Sunday, 10 January, 2016

Help Always comes to Those Who Seek It

It is sad to see street dogs on one hand - scrawny, unloved and hungry - and well bred pet dogs on the other who are pampered and obese. If you are looking for cute appearance, loving and friendly nature, and a playful mate in your pet dog, then I do not see why stray Indie dogs can be any less than the usual foreign breeds. 

Few days ago, during the Christmas time I was filled with unprecedented determination to do something for the humble stray dogs near my society. On Facebook I got in touch with people who provided coats for dogs at very subsidized and unbelievably low prices. I am a student, and had recently earned some money with online content writing, and I used that to buy some coats. Those people did not deliver coats as it is not a commercial venture. And their area was not in immediate reach of metro. I am very thankful to my father who gave me a ride till their place and back home, even though he was running very late for some official work.

So I had the coats, but the main task was yet to begin. For two days I faced a problem asking nearby friends to help me put the coat on dogs. I had been bitten by a pet dog in my childhood, and had been cautious since then in dealing with unfamiliar dogs. I gave one coat to the watchmen of my society who befriend a street dog. I am very thankful to them for putting on the coat on him. One night I bumped into a girl from my society who had been out of station for many years for higher studies. I was jubilant to find her, and I wasted no time to ask her to accompany me to the big DDA park outside our society where a mother-doggie was staying with her three puppies. She had readily agreed!

On Christmas, I went with her to the doggie to clothe her. It was then that we found a young couple playing with the pups. They had already brought two large earthen bowls for this doggie family. We spoke to them a little and went ahead with our task of clothing the mother doggie. My friend was brave and we were sufficiently successful in our attempt. The next day when I went with milk for the mother-doggie I again got a chance to meet the woman we met the previous day with her husband.

I learnt that they were there for a few days at her parents' place in a neighbouring society, and soon they would be back to their home in Uttarakhand. I exchanged numbers with her in my bid to seek some help in clothing more dogs. However the following day I was to face something unexpected. I found a puppy bleeding profusely from the nose, just outside my society's gate. His mother-doggie was crying too. I tried to pick up the puppy but I was unable to as he kept running away in pain. This happened in the middle of the road. There were mobile cars while I was running around the puppy or halting the cars with my hand to protect him,

From nowhere a guy came and asked what I wanted to do. He was heading to the metro station. but he stopped, held the puppy and accompanied me to a vet a kilometre from where we were. He was at his feet once the puppy started getting care from the doctor. It was very kind of him. I do not knowanythong about him, not even his name. I appreciate a lot what he did for the puppy. As this was a commercial vet, he suggested me to take the pup to this charitable veterinary hospital in Noida. Now I was unable to get an NCR auto, nor did I have an android phone to hail a cab.  I called the woman I met in park, and explained the situation. She was willing to take him there in her car. We got him admitted. We visited the puppy a couple of days later as we were asked to. We called from time time to inquire about his health. On 2nd January I received a message that the puppy was no more. I regretted I could not return him to his crying mother. 

We got back to taking care of the three puppies and their mother from the big park. We had some surprises here from some of our human folks! The dogs' coats were stolen. It was hard to imagine why anyone would steal dog coats! The mother and the three pups were bare again without their warm coats. We were disgusted. In a few days one of these three pups got her hind leg badly injured. The woman took great care of her. She was giving the puppy antibiotics from time to time. She used to get her dressing changed, got her vaccinations for pain and swelling. I am still awestruck reviewing what this selfless lady does for these helpless beings. I have learnt many lessons in the past few days in course of my brief ventures with dogs.

There is a saying in Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry, by J.K. Rowling — 'Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it'.  And there is this book by the Portugese author Mr. Paulo Coelho called The Valkyries that talks about angels and their existence. I combined these two thoughts and figured out that angels do exist, in every possible form as per the circumstances, be it in a rainbow or a human being you have never even met before; and help does come to those who seek it for the just and humane purpose. We just need to keep doing our bit without giving up. Take initiative, and at least, begin! Who knows what surprises await you in the journey and what networks you may build. Networks of humanity.

P.S. I am looking for a loving family to adopt these protagonist puppies of my story. Please share their pictures if you have friends looking to adopt a pet for life. 

Also check out for more real and empowering stories!

Saturday, 11 July, 2015

Diet but No Crash Diet!

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Losing weight is not only about abiding by the beauty code. For healthy living it is essential to have a controlled weight gain and loss. But what do I do when I cannot help but have a sweet tooth! Sugar and everything sweet is unfortunately rich in calories and fats. Although this does not deter me from consuming them, yet I realize I cannot continue this way and must look for a solution. What I can do to regulate my weight gain is to either reduce consumption or, better, to find an alternative! It indeed is possible to not compromise with our sweet-needs while also keeping a check on weight gain. Henceforth, I present my healthy substitute!

I switch to a mighty-goldy Honey Diet! In childhood whenever I caught cold, my mother would give me powder of mulethi (liquorice) mixed with honey. I remember the old glass bottle of Dabur honey that my grandfather always kept by his bedside. He used to take spoonful of honey twice in a day. Today’s market which is thronged by impure products, I still trust the undisputed quality of age-old Dabur Honey. Daily I drink a glass of milk with honey, turmeric powder and almond oil. I simply relish it!

Honey is not only a healthier option than sugar as it contains lesser calories than the latter but it is also a good source of vitamins, minerals and energy which supplement healthy living apart from helping in digestion of food. What more can I ask for! So, I happily reduce my consumption of sugar and start adding more of honey to my diet as a daily sweetener.

Another quality I love the most about honey is its flexibility as an ingredient. It can be used in a number of food items. In summers I lust over cool fruit milk shakes – especially of mangoes and bananas. The flexible honey blends wonderfully with these fluid delights boosting the preparation with nutrients and of course sweetness. During summers, sometimes we get blessed with spells of rains, and especially now when monsoon is already here, who would not love to couple the milk shakes with some mouth-watering snacks. And what better combination than milk-shake and honey chilly potato! Irresistible!

For a low-calorie yet a filling breakfast I prefer oatmeal or muesli with honey. It is delicious duo. I do not believe in crash dieting but for the sake of healthy living I vouch for a smart diet which neither compels me to eat less nor to skip meals. Our Indian tradition has a lot teach and use of natural honey in our diet is one of them.

So, why rush for a risky crash diet when you can go slow and steadily to attain a balanced diet with some tweaks here and other in our choice of ingredients instead without cutting down on consumption. Rely on honey, embrace a healthy living!

Wednesday, 20 May, 2015

Mum's The Word - An All Weather Expert!

“I owe much to mother. She had an expert's understanding”. - David Rockefeller

Right from the time I was in her womb, my mother clearly came about as an expert in nurturing me and for taking all the labour to bring me out in this world. Naturally, the first expert in my life has to be none other than my mother who would help me see what is right or wrong, what is ethical, what is the right thing to do; she would help me dress up and used to make my day by preparing delicious food for the toddler me in her innovative laboratory - her kitchen! Fortunately she continues to create wonders in her kitchen; by god’s grace I can dress myself up by now, although I still keep seeking her advice about what to do in life-matters, and the daily routine inquiries of what to wear, what matches up and what suits me (I should mention that I keep getting hammered for not wearing the right clothes for the right occasion!!). Nevertheless, either way I am the one who benefits from the experiential advice I get from her. Truly a multi-tasker she is!

With my expert mother in Madhya Pradesh in 2010.

Mother used to receive my sister and me after the school ended, she used to be waiting for us with a rikshaw reserved, sometimes accompanied with sweets to treat the tired children after school. We would arrive home chatting our way, describing the day and what all we did or did not do (homework!). She would help us do homework, ensured that we did it before the evening play time. She used to take my dictations of both Hindi and English words. I used to participate keenly.

Every individual needs expert advice at some point of their life. Even the Prime Minister has a Council of Ministers advising him on many matters. There are days when we are not at our best, and that is when our very own experts come to our rescue. Amid all, one memory stands out completely when mother had been a complete saviour. I was in class sixth, I had fallen sick a month before my final exams. As a result I ended up missing many important classes, as we all know, at the last moment teachers rush up and cover a lot of ground from the syllabus in that short span of time. Later, only two weeks were left for exams, I was recovering but I needed class notes and none of the classmates were ready to lend their copies as they had to study too and they feared they would lose their copies as if I was going to have it torn apart by a dog. Anyway, I had to study. I was still weak in health and was recovering slowly. My mother took the pain of making notes for me from the textbooks, also inquired my friends over phone what the teacher had marked important in class. She helped me with the studies like a pro! I can still not forget that time. I had been dreading about the exams, and then she came with self-prepared study material for me. I did better than I had expected, I would not be modest, I did exceptionally well that in that class, all because of my mother’s determination and her expert training and hard work.

Mum and me in Dhanaulti in 2014!

Now that I have grown up, my mother seeks my advice too about the changing trends. She has beautiful hair and now they have started greying a little. Although for me she looks perfect the way she is but my mother still compains about this change in her hair. Usually the hair colours harm the texture of hair, resulting in shedding of hair strands. It was now my turn to share some expert advice with her. To relieve her of these problems I recommended the all new Godrej Expert Rich Crème! And she loves it so much now! After the very first application her hair looked healthier and got just the shade she was missing. A total of seven shades are available and my mother chose Dark Brown. The new pack comes in pre-measured sachets that saves a lot of time and makes the whole process more effective too. It contains aloe vera and milk protein that gives a natural and healthy sheen to the hair also making it more voluminous. My mother is extremely pleased with my advice and gave me blessings too. Nonetheless, she remains my all-weather expert forever.

Product photo courtesy:

Sunday, 12 April, 2015

I Started A New Life

How My Life Changed With Arrival of a New Family member

Early in my childhood I was told to be quite a stoic. I was one of the whacky people who would look when a chicken is being slaughtered in a shop for the sake of curiosity. My friend Harshita used to exclaim how ‘insensitive’ I was! I am glad she has continued to befriend me for the past ten years or so despite my antiques. There were some families in my society who had pet dogs. One of them was Sparky, a white Pomeranian, whom  Harshita loved playing with. I never touched him. I did not like him that much. I thought he would dirty my clothes or scratch my skin with his nails. She had given up on me and accepted me with all my dysfunctionalities. I could not care less for any animal.

With my friend 'best friend' Harshita
One fine night, almost like a dream Casper came into our lives. A black and white English Springer Spaniel dog, he was flown from Kolkata to Delhi as a birthday gift for my sister by my loving aunt. I was at first scared of holding him. Slowly I attempted to touch his paws that were amazingly soft and spongy. As I started learning from him and caring for him my friends noticed a drastic change in my nature. Even now when I take Casper out for a walk, I would make sure no other dog messes with him. I am careful that he does not run out of the house. I have found some pet dogs who get lost from their foster homes leading a painful life as they are not used to the life of stray animals. I make sure Casper does his potty business in time as the failure of same indicates stomach problems. Before having lunch or dinner myself I give food to Casper first, he is the VIP.  Once I did not sleep the whole night because Casper was having a minor bleeding problem due to which he was restless the whole night and could not sleep. I stayed up with him to comfort him till the morning. At that time there was no availability of a vet. We had given him first aid and took him to a vet first thing in the morning.

With Casper
I do not think without Casper I could have activated my emotional side at all. Just like him I feel for other animals as well and how others need good care. I am enraged now if any stray animal is mistreated. I try to help him/her myself to the extent of giving food, or else I call for help. The journey with Casper has given me a new lease of life in terms of seeing my life and that of others from an all new perspective that is considerate and warm in contrast to the cold nature I used to demonstrate before. Also, I can not stand seeing a chicken being slaughtered. It is murder. Harshita is impressed by the way I have transformed from a devil-may-care to a nurturing sister especially after the arrival of Casper as a new member of my family.

Friday, 10 April, 2015

To Live Or Not To Live Alone

One thing I miss doing is living on my own. I'm told that one is lucky to be home, to not be away from family. But where is the freedom? A counter to this is that the joy of freedom is exceeded by the pain of homesickness and of leading a life independently - when you have to cook for yourself, wash your own clothes and dirty utensils everyday apart from the main reason of your living alone (say studies or job). With this the luster of living alone is washed off. In my existence of 22 years I've stayed on my own for a brief project of two weeks in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh besides a ten day Vipassana course where I was cut off from everyone and everything. As a part of school and college trips, I've been to Nainital, Dalhousie, Jim Corbett, Palampur, McLeodganj. Despite these sojourns, I don't feel I qualify to take sides with either living alone or living with family. Moving on I'd rather speak of incidents and lessons learnt from these little experiences and how I faced them.

I feel when I'm away from family I'm more orderly, dutiful and conscious. With my parents around I mostly goof around as all my needs are then taken care of. But on these trips, I felt responsible for myself. I rarely wake up early to study, but once at my friend's place out of Delhi, I woke up early and started reading Chanakya Neeti! 'What's wrong with me?!', I asked myself.

My room at Vipassana Centre.

At Vipassana I was allotted a personal one single bed room. I used to wake up at 4 in the morning, meditate, have breakfast and in break time I would sweep the floor and wipe it with wet cloth. Sleeping alone in that small room surrounded by woods I would suspiciously look at my Kurta hung on the wall, I used to imagine it as a figure. So yes, sleeping alone in a really quiet place also has its demerits.

In Bhopal we had to cook one meal for ourselves. Doing utensils or cleaning the room has never been a problem for has. I'm good at making custard, soups (from powder), noodles and similar ready to make stuff. Sabzis, rice, Roti and other items of staple diet..are a bit of a problem. Thankfully my colleague there who happens to be a boy (no stereotyping) knew how to make stuff from egg breakfasts to Chicken biryani - saviour!

Living on your own teaches us important values such as tolerance, cooperation in times of coexistence. I feel less cluttered when I am own. I learn things I would not have while I am in the comfort zone provided by my home. I look forward to living alone and to start a new life on my terms, with new challenges as then it would be more fun.

I Look Up To the Beauty of Nature

Why is it that we need sad and poignant examples to keep ourselves positive about our own life? A person with a meager income would be discontent until he/she sees the living conditions of someone belonging to a lower rung of the society than himself or herself. Now he/she will thank god and be satisfied of their possessions. Why couldn’t this realization occur to her on her own...? Great works of art were mostly a product of a pained or an aggrieved artist; say a poet writing a timeless classical work after a severe heartbreak. This process has been going on for ages. I can quote many examples from my own life when I was able to look up in the middle of a bad day with the help of similar examples. Here I will talk about a day I managed to hold back my reigns and enjoy myself in an unexpected way amid hopeless times.

A calm day in my life begins with waking up on time, having a bath (well mostly), catching a metro provided I get some space to keep my feet in the heavy rush hour on my way to campus, and reaching my class non-hurriedly and without any hassles. One day all this went exactly how I did not want it to. I woke up late, missed bath, missed my metro by a second and then I had to wait for TEN minutes to catch the next one. Metro always acts up and has lags when I'm running late. Argh!

I reached the campus metro station, only a minute left for my lecture to begin. I wait for a bus which never comes. Just to add to my woes I had only a 500 Rupees note, so I reluctantly said goodbye to rikshaw. Only option left was to RUN! I reached my class twenty minutes late. 

In the beginning of this course, I had made only a handful of friends. None of them stayed for lunch due to personal arrangements ranging from 'my mother is waiting for me at home', 'I've to go feed my dog as he's home alone', 'I've to go out with my school/college friends'. My mother packed lunch for me, I liked to go to library after classes and returned home not before evening.

It was lunch time and I was all by myself. This is something I dislike. To have to eat alone. I ate remembering my graduation days, when I had a huge group and how much we used to have, my friends Asmi, Anisha and I loved the momos served in our college canteen. Lunch is when we catch up with our friends to talk about things other than studies and of course to share meals. 

But this day I was by myself. I looked at the people around making merry, chatting up, laughing together... I was al fresco. And I was low spirited. Suddenly I saw a squirrel two inches away from where I sat. It looked at me earnestly. Erm it looked at the piece of Roti in my hand. I was still and looked at it with suspicion. It looked back. I cast the piece of roti on the ground as far as I could. I admit I was apprehensive of what it would. Do squirrels bite? I know monkeys get rebellious at the sight of food. Squirrels are smaller but very agile and quick in their moves. It ran away and I felt it's gone for good. 

After a moment as I was about to have the next piece the squirrel returned. This time with a friend. I resisted to give another piece. From out of the blue one smaller squirrel came from above and jumped over my knee and then touched the ground. Never in my life had I seen squirrels this audacious and daring... I was shocked. To my own surprise I was laughing now. It was hilarious. I shared more pieces of roti along with some Dal. More and more of their kind started showing up from trees, holes, and digged up earth. It was heartwarming to have their company.

Only in North Campus can you witness the harmony and closeness among animals and birds. Here cats give birth in the library's premises while the kittens roam around the bookshelves and the reading rooms. I Walked towards the library and on my way saw a peacock on a stroll! Another amazing sight was that of pigeons, a parrot and squirrels eating together! 

I was glad to have all of them with me. I had fun being alone. It was not as bad as I thought. Seeing at butterflies filled me with joy. The beauty of nature made me forget all my petty problems. I started noticing things that I tended to refuse... Butterflies have proved to be an instant trigger of optimism for me; their fluttering movements please me, relax me. I can then see my issues and their solutions clearly. Hence, moving away from sad instances we can look up to the effervescent nature to draw inspirations and to lighten our heart and mind.


Thursday, 9 April, 2015

What keeps me going: Being Together!

No matter how brave we think we are, there are days when we feel low about ourselves and our life in general. It is dangerous to lose faith from oneself…because once I have lost confidence from myself nothing can bring me back on track. That is when I desperately need a kick to reclaim myself. I recall an instance when I did something crazy with my friends before I was about to lose faith.

We go back five years back in time when I had just got over with my twelfth board exams – the ultimate career deciding exams of that time (although nowadays after the abolishment of tenth board exams, students I know of do not find their twelfth board that big a deal; strange kids). So my friends Nupur, Anshula and I, like every other person, were unnerved by the thought of our results and future prospects. Anshula, the brainiest of us was still clear about her goals. While I was still chilled out, Nupur was seriously tensed. However before all this, we had to bear the horror of seeing our board results. Will we make it, “pass ho jaayenge?” Yes, of course, but getting good grades – SKYROCKETING grades - was the question. Duh!

Nupur, me and Anshula.

After spending days in utter despair, we decided to meet up and do something absolutely crazy to relieve our poor souls. Our peers had been talking about an amusement park in Noida located very close to our place which was opened around a couple of years back. We were told that some badass rides existed there to make our hearts race. That sounded somewhat like what we desired. A kick. A badass kick. This was it!
The very next day the three of us found ourselves at the entrance of this amusement park located next this huge shopping mall. After purchasing entry tickets, we got paper bands on our wrists and excitedly set our foot inside. There were not may rides, as it was still new, some were not functional. However, those that did function were enough to make our jaws drop. We headed first to the strange ride located the farthest from us. We decided to begin from the end.
This ride looked innocent. We just had to sit in the slots making a part of this single row of seats. As I said this place was still new, on this weekday there were hardly any visitors apart from the three of us. So we had this ride run especially for us. We picked our seats, careful to remain close. As we took a deep breath as we fastened our seatbelts, we heard ourselves rising up in the air with after a take-off thud… we suddenly paused for 5 seconds and with a jolt we were upside down… yes, so this whole row jolted in 360 degrees after pauses… We were shouting on top of our voices but at least we were together and did not feel so scared… Following a car ride, we next went to this deadly ride, this time we could only sit in pairs, so we ended up sitting facing each other… this was like an octopus with its tentacles going up and down, going upside down, we were on tips of these tentacles… this one made me slightly sick…only if I had not insisted for a second go. 

The one ride that really made us feel light hearted was Free Fall. Here we were dropped from a height as we comfortably sat on a seat together. From that height we saw the mall, the roads and everything around them… It was a great feeling that made us realize that we were not alone. We are a part of this universe and we are infinite. We cannot let anything bog us down. All we have to is to look up, believe in ourselves, face the challenge and find a way out. After an adventurous time, we ended our day by visiting the very peaceful Sacred Heart Cathedral near Connaught Place. We prayed for our exams, sat and introspected, absorbed the beauty around and returned home with a bunch of memories and happy thoughts. Today I can proudly say I have a set of close friends who help me keep going, and only their presence is enough to give me energy to get me back my lost determination and faith from myself.

Nupur, Anisha and I

#together #lookup #keepgoing #adventure

P.S. We passed and now are postgraduates. :P

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A graduate in Journalism and a postgraduate in Political Science from Delhi University.

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