A Brush with American Highway Police: A day to remember!!

Why are you stopping the car?”

There is a police car with blinking lights behind us….I think he has tailgated us for few minutes now!”

I thought my husband was joking. But I could see the highway patrol police officer striding towards the rented car that we were driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

All weird thoughts….. corrupt cops, being handcuffed by the walkie-talkie toting police officer à la Hollywood style, images of prisons…. crossed my mind in those few seconds that the officer took to reach the car.

I wondered where we had goofed up and was ready to kneel on road with “hands where I can see them” if ordered. My heart was in my mouth and I instantly developed a headache!

Alng the Pacific Ocean

Along the Pacific Ocean

All day we had driven along the Pacific Coastal Highway skirting the immense blue ocean enjoying the spell-binding scenery. Beyond Morro Bay we turned inland driving along Cabrillo Highway. It was already evening and we were two hundred miles short of Los Angeles. We did not want to risk night travel in a new city. We were reveling in the leisure journey with no maddening traffic to bother us.

Lost in Rod Stewart’s version of ‘The way you look tonight’ playing on the radio, I missed the worried frown creasing my husband’s face and realized that something was amiss only when he pulled over.

The officer leaned in to inspect, from my side of the car and noted our daughter sleeping at rear seat without the seat belt. He started rattling off our offences. Apparently we were over-speeding and did not heed his signal to stop plus one of us was without seat-belt….three charges!!

At that point of time I was totally nervous, dreading the worst and faltering when answering the officer’s questions. The fun-filled day seemed history….

But he was nowhere like the rude policemen of the television shows. He patiently heard us out when we apologized for all the mistakes. The only excuse we had was the mesmerizing scenery and joy of holidaying in America. He checked our credentials, the car rental documents, hotel reservations and holiday itinerary.

At some moment he decided we were some over-enthusiastic harmless first-time tourists and then…. Just like that, with a warning, he let us off the hook wishing us an enjoyable stay and a happy vacation!!

Having learnt our lesson, we thanked our lady-luck for the issue not blowing into some major problem and diligently stuck to the permissible speed limits for rest of our vacation.

In retrospect, I am glad I spend so much of my time watching Hollywood movies and American sitcoms… Ha! At least we knew what a tailgating police vehicle meant! Had we kept on driving, we would have irked the officer more, landing ourselves in big trouble.

A first-time month-long vacation abroad, in itself, is a memorable experience but getting nearly arrested is definitely nothing to forget about.

 

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Real Neat Blog

I got a pleasant surprise today in form of an award by https://4yearoldadult.wordpress.com/  Thank you so much.

The rules for accepting this award are:

1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
3. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc.)

Now to answer the questions:

1. Do you like to read books? Why?

I love to read, specially historic stories and thrillers. I love William Dalrymple. Reading is so relaxing and informative plus I do not need any body else if I have my books!
2. Tell me the character which would resemble the true you?

This I do not how to answer…I seriously do not know :(
3. The name of your first crush and have you ever told him/her that?

Yep, his name is Shashank and I married the guy.
4. If you could be one character out of a book, what would that be?

Surely Rani Lakshmi Bai
5. The little things that put a smile on your face everyday?

My daughter’s naughtiness.
6. The happiest thing that has ever happened to you?

My husband and my daughter…even if it sounds cliche’
7. Do you believe in true love?

Yes, I am with mine!!

I nominate http://shilpaview-ideas2.blogspot.in/ and her question remain same as above too.

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Aaji….

“Shoma, meri zara bandook toh lana( Shoma, bring me my gun!)” 

I distinctly remember her words which sounded funny even then, back in 1984-85 when I was a 9 year-old who was witnessing violence among Hindus and Sikhs, in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Houses of Sikhs were being attacked and burned by Hindu youth and Hindus were being killed by young Sikhs who roamed with bare swords in their hands. One such Sikh man reached our door step while my parents were away on their duties as doctors in the government hospital at Ghaziabad. My grandmother stood near the door and shouted for me to bring her imaginary gun as me and my sister giggled inside the room hidden from the view. The perpetrator scooted off without getting a chance to harm us!!

Whatever little fearless spirit I have is passed on due to my strong Aaji. As far as I remember, this woman, my dear grandmother addressed as ‘Leela Aatya'(Leela Bua) by all and sundry even her own sons always had silver hair, wore white soft cotton saris, pearl ear-drops, two light gold bangles in her wrist with a small safety-pin hanging in one of the bangles and a thin gold chain. She had this coin sized depression on her forehead…a reminder of a childhood injury.

I never knew my grand father….he died when my father was a mere 14-year-old boy. All the responsibility of four young sons fell on his wife… my AAJI.

She was one hell of a brave woman. When whatever property she had inherited from her deceased husband was lost in gambling and to the money lenders by her brother-in-law, instead of crying and feeling helpless, she shifted to her brother’s house in Gwalior for providing better education to her four sons. But she did not burden her brother with expenses, instead she completed her high school and trained as health-worker and mid-wife. She shifted to Nagpur and taught as primary school teacher for few years but later shifted back to Gwalior and worked in hospitals as health worker. By then my father had joined a medical college and could support his brothers and mother by taking tuitions of small school children after college hours.

Once when she was travelling along with a six-year-old me in second class sleeper via Kalpi, a small town in Uttar-Pradesh, some one tried to snatch her only possession in the dark of the night…her gold chain. She held on to the chain and did not let the thief get away with it. The thief had to release the chain when the train started moving again and pulled away from the platform. Her palm had a deep gash from holding on to the chain and I realised of her injury only when she woke me up the next morning on reaching our destination!

In another incident in 1984, when we had recently shifted to a new house and new city Ghaziabad, three men attacked our home when my parents were on duty. The thieves hit her on head with pistol butt and stole whatever they could lay their hands on. The fearless woman, locked me and my sister in the house and with the bleeding head in a heavy rain, walked to the main road, reached another doctor’s family who had a telephone at their house and contacted my parents!

Years later, in 2003, when my daughter was born, in spite of poor eyesight and failing health, she stitched frocks for the baby fashioned out of her soft saris! She even massaged the baby, cradled her to sleep and sat near me telling all sorts of do’s and don’ts of upbringing a baby.

Love you Aaji....

Love you Aaji….

My grandmother died when my daughter was three years old. Her memory had failed her and she was bed-ridden with many body sores. It was painful to see her in last few days of her life because I felt helpless as she lay in bed unable to recognise me… But her sloppy smile and a faint recognition that lit up her eyes on seeing my three year old daughter is the most important memory that I cherish….I feel satisfied that during her last few days my daughter could bring a little smile on her face.

Memories of her time spent with me and my sister are many…times when she pampered us, scolded us, protected us, made sweets and her special treats, feigned her annoyance, let us do her hair, told us stories, scolded our parents for scolding us…..

Her continuous struggle in life is an inspiration to never give up…stand up against adverse situations and take troubles by the collar….

I wish I had half her courage, I might have been more successful in life I guess……..

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A world of my own…

lodgy-design-1.jpg.ximg.l_12_m.smartA family of three with an adorable pet dog, we are much into weekend trips around Pune. And, for a recent trip, I went about packing inflatable pillows, bed spread, hand towels, torch, medicine box, camera, night-wear, barbecue sauces, veggies, and charcoal briquettes for camping at the secluded beach at Nagaon, Maharashtra…Oh! How I wish I had this new car, the Renault Lodgy. All this along with other camping gear fits in superbly in this new generously comfortable car which has ample space to house not only our camping gear, charcoal barbecue grill, our overnight bags, beach ball, hammock but also enough space for our Labrador, the handsome beast of a pet and his bowls!

I looked over at the two sleepy heads on the bed… one a 12-year-old and another 42-year-old, who though excited about the camping trip were still lazing away on the Saturday morning.

Years ago, when Aamir Khan with a guitar in hand, swayed to the tune of ‘Papa Kehte hain….‘, the teenager that I was, fell in love with the wispy golden-brown mop of hair of the actor…but I had not imagined even once that at 24 I would fall for this dashing young fighter pilot who even at 26 had hair that were salt and pepper…15 yrs later as I wake up beside this man who still has salt pepper hair, I can not think of anybody else as my partner… Aamir Khan never had a chance ;)

Our daughter is one tom-boy…. climbing up trees, trekking, fishing, staying in a tent, catching bugs….such activities interest her more than Barbies and dressing up….she always ends up scraping her hands and knees much to my consternation! But I would rather have a lively free-spirited girl making noise at home than a dull and under confident child!

I felt a need to shake up both the lazy bones, but their peaceful faces on the pillow made my heart melt….As I gazed at them, both woke up and were amused to see me smiling at overview-1.jpg.ximg.l_12_m.smartthem….I couldn’t resist diving in the bed with them….after all they are the most important part of my world! Soon our dog jumped in too!! Hmmm…I think the plush leather reclining seats of the Renault Lodgy are just perfect to snuggle up during long-long drives when either of us drives and the rest of the family stretches and relaxes!!

My husband, daughter, our pet, barbecue grill and our camping gear….if  these three lively beings and two things are with me…what else would I need to make my world the most perfect one!!

Ha! Except may be the Renault Lodgy!! And if I did have the Renault Lodgy I could have literally taken my world with me and roamed the world with 12 volt accessory sockets  to charge up our laptops, mobile and even listen music and drive happily ever after!!

I’m participating in the #LiveLodgycal contest with Renault in association with BlogAdda to get a chance to be a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive in Goa.

 

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A Better World!!

The day my little baby was born….I was reborn as a mother. And for the first time I started understanding my mother. With every little cry I would fret, spend sleepless hours and pray for her well being. Today my little girl is stepping into adolescence and I now understand why my mother frowned if I made some bizzare choice…

From a mother’s perspective the world is never a safe place for her child! She is worried someone may hurt her child physically… hurt them emotionally…. break their heart…. scar them for lifetime with all the ugliness of the world….

Every mother if given a chance would love to make a new world where her child is safe and happy…I dreamt of a new world too(read my World Remade here).

Being a mother, however, I can not just sit back and dream for a better world and do nothing to give towards it. It is us the mothers of today who have the onus of teaching their children the true way of dealing with life…

I would love to teach a thousand things to my daughter for her safety, her well-being, her mental peace. But a simple question from my daughter, made me realize, how important it was to teach her about work ethics.

A few days back, I was busy designing an invitation card for visiting senior Air Force officer and his wife. By the end of day, I was exhausted with household chores and day long meetings. The quilled design for the card was still in the making  and the card was required for the next morning. My daughter, showed her concern and asked me why I was making such an elaborate design? She told me to finish off quickly and slightly untidily…. so that next time, I would not be given the task and I would be free to rest after daily chores at home!!

I was surprised at her suggestion because I have never left whatever I was doing halfway be it cooking, painting, writing etc. I did not understand from where she got the idea of cutting corners for small benefits!

I sat her down and asked her why she said so and her reply was simple…” Nobody pays so much attention so how does it matter if your work is not perfect? It is you who is getting tired while others are enjoying  the evening!”

I decided that to make world better, first I had to teach my daughter to be a better person. This is what I told her:

“Sweetheart, never think whether the work is small or big…finish whatever responsibility comes your way with full dedication…it might not bring fame or acknowledgement from all quarters but in the end your heart will be at peace knowing that you did justice to the work. 

Do not take shortcuts like bribing  anybody to facilitate your work…because that leaves you in a vulnerable place to be exploited later. Even if you do the right thing, you may not be appreciated but then nobody will be able to point fingers at you either.

Do not indulge in unnecessary flattery to wriggle out of difficult situation, just put your efforts in completing the work to best of your ability …your work  will speak for itself and your ethics and integrity will garner respect for you… and may be inspire some to be like you.

Do what is right and slowly the world around you will become right…A better place to be!!”

Yes, I do believe that for a better world, we all need to work with full dedication and not sham, not cut corners, not bribe, not be dishonest, not be disloyal….. An honest person will be an asset and encourage others to follow suit making the world a little better place.

This post is in response to #MomsForBetterWorldProject

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Marriage Woes!!

Marriage is a beautiful bond between two people who stick to each other through thick and thin even with no blood relation between them. Strongest of friendship cannot break the bond between married couples….this when the husband and wife are equally committed and consider the relation above all….when both of them uphold the vows of marriage to be a friend first and love, protect and cherish each other through all challenges life throws at them.

What if either one abuses the sanctity, the promise…physically, mentally or emotionally….?

Usually the abuse which comes to light is of physical violence, dowry harassment and forced abortions. What mostly does not come out as a marriage woe is the mental abuse, the belittling comments, the threats and not even the forced sexual activity because of the attached stigma of dishonoring the family.

It is no surprise then that the Supreme Court denied to deem the forced sex in marriage as crime….there excuse being “If marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress”….Do they mean that if such a matter is not raised and we all turn a blind eye towards the issue then the family will not be in stress? Really? Because I believe that a family, where the wife is being subjected to any form of abuse, will always be in a stress whether she reports it or not!

These issues are real and very common but we read and rant about them, discuss about  them for few days and till another such thing happens we forget about such news and carry on with our lives silently thanking our stars that something like that has not happened to us!

And what if there is no physical intimacy between a married couple?

Recently, in the capacity of an air force unit’s commanding officer’s wife, I had the misfortune of being privy to a diametrically opposite form of abuse in marriage. The husband, in fact, never even realized that his behavior was the cause of his wife’s distress!

This woman came to me with a unique problem, one that I had never heard of earlier ever. She wanted me and my husband as the head of unit, to intervene and persuade her husband to have physical intimacy with her. The couple had been married for good ten to twelve years but they had no physical intimacy due to which she had not conceived and was being taunted by her in-laws and neighbors in village as infertile. For years she put a lid on the matter, bearing the brunt herself. The reason that caused her final breakdown was that her in-laws had started planning a second marriage of the man in hope for a child!

This woman’s husband was involved with some religious group which practiced abstinence from sexual activities. For no fault of hers, she was being subjected to such mental agony. Her request was simple that her husband should be ‘ordered’ to spend just enough time with her to impregnate her. He would be then free to return to his way of life with the religious group. She reasoned that if she could bear his child no one would blame her of infertility and they could continue to live under same roof with same indifference as past twelve years of marriage.

This poor troubled woman wanted to be held in her husband’s arms, wanted to be caressed, kissed, and passionately made love too. But she had been denied, for all those years, of any conjugal bliss. Her mental state was such that she looked gaunt and much older than her 35 years of age.

I was stunned to come across such a situation and was little unsure of how to address the matter. Both of them were counseled privately and we wished them well.

But will this be considered a crime… a mental torture by society and court or not? Or is it best for all to look the other way and let the family deal with this issue on its own too? Who should a person going through such a situation turn to?

In the recently released movie ‘PIKU’, the protagonist subtly mentions the sexual gratification as the need of women. People refuse to recognize that a passionate love-making is as important in a woman’s life as it is for man (however that does not mean at all that a woman can be raped in or out of marriage at the will, whim and fancy of man!).

Is it not the time yet to discuss such issues instead of caste and religion? Have we not come a long way yet to let women speak out about their desires? Is it not right yet for a woman to demand physical satisfaction from her partner in a way she wants?

Let us grow up and talk freely about issues relevant to humans without making it into something gender related. Unless men understand that a woman’s body is not a toy for them to be used at their will….unless the women have autonomy on their bodies, thoughts and desires…there will never be any justice…..rapes will keep happening…and women will keep curbing their own freedom!

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A to Z Challenge: Reflections!!

A-to-Z+Reflection+[2015]+-+LgThis is was the first time I stumbled on the A to Z Challenge and that too on the first day of the challenge. I wasn’t sure I could participate because the registration linky list was closed. But participate I did…..

And what a month it was! There is only one other challenge that I took in 2013 that of NaPoWriMo, which I completed too. I took A to Z Challenge to find out whether I could write at least 500 words everyday and to my surprise I did! I had not expected to survive the month though I very much wanted to.

However, there were times I wanted to write something else but the letter of the day sat large staring at me and I pushed the other thought at back of my mind so that I could concentrate on the letter. I realized that I am not good at writing on two different topics in a day along with doing other house chores…So that needs to be worked on!

The challenge was a wonderful opportunity to stumble upon but I am not sure I should bind myself with more such challenges which carry on for a longer duration… or may be I should first improve my typing and thought processing skills before taking it up!

I did get some very encouraging comments on my posts from co-hosts of challenge and new followers. Meanwhile I too read some wonderful posts. It would have added to the satisfaction of completing the challenge if there was a system of selecting the top three winners of challenge…… competition sometimes brings out better writing from people….it does from me ;)

For now, I am glad I completed the challenge. I will hopefully take out time everyday to write even without anybody to push me !

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