Wednesday, June 29, 2016

To eat or not to eat

By - Mridula Chaudhari

“You should not eat fruits after dinner”, said Uma. Uma is the most calorie conscious and a ‘know all lady’ in the kitty party. If Uma has said this, it certainly holds lot of ‘weight’. Other ladies would listen to her health tips with rapt attention. Her tips would be the highlight of the party. Each one would crave to sit next to Uma, lest she missed the tip. Such weighty issues are very sensitive these days.

If you google health tips, you will find tips for losing weight, tips for heart, mind and body, natural health tips, Ayurvedic health tips, health tips for healthy skin and many more. I am talking about only the first page and there are pages after pages. Given the fact that health tips are literally available on tip of our fingers, are we really healthy human beings? “Wish reading these tips could make me healthy”, retorted a friend. But alas, that doesn’t happen.

 Uma, in one of our meetings, told me to have turmeric powder with hot water first thing in the morning. I have been following the ritual since the last one month now, in the hope of losing some extra pounds. In her next meeting she recommended a green smoothie, first thing in the morning to detoxify and lose weight. Now this is confusing, isn’t it? The next time she may recommend hot water with lemon and honey, only to add in the next meeting that consuming honey with hot water is not at all healthy way of living. 

Just when I decided to have protein rich food, she came along and said, “No no, have salads, too much protein will ruin your weight loss program”. When I started salads, again she changed her mind after few months, saying, “Too much raw ruins your digestive system. You should cook veggies and eat”.

Just when I was getting used to the slimy taste of oats I was told, “Whatever our granny ate was the best – upma poha included”. The canned food or the ready to use flakes fall in the fast food category, is the new mantra. While a glass of fruit juice was considered healthy way of consuming fruits, along came the diktat, eat fruits as it is no juices or shakes please.

While cow milk was supposed to be the best drink for children, the new fashion statement is soya milk - just as paneer is replaced by tofu. What are the health experts eating? Somebody said ‘words’.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mrs Pinkcheeks: Official Visit

Mrs Pinkcheeks: Official Visit: By - Mridula Chaudhari Come summer holidays and it’s time for the married ghar ki beti to come and stay with her parents. It’s no...

Official Visit

By - Mridula Chaudhari

Come summer holidays and it’s time for the married ghar ki beti to come and stay with her parents. It’s no more a common concern that the ghar ki bahu stays with her mom all the year round than with her saas. Saas is also comfortable that way since she has all the time to go and play her weekly rummy with her quintessential rummy friends.

So when Shweta, my friend’s daughter, decided to visit her mom on her official visit, it was my duty to invite her for dinner. Needless to say Shweta was not alone. She was accompanied by her two daughters. I started planning the menu. Would she like batata wadas? “No aunty, no potatoes for me. They are too gaseous”, pat came the reply. Being hot, dahi wada was a good option, “Oh no,” Shweta blurted out, “Payal (her daughter) is not allowed to have curd in any form”. I was rather worried about the process of finalizing the menu now. I couldn’t give up though. 

I sat watching the cookery shows and browsing cook books so that I could finally froth up a good lip smacking menu for my friend’s ladli beti and make her ‘official visit’ a memorable one.

After lot of deliberations, browsing, consultations and sleepless nights I could come up with an amicable menu to please Shweta. In the process I ran in all corners of the town finding the right ingredients. All this was to please Shweta no doubt but more for Shweta’s mom who is my next door neighbor. If I don’t keep her in good humour, she will not allow my keys to be kept in her house for my guests to pick up. My friend will not even accept my parcels that I order online and for many other unmentionable reasons.

Finally the day arrived and my friend with her daughter Shweta with her two daughters Payal and Piyu in tow came over. My house was cleaned impeccably and decorated with best artifacts removed from the attic to decorate the drawing room. Once my guests were inside and I was about to close the door, I found a Doberman coming in as if it was his right to be there. “Tommy”, “I never go out anywhere for dinner without Tommy”, perked Shweta cajoling Tommy as if they had met each other after ages. “Oh, he is so sweet,” as if I had any choice except to say that.

Tommy made his presence felt wagging his tail and walking all over the place as if that was the most natural thing for him to do in this house. I ran after his tail picking up my artifacts, lest that was the last time they decorated my house. While I was busy doing that, Payal and Piyu ran helter skelter and decided to play hide and seek until the ‘older ladies’ finished their exchanges.

I could feel my whole body drenched in sweat, needless to say that the scorching summer was not the only reason for that. Until now Tommy was all over the place and had now decided to perch himself on the sofa. My heart sank further. The girls wanted toys to play with and Shweta was continuously blabbering away with her tales.

I served dinner, wishing this nightmare to get over once and for all. Girls came pouncing to the dining table at first. They surveyed the menu meticulously and then complained to their mom that they were not hungry. Needless to say, Tommy was sniffing in the background.

Until now my friend had taken pity on me and was scolding the girls. Shweta too got upset and decided to start her dinner at once.

That evening made a dilatable impression on my mind. When my guests left, I simply crashed on the sofa and heaved a sigh of relief. It was a horrific experience. I wanted to please my friend but at what cost?

I am now scared of ensuing summer and summer holidays and Shweta’s Official Visit!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Life is meant for abundance

By - Mridula Chaudhari

Dictionary meaning of abundance is - a very large quantity of something. In life we can bring any kind of abundance and that depends on our mindset. Positive mind will bring abundant positive thoughts. If I am wearing a fresh perfume, I will feel good the whole day. My colleague too, on getting a whiff of that will certainly feel the brightness around. The particular scent may bring some memories to the mind too. Even the thought may help the mind to hum a song that will make the day for me and for my colleague.

Abundance is everywhere around us. It can start right in the morning and last until bedtime. Every day need not be a mundane routine of getting up and going to office and making a boring ritual of it. We can bring zing to every morning before leaving for work by making each day different. The day could start with a walk in the nearby garden while sniffing fresh air, it could be with a 10 minute pranayam, or listening to some music that we really like and never get time to listen. On other days it could be playing with the kids or with the pet or even making something different for breakfast. Breaking the monotony of getting up – getting ready – leaving for office can be worked out.

Evenings too can be made out to be better by sometimes stopping by the orphanage or an old age home and contributing to the inmates with whatever little we can. This gesture of kindness can bring joy, unimaginable to most of us. Visiting a nearby temple brings inner calm that we always try to find but never achieve. Having a chat with an old relative, calling up an old uncle or aunt or even a friend you may not have spoken for a long time can be very soothing.

There are innumerable treasures around us, but we don’t have the time to experience them. Flowers, birds, trees, people are the best treasures that we have been bestowed with. Financial and monetary wealth is not the only treasure but a lot beyond. If we really want to see the best around us, we need to find everything that brings gratitude in us. Practicing this simple way of ‘thanking’ can do wonders.  

Allow your heart to rule you, at least once in a day. I have a craving for that chocolate, I have been resisting since long only because it may add to my already overweight body. But no, today I have decided that I am going to buy it and eat it all by myself. The satisfaction that I derived out of eating that chocolate is immense.

Let’s ask ourselves today – “Am I living an abundant life?” If I am at peace with myself and my family, have strength of mind and purpose, do not have emptiness, do not hold grudges, am self motivated and have found meaning, then certainly I am living an abundant life. Are you??

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Read it….enjoy it….laugh with it!!!

By Mridula Chaudhari

When my husband proposed to me, I readily said, 'I do'! What drew me to him that time was his love for music, specially the old Hindi film songs. When I learnt about his passion for Hindi film songs, I conveniently concurred that he was an overtly romantic fella. I was not so much impressed by his qualifications (he is a Chartered Accountant) as I was smitten by his passion for music. Romance was very much in the air, I considered him to be a music fanatic.

I could visualize myself running around trees like Asha Parekh with Shammi Kapoor following her. But alas! My hubby darling was too preoccupied with his ‘numbers’ than fishing for my dupatta in the woods. His office was utterly important and I kept wondering where all that love for romantic songs of 60s and 70s disappeared.

We both got engrossed with our careers and home until one day when his love for music resurfaced. He would begin his day with vividh bharati and the music system would blare at the top of its voice in our house, so much so that if I had to talk to him I had to lower the volume considerably. As I would approach the remote to lower the volume, he would frisk it from my hands and signal me to talk later. Mohammad Rafi was too important a person in his life than his own wife.

This music could be heard by the neighbours as well. While leaving for office, one of the sugar coated neighbor would come up to him and say, “You have such a lovely collection of songs. I love listening to them early in the morning”. Next day the volume of the music player was even higher for our neighbor’s convenience.

By now even the children had forgotten the music of their own generation. Asha, Rafi and Lata were their Sunidhi Chuahan, Sonu Nigam and Shrya Ghoshal. Their weekend morning sleep was very musical. They got up humming ‘Dill deke dekho, dil deke dekho, dil deke dekho ji’ or ‘Ankhon me kya ji…’ very early in the morning.

One day in pursuit of cleaning the house, I chucked some papers which I thought were trash. Within an hour hubby darling came to me with a concerned look, “I had kept some important papers on the bed and I can’t find them there. Have you noticed them anywhere? They were very important”. I panicked. I thought I had chucked some of his really important office stuff. “I am sorry darling,” I apologized earnestly, “I thought they were not of any use hence I threw them in the dustbin some time back. But don’t worry I chucked them in the bin meant for dry trash so I think I will be able to retrieve them. What was so important about them?” I enquired. “I had written the name of music director of the song, ‘Yeh dil diwana hai’.

Thinking that my husband is really ‘diwana’, I simply walked away from there. I did not care to find out whether he retrieved the pages from the bin or not.

If he is so passionate about his music, I thought I should be equally passionate about something and that was reading. I decided to read at least for two hours every evening. I bought few books of my interest. One evening my dear husband also came around with a management book and sat next to me, reading. Thinking that finally I was able to pursue my own passion as well, I opened the first chapter of my book. Just then he said, “Let’s listen to OP Nayyar while reading. It will be so much fun”. When he said this he was so excited that I did not have the heart to disappoint him. The song began, ‘Jata kahan hai diwane, sab kuch yahan hai sanam…..’ Needless to say,  I could not read the chapter beyond the first word.

Now I don’t read any books when he is around. I simply enjoy the music. Our wi-fi connection is permanently downgraded due to continuous downloads from or some similar website, the house is cluttered with CDs lying all around and he has just now messaged us on our family group, “Can Somebody order a 320GB HDD for me urgently on Amazon?” Amazing, is he not?

Long live his love for Indian film music!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Art of making friends beyond 25!!

By -  Mridula Chaudhari

The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.

                                                                         Hubert H. Humphrey

In this world of instagram, facebook, twitter and what not, I was completely foxed when I read the headline, ‘You are unlikely to make friends beyond 25’. How’s that possible? I cannot forget the oft repeated, ‘Man is a social animal’ verbatim in school. With shrinking families and DINKs (Double Income No Kids) doing the rounds, how can we not make friends even if we reach 80 years? After all we need somebody to talk to yaar! How can we just sit glued to our laptops and cellphones and keep hitting the like button and send smilies to every post on Facebook and WhatsApp? No doubt, to do that is our moral responsibility (?), but what about the urge to share happiness and grief by word of mouth and one’s body language doing the talking when we really have to fish for right words?

The article quoted that the scientists after a thorough study inferred that men and women continue to make more friends until the age of 25 and after that the number starts falling, falling and falling more. The article stated, “researchers found that an average 25-year-old man contacts around 19 different people per month, while 25 year old women contacted an average of 17.5 people. By the age of 39, however, men and women were calling an average of 12 and 15 people per month respectively”.

I am quite certain that the scientists probably forgot to take sample survey of Indian people. We Indians just cannot live without making friends, at any age. Be it a stranger on the road or a new family just shifted in the neighborhood. “Aap naye aye ho kya?” would be the opening sentence. “Oh, kahan se aye? Kaise kya aye? Yeh ghar aapko kisne suggest kiya? Aapke kitne bacche hai”, volley of questions would not stop even for the neighbor to offer an answer. The one way traffic stops only if Mrs. Sharma’s cell phone rings, and the conversation stops with, “Let’s meet when you are settled”.

Mrs. Sharma then makes a mental note of visiting her new neighbor in the forthcoming week. Soon the new neighbor is added to one of the many kitties that Mrs. Sharma attends apart from being her facebook friend, WhatsApp friend and is socially active in reality and virtually too. Needless to say that Mrs. Sharma’s new neighbor is left with little choice.

Who said you are unlikely to make friends beyond 25?

Since the past one year, I was requesting my hubby darling to take me on a tour of maybe ‘Exotic America’ or ‘Mesmerizing Australia’ or some other such location. He kept searching the internet for ‘lowest fares’ of air bookings and hotel bookings. I declared, “No, no I don’t want to go alone with you. Let’s go with one of the travelling group tours. That way we will have lot of people to talk to and make new friends”. He, for a change, loved my idea. We went on a tour and believe me we made at least 10 more friends in 8 days. That is some statistics for the scientists to ponder on!!

And somebody said you are unlikely to make friends beyond 25!

My friend’s mother-in-law, now 80 years old, has several groups that are still active. Mondays she goes to sing bhajans, Tuesdays are meant for playing carom, Wednesdays she attends a book reading club, Thursdays are meant for playing cards, Fridays her friends come over for a chit chat and Saturdays are reserved for social work. With new ladies joining the groups, she ends up making new friends even at the tender age of 80.

And then how can I even agree to the headline:
Turning 25? You are unlikely to make new friends now!!!