minute longer and hence I picked my belongings and started walking alone into the pitch darkness not bothering to respond to any of their creative statements.

My only companions were the moon, the stars, the clouds and the fields. I walked for about 20 minutes and got exhausted due to the heavy weight of my luggage and the bags. In the meanwhile my phone ran out of charge and I couldn’t even reach out to anyone for help. One my way, I found a tribal woman with a pot on her waist and a kid behind her back. I tried to use a bit of Tamil that I knew to ask about the nearest bus station I could go to. Palghat is a state that shares its border with two states Tamil Nadu and Kerala. She said that there is a government bus stop approximately 6 miles away.

My heavy luggage and bags made me feel like a helpless 9 months pregnant woman on the road. I could not imagine walking all the way with a shoe bite, stilettos, luggage and droopiness.

2 weeks earlier I had read about a girl who got gang raped at Delhi. Thoughts about that incident made my mind trembled; I stopped on the way, opened my bag and kept my pepper spray and Swiss knife ready. I continued my walk alone thinking about what could be done next.

Suddenly it started to rain heavily and I had nothing to shield myself. I found shelter in a small shed made of hay the time being. The rain gained its strength and the heaven started pouring out. I understood that the situation is only going to worsen. I also saw a few drunken teenagers, probably college students passing by in a group in their cars with loud music, alcohol bottles and cigarettes. I removed my stiletto, put on my sports shoes, covered my head with the hood on my jacket and started to walk again.

Coal Mining In India's Jharia

With blurred vision I could see a small hut far away. As I got closer, I understood that it was an old man’s tea stall where coolie laborers and lorry drivers gathered to have breakfast, tea and read newspapers every morning. Among them were men who were young, middle aged or old. They stared at the helpless drenched woman. Though the men offered help, I did not appreciate the way they gazed at me and hence, quickly had a “1/4th coffee” (half coffee and half froth) and started my walk again.  I started seeing autos, tempos, and vans stuffed with school and nursery children pass by. None bothered to help me and hence I felt hopeless in the midst of nowhere.

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I could feel the small streams of muddy waters touching my shoe bitten area as I walked. I looked up at the orange sky and suddenly felt a kind of peace, probably because the place was getting lit up by the sun. I saw an old man transporting fresh wet hay on the way. I chased him and asked him on whether I could get a lift. The old man agreed and I loaded my luggage on to the bullock cart. The old man could hardly breathe due to excessive smoking of BD (tobacco roles), yet had to work since his children were studying in college. He proudly said “my daughter passed her earlier semester with second class marks ”. I appreciated him for the job he has done in raising his daughters and agreed that it was a tough job to raise a child. He was delighted to hear my words. We reached the bus stop in about an hour and offered him rupees 100 as a token of gratitude and he refused to accept it.

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People gazed at the well-dressed drenched woman who arrived in a bullock cart. I managed to charge my phone from an electrical portal available until the bus arrived. The conductor refused to give me a helping hand since me and my luggage were drenched in muddy rain water. I managed to pull them in myself. It continued to drizzle and I felt a chill through my spine. I saw the window curtains dripping and floating in the air as the bus moved gained its speed. The wind and the warmth of my body combined helped my clothes to dry faster.

India_bus_travel_DharamsalaOn the way I called my mother to check on what she was doing. She told me that she was about to start from our house to go for a retreat. I told her that I was on my way home and I buttered the warden and managed to sneak out. I also told her everything that I had to face on the way. Hearing this I could sense a feeling of fear and happiness in her voice. She said that she was going to speak to the warden in person to ask her on why she let me out without prior permission. She also told that she was going to prepare something special for me when I get back home. She also asked me to let her know about when I would reach the bus station in order to pick me up.

Hearing these, the old lady sitting behind smiled and asked “kutty engotta, ammaye kanan a alle”- meaning “where are you going to? Are you going to see your mother?”  At that moment I knew that I found a good travel companion. We started a good conversation about our families and it went on till I reached my hometown. She waved her hand saying goodbye. I felt as though a big burden just got dropped off my shoulders when I saw my mother. I dropped my entire luggage and hugged her and we went home.

Keeping Our Minds Supple Questioning Everything


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Being open-minded means that we are willing to question everything, including those things we take for granted.

A lot of people feel threatened if they feel they are being asked to question their cherished beliefs or their perception of reality. Yet questioning is what keeps our minds supple and strong. Simply settling on one way of seeing things and refusing to be open to other possibilities makes the mind rigid and generally creates a restrictive and uncomfortable atmosphere. We all know someone who refuses to budge on one or more issues, and we may have our own sacred cows that could use a little prodding. Being open-minded means that we are willing to question everything, including those things we take for granted.

A willingness to question everything, even things we are sure we are right about, can shake us out of complacency and reinvigorate our minds, opening us up to understanding people and perspectives that were alien to us before. This alone is good reason to remain inquisitive, no matter how much experience we have or how old we get. In the Zen tradition, this willingness to question is known as beginner’s mind, and it has a way of generating possibilities we couldn’t have seen from the point of view of knowing something with certainty. The willingness to question everything doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t believe in anything at all, and it doesn’t mean we have to question every single thing in the world every minute of the day. It just means that we are humble enough to acknowledge how little we actually know about the mysterious universe we call home.

Nearly every revolutionary change in the history of human progress came about because someone questioned some time-honored belief or tradition and in doing so revealed a new truth, a new way of doing things, or a new standard for ethical and moral behavior. Just so, a commitment to staying open and inquisitive in our own individual lives can lead us to new personal revolutions and truths, truths that we will hopefully, for the sake of our growth, remain open to questioning.

Our new beginning – 2014


ImageThe day started off by me receiving my first salary at my new job, moving into our new apartment at Jumeirah and Joe receiving a call on the enquiry of the date of joining from his new company.

We drove to the Palm Jumeirah on the New Year’s Eve to witness the Guinness Book of World Record fireworks. Since Joe has not yet attained a UAE driver’s license, I ended up being his chauffeur like always. I managed to drive through the traffic by squeezing through the wrong ways and park near the foot path near a palace. We walked in the cold for about 20 minutes to reach the main beach.The temperature was about 15 degrees Celsius and dropping followed by strong ice cold winds. There were people of different nationalities camped in and around the area and they lit the dry shrubs on the way in order to keep themselves warm from the frosty cold. Luckily we could reach all the way near the waters.

There was a Filipino lady, probably a news reporter on our left with a professional Nikon camera and a camera stand, and a few old bachelors to our right. As time passed by the waves came closer and closer and hence we had to move further back in order to not to get ourselves wet.

Initially the fireworks began on the left side of the Jumeirah beach and later on the right next to the Burj Al Arab.  I didn’t feel that there was anything special about them as they look quite normal to my eyes.  Both concluded at about 12:15 am and I was quite disappointed and told Joe about the same. Hearing that, one of the bachelors on our right told us that they work for the Palms and the government has arranged ships in line to shoot up the crackers though out the horizon. They also told that the delay may be due to some technical issues.Hearing that I waited impatiently till about 12:30 am and still there were no signs of any fireworks at the main palms. I compelled Joe and started walking back. We almost reached to the mid-way and suddenly we could hear people start to roar and applaud loudly.  We turned back and saw that the entire horizon was lit up with fireworks. We ran back to witness this epic moment in history.

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As soon as the fireworks got over me and Joe started to run through the cold sand as fast as we could in order to get into our car. We also stopped by one of the bonfires on the way to warm up a bit. As I was driving, we could see young Arabs, probably teenagers run towards every car in order to wish them a New Year. Later we reached back home at about 1:30, had a glass of wine and went to sleep.

You & your life path


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The only things standing in the way of you and New Life, filled with Love, Joy, Peace, Abundance, Respect, etc. is doubt, the past, unworthiness, non-deserving and other beliefs that are limiting and tell you that you cannot move forward; that life will always be the same.

I tell you that in Truth, you are free. You are free to create if only you will know it and release all else. Don’t believe it; know it; deep within you.

Let go of anything that tells you that life cannot change. This is a lie. Let go of the lie and know the Truth; that you are Love and that all is not only possible; it is so.