Saturday, August 29, 2015

Happy 'Thanks-for-having-my-back' Day!

It's that day of the year when you go scouting for a brother. That day when you meet a brother you haven't met all year. Or if you're lucky, it's just another day to celebrate a really strong, solid bond of friendship. But is it really a relationship of protection and security any more? Nope.

I have brothers whom I love and adore. And I have a sister who is my life. Why isn't there a day to celebrate that relationship? She is not only my best friend, she is my mentor, my guide, my support system. And it's unfair that there is no day to celebrate her. So ever since last year, I tie my sister a rakhi.

I know a lot of people do this already - and how heartening is that! Rakhi should be a day to celebrate an amazing bond, not of protection from evil - as an independent woman, why should it be drilled into my head that at the end of the day, you still need your brother to take care of you. Let it be a celebration of a sibling relationship as it is - friends for life who have each others' back. Sis, I love you, and if ever I need a 'protector', that person is you. So happy Rakhi to you all. And happy 'Thanks-for-having-my-back' day to my amazing siblings.

Friday, August 14, 2015

On Being Free and Pet-friendly

I was free. Finally, free. Free to live the life I had imagined. No rules and chains to tie me down. I could live life the way I wanted to. I had imagined this moment so many times, I couldn’t believe it was real. Living in shackles had made me so servile, it took some time – not much – to stop following those invisible orders. No reason to come home before 8 pm. No need to argue in muted voices. No need to hurriedly change into something ‘decent’ before stepping out of my room in the morning.

It was liberating. And yet, suddenly, I didn’t know what to do with my life. It was a blank slate. It felt great to not know what has to be done, but now what? I felt myself twiddling my thumbs, as I sat in my empty living room. I looked around at the bright white walls – so new, just like this new life of ours. What would you do if you could do anything? It was, at once, an overwhelming thought!
Once I realized the massive possibilities of this teeny-tiny question, there was no turning back. This is what I wanted – a life to be lived on my terms. An utterly selfish thought, but who cares. I didn’t have to care anymore. This was my life and I was its God, its creator. My life was my oyster for the first time in life. What was overwhelming a minute ago, turned into an empowering thought. Yes, my life. My rules.

We got a dog.

We weren’t dog lovers. At least not in the traditional sense. Neither of us had ever had a pet, so we didn’t know what it meant to have one. But the hubby had this desire to have someone he could call his own. A loyal friend, I guess. Someone who needed him – but I knew he needed him more. And I went along with it (okay, I was not as free as I would have thought). Our little puppy came home on an assuming day and we called him Dexter, after the serial killer in the TV series ‘Dexter’ (yeah, what were we thinking, right?). Hubby, instantly became the nurturer and I became the distant aunt – you’re so cute but keep distance pliss.

World, meet our sleepy pup, Dexter Kapoor

So let me clarify this. We’re not that couple. You know, the couple that replaces having a baby with a puppy? We’re the ‘we’re so not ready for a baby, but let’s experiment on a puppy’ couple. So Dexter is our experiment. And each day he tells me more about us, than we know about him. Isn’t that a scary thought?

So I went from being tied down to responsibilities I didn’t much care for, to being tied to a responsibility I care for deeply. Freedom then, is a myth. Or it is a series of choices. Freedom is choosing what will be the guiding principle of your life. And I’m convinced my life is led by one principle only – love. Selfish-wala love. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

#10CreativeDays: Day #3

Theme: BANK

Bella Puri

Be a Tortoise

The  tiny seed struggles to sprout against all odds, the little fledgling leaves its nest to brave possible failure of flight.
The slow tortoise with a load on its back challenges the sprightly hare to a race. They bank on themselves to win…

Natasha Puri


An outburst, a breakdown,
Unsolicited debits from my account
A heartbreak, an angry shout,
A cash withdrawal at every pout

Here's a game that two can play,
One of these days, I'll make you pay
I'll go shopping to the Lover's Mall,
Your tiny betrayals, I don't have change that small

A smile here, a laugh there
That balance sheet looks highly unfair
I wonder, every time my heart goes ka-ching
Why are you so into emotional banking?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#10CreativeDays: Day 2


Bella Puri

My father had a yellow Vespa and as a child I used to wonder why did he not go for a  green or a blue one, those were my favorite colors.
He drove it with great pride and took great care of it. Looking back  I think that  in between the dullness of retired life and the strain of court cases, his  yellow Vespa was like a slice of sunshine. 

Natasha Puri

"I like it, but for the yellow walls. Makes the house look old and dirty." 

"But yellow is the colour of history, baby. Just think about the many lives lived here, how many like us called this their home."

"And we need a constant reminder, because …"

There was nothing very appealing about living in a rented house in a society that was probably older than us. But this first conversation about finalising this particular flat, stayed with me forever. Someone’s home once would be where our life together would begin. And even though I would have wanted it to be prettier, cleaner, more shapely, I wouldn’t complain. I just desperately wanted us to begin our lives.

As I stared at the empty house with the yellow walls, I relived a little bit of our two years here. Our first joint attempt at cooking a dinner which ended with us ordering pizza; our first sofa, which came after a reasonably long wait of hosting people on a well-decorated mattress; our first painting on the wall, that I insisted brought out its yellow-ness even more. And then slowly, our first fight … sleeping in separate rooms, me being slightly happy that we had the option of another room.

These old, decayed walls had housed us out of our infancy. Some moments spent in love and others, not so much. On some days the yellow shone as brightly as our day and mood, and on others, it signified the dullness, the gloom.

Suddenly, the empty house seemed so full of memories. Yellow is the colour of history, he had said. And so, one room in our new house – with white walls – would be yellow, for all the memories of our first-ever home, our own little ray of hope.

Monday, June 1, 2015


My mom and I have started this collaborative art project for the next 10 days. This means, based on a common theme, I will write a story, poem or haiku and my mom, an artist herself, will visualize the same. The themes have been set for us by Prema Govindan.

Day #1

Theme: Glass.

Bella Puri

A Little Glass Window

Amidst  formidable stone walls and towering ceilings we can so easily miss out the existence of the fragile little window of glass.
But for it  would we be able to perceive the beauty that lies beyond these impermeable walls?

Natasha Puri

I was in a hurry to grow up. I wanted to feed myself, wear what I wanted, comb my hair and do other grown up things like wear make up. But being ambitious, is not a quality they like in two-year-olds. They label us obstinate, indisciplined, whereas all we really want to be is independent. 

For all my life, I believed that the English language had only one word: No. Can I watch more TV? No. Can I have a toffee? No. Can I play some more? No. But the one no that bugged me the most was when I asked to drink water from a glass. That ‘no’ was accompanied with a heartless explanation about how little I was. I watched as my elder brother drank his juice, water, milk and other ordinary liquids from Mother’s crystal glass. I swear he held it in one hand to taunt me. Often, I found myself fantasising about it, it beckoning me, as the light hit its beautiful curves and shone with rainbow colours of the spectrum. There it stood on the dining table, always out of my reach, my certificate of adulthood, my trophy.

One fine Sunday afternoon, I devised a plan. During a busy family lunch, I nudged my mother for water. I pointed fervently to the crystal glass, she didn’t have to go to the kitchen to get my ugly plastic bottle, I gurgled. I cried, it was right there! Hand me the glass! My harried mother lifted the glass and placed it back. It was the longest three seconds of my life. I could see the hesitation on her face – one more howl and she would give in. I let out another loud one and as predicted, she poured the water in the glass and as it travelled to me, I could feel myself growing up. I was inches from adulthood. I held the beauty in both my hands. It was heavier than I had imagined, and I swear the water tasted better. I felt my legs growing taller, my words had become clearer and my baby fat was slowly but surely receding. I lifted the glass many many times, and asked for many refills. I would never stop drinking water! Impressed glances made the rounds, I saw nods of approval all around the table. I had arrived.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Letters to My Niece #4

Pretty Girls

May 25, 2015

Dear Niece,

Much to your oblivion, your family, often breaks into a debate about how you will be perceived when you grow up. We all know you'll be pretty, but will you be smart enough? Unfortunately, for girls, these two are often mutually exclusive qualities.

You are a girly girl, Niece. You admire yourself in the mirror, love to "fix" your hair (which often means you are making it worse), you have "dress" days and "shorts" days, you love to pose when the camera is on you ... and you're not even three yet. It is unbelievably adorable. But some of us worry that you will only be a pretty face. You will be narcissistic. You will have to bear the burden of being a pretty girl who always has to prove that she is smart too.

Like all grown ups, we've already started thinking about what you will be when you grow up, and a common consensus these days is that you'll become a model. Yes, we grown ups are steeped in stereotypical thinking – something I'd love for you to not pick up from us.

So the lesson for today's letter is actually a thought – what does it mean to be a pretty girl?

Here's a definition that works for me: Pretty girls are strong, smart and aware of their good looks, little one.

Don't let anyone tell you it's vain to be aware of your beauty. Be proud of it. Being pretty is not a burden to carry to your workplace – and pretty and intelligent are not an either/or choice. Don't be afraid to be gorgeous because you were made that way, enjoy that, cherish yourself in all your glory. Love yourself – what you see in the mirror and that which you don't. And when someone tells you, you are beautiful, know that they mean you, all of you, because only happy people are truly beautiful.

My pretty girl, also know this, that 'pretty' is only an adjective and you, little one, will never ever be limited to just that. You will be a hurricane of words, so choose wisely how you want to be described. So be pretty, be wild, be affectionate, be kind, be wise, be all of those things but most importantly, be happy.

Beautifully Yours

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Letters To My Niece #3

May 10, 2015

Dear Niece,

I did something stupid today and I'd like to explain why I think it was a stupid thing to do. Now, you may think it's a small, tiny mistake really, but in the larger scheme of things, what I did today could be disastrous for us both. Got your attention? Good.

I made yet another useless attempt to get you to shower your affection on me and I said something I shouldn't have. I believe I may have tried to bribe you to give me kiss? Something like, "looks like Janya doesn't want any gifts from masi," she recalls in shame.

Today's lesson is to not confuse love with gifts. What a silly thought, but in the grown up world, this happens more often than you think. You start counting the presents you got on your birthday instead of all your friends who took the time to wish you. You start counting the louder expressions of love, and lose count of those softer blessings that are uttered for you.

Take the time to be grateful for wishes said and those left unsaid.

It's easy to confuse these things with feelings. Mixed messages from silly aunts don't help, but I do hope you are always able to see the invisible hugs and kisses and prayers that come your way ... These will be many many more than all the 'things' you will ever receive. Countless, innumerable, endless! Like you would say right now – Wooooow!

Having said that, come August, you're getting a car on your third birthday and that's because masi is the best.

Your Confused Masi

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Letters to My Niece #2

April 28, 2015

Dear Niece,

You know how much we enjoy your free-spirited dance performances, right? Well, today's letter is about dance, and the songs we choose to groove to. 

So the other day, we were in the car together. You occupied the space between me and the dashboard in the passenger seat, while Masu drove. You turned up the radio when you heard a song you liked, (you do know you are only two years old?) and we couldn't stop laughing as you jiggled your bum and started turning both hands as if changing imaginary bulbs. Here I'd like to confirm your Punju-ness, just for the record. The lack of space didn't bother you much – hear a good beat, must dance. 

My darling niece, my concern is the Yo Yo Honey Singh beat you can't help moving to. Beta, the lyrics, they are despicable! But you are Punjabi, and all our shoulders are under the hypnotic control of YoYoNess, so I guess I don't blame you. Just try to avoid listening to the words for as long as you can ... 

I love your spirit, little one. Your determination to filter out the noise and listen to what matters. As you grow older, practice this. Focus on your song and dance to your music and you will be unstoppable.

Your mother is a dancer. She can't help but dance. And when you see her dance, you feel free, energized, like nothing in the world matters. We all go looking for this in different places, this feeling. One day – it is inevitable – you will find that you don't have to look anywhere, this carefree happiness begins at the twirl of your fingertips, your ever-so-graceful fingertips. Don't forget this, monkey. Be like your mother and dance like no one's watching. You don't need to care about what others think.

Of course, there's the song. Choose the rhythm that feels right to you. This rhythm will be unique to you and no one else. And it will make you soar ... You're lucky to have that choice, practice it wisely. 

So don't listen to me when I tell you not to dance to a Yo Yo Honey Singh song. Pick a song that belongs to you. Or better yet, write your own. For you are one of the warrior women, and you only dance to your own tunes.  

Your Admirer

Friday, April 24, 2015

Letters to My Niece #1

April 23, 2015 

Dear Niece, 

I'm writing to you today to tell you that you are growing up way too fast. I want to know, what's the hurry?

I know the world of grown ups probably seems very exciting and interesting to you - they can communicate easily, can poop all on their own (potty training is not a worry) and seem to have the world at their finger tips. You now pretend to talk on the phone, pretend I'm your 'beta', 'betoo', and you my 'mama'. You tell me 'main working kar rahi hoon, na,' so that I don't 'disturb' you. It's unbelievably adorable but also a bit worrying. Will I lose my 'mama' to this big, bad, crazy world someday? I'm not ready, mama!

So please, slow down. Be two a little longer, my little one. Let us feel our hearts pound at your giggles and melt at your silly games. Please, just stay this way.

Having said that, the lesson for today's letter is – change. It sucks, little one, but the sooner you start embracing it, the easier life will be. Change is awful, inconvenient, overwhelming, scary. It's terrible. But only for a little while. Then things get easier. You know what's unnerving though? Change happens again and again. The only way to live happily is to become friends with it ... To surrender to it ... To change a little bit of yourself with it. 
So, my banana, it sucks, but I love to see you change. And as much as I want to hold on to you right now – playing your 'horsie' games with me – I honestly can't wait to see you grow up into the thousand versions of you, you can be. 

But just do this one thing ... Don't ever change. 

Your Crazy Masi