On discovering the joys of Skype

It has been over a week since the OH left on an official tour to Delhi. Yes, again! The Delhi office of his firm is extremely short-staffed at the moment, and the OH is having to face the brunt, knowing the ins and outs of the transactions going on there thoroughly. The Delhi weather has been, infamously, bad and this trying period has taken a toll on the OH. Indirectly, it has taken a toll on me, too. The last month or so hasn’t been easy on me, with the OH only popping in home for a day or two before rushing off to Delhi again. Amma has been staying over at my place and, while that has helped, it hasn’t stopped me from feeling an ache in my heart at missing the OH.

‘I feel like an army man’s wife these days,’ I keep telling the OH. I have been unable to share the little things of my life with him, the way I used to. I have been unable to pull him to the balcony after his return from work, and ask him to just stay put with me in the refreshingly cool breeze. I have been unable to surprise him with a tub full of hot water, with salt added to it, for his feet after a tiring day at work. I miss pestering him to rub my feet on a cold morning. I miss the little treats – sometimes a strand of jasmine, sometimes a chocolate, sometimes a packet of bajjis – that he used to bring home for me every now and then. I miss having him to comment on a dish that I have made, which he would do in the most diplomatic of ways.

We used to talk on the phone whenever he found the time, or whenever we simply needed to hear each other, till last weekend. It took a friend’s innocent question – ‘Do you guys Skype when he is on tour?’ – to realise that we have never done that! I don’t know why we never really got into it, in spite of Skype being installed on both our phones! Last Saturday, we decided to try out Skype – the saviour of long-distance relationships, as we have heard many of our friends put it. And, it turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Like kids over-excited at finding something new, the OH and I explored Skype conversations throughout the day. And the next day, too. Then, once a day, at dinner time usually, after that. He took me on a walking tour of his guesthouse in Delhi, and showed him the inside of the refrigerator there, which was pathetically empty. I made my afternoon cup of masala chai with him online once, and shared it with him virtually. He showed me the children in his guesthouse surroundings playing football in the rain on the weekend, thoroughly enjoying a rare shower in the city, a respite from the heat. I showed him how the skies in Bangalore, too, were darkening and the clouds were getting ready to pour. He showed me the kadhi chawal he had for lunch one day, and I showed him the saree I was planning to wear to a poonal ceremony in our family the next day. He made me carry my phone to the balcony, so that he could see the plants in our little home garden. He was overjoyed to see the basil he had replanted, before he left, blossoming. I was intrigued to see the sticks of meswak that he had picked up, out of curiosity, on one of his bored-weekend-street-walks in Delhi. He asked for my opinion about the bed sheet that he bought there, and I asked for his, on an amateur pencil sketch of mine. He commented that I had put on weight while he has been away, and I said that he looked darker but fresher without my constant badgering.

Since that day, Skype has become a part of our daily lives, and it has brought some much-needed cheer to both of us. We have sung songs for each other, poked fun at Amma sleeping with her blanket drawn over her face, shown each other our miss-you and happy-to-talk-to-you expressions, and what we have been having for dinner. It hasn’t been able to recreate the warmth of the OH’s hug or his smile, but it has come quite close. The past few days of Skype conversations have been reminiscent of our long-distance courtship days, if they could be called that at all, when he was in Bangalore and I was in Ahmedabad. It has been like falling in love with each other, all over again.

Thank you, Skype. You have changed a pair of stressed-out married adults into gushing teenagers, if only for a brief while every day.

The one in which we introspect about the year gone by…

I came across this tag on RM’s blog, and thought it was a good way to introspect on the year gone by. I started thinking about what my answers to the first few questions would be, and soon enough, I was in full-on introspection mode. This tag made me reflect on all that was in 2012, all that continues and all that died out with the 31st of December, all the could-have-beens and must’nt-have-beens.

Here goes, the tag:

What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

~Went to Kashmir!

~Worked from home

~Visited a vineyard

~Visited the village where my MIL was born and brought up

~ Started reading non-fiction, and realised that not all of it is boring

~Went on a solo trip to my parents’ house in Ahmedabad

~ Explored Ahmedabad like a tourist

~Went on a Bangalore exploration trail

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next?

I didn’t make any proper new year’s resolutions for 2012 as such, but I did have a ‘word for the year’ in mind, which was ‘balance’. For 2012, I wanted to achieve a balance in my work-home life, a balance between home and social life, a balance in reading between different genres, a balance between health and fitness and being a foodie. I think I have succeeded in being true to the word for most of 2012.

This year, too, I have a word for the year – ‘Better’. I want to get better in different aspects of life – health, home, work, reading, travelling, among others. All the activities that I plan to do in 2013 will be directed towards this end.

What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Honestly speaking, I don’t remember any particular dates from 2012. I do remember a lot of moments from 2012, though – like the one when I caught my first glimpse of Kashmir and fell in love with it, the one when I realised that my parental home in Ahmedabad will no longer be home, the one when we received my parents at the Bangalore airport not as visitors but as citizens of Bangalore, moments between the OH and me, moments at work, and so on.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Losing 10 kg. of weight the healthy way, without giving up on being a foodie and without going on a crash diet. It was a tall task, but I am happy I did it! 🙂

The challenge now is to keep off that weight! 🙂

What was your biggest failure?

Not being able to regulate my book buying better. That said, I must say it is much better than before. 🙂

Did you suffer illness?

Touchwood, there were no major illnesses. Just a few coughs and colds, body aches and tummy upsets.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

That of some of our relatives and the society in general.

Where did most of your money go?

In travelling and books.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

About the Kashmir trip (of course!).

What song will always remind you of 2012?

Several songs, in fact. Like Pyaarge aagbittayithe, kateya karoon (the first song I heard in 2012), raabta, among others. Oh, and, of course, Oppa gangam style – the tune got stuck in my head a lot in 2012.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

I think I am happier. I was in, pretty much, a chaos this time last year, with the job change and all. 🙂

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Brushing up on my general knowledge. Writing.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worry.

Did you fall in love in 2012?

Yes, many times over, with the parents, the OH, the world around me.

What/Who was your greatest musical discovery?

I don’t think I had any musical discoveries as such. In fact, I listened to very little music in 2012, but I did manage to reaffirm my love for Bollywood music.

What did you want and get?

Better fitness levels. An improvement in my reading. Purposeful travelling. Work-life balance. (A big touchwood to all of that!)

What did you want and not get?

A better home garden.

What was your favourite film?

I didn’t watch many movies in 2012. Out of the few I watched, I liked Kahaani and Vicky Donor, in spite of the dramatic ending of the latter movie.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 30 in 2012! 🙂 The OH got me a laptop-cum-writing desk (!) for my birthday, getting the cue from my lust list. 🙂 He took me to dinner at Toscano’s in UB City, which was lovely, as always.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A child.

What kept you sane?

The OH, Amma, my manager (by allowing me to work from home for most part of the year), books, music and travelling

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Things in life do not always turn out the way you want to, but sometimes, the way they turn out to be is for the best.

Which new place/s did you visit in 2012?

Kashmir! And Palakkad.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Ae zindagi, gale laga le. Humne bhi tere har ik gum ko gale se lagaya hai, hai na?

Tag some bloggers you would love to read these answers from.

Hmmm… not tagging anyone in particular. If you would like to answer these questions on your blog, please go ahead and do it! 🙂

Random thoughts, in no particular order

~Bangalore is beautiful today, with its Ooty-like climate, thanks to the cyclone-like atmosphere that has been created here. There is a coolness in the air, and it has been steadily drizzling since morning; the day is crisp and clear. It is just the kind of day that puts me in the mood to write something, but sadly, the words do not seem to flow. For quite some time now, I feel blocked in some way. Try as I might, I am just not able to set my mind free and let it reach unexplored depths. But write I want to, so I think I will attempt free flow – a penning down of thoughts as they flow, without a definitive end in mind. It is supposed to be good for releasing the creative juices, so they say.

~So. My work for the day is done, and I sip on my cup of masala chai as I type this out, contemplating cabbage and onion pakoras, refraining just because I haven’t been able to go on my routine evening walk today, and I don’t want to pile up the calories any more than they already have.

I am quite enjoying my walks, actually, in a nearby park. I ‘discovered’ this park recently, and it has been a fun experience going there every day post work, sometimes carrying a book or my camera with me. The people there have begun to recognise me, and often smile and nod as we pass by on our respective walks. The routine feels good, and I hope the exercise is doing my body good.

~That said, I have a feeling my exercise and the sort of diet regimen I have been trying to follow of late is going to go for a toss once the parents are here. Oh, yes, they will be in Bangalore the day after tomorrow. We have chosen a house for them on rent, where they will be staying till we finalise on a property that they can buy. This house is a five-minute walk from my place, and I am so sure Amma is going to ensure that her daughter and son-in-law are fed hot meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To tell the truth, I am looking forward to being pampered, being taken care of, cossetted and cuddled. It still hurts, though, to understand that we’ll be giving up our family house in Ahmedabad for ever, in just two days’ time, and that it will never be the same going back to the city again.

~The fact that the OH has ‘discovered’ a nice place for bajjis, bondas and pakoras on his way home from work, and tempts me with a little parcel of some fried goodies or the other straight off the stove at least three days in a week is not doing much good to my diet and exercise regimen either. I have been trying to resist, but end up hogging at least a couple of the treats – which, I must admit, are lovely – each day they are sneaked into the house.

~Speaking of food, I have been in the mood to experiment with flavours, cooking things at home I find challenging, and which I haven’t tried out before. I am quite enjoying the process, and I will write down recipes soon. Now that winter is here, I suspect soups will be making a regular appearance on our table. I am all up for trying out different types of soups at home, especially the lemon-coriander soup that I so love slurping at restaurants. If you haven’t guessed already, I am presently enamoured with the idea of the goodness of home-cooked simple food, using fresh produce, and harnessing the best qualities of the different ingredients we use.

~The pink flowers are blooming all over Bangalore these days, an indication that winter has arrived. I love these flowers, and I love this primitive way of marking seasons. These flowers have been adding colour to my mornings, lighting up roads and spreading smiles.

~I find it a tad difficult to believe that December is already here, and that this year is soon going to come to a close! Where did the time fly? I haven’t realised how this year just sped by at all. By the by, the season for Christmas is here – one of my favourite festivals. I love looking at shops and streets and churches all lit up in preparation for the festival, thinking of Santa Claus and gifts and goodwill and cheer. The Christmas cheer usually hits me in the beginning of December, and I feel happy all month long. It hasn’t this year, though, and I am hoping it will soon. I really am. Maybe I should do things, visit places, that will put me in the Christmas spirit.

~By the by, I saw on the news that it has been snowing in Kashmir. I was enchanted by the pictures of Kashmir in news bulletins – it looks so very beautiful! It is amazing to see some of the places that we visited donning a pristine white garb. It looks like something out of a fantasy film now! Playing in the snow has always been a dream of mine, and I would love to be in Kashmir now, building snowmen, throwing snowballs at the OH, and just generally rollicking in the snow.

~Of late, I have been fascinated by all the lovely spots that the world has to offer, all over again. Thanks to Raimund Gregorius, the central character in the last book that I read, Night Train To Lisbon, I am taken by the idea of nomadic travel, being a wanderer, travelling from one place to another as the fancy takes you, without a schedule and nothing to hold you back. Sadly, not everyone is cut out for that kind of life, as enticing as it sounds. I shall try to do the best to be a traveller, in the way I can. I have been toying with the idea of hanging a large map of the world in my drawing room. Apart from being a quirky piece of decor that is very much me, it would remind me to never give up on travel.

~I have been listening to some Gregorian chants since afternoon, and have been utterly fascinated by them. They have enchanted me, in spite of the fact that I cannot understand one word of them. They just sound magical, and transport me to another era. I can only imagine how wonderful an experience it would be to listen to these chants live, in person, in a beautiful, old church. This lady got me all intrigued about Gregorian chants, while we were discussing Night Train To Lisbon, and I had to immediately go and look them up on YouTube. I am marvelling at the power of the internet, which brings such music from far, far away to my home in India.

~I have been in the mood to read deep stuff that is thought-provoking, and have found the perfect book in Joanne Harris’ Blackberry Wine. Just the right mix of magic and reality, it has been keeping me company since last week, and you can find me immersed in it whenever I can steal away a few minutes during the day. I am almost done with the book, and am already wondering what I will read next. Nothing seems to appeal.

~The OH and I went to the wedding reception of one of my colleagues last weekend. It was a lovely affair, and it was great to see the couple lost in each other, happy to just be together. Such sights sooth the mind, and relax me from within. The food was wonderful, too. It feels good to know that I have been building relationships at my new workplace.

~It is soon going to be a year since I joined this workplace, and the job is not really new any more. I can safely say I am glad I took up this offer. This is a smaller, closer set-up than the huge corporate I used to work with earlier, and is more satisfying and charming for that very reason. The office is not swanky, there are not many big parties and events happening here, but I find myself surrounded by people who are friendly, willing to talk from their hearts, and who are caring and ready to help out. I find the management quite approachable, and willing to understand and work around employee issues, rather than telling the staff to keep work and personal problems separate, something that used to happen all too often at my ex-office. Moreover, this job has made me challenge myself – as a person, as a professional, and made me think of and do things I never would have thought myself capable of doing. This proves that change might be scary, but it is not always bad.

Bringing a bit of the outdoors home

Bangalore is full of these drooping white flowers now, bunches and bunches and bunches of them across the city. Going by the scientific name of Millingtonia and popularly called the Indian cork tree or Akasha Mallige, these flowers are not much to look at when on the tree. If you aren’t deceived by their appearance and get close to one of these trees, you get to see how beautiful the individual flowers actually are. You also get rewarded with a whiff of their lovely, heady fragrance. As if they wish to deceive onlookers and reveal their secret only to those who care to look beyond their exterior.

The scent has always bewitched me, a haunting mix of spicy and sweet – not too sweet as to be sickly, nor too spicy as to be pungent enough to burn your nostrils. I find it an exquisite fragrance, the kind that comes in nice, happy, fluffy, romantic dreams.

I happen to have one of these trees right outside my home, and it graciously drops pristine, gorgeous white flowers all over the road, sometimes right into the waiting, outstretched arms of passersby. It is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, and reminds me of Bahaaron phool barsao, mera mehboob aaya hai. My imagination acts up whenever I see these flowers dropping to the ground, and I can almost see an excited Vyjanthimala collecting bunches of them to wear in her hair, the handsome Rajendra Kumar standing by to gaze adoringly at her beauty.

I am tempted to spread out my dupatta and stand underneath the tree to gather as many blossoms as I can before they touch the ground, but I resist.

I often collect little bunches of these white beauties and bring them home, to keep in little jars and teacups. Or I just keep them on my work desk. Like today. I love bringing a little bit of the outdoors home that way, and each time I do so, I also bring home a bit of magic, a bit of sparkle, a bit of sunshine. My drab work desk perks up, and waves of the spicy-sweet scent waft across the home with every gust of wind that manages to get in. And then, I do not mind the nasty stinker mails, the looming deadlines and the achieving or not achieving of my KRAs.

Nature, as always, rubs off on me, soothing me from within, giving me the impetus to go on in spite of the odds.

Sab kuch seekha humne, na seekhi hoshiyaari….

I do not understand people

….who ask me to get freebies from the people I interview as part of my job.

….who think I am stupid because I do not bill my company for each and every phone call I make, in the name of work.

….who think the OH is dumb as he insists on ticking off the personal calls he has made, from the itemised bill that he receives for his company-allotted phone, and asks his office to deduct that amount from his salary.

….who think I am a fool to give my full time to work even when I am working from home. I can laze around a bit, meet friends, eat, sleep and make merry for at least half the time, right?

….who think I am an idiot to ask my maid to skip mopping the floor for a day, as she is sick.

….when a realistic deadline at work not met hurts me internally, not just because of the possibility that I might be sacked, but because I have not achieved it in the time that I should have.

According to these people, I do not know how to take advantage of my position in life.

How does that make me different from the ‘babus’, whom they do not take even a second to blame for demanding outright that their palms be greased? He is also ‘taking advantage of his position in life’, right?

I get weird looks when I tell them that I do not want such things on my conscience. ‘Are you Raja Harishchandra?’ – pat comes the next question. ‘Life will teach you to change, to do certain things for your benefit,’ I am told.

I give up explaining.

Sach hai duniyawalon ke hum hain anari…. Sigh!

PS: This is more a rant out of frustration than an attempt to garner praise for myself and the OH for being extra-sincere and extra-honest. I hope it is taken in the same way.

Of working mothers and daycare centres

This was in the news about 2 years ago, but it still remains fresh in my mind. The images of Italian Member of the Europen Parliament, Licia Ronzulli, taking her one-month old child with her to work in a sling, the baby sleeping away as her mother helped take major decisions for the country, and Ronzulli planting a few kisses on the baby’s forehead in the midst of work are imprinted in my mind still. Probably because of the beautiful statement that Ronzulli makes – that both her work and her children are of equal importance to her, and that she does not want to neglect one for the other. More importantly, she seems to be making a statement that ‘It is not necessary that you “sacrifice” your career for your children, however much you like it.’

As much as I love this move by Ronzulli, I cannot help but wonder: Does everyone have that kind of flexibility? Can everyone take their children to work? Can everyone achieve this beautiful balance between being a career woman and a mother? Will all organisations permit women to bring their children along, even if it gives them immense peace of mind to have them there? I am not so sure if all Indian firms would permit that. On second thoughts, is it really possible to take your kid to work every day, once he/she grows up a bit and starts walking and talking? Would one really be able to work in that scenario?

My mother was always a stay-at-home mother, and I had her all to myself after school hours, but I have seen my aunt juggle housework, a job and kids. So, I can say that I have seen the woes of working mothers first-hand. They are neither here nor there. Sometimes, situations call for a woman to be at home with her children, while she is required to do an important presentation at work. Sometimes, a delay at work causes a woman to be so held up that she is unable to rush to her sick child immediately, though her mind is already there. Inevitably, it comes to the woman having to make a choice: Career or kids?

I have often thought of why this is so. Why don’t Indian firms realise that they are losing out on an amazing talent pool of brilliant women, just because they are not able to juggle work and taking care of their children? More importantly, why do most Indian corporations behave like they own you, all your time 24/7, once they have hired you? Why do most firms look down on women who need to rush home at the dot of five or six, to be with their families – irrespective of whether they have children or not? Why is that so wrong, if she is through with her work?

I know that some corporations do offer facilities to their women employees who are mothers – like creches and flexible timings.  To be fair, some organisations do offer facilities like cab services and flexi timings even to women who are not mothers. The point is – most organisations do not.

I have seen so many women working with such a guilty conscience at having to leave their children at a daycare centre, and when the kids fall sick or something happens to them, the mother blames herself, and that, I think, is a very sad situation. Why work in that case?, a lot of people ask. Why can’t the woman just be at home and take care of her children? That, I would say, is a highly personal choice to make. A lot of women need to work for the money, a lot of women work for the peace of mind that work offers them, and many work because they are just not cut out to be at home the entire day. My point is, a woman shouldn’t have to pay so heavily for this choice that she makes.

Daycare centres – now, they are an entirely different story. So many daycare centres have become just industries, with no real love and affection given to the children. Many daycare centres are just places where children have to spend time till their parents return home from work and pick them up.

In the midst of hearing increasingly horrendous stories about the plight of working women and their children and daycare centres, I read this article on Women’s Web. It was like a breath of fresh air into a room that smells stale. I loved the concept of an on-site daycare centre, and think it is a fantastic idea. I only wonder why no one ever thought of it in India before!

I sincerely hope there are more organisations like Amelio in times to come, and that there is some respite for working mothers soon.

PS: If this post seems like a jumble of thoughts, that is because it is. Too many thoughts rushing through your head when you write about a topic that is very dear to you causes such an incoherent and jumbled up post. I hope I have made my views clear, though.

And just like that…

…. a journey in my life comes to an end today. So far, today has been feeling like any other ordinary day, but deep inside, I know it is not. Life is going to be different tomorrow onwards. It’s just that the fact hasn’t completely sunk in yet.

OK, before I confuse you people any further, here is what I am talking about. I, along with most members of our Bangalore office, lost my job last week. The reason? Restructuring, we were told. It hurt, we winced internally, but sat through the seemingly endless meetings and listened to bombshells being thrown at us. I had been anticipating this to some extent, but hadn’t been expecting it to happen so soon. We were offered severance packages, and asked to… move on, in polite words, in a week’s time. My heart broke when I saw the plight of some of my male colleagues, one of whom has just had a baby! Sigh! The harsh realities of corporate life!

This whole incident largely put a bitter twinge in my heart. And it definitely put me in a better light of who’s how. I got to hear a lot of BS, but also got to see a lot of sweetness from totally unexpected corners. I became a writhing mass of emotions, laughing and tearing up at the slightest provocations. The OH, being the OH, asked me to just chill out and not think too much, but that didn’t stop me from thinking. 🙂

In the midst of all the gloom, however, there has been a silver lining. It is a very faint lining, but is there nonetheless. And that is: Some of us were offered positions with a client of ours, in the same or in a slightly higher capacity. I took up the offer. The role sounded exciting, and the organization sounded like a dream company to me. There are a lot of challenges to be faced, though – the first and foremost one being that I will now need to travel around 50 km. every day to and from my new office. I don’t know how the new workplace is going to be, or if I will get adjusted to the staff already existing there, but from what I saw and heard, I felt it was a people-friendly company. I felt I will be able to balance my life and career there, something which was not possible in this organization. This organization has given me a lot, taught me a lot, but has also taken away a lot. For every smile it has given me, it has also caused a furrow on my forehead. So, I am sad, but also happy to be moving on. However, I don’t think I would have quit, if I were not asked to. I know I am contradicting myself, but that’s how it is. This job and organization were well-suited to the OH and me in a lot of ways. I have thought of quitting often, in fits of frustration, but have never actually done it. Always, I have thought of the pros and the cons and decided against it.

So, that is that. Today is my last day in this organization. This was the first job I took up after shifting to Bangalore, so it will always be special. I join my new office from Monday onwards. I stand on the brink of a change now, with no idea of how things are going to turn out for me here on out, with a lot of mixed feelings traversing inside me. It’s a kind of frustrated-angry-hopeful-happy-sad mix, that I don’t really know how to describe. I don’t know if I have made a good decision yet. Time will tell, I guess…

Do wish me good luck and send your prayers my way, as I embark on a new journey, will ya? I need all your good vibes, hugs and cheer.

TC2: A tiny pet

This is my entry for the week’s Thursday Challenge. The theme this week is PETS (including Dogs, Cats, Birds, Fish, etc.).

I am a big-time dog lover, and would love to have a dog at home. Unfortunately, with both the better half and me being out almost the whole day and our frequent travelling, it’s not a possibility. 😦 At least, not now. Dogs at friends’ places are the closest we can get now to real pets. As was this cute, little tortoise. He belonged to one of our ex-colleagues, and stayed in our office aquarium. He would fit into the palm of our hands, and all of us had a wonderful time playing with him. Now, along with the colleague, he has also left our organisation. 😦 Sweet memories of the little fellow came flooding when I was searching for a suitable pic for the Challenge.

What’s your ‘pet’ pic this week? I would love to see!

Pic courtesy: One of my colleagues.

Nature magic

It’s amazing – the effect that nature has on me. I had been feeling too keyed up to write anything at all for the last two days. A brief sojourn that I had with nature today changed all of that. What I had been needing all along, without me even realising it, was just a few moments away from routine life, away from the concrete jungle. I had been needing to notice the little things in life which, somewhere down the line, I had stopped doing.

Today, just like that, I decided to take a short break off work in the afternoon and go up to our terrace garden. Viewed from the terrace, hidden in the midst of shady trees, the busy road that we use to commute to office looked beautiful. I saw how beautiful the city I stay in looks – really, really noticed it after a long time. There were spurts of purple, red, pink, yellow and green here and there. I saw a mango tree laden down with fruit. I saw a swarm of dragonflies hovering over a tree covered with red and white flowers. I saw an eagle circling above, majestic and graceful. The grass that was beginning to turn brown in the summer heat has now turned a beautiful shade of green, now that it has started raining here. I saw four pigeons cooing to each other, having a tea party on the bird bath; maybe deciding whether to dip their heads into the cool water that it contained or not. I saw new shoots bursting forth from plants, new buds emerging. I saw trees talking to the sky, in their own, special, secret language. I saw cement tiles and grass merging to make a beautiful pattern of grey and green. I saw the sun playing hide and seek, peeking out from behind a tree at one moment, hiding behind a cloud the next. I saw fluffy, white clouds making houses and elephants and horses in the pale blue sky. I plucked off a leaf from a lime tree and crushed it between my fingers, its heady scent instantly setting my mind at calm. I took some pictures from my camera phone. Duty beckoned by then, and I returned back to my cubicle. Back to the daily grind, back amidst glaring lights, the incessant noise of fingers against keyboards, board rooms and unemotional e-mails. [ In case I give the impression that I hate my job, I don’t. I just have these moments sometimes. 🙂 ]

I was a changed person, though, when I returned from my ‘short nature walk’. I was more loosened up, and I realised that the heart – which I feared, today morning, had dried up – had a smile and a song in it.

Has this happened to you? When you are feeling shriveled and dried up, when you are too keyed up, what do you do? What loosens you up in such situations?