On Being Indian During the ICC World Cup


We Indians are an emotional lot!  We are quite vocal, have very strong views about cricket, about our players and about every little thing associated with cricket.

Having won the 2011 ICC World Cup, the pressure on the team, carrying the expectations and hopes of 1.2 billion people, can only be imagined.  The excitement in the country is palpable.  Retailers & brands are probably torn between promoting Valentine’s Day and the ICC World Cup, especially on day one.

Inside each home, cable connections are being checked, schedules are being matched with fixtures. People are probably trying to complete important assignments at work so as to keep their schedules relatively free to watch the matches.

I can imagine the scene in each Indian house – the whole family before the TV, the mom supplying a constant stream of samosas, pakodas, tea & coffee.  I can imagine neighbours from one block, all gathering in one house to watch the India- matches, yummy food from each house, lots of chips and drinks. Boisterous yelling, whooping, unblinking eyes,collective sighing and a billion hearts palpitating.  I can imagine the curses and yells of frustration, when a power cut happens during a crucial match.

I can see boys, girls & men wearing the same T-shirt they wore the last time round, for good luck. I can see people who stood up in the last World Cup, when a wicket fell, and who then continued to stand till the end of the match, for fear that a change in their posture would alter the outcome of the match. Will these people stand through all matches that India will play for this World Cup too?

I can imagine people talking cricket, walking cricket, breathing cricket and arguing cricket endlessly.  Cricket is the pulse of the nation after all.

And as 1.2 billion hearts pulse in unison the refrain, “India, India, India, India”, my heart pulses with them, as I wish the Men in Blue the very best.

Good luck, Team India.

11 Beautiful Women – My Friends for Life


Eight years ago, we left our home land and moved to a new country.  The first few days flew by in unpacking and settling down.  In the evenings I would take the children to the play area and there, I met this woman, who gave me a warm smile. I smiled back and we chit-chatted for a bit.  As I got more familiar with the place, I started exploring the complex, varying my evening walking route every day.

Every evening, my smile-friend and a group of 7-8 women would sit and talk by the pool side.  I envied them their camaraderie; they would laugh, talk and entertain their children.  I would stop to say hello sometimes. Their conversations would stop midway, not because I was intruding, but because they did not know what to say to me; neither did I, for that matter.  Slowly, I became familiar with their faces and their apartment numbers; I guess they got used to seeing me around.

After about a few months, on another one of my evening strolls, they called out to me to come and sit with them.  Slowly but surely, I was accepted into the group.  I took my baby steps in friendship, trusting a totally new group of people, inviting them over, going to their homes, and finally grasped the dynamics of this group of eleven beautiful women.

That was eight years ago. These women are my best friends now; we totally rock as a group.  We are so attuned to each other that just mere glances at each other can set us off into peals of laughter.  We are different people from different backgrounds & cultures, but our value-systems are the same.  We can laugh together, cry together, shop together, eat together, and tease each other.  We can call each other at any time of the day or night just for a good girlie-talk.  We are the queens of impromptu potlucks and lunches and surprise birthday parties.  We rag our husbands, nag our children and brag to each other about what good moms we are.

We have been there for each other, when some of us lost our Dads or Moms; when the children were in medical emergencies, when we just wanted to call each other because we were low.  We meet often with our families, and it is a pleasure to see our children growing up and creating the early bonds of friendship, which we hope will blossom into lasting relationships.

We know each other’s tastes, likes and dislikes.  We can argue without being misunderstood.  We are so comfortable together, that  we are already planning out how we can all age gracefully, and retire together, maybe in the same city.  We have a chat group that beeps 24 x 7. Our conversations continue non-stop, now in person, now on the phone, now on chat & sometimes back again on the phone.

Some of these beautiful women have moved to other countries and cities, some of them have gone and come back. However, nothing changes in the group. We are truly friends for life, irrespective of where we are physically.

These 11 beautiful women give me stability and love, they walk with me when I am down, accept me as I am and give generously of their time, whenever I need it.

Thank you my dear friends.

Sunrise at Kanyakumari – In Words & Pictures – My Travel Diary


We are at Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent.  The entire family is up at 5.30 a.m. to watch the sun rise.  Daylight arrives with the bluish-silver colour of the sky.  We wait now, and as we watch, the sky turns a pinkish orange, lighting up the clouds around it. Molten orange cotton-puff clouds streak the sky.  The pinkish orange glow spreads across the horizon, as we wait with bated breath.

The Indian Ocean catches these golden moments, and reflects them in the calm waters of the morning. A few boats bob about near the beach, tired out from their fishing trips of the day before.

Again, in just a few minutes, the pinkish orange is replaced by golden yellow light and there, peeking into the horizon, is the golden Sun.  Over the next few minutes, this golden ball rises up and takes over the sky.  We watch in amazement.

As the day progresses, the warm colours of the morning give way to the bright and white light of the Sun as it moves across the sky.  The breeze and the waves play with each other throughout the day, sometimes energetic, sometimes gentle.  The swishing of the waves, and the gentle sounds of the breeze talking to the coconut palms, soothe the ears.

We see a number of vendors selling sea-shells of different colours, shapes and types. The lady in the shop asks me to place the shell against my ear.  My ears hear the ocean and its waves, the stories that this shell has to tell me about its adventures in the sea.

We are in harmony with the waves, the breeze, the rocks and the Sun.  We feel a sense of timelessness, as we watch the Universe at work, quietly going about its day.

Pure bliss.

Some photos that we captured.

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First bluish-silver light of dawn

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Pinkish-orange clouds streak the sky

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The whole area is enveloped in pinkish-orange warmth, as the boats bob gently and the water catches the first light and reflects them

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Miraculous play of colours, orange is hidden and golden yellow takes over.  First view of the Sun

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Can anything be more beautiful?

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The gentle breeze and waves play hide and seek with the coconut trees

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One man-made object standing before the elements..

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Different shells, different journeys…carrying the stories of generations

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Treasures of the ocean, a piece of the ocean to take back with us.

Airport Persona


After an hour-long drive, the taxi driver drops me off at the airport. It is 10 pm and my flight is only at 1.30 a.m. I resign myself to this long wait.

I am not an airport person at all. The cold gets to me.  I am already wrapped up in my ‘goes-with-me-everywhere’ shawl.  I finish all the formalities and settle down to wait.

I am a silent observer now. I watch and categorize the people in the airport.

The ‘talkers’, who are talking non-stop into their phones.

The ‘earphoners’,  with earphones that look like extensions of their body, gently moving their head or tapping their feet.

Then there are the ‘oblivious’. Fully stretched out and deep in sleep..(what if they miss the announcement for their flights or don’t hear the alarm?)

The ‘duty free shoppers’, who do the rounds of all the shops till their flight is called.

The ‘hassled moms’ who are managing cranky kids or high-energy toddlers, who run around the airport.

The ‘corporates’ – men and women in formals, still working away on their laptops, signing major deals, and so busy at this unearthly hour.

Then the ‘models’ – women who look so well-groomed and fresh despite the lateness of the hour. How do they manage it?

Then there are the ‘readers’ – who scour the bookshops in the airport or who take out books from their hand bags & read till they land at their destination.

Then the ‘coffee & tea’ drinkers – at the coffee shops – busy sipping and enjoying themselves.

Then the ‘pacers’, who can’t seem to sit still. They pace up and down.

Don’t know which group I fall under – maybe a ‘reader’ sometimes & ‘coffee drinker’ sometimes, ‘duty free shopper’ too maybe, but never a ‘model’. Would love to be in the ‘oblivious’ group but am too paranoid about missing my flight. Imagine enduring another day in the airport!

For now, I am frozen and wishing I could be back home, stretched out in the comfort of my bed.

Sigh…52 minutes more.

Kenya – A Travel Diary


The ten day trip to Kenya flew by as if on wings.  At the end of it, and countless animals and national parks later, I am grappling with words to convey what I felt.

The Savannah is majestic & mighty. It awes you with its splendour.  The grasslands stretch as far as the eye can see, Mother Nature at her best, unleashing all her beauty in one shot – the dazzles of zebra, the gentle and graceful giraffe, the hopping gazelle and beautiful impala, the cute warthog families, the majestic African elephant, the musical and colourful birds, the lazy cats with their graceful body language and piercing eyes, the lush green grass dotted with trees, the unrelenting sun, the evening breeze, the refreshing rain, the safari rides atop the land cruiser, the guessing games to spot animals on every ride, the bush teas and treks through the equatorial forests….! Can anyone ask for more?

The African Savannah – unforgettable and humbling. Sharing a few pictures.

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This picture is of the watering hole in Mt.Kenya, which is the second tallest peak in Africa after Mt.Kilimanjaro.

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This is a picture taken in the Ol Pajeta Camp

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Cape buffaloes, one of the Big 5, in the Maasai Maara

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Flamingoes in Lake Nakuru

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Birds on the tree & on the water in Lake Naiwasha

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Lake Naiwasha

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Calves being protected by their mothers, as rain lashes across the Savannah

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Say hello to the wildebeest

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A lioness cooling off in the hot afternoon sun

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A young bull we spotted from our hot-air balloon

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The shadow of our hot air balloon on the Savannah….

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A view from the hot air balloon

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Majestic, regal…

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Eyes looking into the distance, lost in deep thought, totally oblivious to the people watching them

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Spotted this one at sundown just as we were getting back to the camp…hungry & walking with grace, merging with the dried grass

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A family of cute warthogs

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So much in love, these two

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Framing the sunset for us, just before our van.

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Are there really two giraffes or just one?

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A visit to the Masai Village

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A Masai woman with her baby

nimi naren, 2 Feb 15

Couch Potato for the day


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Today is Sunday. No deadlines to chase, no lists to tick-off (I mean, there are, but they don’t seem important).  The day has started quite well.  My husband & children have made plans to visit the zoo, yet again.  They ask me if I want to join them, but I decline.

“The howler monkey, at the entrance, will probably call out to me in recognition, ” I say. My preteen rolls her eyes at the poor joke, while my son giggles at this ‘funny joke’.

Actually a selfish thought  takes root in my brain. Imagine, six hours of solitude.

The family troops out at 10 am.  I shut the door and amble back to the couch.  I deliberate on what I should do to maximize these six hours – a visit to the spa? haircut? pedicure? No, screams my brain, no.  My inner voice announces the final decision, stay put on the couch the whole day and watch television, eat, and catch some shut eye.

With the decision made, I make arrangements to transform into a couch potato for the day.  I bring some junk food, a water bottle, and a freshly popped packet of popcorn to the coffee table.  I throw in some magazines to the ‘couch-potato package’. I make two steaming mugs of filter coffee and pour them into a thermos.  This too gets added to the coffee table.

I am ready now.  I plump up the cushions and settle in comfortably.  All the remotes, my phone and the tablet are with me.  I switch on my tablet and browse through some videos.  I see one of my favourite actors from an eighties movie.  My brain immediately hyperlinks to a soap that used to air when I was still in college.  I search for it, and the Internet doesn’t disappoint.  I start watching, one episode after another.

I cry at the sentimental bits without inhibition and without my husband’s voice telling me, “It is only a movie, all those people are going to finish their shoot and go home to a nice dinner. Don’t waste your tears.”

I laugh and giggle at the funny bits, stuffing popcorn and wafers into my mouth, without missing a beat.  I pour myself a hot cup of coffee and sip it as the story progresses.  I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into the couch.  It is mid-day now.  The sun is streaming into the living room and I am loath to get up from the couch.

The series finally gets over, along with the huge tub of popcorn.  Today, there is no place for guilt in my life.  I switch off the TV and stretch out on the couch.  I love the silence in the house.  I hear some thud-thudding from my neighbour above and two mynas calling out from the tree nearby.  Otherwise, pure bliss.

I put my mobile on silent mode, as I feel sleep overtaking me.  I fall and fall into layers of sleep, deeper and deeper.  I am in dream land, and there is a kaleidoscopic panorama unfolding in these layers of sleep. I don’t know what I dream about, but the visuals keep changing.

I wake up and look at the clock.  I have been in oblivion for nearly three hours.  The room has become less bright now as the sun has moved across to my neighbours’ block.  I am still stuck to the couch, no plans to move anytime soon.  I stretch to pour the second cup of coffee and enjoy every sip.  I browse through the magazines and read the news on my tablet.

I am done with all that I’d planned.  What next?  I smile in happiness at the wonderful day it’s been.  I stretch like a cat and feel the tensions of the week dissipating.

I, me, myself…superlative!