Sunday, May 25, 2014

When I landed...

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So finally when I landed in Mumbai International airport - after spending two weeks in KSA - at 5.00 am, in spite of being sleep deprived five things got my attention quickly...

1. The fear in my heart had vanished altogether. I wasn't scared of people with cough or cold as I knew I had left Mr. corona virus thousand miles behind. THANK GOD!!!!
2. My Indian eyes are accustomed to seeing beautiful and colourful women all through life. Well, in Mumbai when I saw women in printed shorts, floral skirts, torn jeans and bright coloured sarees without being hidden inside a burkha my eyes felt peaceful at once.

3. The entire Indian scent (may be the famous "mitti ki khushboo") rejuvenated both my respiratory and olfactory system. After getting heavy doses of perfume from all directions, not feeling them was such a divinely feeling.
4. Being a hardcore foodie, the moment I stepped in to the airport my eyes started scanning for eating joints to have some yummy dosas and samosas and my stomach chirped happily.

5. Then I heard the familiar languages... English, Hindi,  Marathi,  Kannada and I felt blessed to be back. Ears were letting in these soothing words after reflecting back Arabic for two weeks. Finally, my ear drums started vibrating again!!!

All my inactive senses pulled themselves back together and started functioning feeling satiated. 

Well, every unknown face felt familiar and finally, a friendly smile appeared on my face. I saw very few foreigners unlike KSA, but felt satisfied looking at every face. Like Salman sang long ago, east or west India is the best. 

And, definitely we Indians have got a power to adjust. Hence, wherever we go, which ever country it may be we will definitely stumble upon Indians there. But not much east or west in India. May be, surviving in India is a real challenge to them. But as far as challenge is considered nobody can beat us. We are born to win. What say guys...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mercy MERS!!!

Last year my husband (my then boyfriend) and I after much discussion, accepted the offer of going to Saudi Arabia. But he was concerned about my quality of life which I would gain by living there, which restricts women from doing a lot of things and making them do a lot things which might not interest them. Being an independent, modern, to-the-day woman that I am, not only my husband but my parents, friends all seemed to be concerned. There were unasked solutions like, why don’t you guys go to Dubai or why don’t you just stay back here or stay not more than a year etc etc. To be honest, I had no issues.

The major concerns were, wearing a burkha and I was elated when I wore it the first time.  Yes it sounded strange to many people but I had no problem in wearing a burkha over my clothes. Being an expat I am not forced to cover my head or face, so I was just happy. Burkha made me look equal and those prying eyes (which I am sure we all have faced in India) were only looking at my not-so-interesting face. And the major bonus is, I don’t have to iron my clothes anymore (being the lazy one).
I am not allowed to ride or drive and should always be in a company of a male, here it is my husband. That came as a disappoint to me as I was almost outside the house back in India but the idea of having my husband’s company to go outside was a relief, as he would have made me do all shopping by myself, watching T.V. Now more than me, I guess he is stuck!

So all and all, it has been a good few days here. A country which is feared back in India doesn’t scare me anymore. Yes, culturally it is different but I respect every culture every human being follows so the issues of adjusting in Saudi Arabia didn’t seem an issue at all. 

So, when I was having a jolly ride here, roaming in malls, shopping extensively (that’s what most people do here as entertainment quotient is zero for Indians) suddenly I was held back. Yes, there is a major problem in Saudi Arabia which is making me scared to be here anymore. I thought I can bend myself to anything but the fact is seeping in. And that is, MERS.

MERS knows as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is caused by Corona Virus. The same family of virus which causes common cold and flu like symptoms. So why should I fear this? As MERS was originally spread from camels (they are still hoping on camels, yet not being sure) this group of corona virus is not responding to any treatment. No vaccinations, no medications. But if the immune system is strong enough then a person can fight it back and ends with just being common cold. Well, if he/she has not strengthened his immune system over years then he/she is at the risk of having pneumonia, kidney failure and ultimately death. 

Recently, 169 people have died from MERS amongst 529 recorded cases in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many more might have caught MERS which ended up as common cold and hence not knocked the doors of a hospital. Now MERS have been transmitted to many other countries like USA, UK and hoping they would find a cure to this deadly virus whose mode of transmission is still a mystery. I see lot of people wearing masks and roaming around in malls, but as per reports even masks won’t stop MERS from spreading.

The maximum multiplication of MERS cases has happened in the health care units, which scares me even more as I am planning to work in hospitals in the near future.  Sitting at home all day would suck the soul out of me and work would always keep me locked up in a cell of fear.

Today even when I sneeze once, my heart rate accelerates and it screams out loud, go back to India, go back to India and hell, just go back to India. Yes, we don’t leave a country because of a disease. Be it chikungunya or H1N1, our country has seen some deadly diseases and I stayed back. But this is scary as this is not my country, not my doctors who have seen me since childhood, no family support except my husband being at 100% risk.

What to do? Can I go back? I can’t!!! Eating healthy food, building up the immune system seems to be the only solution. So guys before any deadly disease strikes our country be prepared. Eat healthy, exercise well, give up on junk, give up on smoking and alcohol and stay fit. We might not be smart enough to eradicate a disease but we can protect ourselves from it. Can’t we?

Thursday, May 15, 2014


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So there I was timid, scared, and to say less, I was only five years old. I did cry and a lot. But I had a huge responsibility on my weak shoulders and that too, lending it out for a person who was may be five times heavier than me. He was my world and I knew, I was his too. I saw him break, I saw his tears flood the house, I saw we were drowning slowly. So I held back my tears and held his hand. He was definitely perplexed by my new found attitude, my new found self in his young kid daughter. I had lost my mother but he had lost his love. His hope. His aspirations. His self built life. I saw him break everyday piece by piece but couldn't do anything much. What can a five year old do anyways. When I had accepted the bitter reality of my father's shattered dreams, one of my aunt's suggested only I could convince him to marry again, as they had all accepted defeat. After long hours of serious conversations like adults, that too for weeks and months, finally he agreed to marry again, quoting- I don't want a wife but mother for my child.

Hence, she entered in my life. My step mother.

The entire society and family had instilled weird images about step mother already in my father's heart and succeeded. And in mine too.

Things like, she won't feed you, she will take care of only her kids, haven't you seen what happens to the child when a step mother comes?, you will become your wife's slave and throw your daughter out of the house on her command, etc etc had become common to our ears. So my father tried hard to marry the right woman and well, my father has always won.

Thanks to god, she never did any of the ill things society told she would. Yes, initially there were lot of adjustment issues as she was an outsider to the father-daughter inseparable bond. But she never tried to break it down. She strengthened it. She would bathe me, feed me, tie my hair and would sit up all night when I was sick. I yelled at her often, may be insecurities or fear, but she never seemed to leave my side. She did use rough words at times which I took very seriously then, but now when I look back, I feel too silly. She got angry because she thought she had got promoted from being a step mother to a mother. After all the rebellious acts, I fell in love with her. I always called her "amma" which meant mother, as she was and is my mother.

It is so strange, how society can influence us. Wish they had not done that, we would have accepted her without any fear but we did only after realizing how good she is. Now, sitting in Jeddah, when I miss her I message her on whatsapp (I feel really proud that she takes extreme interest in learning the new age technologies and applications, which my father doesn't) and she replies "No yaar, things are fine". So finally, I have become that yaar. I have become that person who messages her the most. She still irks me, we still fight and argue, but the question is which mother and daughter doesn't? We love each other, we have accepted the relation which was artificially created so deep that we have forgotten the reality and have created our own.

Who says all step mothers are bad? Who says they are heartless and torturous?

They are like us. They also want love as much as we do. I do agree, we have seen some bad step mothers on TV but are all like them? Mine isn't. She might not have given me birth but she is responsible for the kind of person I am today. My father has made my husband my in-charge, but my silly mother still feels bad and angry if  I cry because of my husband and questions him, "How can you make MY DAUGHTER cry?" and at that moment I feel happy, proud and complete.

I didn't wish her on this mother's day. I have never wished her. For me every day that I live is dedicated to the woman who made my life better. She could have made it a living hell, instead she showered me with love, care, concern.

People often asked me, if I do miss my own mother and I answer proudly, I have two mothers and both love me a lot. Both are with me so I never got a chance to miss anybody.

At the end of the day, I only feel lucky in life to get the love of two mothers.

We have come a long way
laughter, fights and cry
But no matter what,
I say again, I love you amma
without you, there is no meaning to I.

I have written this post, solely to dedicate it to her and to tell her how much I love her.

Monday, May 5, 2014


It pulled me, dragged me and tangled me
It took me for granted
It strangled me often, with eyes open and smiling in
I fought back, I did hopelessly
Tears rolling down, repentance starting to stagger
The depression was over though, short while
Something else filled my blood now
Something so cold yet, boiling strong
Fencing an invisible cage
I swear, I did try to break out
Yesterday, that day and even today
It is about its aura, spreading around me
Not letting me go
Making me so slow
Weak, tired and timid
Now once again, I see hope
I don't know but somehow
Like I did yesterday, that day
But I know, I won't win, I lose
Cage is strong and I feel guilty
For taking shelter here, which had no exit
I was sad then, but so much alive
Today, I feel nothing
No fear, No anger, No sorrow
No happiness, either
I feel nothing apart from my hollow soul
I feel, no matter how hard I try
I have knocked the door of my death

Thursday, May 1, 2014


               I looked at her, brushing my eyes and again, I couldn't believe my eyes. For once I thought, my eyes had cataract. Blurred vision, ugly face, lifeless. I knew I had to check with an ophthalmologist for sure or for a second I thought, may be she looked that way. Thin hair braided resembling an old broom and face filled with pimple marks of years, some chicken pox scars scattered here and there on a plum structure with a tiny paunch, but what struck me most is her veiled face. It seemed as if life, years of joy, fun were masked by something strange and unknown. May be fear or responsibility or so called maturity. 

               I could not stop staring at her, for a very long time. I looked till I could sense what was wrong. I looked till I felt her pain. I looked till eyes gave away the secrets. It said, she was happy, content and had everything in life she ever desired for. I was not satisfied though. I needed to know more, to understand what went wrong amid the right. Her life looked independent yet stifling. For once, I could not breathe. This was not her. She was lean, with an athletic fit and perfect body. Her eyes gleamed with joy and spoke endlessly out of happiness. Thick dark open hair, had often reminded me of Kajol. Clean face and sweet smile; a girl of naughtiness and intelligence. Late night parties were fun, bunking was cool and outing with friends were best. Though she was fenced by her parents, she felt free. And now, the same girl has grown in to this lady, I can't even identify. Nobody to hold her tight, yet she doesn't let herself go. She has self created boundaries to believe living within is the best for her life. Late night outing makes her go weepy on the skipped sleep and dark circles. No more friends, married with kids. She is also married, wondering if being slim is of any use anymore. Trips are nauseating where as the fun quotient has decreased considerably. 

                    I pity her, but she is happy. I pray I don't want to be her but am I already her? I have no idea. Am I still that fun loving, partying person? Do I still care about my looks? Do I still feel happy when a handsome man turns his gaze towards me? Do I lecture my niece and nephew about life, its complications, boundaries, society etc? Deep down I know, I do. Why life is not loose like before? Why there are so many responsibilities which I take up on my own? I skip lunch with friends to wash clothes. I miss a good movie to sleep. I ignore the recent fashion trends to society. I forget myself to maturity. Yes, that is what I call. When I ask my husband, why outing is not fun like before, we conclude it calling ourselves mature. May be we are trying to convince ourselves. 

                We work, we eat, we sleep, we talk, we cry, we shop. But we don't scream, or jump or bunk work or skip sleep for a late night party or go to a pub or ride at maximum speed or accessorize with modern fashion statements or eat unhealthy junk food or wake up late or dance on a loud Tamil song in the utmost weird way. Who is actually going to stop me from doing all this now? Not my parents or husband. It is only me. If this is being mature and responsible, then yes, am soon going to be her. You may agree or disagree, say am right or totally wrong, justify why its right to go through this change and being responsible is the good thing but still when I look at her, I don't feel joy. I only see fences, all around and it is making me suffocate and I feel may be someday I will make my younger generation feel the same way about me, only to hear "mom, take a chill pill".