For The Love Of Melbourne

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My first tryst with Melbourne was when I watched the movie 'Salaam Namaste' and fell in love with the city just like the way Ambar (Priety Zinta's character) did. Australia is one of the most underrated countries as most of the people crave to settle down in the US of A or the United Kingdom. Some even want to get lost in the lush landscapes of Europe and some want to climb up the Eiffel Tower in Paris to catch the view. I have hardly heard of anyone wanting to go and settle in Australia. People apply citizenship for Canada and New York, but you hardly get to see people wanting to go settle down in Sydney or Melbourne. I had got a glimpse of Sydney through the movie 'Dil Chahta Hai', and I was fascinated with the locations that feature in the 'Jaane kyu log pyar karte hai' song. The clear blue waters, the green parks and the helicopter ride above the Opera house. As I was still bottling up my lust for Sydney, I saw Melbourne and fell head over heels in love with it. And then 'Masterchef Australia' happened making me fall crazily in love with everything related to Australia. 

Melbourne is the vibrant capital of the state of Victoria, in Australia. Almost every year this city is voted to be the most livable city in the world. Melbourne was initially the capital of Australia between 1901 and 1927. It stayed on as the capital for a good twenty six years, and then the capital shifted to Canberra. I have a lot of friends living here and for now I am living my dream through them. Hopefully, someday my dream shall come true and I shall wake up to the brilliant weather of Melbourne. Melbourne weather is known to be the most unpredictable. Just like Bangalore, you get to experience almost all the four seasons in just a day. Did you know that Melbourne was initially named Batmania? Before you think that Gotham City is a part of Melbourne and that the Batman movies were filmed here, let me tell you that the name Batmania had nothing to do with Christopher Nolan and his genius art and nor does Christian Bale hold an Australian passport. During summer, a massive flock of bats (almost around 60,000) is known to fly and make their way to Melbourne's CBD from Yarra Bend Park. These bats or flying foxes aim right for the skyline of Melbourne and it apparently is one of the most beautiful sights to see. Hence the name Batmania. And also because one of Melbourne's founder fathers was called John Batman! Can you imagine that? There was an actual person with the name Batman, how cool is that? On that note, Wolverine is an Australian!

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Melbourne is known to have a loving heart and a welcoming soul. This is proven by the fact that Melbourne is the home to the highest Italian and Greek populations in the world! I'm sure we Indians are not too far away. Melbourne is also a city that is very well taken care of. There is no other place on the entire planet that provides a better living standard than good old Melbourne. The five main categories covered are stability, health care, culture, environment, education and infrastructure. Does this happen anywhere in India? I'd laugh my pants off. 'Namaste' is a popular way of saying 'Hello' in Melbourne and that is why this is another place best suited for Indians. The world's first feature film, 'The Story of the Kelly Gang' was filmed and made in Melbourne in 1906 and did you know that the first ever set of traffic lights was actually installed in Melbourne? And Melbourne has the highest number of restaurants and cafes per number of people than any other city in the world, making it the perfect city for my foodie husband and I to live. Melbourne is also very kind and liberal to gays and lesbians. Melbourne also had the first gay and lesbian radio station in the world. Melbourne treats everyone equally. No wonder, this city is the most livable city in the world!

I would love to settle down in Melbourne without a doubt. More than visiting the tourist places I'd love to embrace this city and make it my home. The first thing that I would do when I land here is try a shot of the 'Wet pussy'. Before you close the browser, let me tell you that I'm not talking about sex or the genitals here. This is a drink made out of vodka and peach schnapps, topped up with a little bit of cranberry juice and a drop of lime that is served in almost every bar of Melbourne. Once done with it, I'll set to explore the city in my own way with the best ever companion, my husband! 

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First we will head out to the Melbourne City Center to check out the central business district (CBD) area. No no, I am not those boring geeky types, all I want to do is get up to the observation deck of the Eureka tower and bask in the view of the city from there and feel proud that this is my home now. I'll even pay to access the Skydeck that features thirty viewfinders that help visitors to pinpoint numerous significant landmarks around all parts of Melbourne, along with several free binoculars. There is a small outside area called 'The Terrace' which is closed in high winds. There is also a glass cube called 'The Edge', which extends itself from the building to hang over the edge of the tower and add to the viewing experience. Charming eh? During my first weekend there I'd visit the Luna park located on the foreshore of Port Phillip Bay in St Kilda and take a long drive across the Great Ocean Road lusting over the clear blue waters and the pleasant wind. And then I will take a tram ride too. Melbourne would not be explored without a tram ride.

There are a lot of other places on my list to visit. Yarra Valley for its natural beauty and the wine, Dandenong ranges national park for the thrill, the Shrine of remembrance to pay respect to the those who served in World War I, St Paul's Cathedral to kneel down and pray, Finders street railway station to witness its grandeur, Queen Victoria market or the Queen Vic for its fresh produce, Crown casino and entertainment complex to try my luck at gambling, state library of Victoria for its wooden interiors, high ceiling and wide range of books, Melbourne zoo and sea life Melbourne aquarium for watching the sea flow around me and finally the Melbourne cricket ground, just to be a part of history. These are just the places on top of my head right now and I cannot explain my urge and dream to be a part of this city soon. The people of Melbourne and their liveliness is one of the most important things, that make this city the most livable city in the world.

Have I painted a good enough picture to get you to start dreaming about Melbourne? Let me make it more interesting for you. Watch this video and tell me which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why? Leave the answer as a comment and one of you shall stand a chance to win a shopping voucher worth Rs. 500! Oh yeah, you read that right. The chance to win ends on 4th January 2015, so leave a comment now and you may get lucky this new year.

Update: Declaring the winner whose comment has won a shopping voucher worth Rs. 500! The winner is the nature lover who wants to cuddle a Koala - Ranjith! Send me your email id at ASAP, so that I can send your details to the Indiblogger team.

Magic Of Love

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It can soothe an injury
And heal a broken heart
It can also erase the pain
And help you with a fresh start

It can give you immense strength
To handle the toughest of things
Joy in your heart and peace in your soul
This feeling definitely brings

You can feel the butterflies
As well as the musical chime
If you choose to embrace it
Every word begins to rhyme

It is not a thing to find
Instead it finds you
It doesn't come to everyone
The blessed ones are just a few

It is a wave of pixie dust
It makes the world go round
But when it chooses to fail
It can take you to the ground

The hurt is unbearable
But it does fade some day
You need to have faith in yourself
It is only a small price to pay

It helps you mend yourself
It is a soothing potion
It can intoxicate you too
It is a wonderful emotion

You need it to survive
It is the best gift sent from above
Sometimes happy and sometimes tragic
That is the magic of love

Glimmering Star

Copyright -Björn Rudberg

It took me a long time to find the perfect Christmas tree, and it was no easy task to get it down to our house through our steep pathway. Watching my wife decorate the tree, made me smile realizing that all the effort I put did not go in vain.

"Dad, we do not have a glimmering star to put on top", my five year old came rushing to me.

"Darling, I have the perfect star for it!"

She and her mother watched as I climbed up the ladder to put our tiny family portrait on top of the tree.

This five sentence fiction is written for the topic 'Glimmer' at Lillie McFerrin Writes.

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 26th December 2014.

In My Opinion

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What is wrong in speaking up
What is the need to sugar coat words
I do not know how to speak like that
I refuse to join the hypocritical herds

I cannot lie about what I feel
The truth might hurt but it still is right
When the truth is in front of us
What is the need for the fright

They call me blunt, bold and rude
Just because I have a mind of my own
It is my choice to be this way
I do not want to be some one's clone

I choose to write about the truth
People cannot seem to handle this
I shall not stop writing the way I do
In this is what I find my bliss

Diplomacy is a very good thing
But it sure is not mandatory
When the whole truth is spoken about
Everything becomes self-explanatory

What is wrong in standing up
Why hide under a facade and write
When I know all about the truth
Why should I be afraid of being right

I shall raise my voice and speak
Even though I'm just one in a billion
Because some people cuss and curse
Doesn't mean that I change my opinion

Oh Yes!

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I think ours is the only country, where sex is considered a taboo. India, the land of the Kamasutra frowns upon the concept of sex and its mention. Talk about hypocrisy of the highest order. I think we Indians are a really confused breed. While some people are fighting for sex education to be introduced in schools, others are still changing channels in front of their children when some "X-rated" scenes are telecast. Our daily serials show that virginity is the highest form of purity a girl can hold, while our movies show us love making scenes and pre-marital sex like never before. And yet, Indians are supposed to be the most cultured and religious of the lot. Let us first check something, what does culture mean? The last I checked, this is what it said on Wikipedia.

Culture is a word for people's 'way of life', meaning the way groups do things. Different groups of people may have different cultures. A culture is passed on to the next generation by learning, whereas genetics are passed on by heredity. Culture is seen in people's writing, religion, music, clothes, cooking, and in what they do.

How is it anywhere related to sex? Why are we hell bent upon changing the very meaning of something when some person has defined it so beautifully. One more thing that I have noticed about us Indians is that, no matter what the topic in hand it, it goes through a roller coaster ride and finally ends up in something related to sex. India lost the match, oh Virat Kohli must have had sex with Anushka before the match and that is why he did not play well and hence India lost the match. Internet is bad for children, what if they end up watching porn. That new actress is bagging all the good films, she might be providing the director with some good sex. Oh this guy is a rapist, had his wife slept with him then he wouldn't have had to rape. Look at the way that girl is dressed, she must be a sex worker. No matter what the topic or concern is, we Indians have this innate quality of relating it to sex every single time. And shamelessly.

Who decided that virginity is the holy grail of a relationship? Whatever happened to love, trust and respect? Why are we so obsessed with the concept of sex and yet look down upon it? Sadly, we only have questions. If anyone dares to answer, then the society pushes them into the darkest corners of solitary confinement. Sex is supposed to be indulged in only after marriage. Okay, if you say so. So we are not supposed to speak to a stranger, but it is perfectly okay to sleep with one once married? Great! I thought sex was the most beautiful expression of love. I reiterate, love. Not marriage. Sex is an art of lovemaking between two individuals who are in love. Irrespective of their sex and irrespective of the fact that they are married or not. I am not trying to ignore the elephant in the room or trying to beat around the bush. If I'm asked if I'd say a 'Yes' or a 'No' to pre-marital sex, I'd definitely say a big fat "Yes"!

For me sex is an expression of love and nothing else. It does not define a relationship nor does it define the character of a person to me. The only thing that matters to me is fidelity. If the guy I'm dating or married has had previous sexual relationships with someone else it does not bother me at all, as long as he is loyal to me now. Sex is a natural act when two people are intimate and are in love. How does that define the nature of that person? Sex is between two adults who know what they are doing. There is nothing wrong with that. As long as they are aware of the repercussions and take the necessary precautions then I don't see why anyone should say no to sex. Be it pre-marital or post-marital. When someone says that they are "saving" themselves for marriage, I feel like laughing non-stop. So a piece of meaningless tissue is what defines marriage now? What about all the lakhs and crores spent for that occasion? No need for it at all right, if the tissue is in place then that is all one needs.

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If the purity(?) of a person depends upon the fact that he/she is a virgin or not then that alone explains why is country is not number one yet. When the basic understanding of an emotion itself is wrong then nothing else matters. I took a holiday with my husband before we got married. Infact there was more than one holiday that we took together before marriage. What does that conclude? That we went away to have sex, or we went on a break to celebrate our love and relax on a vacation? Why is sex the first thing on ones mind when is a couple is spending the night together? They can be just tired and want to just sleep too right. But no. It is all about the power of sex in our country. Live-in relationships are gaining popularity because the couple wants to live together and understand each other before taking the plunge into marriage. But how does society see it? They see a girl and guy wanting to explore the aspect of their physicality, i.e sex.

When we say true love, what does it mean? Does sex indicate love? Just because you are having sex as a duty after marriage it does not mean that there is love. True love can happen before marriage too and if sex is involved then I don't see a problem in it at all. The idea of sex is in the mind. Two lovers can indulge in sex taking the necessary precautions as and when they want. If sex is not a mandate in love, then how can it be a mandate in a marriage? Love is love, before or after marriage. And exactly like that, sex is sex, before or after marriage. The book "A Passionaate Gospel of True Love" talks about true love and not a true marriage. Love definitely does lead to marriage. But marriage leading to sex sounds forced and illogical. So I say an "Yes" to sex. Before or after marriage, doesn't make any difference to me. Sex is sex and for me it is a wonderful emotion that is associated with love. And not with any thing else.

Love is a wonderful feeling and everyone deserves to feel it atleast once in a lifetime. But do you know where your true love is? What if you get married to a wrong person and then find your true love in someone else. Having sex with someone you are married to but don't love, would that seem okay to you then? Sex is not an obligation that comes with a marriage. Sex is not the union of two bodies to satisfy lust. Sex is not the sign of a conquest for taking away someone's virginity. Sex is the ultimate expression of love and comes with no strings attached. It should not be tied to the shackles of society. We live in a free country right? Then why not have the freedom to choose to have sex with the person we love. If matrimony is the stepping stone to sex, then the whole concept of marriage should be banned. Love leading to sex is a beautiful emotion and a wonderful feeling. Sex is a very holy act that not only needs the body, it needs the heart and mind as well. It is the purest form of love and is something that should not be bound by societal opinions or taboo. If anything is a taboo, then it is the minds of the people who impose such meaningless norms. 

I say yes to sex, just like the way I say yes to love. There is nothing more to read into it. If my opinion is what decides my character, then people are free to assume whatever they want.

Born in Jabalpur a bustling city of Central India, Poonaam Uppal recounts her childhood in the Gospel of True & Passionate Love. The engaging story of trials and travesty of life for a young growing girl in conservative Punjabi home extols the Indian author’s skills as a writer. From youth to a mature woman, the story unfolds with candor to divulge the angst of her romance. The account of her true love intertwined in agony of passion and desire are engaging. The book, A Passionaate Gospel of True Love excels in structured narrative and deciphers her romantic interlude alluringly. ~ Source:

You can buy the book here.

Product Review: Dettol Multi-Use Wipes

I'm a crazy OCD freak. I want everything to be spic and span and placed exactly in the way I like. Be it the hangers in my closet or the arrangement of books on my book shelf. I also like to have everything very clean and tidy. Since I'm prone to migraine, I have an aversion to a lot of smells. So everything around me has to smell neutral, else I freak out. Also, I'm a firm believer of cleanliness is next to Godliness. I always carry tissues and a sanitiser with me. At home I always have plenty of hand wash stored so that we never run out of it. It is an obsession, but this is the way I am. I always like my surfaces clean, especially mirrors. Even is there is a single spot on the mirror, I drop all my other work and go grab my stock of Colin and a sponge to clean it. A clean house is a sign of a happy family. Well, atleast for me. I keep my room as clean as possible, wiping the surfaces as often as I can. Since the back door of my room opens to the outside, there always is a lot of dust accumulated on the furniture. It is a pain but I regularly dust it off all the time.

When I first heard about the Dettol Multi-Use Wipes, I thought it was just like the Johnson&Johnson baby wipes and not meant for everything. Since Dettol is now making kitchen cleaners, I thought they had ventured into the baby market as well. But when I received a sample of it for review, I was amazed at the chores it was suitable for. It reminded me of wet tissues that are used to clean the face and neck, but it turns out you can use this for that and everything else. Dettol Multi-Use Wipes comes in a pack of thirty and is moderately priced at a hundred and fifteen rupees. There are other packs of fifty and ninety as well. The pack is the perfect Dettol pack with its patent green and white color. The pack has an opening in the center with a resealable flap, so that you can pull out the wipes and use them. The quality of the pack is really good and classy, living up to the brand name of Dettol.

I pulled out a wipe and opened it. It was wet and about the size of a woman's handkerchief. It had a mild smell of the Dettol antiseptic, but nothing over powering. Since I have damaged and acne prone skin, I have only used baby wipes to wipe off my make up until now. I thought twice if it was worth taking the risk, but I decided to go for it anyway. I first used it on my face, in a upward direction removing my makeup slowly. Almost all of it came out in a single wipe. I used it on my eyes to take off the eyeliner, it came out in a single stroke too. Remember, this product is for external use only and not to be used to remove the kajal from the inside of the eye. Use it only to wipe off your liner or the mascara. A single wipe is enough to remove all the makeup from the face and the neck. There is no need to use any other product after that. After using it, your skin will be wet for a while but it dries off naturally within a minute, leaving your face fresh and dry. But just to be sure, I waited for two days to try it again. Incase I had a breakout or any rash, I would not have used this product on my skin. But thankfully nothing of that sort happened. This is now my go to product for removing my makeup! Being pH neutral, the wipes do not affect your skin’s natural protection, and the emollients present in the wipes keep your skin moisturized. 

I then used it to fuel my obsession of clean mirrors. I pulled out a wipe and swiped it on my mirror. The surface first went blur due to the wetness, but later sparkled. I was thrilled. Using a single wipe, I was able to wipe two full size mirrors until they were sparkling clean. I had used Colin until now, but Dettol Multi-Use Wipes have now replaced it. The all new Dettol Multi-Use Wipes protects you from germs, wherever and whenever. They not only help protect your skin from germs, but also keep surfaces germ free. It is perfect for a house with children or senior citizens. You can use it to wipe furniture and other devices as well. I used it to clean my microwave and I was pleased with the results. It does leave a little hint of the trademark Dettol smell behind, but it is gone after a minute or two. It doesn't leave behind any residue either. I wiped my Television with it too and the its surface was squeaky clean soon, without causing any damage to it.

The Dettol Multi-Use Wipes can be used in office as well. Since the package is small and compact it can fit into the smallest of bags and is very portable. I used it to wipe my laptop screens and my desk at work. It works beautifully! I used it to wipe my hands after munching on a snack or to clean the surface of the phone at my desk which a lot of other people also use. Whether you’re at home or on-the-go, Dettol Multi-Use Wipes provide convenient, and easy protection against germs by keeping all your surfaces clean and fresh. This product has only pros for me and no cons. With the trusted name of Dettol on it, using this product can only end in a win win situation. And now the Dettol Multi-Use Wipes is LOL approved as well!

So go ahead, and use Dettol Multi-Use Wipes at home or your office, in the car or while on a holiday and stay germ free forever!

You can buy it from here:

RIP Humanity

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Teddy Travelogues #TravelWithKids

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Vacations are something that all of us look forward to. For some it is a getaway from the mundane work. For some it is a celebration. For some it is an escape from reality while for some it is an expression of love. A vacation is always a perfect break from something. You can take some time away and retrospect on the days or events that passed by. It gives you a peace within and helps you plan your next step in life. If you have a lover for company then every vacation is turned into a honeymoon filled with memories. A vacation is the perfect relaxation. Taking a break from a regular routine is something that we all deserve. 

But vacations mean different to different people. Some people like to laze around in the chill of a hill station, some like to get adventurous and go out trekking, some like to go to a beach and enjoy the sun. These are adults who are sure of what they want to do on a vacation. But what about taking kids out on a vacation? Obviously, the parents plan endlessly to have a peaceful vacation. But what do the kids expect out of a vacation? It is very difficult to figure out what a child wants. Nobody knows their expectations and all they want is a nice place to have a nice time. It gets tricky when you plan a vacation around a child. Whenever I see a child behaving cranky in the arms of a parent in public, I feel for the parents. All they wanted was to catch a movie, but with the the toddler in their arms they can hardly see the screen let along enjoy the movie. So when I imagine taking a child with me on a vacation, I know that I have to go fully prepared.

Most vacations are not impromptu, there always is a certain amount of planning that goes behind planning a vacation. These plannings need to be modified if a child is coming with you.

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~ First, think about the mode of transport. If you are driving to the destination then take ample breaks and entertain the child. The music in your car can be their favorite rhyme and listening to it will keep them occupied along with a favorite toy. If you are travelling by air, make sure the timings of the flight doesn't collide with the sleeping time of the child. Lack of sleep can make a child really cranky and difficult to handle. Nothing annoys fellow passengers more than that of a crying baby. If you are travelling by a bus or train, make sure the child is well fed and constantly occupied. If it is an overnight journey, make sure you put the child to sleep at the regular time so that it doesn't disturb their cycle. 

~ Check the weather of the place you are visiting. Since you would know your kids allergies you can plan accordingly. It would definitely be better to avoid going to a place where it might be raining. If the sun causes rashes to the child, make sure you carry their medications. If it is a cold place then please do carry all warm clothes for yourself and the child.

~ Carry all their belongings. From extra clothes to diapers to their snacks to their toys. Make sure you carry everything that they need throughout the duration of the journey. Carry comfortable clothes for them. It is not necessary to dress them like a fancy doll, just because you are on a vacation.

~ Make sure all the bookings are done before you get to the destination. The hotels and the mode of transport. You do not want to be stranded in the middle of a new city with a child. And do not decide on exploring the local transport while you are travelling with a child. Have a car booked to make sure that your child is comfortable.

~ Have an itinerary planned. Include a lot of places for the child to visit. Like zoos, amusements parts or open playgrounds. If your child knows swimming then it would a good idea to stay in a place with a pool. You can play water games with the child and have a bit of fun yourself too.

~ Befriend other guests with kids. In this way you can leave the kids together and have some lone time with your partner.

~ No not be harsh on the child, if he/she is finding it difficult to adjust to the new place. Be understanding and give the child some time.

~ Try to make the place you stay in as comfortable as possible. Carry the toys your child is used to and his blanket and pillows, so that they feel that they are right at home.

~ Do not drink when the child is around. Make sure atleast one partner is sober to take care of the child.

~ Wind up your day a bit earlier. Planning too many things in a single day and travelling too much can take a toll on the child.

~ Be understanding partners. Leave the child with the father while the mother goes shopping or for a massage. The mother can handle the child when the father wants to go and enjoy a sport. Take turns for all the activities that you want to do.

~ If the child is used to a nanny, make sure you take them along too. It might be a little expensive, but this is not something you should compromise on. When a child is used to spending a lot of time with someone, not having them around would make them very difficult to handle. In this way, you get quite a lot of time in your hands to enjoy with your partner too.

~ Do not try some exotic food. You wouldn't want to get sick while travelling with a child. This adds more pressure and the vacation turns into a nightmare. Eat local as much as possible.

~ Just because you have to cater to the needs of a child while on vacation, doesn't mean you can't have fun. Plan some interesting activities with your spouse and surprise them. Play music and dance and feel special. 

~ Laze around and learn how much a child can amaze you. Spend some extra time with your child to make up for the lack of time due to work. Make your child look forward to the next vacation.

This post is written as an entry for Indi Happy Hours - Teddy Travelogues in association with Indiblogger and Club Mahindra.

Teddy Travelogues is the first ever online travel magazine for kids, by kids.

Your Touch

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The way you hold my hand
It makes me feel so secure
I know it deep within me
Your love for me is so pure

When you hold my waist
Protected is how I feel
I want to be yours forever
My heart you did steal

When you play with my hair
The child in me comes out
You are the man for me
About that, I have no doubt

When you kiss my cheek
It is an expression of romance
I'm glad our paths crossed
I'm happy God gave us that chance

When your lips touch mine
The passion I feel is supreme
I feel like I'm floating away
Living through a wonderful dream

Its the way I feel inside
Not what my eyes can see
I don't know what else love means
But your touch defines it for me

I'll Be Back Soon

photograph by Robert Doisneau

I have no heart to leave
But for a short while I must
I have never been away from you
I don't know how I shall adjust

It is a matter of a few days
A month suddenly seems like a year
Promise me you shall stay strong
Darling, please do not shed a tear

I shall have you in my heart
My shadow shall follow you around
I shall never leave you alone
In you my everything I have found

This job I'm doing, is for us
Once I'm back we'll walk down the aisle
I shall come back with more love
Just wait for a little while

Pick the best dress that you can
I know you shall make a pretty bride
The day you shall become my wife
I shall look at the world with pride

Your eyes are not letting me go
My love, don't do this to me
Let me go with a happy heart
Sadness on your face I cannot see

I shall be back very soon
Never again my presence you'll have to miss
I cross my heart and promise you
This shall be my last goodbye kiss

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 250.

Respect The Red

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Red, orange and green. How many of us adhere to all these colors while waiting in a traffic signal? Some of us only see green all the time, which clearly is a case of color blindness. In today's world, all of us are in a hurry and it always is a race against time. Survival of the fittest is now combined with a quest for time in such a way that the human race is turning a blind eye to the obvious. Safety. A report, based on statistics collected from 178 participating countries, said globally over 1.2 million people die in road accidents every year and 20-25 million people suffer non-fatal injuries. And hardly any of it is an accident. Most of it is a risk taken by the deceased. Have you seen this video? Many people came up with their derogatory comments regarding it in such a way that the soul of the message was lost in the background. Aamir Khan dedicated an entire episode in his show to show us the causes for road accidents and how it can be prevented. But the minute the episode was over, we were back to manipulating the rules and signals the way we wanted to. I know it is a thrill to break the rules. The thrill is for you. If it goes wrong, then it is a punishment for the people around you.

I lost a young cousin to a road accident five years ago. He was nineteen. As much as it was a sad incident, the only person to blame was him. He was on a highway speeding on his bike, without a helmet when a car hit him from an intersecting road. The person driving the car was within the speed limit and was moving towards his destination when my cousin lost control of his bike and rammed into this car. The petrol tank of the bike penetrated his abdomen and he only survived for a few hours after that. Thankfully he could say a word to his parents before he shut his eye forever. His parents grieve till date. An accident is like cancer. It affects the people around more than the victim. All my cousin had to do that day was to ride in the approved speed limit and wear a helmet. But no, he wanted to get his share of thrill and now his parents are left wondering what went wrong in their upbringing.

I have broken the rules so many times too. My husband and I once broke a signal and rammed into a TVS luna which was carrying a lot of packed eatables to be sold elsewhere. Thankfully nothing happened to both of us or the man riding the luna, but half of his commodities now lay in the middle of the road all soiled and not fit for sale. A part of our bike was broken too. We felt so sorry for the man and we paid him the cost of all his products. No, we did not break the signal for an adrenaline rush, we just were lazy to wait in the signal. It feels so stupid now. But I'm glad it happened, we learnt out lesson that day. We learned to respect the red and stop, when we are asked to stop. This can not only save our life but that of others too. Two minutes of your rush, can take away quite a few lives.

Responsibility on the road is not just towards one's own self but also to the other motorists and pedestrians. There are times when no matter how carefully one drives, some other reckless driver comes in between to cause an accident. The concept of safety would work only if everyone adheres to it. It is an individual responsibility and people should feel responsible for every action they take on the road. In the race against time people are forgetting about the importance of human life. Leave early, instead of rushing or breaking a signal. Another main cause for road accidents is drinking and driving. If you have the money to blow in drinks, then I think you should also have the money to book a cab to take you home instead of driving. How hard is it to understand? You get a kick out of the alcohol, but would you want an accident to kick your bucket as well?

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I'm no expert here, but I think the below steps shall definitely help prevent accidents and help road safety.

~ Helmets should be made mandatory in every city. Not only for the rider, but also for the pillion. 

~ Seat belts should be a mandate for both the front and the backseats of the car. No excuses.

~ Traffic signals should be monitored. A barricade should be put across the road when the signal is red and should be lifted only when the signal turns green.

~ Traffic cops should be more stringent and should not accept bribes while filing a case against an offender.

~ The rules for procuring a drivers license should be made more strict and a full test should be done before providing the license. I know of people who pay large amounts of money to get the license delivered to their house without breaking a sweat or giving a driving test.

~ The government should take measures to fill the potholes in the roads. They might not accept the truth, but this leads to a lot of accidents as well.

~ Cops must be deployed at every pub/bar to check if the person is capable of riding/driving. If not, they should be withheld until they book a cab and leave. Pubs/bars must have their own security to check this.

~ If found drunk while driving/riding, a huge fine should be imposed and the vehicle should be withheld for atleast a month. Plus jail time. Atleast for a day.

~ Instead of spending thousands on performing pujas for your new vehicles and hanging lucky charms on them, buy a rule book and follow the rules. Obey the law and you would not need a prayer.

~ Cops should be deployed at one way roads, to make sure that no one comes in from the opposite side. If caught, a severe fine should be imposed and the vehicle should be withheld. Plus jail time. Atleast for a day.

~ Before jumping a signal or deciding to ignore the seat belt, think about your families and how much they love you. You do not want to leave them alone.

~ Do not try to act macho to impress your girlfriend or a young child. Remember, even a super hero needs a seat belt.

~ Do not overcrowd a bike or a car. Every vehicle has its own limitations.

~ Maintain the safety distance at all times. Horn Ok Please, actually means something.

~ While investing heavily on cars and bikes, do not compromise on the security features. Make sure security is the first check you make, while purchasing a vehicle.

~ Follow the traffic rules like it is a mantra to live. Remember red means to stop and green means to go. Orange means the signal will turn red soon, so slow down and plan your movement accordingly.

~ Even if a celebrity is caught, he/she should pay the price and do the jail time. No bail, no excuse.

~ A traffic cop should be deployed on every busy street to help people cross the roads. Be it a main road or a highway. We have enough police force in this country to do this. If not, more people should be deployed.

~ Respect and obey the policemen. They are doing their duty.

~ And finally, dream big. And drive/ride safe so that you can achieve your dream one day.

This post has been written for The Nissan Safety Driving Forum in association with Indiblogger.

The Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., conducts the Nissan Safety Driving Forum (NSDF) in India as part of its safety driving promotion activities. The program began as an annual activity in 2012. In its initial phase it covered three main Indian cities, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai; and since then has gradually expanded to several additional cities across India. Under its Blue Citizenship CSR umbrella, NSDF by Nissan works to build awareness of safe driving in India. NSDF encourages drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts, and participants learn through interactive activities the importance of wearing seatbelts. Nissan seeks to support reducing fatalities and injuries caused by traffic accidents, and NSDF represents the company's commitment in contributing to young, vibrant and mobile India.

You can read more about it here.

Not An Excuse #RiseAboveFear

Fear is always over rated and under rated too. The fear of this is called this phobia and the fear of that is called that phobia. Did you know that the fear of number 13 is called 'Triskaidekaphobia'? Sounds silly that some people have such fears right? But no, everyone has their own fears. Be it of heights, water or anything else. I have always been a ferocious child and was not scared of anything. I used to jump from one roof top to another easily in my locality. My parents would cringe and scream as I scaled the third floor of every building. I do not know swimming, but I am not scared of water. I like the presence of water and the loud gush of a waterfall. Swimming has been on my agenda since ten years now but some how I haven't found the time to take it up. It goes on my resolution for 2015 too and hopefully this time I shall fulfill it. Fear is not just a feeling, it is a drawback. It holds you back from all the things that you want to do. At least, if you are afraid of water, heights or darkness you can take precautions to avoid it. But me, I had the fear of attachment and commitment. How could I avoid this?

This goes back to around twelve years when my family suffered a major loss financially and I saw all my relatives walk away. All the people I was close to, suddenly used to look down upon me and insult me. Money was the sole topic of discussion when we attended family functions and I could see fingers being pointed at my parents and me. We did not want them to help us financially, which they clearly did not do when we asked; but all we needed was support and encouragement to get out of this bad phase. But none of it happened. The fact that I had been close to such people began eating me from inside. All my cousins had suddenly become strangers and the attachment was surely gone. As a young teen I blamed myself for it. I thought, why did I have to invest emotions on people like this? Attachment hurts and it is not a not a good feeling to feel not wanted. I then decided that I would never let attachment come in the way of anything that I have to do. That is when I became a rebel and decided to do things just for myself and my parents. I even blamed my parents for putting us in such a situation. The fear of attachment weakens every last thread of it. You see fear is always irrational, it knows no boundaries.

I channelled all my emotions on the guy I was dating at that time. He was my sole distraction and lonely escape. He was the fresh picture that took me away from the mess of my life. He supported me through thick and thin and soon I realized that out siders are actually better than the people whom you call relatives. They aren't selfish, to start off with. The rebel in me remained, but soon this guy brought out a soft side of me that I did not know existed until then. I began seeing things in a different light and soon started falling in love. It happens. When everything in your life is a chaos and then someone comes in with a ray of light, you tend to steer towards it. He supported me through every crisis and this attachment with him, I was not afraid of. I gave in heart and soul and invested everything I had into this relationship. But they say all good things must come to an end, and this one collapsed in the worst way possible.

There were doubts raised and insecurity bloomed. The happy tale soon got so painful that I had to pull away from it. But it came at a price. The fear of attachment was back but this time with twice the magnitude. The pain of lost love did not hold a candle to fear I was feeling inside. I had it engraved in my mind that attachment causes pain and only pain and that the only way to not get hurt was to not get attached to anyone. Silly now, but it made sense to me then. And believe me, life was beautiful inspite of this fear. All the financial issues at home were now solved and my folks were smiling again. The relatives remained where they were and I did not intend for anything else too. Once a thread is broken, the knot always remains. And I couldn't care less about it. Some people deserved to be kept at a distance. But this attitude of mine, was taking a toll on my personal life. I had relationships, but on my conditions. I gave in 60% and when I was on the verge of attachment I voluntarily stepped out of it. Love is beautiful yes, but taking that one step further is something that I did not want to do. Until now, love and attachment had only hurt me and this was the only thing that I was afraid of.

People mocked me for having relationships that ended so soon, but I held on to my beliefs. 'Love hurts, attachment hurts', was my motto and strangely life seemed good for me. But when I started losing out on wonderful people as friends and some good partners, I was back into the thought mode again. By giving in only 60%, if things were this good, just imagine how awesome it would be if I gave in 100%. I had just realized this myself when someone else echoed the same to me. I hardly knew the man, but what he said, started making sense to me. I became a little more accepting of things and people and I saw that it was worth it. It was not easy to let go of this fear, because unlike other fears that would mean death, this one was far worse than it. This would leave me with a broken heart and I would die every second with the pain. But he held my hand and walked me through it. He gave me more than 100% of the love he had and showed me that it is not a bad thing. Yet, I held back. I was not ready, not yet. He then told me that if I would not let go of my fear now, then I would never be able to do it. 

Slowly, I started relaxing and began giving more love. I was not afraid of losing myself and soon the motto in my mind began erasing. Life showed me how beautiful love can be and how this is the only thing that I would need to survive. For the first time in my life, I gave in completely without any expectations and I was surprised at the happiness I was rewarded with. It felt like magic and the fear was all gone. All it took was that one minute of thought and that one decision of letting go. It obviously is a risk as you can get back to where you were before or still worse than that, but if you do not take the risk, how will you know where it shall take you. Today, I'm happily married to the same person and I have learnt to live with zero expectations from others. Attachments no longer trouble me and I can now be the poster girl for love and commitment. Do not let anything hold you back from what you want to do. It is not worth it, it feels like a punishment.

The fear lies in the mind and sometimes, like me, it can be embedded in your soul as well. But the only thing that you can do is let go of it. All it takes is that one moment of realization and courage. If you are lucky, you will have someone with you giving you the push to do it. Just do it, if you succeed then good for you. If you do not, then call it a practice session and try again. You cannot fail every time. Believe in yourself and do not succumb to fear. 

Remember, fear is not an excuse. It is a sign of failure.

This post is written as an entry for Indi Happy Hours - RiseAboveFear Campaign in association with Indiblogger and Mountain Dew.

Trust The Memories

Copyright – Sandra Crook

The cyclone took away everything that I had; my family, my house and everything else that I could call mine. When I returned home after a year away, all that was left was a big mess of broken bricks and wood.The pond was plagued with dirt and the entire place looked abandoned. I could have easily turned back and gone away to a better pasture, but the love in my heart refused to let go of me. I decided to trust myself and build everything from scratch again so that the memories of my loved ones could live forever.

This five sentence fiction is written for the topic 'Trust' at Lillie McFerrin Writes.

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 12th December 2014.

Feed A Child Today

I love cooking and feeding my loved ones. For me cooking is not just a chore, it is a form of love. And I love to express it in the most wonderful way possible. I cook for myself, that is the passion. I cook for others, that is what I desire. Watching the expression on their face when they eat the food I cook is a satisfaction that has no bounds. And since I'm a fussy eater myself, I am very particular about the food I cook too. As there is nothing more sad and demeaning than wasting food. If you cook good food and in the right quantity then it will not go waste. Wasting food breaks my heart and makes me feel angry. My grand mother used to say that once we die, every grain of food we wasted shall question us in heaven. That's not a very good feeling, no matter how silly of false it may be. Knowing that there are a million children out there who beg and crave for food, and yet you are throwing away freshly cooked food is something all of us need to be ashamed about. 

At my workplace, they have a huge board put up which mentions the quantity of food wasted the previous day and the number of people it could have fed. Did you know that 10 kgs of food wasted, could have fed 23 people? That's a huge number. Some people take pride in wasting food by ordering hundred items in a restaurant and eating only ten. It does not make sense, but what makes sense and exists country wide is the concept of poverty and hunger. Every day millions of children are forced to choose between hunger and education. They do not have access to even one square meal a day, and they are expected to quit education and work to support their families. Some great person said that 'Poverty is a state of mind', and all I wanted to do was stuff an old tattered shoe in his mouth. You can tolerate anything in this world, but not hunger. That's the worst punishment ever.

Food is a basic right for all living beings. Animals, plants and humans. But when we have to struggle for this basic need, it is a tragedy. Children going hungry is something that is way too hard to imagine or go through. Three meals a day is a luxury for them. These innocent souls cannot bear hunger, yet, they are forced to. A glass of milk is something they probably have never heard of. And people like us who have the means to get decent meals are busy wasting our brinjals, cabbage and bitter gourds just because we do not like the taste of it. Do you see the contrast? It is heart breaking to see a child suffer due to lack of nutrition all due to the lack of good food or any food at all. No matter who runs the government there would be no solution to this problem unless and until we the common people do something about it. Below are a few points that I think can help in eliminating class room hunger. 

~ Any food pending in your house, please donate it to the needy. Be it your maid or your security guard. But make sure the food is still fresh and warm. Donating stale food is worse than not donating food at all.

~ Instead of having luxury parties for your birthdays and anniversaries, provide food for a day to a nearby school or orphanage. It would not cost much because the kids there are not looking for gourmet cuisines. Just the basics will bring a smile on their face.

~ Form a committee within your neighborhood, and collect money to sponsor a meal for a nearby school every week. I think a hundred bucks from each house a week will easily suffice for this. Do not tell me that this is too much.

~ Incase food is left over after weddings and other parties, please make sure you donate the food to a school or to the needy. Indians take pride in cooking extra food during weddings to flaunt, but this food is more often than not thrown away. It is better to donate it than flush it.

~ Cook an extra meal and day and serve it to someone who cannot afford it. It will give you a sense of satisfaction.

~ While having birthday parties for kids, invite kids from a nearby school instead of their high profile friends. This might be the only party food that they get to eat.

~ Donating huge amounts of money to sponsor the prashad for a temple is a good thing. But donating the same money to sponsor a day's meal to a school is an even more bigger thing. 

~ Think twice before wasting or throwing away food. There is hundreds of children out there who are craving for a bite of food.

All these things do not need a big investment or hard work. All it needs is a soft heart and feelings for the underprivileged. Always remember one thing, your basics are a luxury to someone else. Appreciate what ever has been given to you and share the resources you have been blessed with. 

Have a heart, feed a stomach and wipe a tear.

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

Action Replay - November

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Another month gets drowned in work, work and more work. Finally I completed the work that was to go in December and have a couple of days to relax now. The past month was so hectic that I do not recall how the days swept by. Just like October, this month too only revolved around work. I was always a workaholic and I like being drowned in responsibilities. But this time I too was over worked. Somehow things went great and I was given an award for my contributions. I was so happy. It always is good to have your hard work appreciated and recognized. My role changed too and I'm more than thrilled. Work is something that I have never ever complained about. Cal always appreciates my focus towards work and never complains about the extra hours that I had to put in. He understands how much it means to me. Having a husband who respects you and your work is so important. I'm blessed in every possible way, just by having him in my life.

Apart from the achievements on the work front, the other bigger highlight was a victory in the #WhatTheBlack activity of Blogadda. I won an Ipad, and this was my first big victory ever. Of course I have won a lot of vouchers and other gifts, but this one was huge. Not because of the apple product I won, but because the post I wrote was the closest to my heart. It was my genuine feelings in the post. Winning is always a feel good factor and it sure is a huge motivation to continue to write. But somewhere I miss writing for myself. I remember writing random irrational posts just to vent out my feelings. I hardly find time to do it these days. I have no time to just sit and think about a prompt and pen down my thoughts. I see a prompt somewhere and then thoughts flow and I write. I need to write a fiction series soon. I have an idea brewing in my mind for a long time now, but I am yet to find the time to put it into words.

Last month I watched two movies back to back. To awesome, creative and exceptional movies. 'Gone Girl' and 'Interstellar'. The former was such a beautiful concept of human emotion that I felt the need to read the book to devour the story in writing. For me, any day, it is a book over a movie. I loved the movie and I'm sure I'd go crazy over the book. It is now in my 'To Read' list. The latter I did not understand like all other Nolan movies. I remember watching 'Memento' back to back, rewinding and forwarding to make sense out of it. After the fifth time, I kinda figured it out. And I'm still not sure if I have figured it out right. 'The Prestige' is my favorite movie of all times. What a story and what characters. That is the first time I fell in love with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale at the same time. Much before Wolverine and Batman. This movie is something that I would never get bored of watching. 'Inception' haunted my dreams for a long long time until I got it out of my system by watching it as many times as I could to make some sense of it. 'Interstellar' only made sense to me after I read its wiki. A bit too far fetched but stellar none the less. I even saw 'Penguins Of Madagascar' and now I have a new found love for animated movies. I hadn't watched any of them before. Can you believe it?

I had promised to write atleast twenty posts in November and with great difficulty I managed sixteen. Well, atleast it is not in single digits. Since most of my work is done, I have some time off in December and I hope I would be able to write more this time. Atleast I need to beat the score of the previous month if not inching towards a particular number. I suddenly have a lot of ideas in my mind and I'm itching to give life to them. So you will be seeing a lot of new poems, stories and rants this month. Along with a few contest posts that I can resonate with. Some contests are peculiar and weird and does not make any sense to me. The prize at times is alluring but you do not find the motivation to write for it as you cannot relate to the topic at all. I stay away from such contests as I want to be able to justify myself as to why I am writing this one.

Speaking about justification, I just hate the whole concept of it. I do something and if I have to justify it to someone, it pisses the living day lights outa me. Why cannot people see and understand things the way they are. Someone wants you to explain everything to them, including how, why and when. It is so annoying and all you want to do is slap them hard. More so when the matter at hand does not concern them at all. Even at my work place I am not asked to justify the things I do. But when a few people no matter who they are ask me something, I see red. And then there are those people who poke their noses into everything that is not their business. Why do some people want to have a say in everything you do? Is that the only way they feel worthy of themselves? Well too bad, but I do not give a tiny rat's ass. I shall do want I want to do, no matter what. And unless they are in my shoes, I do not see why they should bother giving their unsolicited opinion.

Ah the rant just started, so I guess I am back in full form!! :D

Now enough about me, tell me how was your November?