Five minutes


I have to step outdoors for just five minutes to pick up something. Earlier, before I left the house, I would check the contents in my handbag to make sure I had everything I needed, and used to check my face in the mirror one last time before I left home.

But now, before I leave, I check my mask, and if I have worn it the right way, and check if I have a bottle of sanitizer in my bag.

The street is deserted, I can see the odd person here and there. There is a strange silence. I half walk, half trot, constantly checking my mask. I meet a friend, who is also wearing a mask. We wave at each other, but cannot see each other’s smile, though we know we are both smiling. Our eyes make brief contact, but we don’t stop but greet each other and keep walking in opposite directions. We shake our heads in disbelief at this surreal situation.

On my way back, I am stopped by a flash of green, streaking across a blue sky. It is the most beautiful parrot, in such a beautiful shade of green. Its red, curved beak is silhouetted against the sky. It perches on a flame of the forest tree, at once merging with the green leaves. The bright reddish-orange flowers enhance the green.

I feel a rush of delight, at this unexpected treat, a small and beautiful moment in time. Where, for a moment I forget the world, and what’s happening.

As the parrot turns its head this way and that against cotton-puff clouds on a blue sky, I feel hopeful, I feel charged. Things will get better. There will be many such wonderful days for all of us again. And at that time, such simple moments will be valued more…we will never take anything for granted!

Little hearts that beat


Just outside our condo, there runs a fairly long road. There is no taxi stand there, so people queue up on a first-come-first-hail basis.

It was peak-hour this morning, when I stood in line to hail a taxi. The line was fairly long, and all of us lifted our hands and craned our necks like hooded serpents, trying to speed things up, by hailing taxis for people ahead of us.

It was very hot, and rivulets of sweat poured down my face.Finally, I moved to first place. Yay! I hailed the next taxi and got in. I wished the taxi driver a good morning and he shouted out a cheery Hi!

We chatted about the weather, as the taxi weaved its way through heavy traffic, to my destination

On the small display screen in front of the cabbie, a slideshow was on, about the taxi company, promotion offers and the like. The last image on the screen was the image of a card, with a big red heart, obviously coloured by a child. It had a message that said – ‘Come home safe, Daddy.’
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Image courtesy : Shutterstock

That kind of choked me up. I asked the cabbie if his children had made the card for him? He told me that all taxis from his company had this image on their slideshow.

This got me thinking, a simple card from your child, whose heart is filled with love for you and whose world revolves around you!

Everyday, millions of people drive, walk on construction sites, operate cranes, go down into mines, dive into the ocean, and thousands of other jobs – where safety and alertness are extremely important.

While safety measures and procedures are followed in most of these places, these men and women should take extra care, both for themselves and for the little hearts, who beat for their Dads and Moms – to come home safe and sound.

So many stories in a cup of tea!


Tea stalls in India are ubiquitous. You will find them on busy roads, sometimes more than one on a road; outside theatres, outside office complexes, near the vegetable market, everywhere.

Most of them serve coffee, tea, hot milk and a limited menu of yummy snacks that vary depending on the time of day.

The beverages are served in small cups made of thick glass. I am yet to see a tea stall that is not doing brisk business throughout the day.

Some of them play the latest Bollywood hit numbers. The owners of all these tea stalls know their regular customers and their unique preferences – less sugar, black coffee etc.

They laugh and joke, their hands boiling, sieving and serving, without missing a beat. Nerve centres in people’s days, where they come to recharge or unwind.

I remember one such tea stall near my parents’ home. Every evening, my Dad and I would stop by to have a cup of tea, laced with fresh ginger and cardamom, when my kids and I stayed with them during the holidays.

And when we sipped our teas and chit-chatted, many regulars would also be there. A man, whose wife was in hospital, who would come there, with a thermos to buy coffee to take with him to the hospital, after work. There was a group of sales executives, with their ties loosened, discussing their sales calls over a cuppa. They joked with the tea stall owner and went on their way. There were two nurses who stopped by to buy snacks for their children on their way home.

There was an old woman, who would also visit the tea stall at the same time. Her wizened face bore the grooves of many wrinkles, wrinkles that had witnessed her hard life. She did odd jobs in the area and from what we knew, she lived alone. Making ends meet would have been a challenge. But, every evening, she would come to the stall, neatly dressed, with a string of jasmine adorning her loosely tied chignon, and a big red bindi on her forehead. She had bright eyes and a mouth that looked like it had smiled a lot despite the difficult journey.

On one such day, as we sipped our tea, the old woman walked to the stall and placed her coins on the counter, asking for her usual tea and bajji. She proceeded to enjoy this with relish, slurping the tea in an almost musical way. She would nibble into the bajji and then sip. We watched her, enthralled. This was probably an important part of her day. Her eyes stared into the distance, as we wondered what thoughts visited her mind.

And after she finished her tea, the stall owner called out to her, “Amma (Mom), do you want another cup?”

She replied, “Don’t have change.”

The owner said, “There’s an offer today, buy one get one free.”

Her eyes appreciated his generosity and kindness, but her shoulders stiffened proudly, as she smiled and walked away, nodding her head to say no.

The tea stall was a world unto itself. People dropping in to unwind, stopping to catch up with friends, sometimes relaxed, sometimes in a hurry to get to their next appointment, sometimes happy, sometimes sad.

So many stories in a cup of tea!