Category Archives: Life

The Tenth day

Durga Puja at Manjalpur Vadodara

Today is Dussehra or Bijoya Dashami. It is celebrated for the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. The festival is also celebrated for the homecoming of the Goddess Durga along with her kids. This day marks the end of the nine day Navratri festivities. The house is cleaned early morning and special ceremonies are performed. We begin the day by taking blessings of our elders and wishing them Shubho Bijoya. We keep home made sweets ready for guests. Durga Puja is the biggest festival of Bengalis. This year Durga Puja of Kolkata was added in the Intangible Cultural heritage by Unesco.

This year was special since the Durga Puja was celebrated with all the rituals as it used to be done before covid. We met many of our friends after 2 years. The statement “We are fine” held a deep meaning for all of us. I have mixed feelings on this day. On one side its the blessings of the elders and on the other side the end of all the fun, festivities and holidays. The idols are immersed in water on this day which means the Goddess and her children leave on this day. It is gloomy to see the empty pandals. These events indicate everything has a beginning and end be it good times or bad times. Just as the artists and sculptors start working for the festival of the new year we should also look forward to creating new things. Just as we immerse the idol, we should also let go of our ego, frustrations, failures, etc and look forward to a new day with positivity. It may sound difficult and philosophical but if implemented, can make a huge difference. Last two years have helped us realize the importance of healthy relations and good habits. I hope this Dussehra, we are able to focus on improving our lives. Happy Bijoya Dashami.

Discovering a Hero

For most of us, our father is our first Hero. How would you feel if you found your father had achievements in bravery. The wars (1962, 1965, 1971) fought by India after independence (15 August 1947) are present in our school history. As we study about these our hearts are filled with pride for the defence services.

This year marks 50 years of the victory of the 1971 war. Let me share my school story on this war. The teacher had given an elaborate description of the bravery of our defense services during this war. I was so moved that I repeated the same description to my mother in the evening. My father listened to all this with a smile. At the end, I said I wish we could have met a war veteran of 1971. My mother replied “Why only 1971, you can meet a war veteran who was in both 1965 and 1971 wars. He is sitting right in front of you”. She pointed at my father. That day I came to know my father had started his career from Indian navy and was a two time war veteran. I never heard him speak about this. He showed me his war medals after I insisted. I don’t have words to explain how proud I was of my father. It seemed like discovering a hero further. I have seen people talking endlessly about their smallest of achievement but my father never spoke about his achievements. He taught me “Actions are louder than words”.

I have met so many people in my life but am yet to meet another war veteran. True heroes never speak about their achievements. They just do their work with selfless dedication. The discipline and dedication of Defense brings out the best in people. My father taught me many things through his life. I hope these values remain in our lives. I wish everyone a “Happy Father’s Day”.

Memories with Tea

Today May 21, 2022 is International Tea Day. Tea is referred to as Chai in India. It is a beverage made from tea leaves, milk, water, sugar, ginger and is served hot. It is so popular in India that there is hardly any road which does not have a tea stall.

It has a special meaning in every person’s life. There are many things associated with it. It is a morning ritual in many families where everyone start their day by having tea together. We also have it with evening snacks which gives us an opportunity to have informal chat with our colleagues. Infact so many discussions happen with tea that there is a famous phrase “Chai pe Charcha”, which means discussion on Tea. It is the first thing served when guests arrive. The taste changes based on preference of ingredients especially the ratio of milk and water. It can be enhanced by adding Tulsi (basil leaves), cardamom, cinnamon, etc. These additional features became permanent for many people during the pandemic because of their benefits against cough and cold. There are some people who seem to have the ability to make amazing tea.

When you make tea for someone it shows you care for that person, which means a lot today. There are many stories associated with tea so I am very happy that there is a day dedicated to it. For me, tea is an opportunity to create memorable moments. Happy International Tea Day to everyone.

Red pens everywhere

The months of March and April are full of examinations in India as the academic session comes to an end. The situation of students is discussed in a lot of forums but very places have mention about the teachers. Being the daughter of a teacher, I have witnessed the situation on their side as well.

My mother was a teacher and was very economic, she always bought pens with replaceable refills. She would plan her schedule way before the examination season so we will see bulk of red refills bought. As soon as the exams would start, she would get bundles of answer sheets to check. Mom would make sure she had all the resources to check answer sheets no matter where she was in the house. So red pens would be placed on study table, dining table, coffee table or any other place where she might sit for 15 minutes or more. As the exams progressed, the refills would start getting over quickly. One day I needed to sign some form and I picked a black pen. My father came rushing with a loud “STOP”. He asked me try the pen in a rough paper. As soon as I scribbled on the rough sheet, I realized the black refill of the pen was replaced with red refill. Even the refills of the non-red pens were replaced with red refill. He gave me a black pen to sign the form. He kept it carefully in the cupboard with a “This is one of the last few pens with non-red refill left in the house”.

Today when I see students going for exams, it takes me back to my school days when we would stand outside the examination hall doing last minute revision till the bell was rung. It was the thought of the long summer vacation after exams that would keep me going. Next time you visit the house of a teacher during exams, don’t be surprised to see red pens everywhere.

Thoughts on Youth Day

Today is 12th January, Swami Vivekananda’s birthday. This day is celebrated as National Youth Day in India in his honor. We have always had his photo in our house. Stories about events of his life were told to inspire us. He was my first role model of public speaking. His participation in the World Parliament of Religions inspired me for Chicago trip which is there in one of my blogs (https://sanchitahobby.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/promise-at-9/).

Swami Vivekananda always followed his heart. There were obstacles in his path but he did not give up and eventually created history. People often associate youth with age but i think it is more with ones thinking. The day one decides to follow his or her dream, with determination to work hard and without bothering about the comments, that day the youth in that person stands out. One must not ignore their wishes regardless of their biological age. There are cases where people have started trekking in their 40s and conquered mountains, cancer survivors have run marathons, etc. The moment a wish takes birth in your heart, you should believe all the resources to fulfill it will appear. All one needs to do is put a little effort in finding them or reskilling for that wish. There is no goal that cannot be achieved with hard work.

One of the major problems most of us have is procrastination. If we can conquer that and work hard diligently then we can be anything we wish to. Swami Vivekananda will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come. He has given many inspiring quotes. My favorite quote among those is “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached. On this National Youth Day, I hope everyone takes inspiration from Swami Vivekananda and works to create a better version of themselves. Happy National Youth Day.

Streak of Optimism

The beginning of 2022 is very similar to that of 2021. Rising counts of covid patients occupies most of the headlines. Fear of lockdown seems to be looming around. To breakthrough this fear, I decided to go around the house in search of optimism. I came across the money plant. The sight of this plant brought some good memories.

This plant brings out the creativity. My father planted it as a creeper around a tree and it worked. One fine day he saw it planted in water in a glass bottle. He was so motivated that he did the same at home also that too worked. Later on I found out many of my friends have tried it with different kinds of bottle from ketchup bottles to custom designed glass bottles. In another instance, one of my colleagues had a small money plant in a tea cup sized pot. She had kept it on her desk in office. Whosoever came to our floor noticed it. People often came to her desk and inquired if it was a real plant. Many even asked where she got it from.

It moved me so much that for a change I started googling about this plant. To my surprise I found this plant creates an optimistic atmosphere. This not only enhanced my knowledge but also cheered me up as if a streak of optimism had appeared like the stripes on the leaves. I realized just as the streaks make the leaves beautiful similarly the good times and bad times makes our lives beautiful. This is a good gift. With all the tension in our surroundings, let us take a break from gadgets and admire our surroundings. One never knows when a streak of optimism may appear and make our day.

Wait for Shiuli

Durga Puja is a special time for a Bengali. We start planning weeks before the festival. My father had planted a shiuli(night jasmine) flower tree in our house. This flower blossoms during Pujo. It has amazing fragrance which reminds one of festivals. There are songs and poems dedicated to this flower.

This year I was at home after a long time. Everyday from the month of July, the first thing I did after getting up is to go and see the tree. There were no flowers even though the tree was watered regularly. I used to ask my mother if the tree needs any manure. My mother’s response was “Patience, the season is yet to come”. This continued till September. I was excited the day I saw the first few flowers. It meant Pujo is coming. I ran indoors and informed, shiuli flowers have come. This just reminds me, everything has a specific time whether its studies, opportunities or vaccine. One needs to be patient and things will happen. We have a tendency of rushing towards things inspite of being aware of haste causing failures. Often in this process we ignore many things. The seasonal flowers remind us to wait for the right time.

The years 2020 and 2021 taught us the important lesson of being patient. Life is precious. We need to spend time with our near and dear ones instead of running behind worldly things. The shiuli flowers only blossom during season. Let us sit back and enjoy the moment.

Full Pocket Search

The market is full of backpacks because the schools reopened in June. The rush is less this year since the classes are held online. I came across this backpack. It has a number of pockets. This reminds me of a school bag I bought when I was in sixth grade. It had seven pockets. I thought I would be able to keep my things organized in it so I requested my mother to buy it. The bag I used the previous year had less pockets. It was difficult to keep everything arranged in it.

On the first day of school, I kept the textbooks and workbooks in one of the two larger pockets and notebooks in the other. There was a separate pocket for tiffin box. I kept my handkerchief in one of the remaining small pockets. The classes began, and everyone noticed my bag. After 2 classes, I felt a loud sneeze approaching. It was one of those moments when the teacher had asked for pin drop silence in the class because one of the students was reading a lesson. I frantically started looking for the handkerchief in my bag but was unable to find it. The movement caused noise and so the teacher sternly looked at me out of thick rimmed glasses and said “Stand up! what is the need for so much unrest”. She had barely said this when I sneezed loudly. The entire class jumped on their seats. The teacher again scolded “Where is your handkerchief? You should keep it handy”. She would have continued scolding but the bell for recess or break rang. I was saved from further scolding. It seems I had forgotten the pocket in bag where I had kept the handkerchief so I had to do a full pocket search of all pockets to find it. From then onwards I tried to keep the handkerchief pinned to my uniform as that was the easiest place to find in case of emergency. Even today, I prefer a backpack with 3-4 pockets as too many pockets end up confusing me.

The Patient Teacher

There are so many things that our parents teach us by their actions. The best part of their teaching is their patience. They would correct us no matter how many times we go wrong. There is one such activity which I learnt from my father. During my school days, it was required to dress up in properly ironed uniform. Our uniform included a shirt and pleated pinafore. I started ironing my uniform when I was in fifth grade that too after observing my parents. My father was very good in ironing. He taught me how to iron the shirt. He used to iron his clothes on Saturday evenings or Sunday afternoon. I would wait with my newly washed shirts while he ironed. Once he was done, I would iron mine. If my work was not up to the mark, he would iron it again to show me how a properly ironed shirt looks. Many times I used to do a poor job and he would correct it. In the process, he would iron all my shirts. This continued till I was in 9th grade. I was so lazy that it took me years to learn ironing like him. Recently when I was ironing a shirt for office when my mother told me Baba(father) always knew that I did poor ironing in school because I was lazy. He was so patient that in spite of knowing I was lazy, he continued to teach me.

Whenever I go to a new city, the first thing I buy is an iron. The habit of ironing clothes on weekends has stuck with me even today. There are times my roommates have complemented it. The credit goes to my father. He was the epitome of patience while teaching me. Ironing the clothes on time and keeping the shoes clean and polished were habits which he kept up without failure. We learnt this just by following him. He was the Patient teacher who taught us again and again regardless of the number of mistakes we did. Today on Father’s day, let us take an opportunity to thank the most patient teacher of our lives, our father. Happy Father’s Day.

Penning on the Pen

Something came out while re-organizing the old cupboard which motivated me to pen my thoughts on the pen. It was my Grandfather’s fountain pen shown in the image above. I was in third grade, when I saw it for the first time. It was very special to my mother so one had to be really careful while holding it. I just wrote an ‘A’ with it and was simply amazed at the smoothness. From then onwards I started looking forward to writing with fountain or ink pen. Every time my mother re-organized that cupboard, I would take up the opportunity to use the pen. Most of the great litterateurs like Rabindranath Tagore, William Wordsworth, etc used to be shown with a Fountain pen. Seeing them a childhood fantasy began to take place in my mind. I started thinking, holding a pen would motivate one to write better.

We were allowed to use pens from grade 5. The results of an academic session use to come by post during summer vacation when I was in school. From the day, my Fourth grade results came, I started pestering my mother for an ink pen. The moment the ink pen came, I started studying the language textbooks and solving the assignments. Everyone was surprised since this happened 2 weeks before the school opened. They thought I was going through the change phase when mischievous kids become responsible. The reason was the fantasy. I always wanted to excel in language and have a beautiful handwriting. That is why I had took on the language textbooks. Even after the school started, I used to love doing anything which involved writing using the fountain pen. My school work was always up to date although my dress and fingers had ink stains. I realized my fantasy when I was in grade 8 and had moved to ballpoint pens. It is one’s thoughts and dedication which motivate a person but sometimes a fantasy inspires one to improve. Luckily I found a few fountain pens in an old pouch. Its so nice to look back and smile on those childhood fantasies.