10 Things I'm Really Good At

10 things I'm really good at

So this is where I get to blow my own trumpet a bit! 😄

Heres a list of my 10 "super powers"... 10 things I'm really, actually, exceptionally, fantastically good at!

My 10 Super Powers

  1. Coming up with quirky food combinations, though not necessarily palatable ones! 😜

  2. Narrating a 3-hour movie in 6 (or more!) hours! 😁

  3. Bathroom singing... or kitchen singing... or balcony singing... or... actually, ANYWHERE singing! 😊

  4. Fitting large amounts of stuff in tiny spaces! 💪

  5. Making funny rabbit faces! 🤓

  6. Improvisation, or the famed creative Indian 'jugaad'! 😎

  7. Misplacing my eye-glasses! 👓

  8. Not remembering to charge my mobile phone... or plugging-in the charger, but not remembering to turn on the switch! 🙈

  9. Playing 'Nancy Drew'. 🕵️‍

  10. Making lists... in case you haven't already figured this out for yourself by now! 😝

So tell me now... which of these do you most covet? And what are YOUR top 10 super-powers?


That Last Night

That Last Night: Healing From Grief

21st January, 1997. A little over 8 pm. She was at a relative's place with her sister. They were playing with their cousins. Playing what, she knew not. For things seemed a bit hazy, dreamlike almost, ever since they took her mom to the hospital a little while ago. One hour, was it? Or two perhaps? She did not know. It was impossible to keep track of time in that dream.

Suddenly her uncle and aunt came in and said it was time for dinner. Dinner? But it's not even 9 yet! So early? She wanted to ask, but she couldn't find her voice in that dream. And so she ate, in silence. Ate what, she knew not. For things were still hazy. She was still slipping. Slipping in and out of reality...

She was in the kitchen, warming milk for her mom. It was a little over 5:30 pm. A doctor had just left after a "house call". He had examined her mom and advised her dad to admit her into a hospital the next morning if her "headache" didn't subside. She took the cup of milk to her mom. But her mom didn't remember now that she'd asked for it. The "elders" gathered around her mom asked her to leave the cup there. She did. And left the room.

"More chapati?" Her aunt was asking. She took one. And continued to eat. And dream...

She heard a deep moaning coming from her mom's room. It was the most frightening sound she'd ever heard. It numbed her very bones. She gathered all her courage and went inside. What she saw there was something she was never going to forget. Her mom's body was twisted up in a horrifyingly grotesque way. Her limbs contorted in crazy angles. Her eyes rolled right back into their sockets. While that guttural moaning continued.

She looked down at her plate. It was empty. She had finished eating. So had her sister. She couldn't remember if her cousins had eaten too. She was still not completely "there". She was still caught in that dreamy haze...

Someone told her to rub her mom's feet. She did it. It did not help. Someone tried to contact that doctor again. It was 1997. Pre-cellphone age. The doctor was still on his way to the clinic apparently. He could not be reached. Someone then decided it was time to take her mom to the hospital. So the "elders" wrapped her mom in blankets and carried her down the stairs, into the car. Who drove the car, she knew not. She and her sister were not in that car. They had been told to pack a night bag as they were going to spend that night at a relatives' place in their colony.

After dinner, her uncle suddenly announced that her dad had come to fetch her and her sister. Dad had come? But they'd been told to pack their night bag? Were they going home early then? Was her mom better already? Was she back home? The questions screamed inside her mind. But she was still trapped in that soundless dream. The dream that had started the morning of the previous day...

20th January, 1997. Around 7:30 am. She was having tea with her mom-dad, as usual. And they were teasing her mom, as usual, for having increased her sugar intake since she was diagnosed with diabetes. (Which wasn't true actually, 'coz she HAD cut down on sugar, but they still teased her, in the attempt to make her quit it completely.) Her mom was making her usual funny faces at them, which always made them laugh. Her sister had already left for school. Soon she could hear the honks of her friend's car from the street. That marked the arrival of her "home pick-up" for her computer classes. She left the house too.

Two hours later, when her friend dropped her back home, she saw a strange sight up in her balcony. A relative was standing there, along with a friend of her dad. That was a very unusual combination. They never visited at the same time. Even weirder was the fact that her dad was not with them. And both the "visitors" looked so unusually grave. She told her friend she wasn't going to sit for their usual chat in the car that day, and hurried upstairs. That was the beginning of that dream. A fuzzy recollection of people coming and going, of voices, odd snippets of conversations, some instructions, and a lot of fear.

Her dad had arrived. She and her sister were escorted to the car. Why wasn't anyone smiling as usual? She was in the car before she could ask. It was very crowded inside. Her dad was not driving. Who was driving, she knew not. She was sitting right behind the driver's seat. Her sister was sitting on dad's lap in the front passenger seat. Who else was there? Mom's sister? She'd probably been asked to come and help them. Who else? Dad's aunt? Why was she here? Why was she and her mom's sister sitting together in the same car? That was another very unusual combination. This was such a crazy dream. She didn't even bother to search for her voice now.

Oh wait. They took a wrong turn. This wasn't the way to their house. Were they going to the hospital then? Wasn't it beyond visiting hours? Suddenly she heard her sister's voice. "Where's mom?" She could not hear her dad's reply. She was sitting so far from them. And then her sister started shouting at her dad. "Where is mom? Why aren't you saying anything? Where is mom?" She heard someone crying then. It sounded like her dad. It couldn't be her dad. He never cried. Her sister was shouting yet again. "Nooooo! You're lying! It's not possible! You're lying!" And then the two "ladies" sitting in the back seat with her started crying too. This was ridiculous. Why were they all crying? And why was her sister shouting so much? This was a really stupid dream. She didn't want to be in it anymore.

They took another turn. Within the colony. But the hospital was out... in the town. Why were they going this way? They hadn't gone to their home. They weren't going to the hospital. So where the hell were they going?

She found out soon enough. The car pulled up outside her grandfather's house in the colony. Her mom's father. She couldn't understand why they were visiting her grandfather at this time of the night. She couldn't understand anything. It was all so dark and hazy.

It seemed like everybody was in mourning. Mourning the death of her mom. Her mom dead? How could that be? She was in the hospital. No she wasn't. She was lying there on the carpet, rolled in blankets. The same blankets she'd been wrapped in when they took her to the hospital. There was a lot of crying all around. She didn't like it. It was making her cry too. Why were they saying that her mom was dead? Didn't they realize that it was a hurtful thing to say to her? Couldn't they see that it was making her cry?

She was led into a bedroom at her grandfather's place. They were sleeping there that night. That was good. Finally, they were going to let her sleep in peace. She had to end this crazy dream. But it would end only when she woke up. And she couldn't wake up if she didn't sleep first. So she was glad she was allowed to sleep finally.

But the next morning didn't mark the end of her horrible dream. If anything, it became even more horrible. The events from that last night spilled over into the next day. And in magnified proportions. The strange gathering of people increased many times over. Her mom still lay on the carpet, rolled in those same blankets. The cryings continued, interspersed occasionally by some howling "drama queen". All that gloom rubbed off on her. She felt hollow inside. She was soon crying with the rest of them. Though she still hadn't found her voice for anything else.

Eventually they took her mom away. Before leaving, they told her to touch her mom's feet for her final blessings. But she couldn't do it. She didn't want to remember her mom as a cold, lifeless body. She wanted to remember her for her warm smiles. And those funny faces she made when they teased her.

Little did she know then, that "that last night with her mom" was going to remain etched on her memory forever. Little did she know then, that "that last night with her mom" was going to change her own life completely.

P.S.- This post was originally published by me, on my old blog, in April 2012, as a part of Blog-a-Ton 26, the 26th Edition of an online, prompt-based, writing competition of Bloggers. The topic for the month was 'That Last Night'. My post won the Gold BATOM (the first prize) that month.

And even though this post has been written as "fiction", it is all real... every word of it. My mom died of brain hemorrhage that night. Many years after her death, I found out that it might have been caused by brain aneurysm, a medical condition highly probable in people having both diabetes and high blood pressure.

Why did I write it as fiction then?

Well, I would have never been able to complete this post if I hadn't written it in third person. By pretending that it was all fiction, I was able to remain detached from the feelings, and yet was able to express them as they were.

This is the first time I participated in a Blog-a-Ton event. The topic gave me an opportunity to share "that last night with my mom" here, on my blog, and also allowed me to recover a part of myself that was apparently still trapped somewhere in that dark soundless dream.


4 Yellow Flowers

Happiness: 4 Yellow Flowers
"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
- Albus Dumbledore

And the best part is that you don't even need to go looking for it... it just pops up unexpectedly, anywhere, anytime, out of the blue! The only thing you need to do is be attentive, so you don't miss it when it shows up... AND "turn on the light", as Professor Dumbledore said!

One of such random moments, when happiness came looking for me, was in June 2009, when my Dad and I had gone to some relatives' place for lunch. When we came down and walked to our car in the parking area, to head back for home, this is what we found adorning our emerald green Maruti 800...

Reasons to Smile: 4 Yellow Flowers

These 4 yellow flowers had been carefully arranged in those tiny slits at the base of the windshield wipers.

By whom?
We knew not!

I removed them from there and stepped inside the car, with those flowers, to show them to Dad.

Towards the front of the building, we saw a couple of kids playing... the kind whom we fondly refer to as "street urchins". When they saw us drive out of the building, they smiled shyly at us, and looked at each other.

I looked at them. They looked at the flowers. I looked at the flowers. I looked up at them again. Their smiles widened slightly, albeit still a bit shy... and then I understood. They were the ones who had decided to "decorate" our car!

Out of the two dozen odd cars standing in the parking lot, including some sparkling new specimens of the latest models, the two kids had taken a fancy to our old beaten-down, badly scratched and bruised Maruti 800! Maybe they thought that the green looked cool with the yellow? 🤔

Well, yellow flowers are my favouritest! So I beamed at them. One of my 1000-watt killer smiles! They got confused. And then they beamed right back at me. TWO 1000-watt killer smiles! And we drove off. With the image of those two toothy grins in our minds. And these "4 yellow flowers" in my hand.

Happiness: It spreads with just one smile... and 4 yellow flowers

It is 2021 now. More than a decade has gone by since that chance drizzle of sunshine on my heart. The 4 yellow flowers are long gone. Even the enerald green Maruti 800 is long gone. But the memory remains, and continues to spread that warm glow of ALL THREE 1000-watt smiles... COMBINED... at the oddest of hours! 😄

P.S. - The pictures are a little blurred 'coz they were taken by my Dad's cell phone in a moving car!


Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Every cloud has a silver lining, and sometimes, all that "silver" is so bright that you know your humble phone camera won't do any justice to it at all! Still, you cannot refrain yourself from capturing those moments of glorious beauty that Nature lets you witness.

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

This spectacular sight greeted me on the way to my shop a few monsoons ago. I couldn't decide which of them looked prettiest, so I posted all three.

Can you pick any favorites?

By the way, here's an original quote this time...

Every cloud has a silver lining. Just keep your head up, and prepare to be dazzled!

P.S. - I love how I get to see such variety in the moods of the sky here. Never got to experience it in any of the other towns I've called home till now. Too much pollution. Too many buildings.


Do You Regret The Choices You Made?

Do You Regret The Choices You Made?

It is so easy to fall into the trap of "regret", isn't it? As soon as we realize we made a mistake, we start traveling along the course of "what if".

What if I had done this instead of that?
What if I had never left that job?
What if I'd refused to do such-and-such thing 20 years ago?
What if I'd never got involved with that guy?
What if I had asked that girl out?

The list of "what ifs" can be endless. But do they serve a purpose? 🤔

. . .

Killing my old blog, for good, was one of the toughest decisions I've had to make till now.

I had seen that blog evolve for over a decade, watched it grow from exactly *six* readers to over a couple of hundred regular followers... AND thousands of occasional visitors from all parts of the world. I had nurtured it, and celebrated every little achievement like a proud mommy.

And then I killed it. Right after it entered its teens. 😔

Needless to say, I went through my cycle of "what ifs".

But then I got to learn some amazing new skills. Met some inspiring new people. Discovered some hidden talents, as well as new career possibilities.

Found my life purpose!

Would any of that have happened if not for the circumstances that led to the demise of my old blog?

Nope.

Do I regret all these things that happened subsequently, BECAUSE I had to let go of the old blog?

Of course NOT!

Then why regret what happened at all?

. . .

Let's look at it from another angle, shall we? 🤔

Do I even WANT TO go back to being who I was before this drastic change happened in my life? If I had a choice, would I still want to write on my old blog instead of this new Mug Of Muse?

A big N.O. !!!

Then honestly, WHAT is the point of "crying over spilt milk" and regretting what happened?

Drew Barrymore once said -

"I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end."

I'm inclined to agree with her on this.

Whatever happens to us in life, whatever choices we take along our journey, put us on the path we ARE ON currently. If not for the things that happened along the way, we wouldn't be WHERE we are; we wouldn't be WHO we are.

So yes, undesired experiences DO serve a purpose, but it isn't that of making us bitter or vengeful or hateful or even fearful. Rather, such experiences are only meant to educate us -- make us wiser, more compassionate, more judicious, more courageous...

Someone once told me -

"It's a cruel way indeed, to look at the past through the prism of hindsight."

If I had the opportunity to re-live my past, I wouldn't want to change a thing. I did my best, took the best option available to me at the time -- based on the data and resources I had at the time -- and then used that unpleasant experience to make myself even better... MORE resourceful!

Wouldn't trade that to avoid a bit of "temporary" setback and heartache.

What about you though? Do you have any regrets? If yes, then what are they? And if given the chance, would you like to do your life all over again, differently? How would your life be different because of that? How would YOU be different because of that? 🤔


10 Things You Might Want To Know About Me

10 Things You Might Want To Know About Me

Well, you already know the story behind the blog name and the logo. It's only fair that you now get to know a little bit more about the blog author too. After all, there's only so much one can share in the About page, right?

So here are 10 random things about me, including a few quirks, that you can start with, and I promise I will share more later!

10 Random Things About Me You Probably Want To Know

  1. The first thing people notice about me:
    Probably my INTJ stare.
    Or my smile. 🤔

  2. I value:
    Honesty and transparency in relationships.
    Personal space.

  3. I am really looking forward to:
    Turning 50.
    F.I.F.T.Y.
    Half.A.Century.
    Don't you just love the sound of that? 😄

  4. My golden rule:
    G.I.G.O.
    Garbage In, Garbage Out.
    That's nerd language for 'Karma'... get it?
    You get what you give. 😔

  5. My perfect day:
    Good company. Good conversations. Good food.
    Add a good movie or a good book, and the day just goes beyond perfect!

  6. My biggest pet peeve:
    When kids call me 'didi' instead of 'aunty'! 🤦
    Just because I am still unmarried !!!
    (When the hell did it get associated with our marital status? Wasn't it supposed to be related to our age?)

  7. My biggest fear:
    Having a surgery.
    (I keep thinking they'll leave a needle or a pair of scissors inside me. Or worse. A watch that plays "Om Mangalam Mangalam" every hour!) 😜

  8. I like to take pictures of:
    Anything and everything really...
    Whatever / whosoever tells a story.
    Isn't life all about stories?

  9. If money were no concern, this is what I would be doing:
    Probably the same as what I am doing now, except with more style and comfort! 😎
    And of course, I'll be ticking off some of the items from my bucket list too.

  10. The most private thing I'm willing to admit here:
    I got locked in the bathroom at my best friend's wedding! 🙈
    (Seriously, I did! One day, I'll share that post here, and you can read all about it!)

So these are 10 things about me that you might have enjoyed reading about.

Now it's your turn. Tell me a little bit about you. What makes you crazy? What keeps you sane? What makes your heart beat a little bit faster? What's your biggest fear? And your biggest pet peeve? 😃