Grab a cuppa, tell a story or listen to one.

Everyone loves stories. Everyone has a story to tell.


February 2015

Why We Love Young Authors And Artists ?

Art Work By A First Grader 
When I was a kid (many zillion years ago), I was very fond of writing a journal every day. I wrote anything and everything that I wished to. Rarely there would also be a doodle with the journal entries. I figured early on that what I wrote did not make sense for the school journal and there were no blogs back then. So I would secretly write in my journal, share it with few friends occasionally and that was it. Sometimes I would stand in front of the mirror and read aloud the journal and pretend it was a book reading session (for a book that I had written, of course). In some ways, those old habits have led to my love for writing this blog now. 
Every time now when I meet a child who loves to write, doodle or draw, it is of much interest to me. I see a bit of myself in them. I usually bribe my way to get them to show me their latest “secret” work. And sometimes they would even agree to provide something for the blog. The older ones send a link to Google docs or their own blog (See, I told ya!). The innocence, the rawness, the non-hesitant, no barrier, no boundaries held sort of expression is beautiful in so many ways. Their ideas are unique, opinions are simple and clear and the imagination is limitless. 
When we started this blog, we created  a section “Little People Speak” dedicated to publish the work of these young people. The Real Story Three Little Pigs that we published was a fully illustrated children’s book in its own right. “The Wolf’s Side of The Story” got the most number of adult people reading it with intrigue. Not just fiction, they have written about important things too – water conservation, plastic poison and stopping drug abuse. From pre-school art to self portrait, we saw some art forms too. Earlier this month we published “Pingu” and “Love For Nutella”. If you are curious about our own children, they write, doodle and take pictures for the blog all the time. Our homes are full of scraps of papers with notes in them and gel pens with lost caps.
A Doodle with a note on what love means…
Sometimes what these little minds produce may not seem important or meaningful to many, but it has deep personal meaning for the creator. Creativity demands freedom and does not always yield to something. You do things because you simply love to do them. That is reason enough. 
As we encourage these creative habits early on, they tend to mature and take form eventually. So do not get overwhelmed by the countless artwork, paper scraps, doodles, hand written notes lying around your home.  Take pictures, upload them on the cloud somewhere, stack it up, build scrap books, put them in keep sake boxes and send them to us here. We are always looking forward to them.
A Write-Up as a response to Love Is ..By A Third Grader. 
Their dreams are woven into what they express. There is a pretend world of their own, like in the write-up(above), a young detective is looking for clues. A creative writing class and an art school provides a structure and direction but the best of their work is produced when they sit and doodle in a quiet corner of the house, write their journals behind closed doors, paint a canvas silently in the garage or type away on their computers in the silence of the night. 
We are sure you have one of these kinds at your home too. Nurture and encourage them. Not every artist is Picasso and not every author is Shakespeare, but nevertheless they are an author or an artist in their own right. That is all that really matters.

Signing off this post with a recipe for love exclusively available only on this blog. This one takes creativity up another notch. It was created for Valentine’s day but you could really use this just about everyday.

Finding Love Again

Finding Love Again. Open a new door, find a reason to fall in love again, make a new beginning

Meera stood by the entrance of her apartment, carefully placing the brown clay lamps around the small Rangoli design; her ears alert and she, ready to spring into action at any sound or movement inside the house.

Scrutinizing her Rangoli artwork, Meera wasn’t particularly proud of it.
“What the heck! It is darn good considering I have not designed one in ages.” Meera concluded.
Meera threw a glance around her living room admiring her efforts at decorating their home. It was Diwali time and though for the last couple of years she didn’t bother with the festivities, this year was special – a year of firsts, a year of new beginnings and a year of embracing life again. The cool evening breeze made the orange paper lantern sway out in the balcony; its tail swooshing gently and at times getting entangled. Meera’s eyes sparkled along with the tiny colorful lights that she arranged surrounding the lantern. The lights, like little vibrant, colorful beads, dancing in unison made her home look beautiful. No one could say that the house lacked a man’s presence and Meera recollected those innumerable times when she was dependent on Ravi even for the smallest of the things at home.
Ravi, her husband of 8 years, was no longer in her life. The relationship had gone kaput two years back when Ravi had announced one day, that he wasn’t cut out for marriage and wanted a divorce.Meera later realized, what he really meant was, “he wasn’t cut out to be married to Her”. A year after the divorce Ravi married another woman… a colleague from his office.
Meera had often wondered why she had never seen it coming. The late hours at work, weekend seminars and the absolute No for having kids – the signs were all right there in her face; then why couldn’t she see that something was wrong in their marriage? Maybe it was the blind trust or maybe she was complacent with the situation at home, but the whole incident had left her broken, bitter and lost. For someone who was dependent on her husband for the smallest decisions of her life, being on her own was a daunting thought.
Meera took up a job for the first time in 8 years and started spending every waking hour at work to keep the loneliness at bay.
“You will be 35 soon. You cannot carry on with your life like that.” Meera’s mother had said one day. “You have to find a partner, someone with whom you can spend the rest of your life happily.”
“But you are alone too Ma. Its 10 years now since Dad passed away. What about you? Don’t you need someone in your life?” Meera contradicted.
“I have you Beta,” was her mother’s warm words.
Meera had gone back to her empty house that night and the conversation with her Mother had kept her awake till late.
It wasn’t a eureka moment or a spark of enlightenment, but it was the result of many months of sleepless nights arguing with self, challenging her own capability, bracing herself for the society, taking her mother in confidence, making a conscious decision, talking to necessary people, filling out the applications and a wait of 7 months which had finally bought meaning and enrichment to Meera’s life.
Today, like every day for the last month had been blissful. Meera was in love again. She had never felt so happy, content and complete in her life and a smile lingered on his face thinking about the reason of her happiness. Meera was pulled out of her thoughts when a wailing broke out.
“Ahha, my Khushi is awake” Meera rushed to the bedroom and stood by the crib, her voice soothing the year old baby girl.
“Here My darling… Mamma is here. Hush there you little one.” Meera picked up the child who instantly hugged her tight, putting her cheeks against Meera. The new mother closed her eyes, enjoying the pure, innocent love of her baby girl – her partner for life.
When Meera and Khushi came out in the living room, the little girl’s eyes followed the lights and her chubby smile brightened up the already decorated home.
Meera whispered slowly “Happy Diwali Beta,” to which Khushi responded by gurgling and snuggling closer to Meera making it the best Diwali of Meera’s life. 
Everyone says when you adopt; you give the child a chance at a better life. Meera believed it was the other way round. Yes, a child does become part of a family, but when someone adopts; it’s most definitely the parent/parents whose lives turn better and beautiful.

Written By : Jyothi D”Mello. A Book Lover, storyteller, dreamer, foodie, mother and a writer (an Amateur one albeit). Writing is her way to express fears, anxieties, inner demons, bottled love, guarded feelings and cherished memories. She writes because that is what she loves to do, that is what keeps her sane.

Picture Credit : Vipin Kalra 

An Undefined Bond Of Love

Love sometimes has no name. It is just pure and blissful like the sunshine. 

In response to our writing prompt – “We had nothing in common and then…”, this story tells how love needs no name. It does not need a definition.  

Sometimes I feel relationships, attachment, love, affection all these are strange words. All these words are somehow always associated with your partner, your siblings, your kids, your parents…rarely with someone else. Recently I read an article about a young man, a self-confessed drug addict, one fine morning fell in love with a stray kitten, and his life changed. If we keep our minds open, we find these GOD-sent people or other living beings or things in our lives when we are in need. 

In my life or as some like to say, during my mid-life crisis I was surrounded by loneliness. My daughter had gone away to college, my husband was posted at a remote mine and I was left all alone. Every day returning home after work was not something I looked forward to. The empty house was there to tease me. Music, books, even the telephone were not  friends anymore. Hours, days, months, turned into four years. How did I survive? 

Because of our neighbor ‘s small granddaughter. She had not started going to school yet. She used to think that both the houses were her own house and we were also her parents. They were vegetarians, but she enjoyed our non-veg food, much to her grandma’s chargin. On weekends when my husband came home, she would come to us with her lunch plate in hand and exchange it with Papa’s (my husband’s) plate.  

We would watch TV together. Between our houses, there was a low boundary wall. She and I, one on each side of the wall, spent the evenings talking about many interesting things. When she used to go to visit her maternal grandparents, I used to miss her a lot  and would repeatedly ask her grandma when she would return. Her grandma would not understand my need and would get irritated and cross. 

Years passed, she started going to school, we had many more secrets to share. Then one day my husband resigned from his job, I also did the same and we decided to sell the house and move across the country to our hometown. She came to know about it but did not utter a word. One week before we moved, she stopped coming to us and started avoiding us. 

On the day we were leaving, before getting into the car, we were exchanging pleasantries with her mom and grandma, but she was not there. I called out her name and my little friend came running towards us. As I bend my head forward, she held it in both her hands and started crying, the front of her white school shirt drenched with tears. 

We have kept in touch over the years. My little friend is a college student now and I call her to wish her on her birthday every year. She will forever have a special place in my heart and I hope I have in her’s too. 

Written by: Swapna Haldar, a teacher, a mother, a grandmother and a storyteller. You can read her other stories here

Compassion Trumps Grades. Any Day.

#1000Speak, 1000 voices speak for compassion , is a noble initiative launched by a few bloggers where in they are bringing in 1000 or more bloggers, photographers, artists together to speak about compassion. In this highly competitive world, it is becoming more and more important that we instill the values of compassion and kindness in our kids, the future generation. A mother, a blogger puts forth her perspective and take on this. It is a much needed change of perspective that parents, educators and the society in general must take. 

A few weeks go, a dear friend voiced her disappointment over her son not getting into the middle school’s magnet program. She worried that he will get lost in the public school system, that it isn’t competitive, that eventually his grades and his success will be impacted. Her worries were justified, to some extent.

Her son’s demeanor is very much like my ten-year old. In fact they are best buddies, looking for every opportunity to spend time together.

Without sounding preachy and patronizing I went on to offer my opinion which to hers, was contrary.

Both Hubbs and I are not fans of the magnets. Period. At least not at this stage. Yes competition is important, a unified curriculum is also critical but not in elementary schools. We don’t believe in burdening our kids with unnecessary and totally avoidable pressure this early in life. We believe in exposing them to a less regimented, less structured process that allows more room for fun, creative learning than having their smarts assessed with frequent standardized tests and such. Call it the influence of many studies on this or just our basic, uncomplicated outlook, we believe in, to put it simply, letting them be. Letting them be with a lot of love, encouragement, support and guidance.

My kids get good grades, straight A’s . But this is something I rarely write about. Simply because it is secondary. Again, at this stage. To me, this is the time for instilling the values we want them to carry into the world as adults. This is the time when we talk about the importance of kindness, humility, compassion, love, honesty and all the good that is so badly needed in this world we live in. Something grades, scores and structured curricula will not help us achieve.

We go to parent teacher conferences but we are more focused on asking questions about their emotional, social development than their cognitive abilities. Do they have friends? How many? Do they hang out with the same kids? Do they help out? Do they show kindness? How? How can we get them more involved in extra curricular activities or programs that helps them become more grounded? And when the teacher shares stories of success in these areas, we know we are on the right path.

But it is a long road ahead – there is a ton to learn, much to teach or show them. Because of this seemingly cruel, complex, intolerant , apathetic world we are bringing them into. Of course there is no guarantee that instilling the right values will hold them in good stead or keep them safe. But as parents we prefer to continue on this path of learning, engaging in the most deliberate manner.

I used and still worry about how sensitive my kids are, especially my son. He is quite, reticent, laid back but is thoughtful in the most unexpected way unlike his sister who wears the badge of helpfulness on her sleeve for everyone to see. I worry about how is he going to manage his way in this cruel world. How will he survive people who are just plain vicious? But the more I look at him and his way of approaching life in general, I think he will be fine. In fact I believe his soft heart will be his ultimate trump card.  It will be his badge of courage, of compassion. Of doing the fair/right thing. Of being empathetic.

I worry about my daughter over extending herself to the point that she is perceived as being subservient. That somewhere along the way, instead of helping her develop assertiveness, I have unintentionally made her passive or docile. This is where we need to be intentional in our actions, thoughts and behaviors as parents. Yes we goof up, tremendously so. In fact if we’d get paid a dollar for every parental transgression we have committed thus far, we would be sitting on a hefty bank balance.

I have not enjoyed my role as a parent as much as I do now. We are in that phase of bantering, of having meaningful conversations on local, regional and international events, of sharing our feelings of hurt and joy with equal candor. And of course, we butt heads occasionally. I am more vocal and talkative than hubbs so I tend to engage more than him. I am also more dramatic in the way I approach some things. This is where the ever patient, practical Hubbs provides the much needed balance, perspective.

Teaching and setting the right example of compassion is something I have deliberately taken on. This may take the form of simply having a conversation with them about what is love or kindness or taking them to the local pantry to drop food off or drawing special cards for seniors during the holidays. It is a long journey, one in which the learning is often both ways. A time will come when grades, advanced placement classes, more structure/unified study formats, test scores will take precedence but for now, they aren’t our focus. And I’d like to believe that we are good.

This post has been written by our regular contributor and a dear friend, Sukanya Bora. She is a mother of two, an avid blogger, storyteller, a photographer and someone who always speaks her heart.  Her writings are a reflection of her immense love for life, respect for everything that it has to offer and her candid perspective on things that matter the most in life. 

An Act Of Impulse or Compassion ? You decide.

#1000Speak, 1000 voices speak for compassion , is a noble initiative launched by a few bloggers where in they are bringing in 1000 or more bloggers, photographers, artists together to speak about compassion. I am a storyteller and that is the way I am going to talk about compassion, through a story. 

It was Sunday afternoon and I had stepped out with the family for a quick lunch. The kids had been unwell all weekend and craved for some South Indian fare. Steaming idlis, piping hot sambar, a crisp paper dosa and the array of chutneys was definitely going to uplift our moods. It had also been raining all weekend, so a bit of coaxing was needed to step out of the PJ’s and put on the boots and coats. When we finally stepped out it was still wet, drizzling, cold and very windy outside. 

As we got out of the car and walked towards the restaurant, I noticed a lady. She stood there in that light rain, with a toddler in a stroller next to her. A light blanket and the cover of the stroller gave a bit of protection to the child. But I could tell the child was wet and cold. The lady held a board that requested help. She needed money. Why ? There was nothing to tell that. The maternal instincts in me felt a surge of compassion for the little child. Mine stood beside me covered in their warm coats and boots and were soon to be treated to a warm meal. What about the child in the stroller? 
We stepped inside the restaurant and asked for a table. The husband has known me enough to read my mind. He knew my dilemma. He slipped some money into my hand knowing well that I would end up going outside to meet the lady. We quickly spoke of what we should do. There was no way I could ignore everything and enjoy my meal. So I left everyone inside the restaurant and went out to the lady. 
As I walked outside a stream of thoughts crossed my mind. I need to ask her why she needed the money, I need to talk to her, I told myself. Or should I go and just give her the money? Should I let her be and not do anything, after all she is young enough to work and earn some money? Why will a mother take her little baby out on a rainy cold day to beg for some money? There has to be a dire need for it. The questions and thoughts were just endless. 
“Hi, It is raining. Why are you out here with the baby? ” I said looking at the child. 
“I go in ten minutes.” She said apologetically.  
“That is fine. But why do you need the money ?” I said pointing to the board. 
“Yes, I go in ten minutes.” 
Another woman came up to help with the same urge as perhaps mine. We tried to figure things out. But after a few more questions, we realized she did not speak English, only a few broken sentences here and there. She could not explain why she was there and my heart broke just looking at the little child during our conversation. I handed the money to the lady and asked her to at least stand in some shade. I left with a hope that she would make good use of the money and walked back to my children who were now dipping their idlis into the hot sambar and cool chutneys. The husband and I exchanged glances. 
“I do not know if I did the right thing,” I said after explaining what happened outside. 
“You did what you felt right at that moment. Let’s leave it at that.” 
I made peace with it too or maybe not. At least I did not ignore my feelings. I can spend hours thinking about whether the lady genuinely needed money, should I have helped  her in other ways, should I have controlled my emotions and been more pragmatic. But it is not every day that I feel such a strong impulse to go and hand out money to a stranger. I usually donate in a structured way to the charities and shelters. But that particular day I did. My heart ached for that little baby.

There are times when it is impossible to turn a blind eye to people’s pain, misfortune and suffering. That feeling to me is the first sense of compassion. Compassion can be misunderstood as pity. But compassion to me is when you feel for someone else’s suffering and when you try to put yourself in their shoes and understand their pain.  That feeling then usually leads to an act of kindness.

As we left the restaurant, I noticed that the lady and the child were no longer around. And that is where this story ends, just like that. 

So dear readers what do you do when you find yourselves in a similar situation. What would you have done if you were in my place? What would your heart say to you ? Is it always possible to be pragmatic and ignore the feelings of compassion towards someone ?  We would love to hear an opinion. 

Written By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra, the resident author of this blog who is also a compulsory people watcher, a storyteller at heart and a mother of two young children. She share her life experiences because she believes that a story will always touch hearts, inspire minds, bring people together and most every time stir nostalgia.  

Love is life ; Love is all the little things we do in life

“Love is an extension of self love”…someone wise had quoted this to me once but the true sense of those words had dawned at me only years later. Although celebrating love needs no special day or even moment (for it is omnipresent and eternal I believe), acknowledging this sense in our lives or rather everyday life seems to be a good tribute.

When I first read the theme for this month, I was amazed, somewhat confused as to how we can portray anything about love without the mention of a person in it; but guess I was wrong for then as I started to pen down my thoughts about the subject, I realized how magnificent the feeling is in itself that it almost has an identity of its own. So I decided to write about my love for LOVE itself (given that there are too many tidbits in my life that I am absolutely in love with).

To me, Love is life; Love is as small as waking up in the morning with a smile to as colossal as finding oneself walking in the seventh heaven of happiness (no matter what the reason is). Love is sharing your favorite chocolate chip muffle with that special someone or walking an extra mile to reach that rustic bookstore (that very few are aware of) round the corner with all its aroma and ambience. 

Love is visiting the forests/mountains/oceans for the infinite time to capture the rarest of the rare in our camera or just for pleasure; Love is finishing up your assignment or putting in an extra hour of work/study to watch the first day first show of your favorite star’s movie; Love is overcoming your own fear to go scuba diving with your friend or children who almost live for it; Love is everything big or small that is beautiful to the eyes and senses. 

Love seems to be reasonless as it knows no leaps and bounds, many a times the only hope to survive when everything else seems bleak. Love is forgiveness and endurance, the willingness to take a chance even in a near lost case. Although sometimes love can end in up heartbreaks and pains (that seem irreparable for the moment), it is love alone that can mend the break for in love we find the strength to trust.   
Love is the biggest and the most significant jigsaw puzzle piece that completes the enigma called life. So let’s fill our lives (and in turn all those lives that we touch every day, we all seem to be connected in some strange way remember?) with so much love that we leave no room for hatred!

Written By : Anindita Sengupta  Picture By : Vipin Kalra 

A Salute To Selfless Love

An officer posted on the border is on duty protecting his nation. The officer’s 75 year old mother is getting ready to go under the knife. She wishes for her son to be by her side. But she knows well, love for motherland comes first and for that she needs to let go of her desire. The officer swallows the lump in his throat too. 

Aporajita Jain cover this beautiful facet of love between her own brother and mother.  A salute to all soldiers, their mothers and their selfless love for their nation. 

His moustache had icicles on them….
His toes frost- bitten….
His fingers numb….
Yet,he stood alert at the borders that night….all night….

At dawn,as the guns paused for a while,
He turned on his cell and eagerly texted his mom…
“Ma,i love you….
Ma, i’ll be home soon…”

Close to her seventy-fifth b’day,
She was going under the knife for the first time….
She looked at his message again….yet again….
“He says he’s on his way….”
We smiled….
“Yes, he is……”

We knew he wasn’t….couldn’t be….
For he was standing with his men in knee- deep snow,
Where the silence of the valleys was being pierced by the gunshots…..

His heart was with his mother….
He craved to be with her….
But he put his hand on his heart…
Hardened his nerves…
Wiped his moist eyes….
And remembered his oath….
“….me and my family will come last….
Always and every time….”

Salute the mother,who taught him to love….
His Motherland….
Salute the son,for whom ‘The Oath’ is etched in stoned to this day….
Salute you, brother,for your selfless love….. 

Authored By : Aporajita Jain 
Picture By : Smita Ranjan Keron 

A Bouquet Of Flowers

In response to our request for a mushy romantic story, here is a narration by one of our readers. She is keeping it anonymous and we can understand why. 

He sent her flowers that got delivered to her roommate instead. He had not put a name on the card thinking she would understand. The roommate who received the flowers (while being a little surprised), thought it was her’s because she had recently met someone and had taken quite a bit of liking for him. The roommate emailed this “someone” and asked for a dinner date later that night. That date and many other dates later, they decided to get engaged. Make it official. 

Just at the onset of the engagement party, she said to him, “Thank you for sending me flowers on Valentine’s day. If not for that gesture, we would not be here today.” He told her he had not sent her any flowers and they had laughed about it. How wicked! She had accepted someone else’s flower and fallen in love herself. 

Later that night, realization hit ground. Those flowers were never meant for her. It came in for her friend, her roommate. She perhaps knew from where. Though a wild shot, she took a chance. The next day she called the guy that she thought had sent the flowers. Jackpot ! She was right. He was the one who had sent the flowers. Flowers that she had received. Flowers that were not meant for her. Flowers that were sent to her friend, her roommate. 

Months had passed by then. The friend, the designated recipient of the flowers had moved cities. The guy who sent her the flowers had not made another attempt. Too much of a gentleman, he had not felt it right to bother a girl who had not responded in the first attempt. Sigh ! 

That night both former roommates got onto Skype and the flower delivery saga was discussed. 

“You mean, he likes me?” 
“Yes. Of Course. It is written all over him.” 
“He never said a word. Even the night when I was moving, he dropped me at the airport. I was hoping he would say something.” 
“He thought you were not interested. He was being nice.” 
“What do I do now? “ 
“What do you want to do? 

She knew exactly what to do and she did so without any hesitation. She sent him an email with this message. “Hi, You got the right address but the wrong person last time. Here is the right address for the right person. That is, if you still wish to send flowers.” 

He did send her flowers and the rest as they say, “They lived happily ever after!”

Happy Valentines’s Day everyone ! 

Love is beautiful, love is overrated.

Love is beautiful, love is overrated… But what is love?

We have all fallen prey to love without even knowing what is love. Love is life, love is power, love is obsession, love is desire. There is no life without love, yet we often fail to define the power of love. Sometimes we are obsessed with love and sometimes it is beyond our logical minds to explain the desire for love. But we love to say, “I’m in love”!

Keeping up with its pace and entwined in the labyrinth of life, we seldom ask ourselves, what do we love? We often accept what we are told to love. Love is illusion, love is enlightenment, love is conscience love is enchantment. Sometimes we are in the illusion of being in love and sometimes we feel enlightened after receiving love. Love awakens our conscience and our souls and we feel enchanted by love. But who knows what is love?

Love is inexplicable, love is unreasonable, yet, love is desirable, love is irresistible! 

Written by : Jolly Datta. Jolly Datta, the newest writer on the block is an engineer by profession, a poetess and a die hard romantic at heart and a mother of two beautiful children. 

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