mirror mirror on the wall

who’s the fairest of us all?


S*@t i think to myself, as i drive down the road, as always i took a wrong turn and can’t figure out where i am headed. How do i do this every bloody time? Okay, i think i have seen that little tuck shop before maybe i am not that off the mark,but then again there’s another tuck shop almost identical looking diagonally across this one. A tuck shop, really? i thought of keeping a tuck shop in mind as a landmark?, i ask myself. Okay, maybe it’s time to pull over and google map myself out of here. I manage to add address in destination option and wait.

Viola! There it is, a beautiful blue snake like line with a big hot air balloon at one end. Super i think to myself, 20 mins to destination. I love technology, i step on the accelerator, turn up the radio and sing along as google guides me home.

Reaching a traffic light i look around happily, i may not recognize the roads but i don’t care, for i know i am on the right track. I glance happily at my phone at and the map re assuredly, almost like google is a partner sitting beside me. Wait a minute, i looked at the time to destination, 30 minutes it says.I wonder if traffic has increased? I drive on, wondering what an unusual number of trucks around today.Time to destination 45 minutes. Oh oh!!

The map, i read the map wrong. Of course, i can’t read maps, i never could. Now i am completely lost and the world around me starts to spin in my head, the shanties, the tuck shops, the mechanic garages with their broken down cars,street vendors, stray dogs, slum children playing cricket next to the highway with a piece of wood and  a broken ball falling lopsidedly on every bounce,now all seem to close in on me,panic sets in thick and fast, as i feel my breathing getting shallow and faster and my palms getting cold and sweaty all at once. I look out for street names, or directions,a big sign board shows directions to Surat in Gujarat, oh good lord, have i exited the city, more panic.

I reach for my phone frantically calling Cy, he will know where i am and get me out of here. The phone doesn’t connect, he is on flight, oh no, call mum, no answer, she never has her phone on her, dad will always answer promptly, and yes he does, what a relief, “hi dad”, “Hi, Shaheen, where are you?”, “that’s what i need your help with actually, do you know  S.V Road? “yes”, “i am near some Hotel Rocky, any idea which direction is home?” “yes turn right and get on to a main road”, “I am on a main road”, my panic is slowly dissipating into laughter, speaking to dad as i begin to realize my sense of direction is an inheritance from him and this conversation may just take me farther away from destination. My hot air balloon on the map is half its size as the snake marking my directions home has grown to anacondaic proportions.

Eventually i did find my way home, i always do, even if my route may not be as straight as the crows flight.

My phone rings, its my daughter, she needs directions as she is lost, and i hand the phone over to Cy.

Driving my dad to work, i can see his hand gesturing in a conversational manner from the corner of my eye, i know he is playing out his thoughts in his head, playing devil’s advocate, or simply putting his point across in an imaginary meeting in his head. I know this because that’s exactly what i do.


As the kids grow and express their  likes and dislikes, discover their strengths and weaknesses, i am reminded of my own. i watch my parents and i am beginning to  see now  almost exactly what i am going to turn into. i look around me and see repeated patterns and habits generation after generation.

i feel like i am standing in a hall of mirrors,multiples of  reflections everywhere, ahead of me and behind me, making me wonder

if i am  really me or merely a reflection of a reflection of a reflection?
















Only or already

I write this with a heavy heart knowing that the time for a dear family member might have come to leave the rest of us and begin a new journey on another plane.

As I pray and reminisce all the lovely times we’ve spent together over the years , the stories I have heard about her youth and I can’t help but smile through the tears .Her face has forever had the most radiant smile on it from the time that I can remember. Her ability to laugh at the simplest of jokes and mingle with all age groups stands out in my memories the most. Her love and concern for her family has transcended distances and kept the bonds strong over time even though geographical and political situations didn’t allow us all to spend more time together physically.

Yesterday only a young girl,trying a cigarette and singing carefree songs, laughing aloud with life, today she has probably  already run out of time.

Now is a time to weigh the scales, to calculate, was her service to humanity (something she did with love and fervor), enough, was the time spent with near and dear ones enough, was the time spent in devotion to the almighty enough? If not,is it too late already?

Time is such a subjective thing, Cy and I tend to watch tv before retiring for the night and many a times I’ve noticed even if he is tired, Cy will look at his watch and say ,” oh it’s only 10 o’clock!”. And we’ll watch some more until, he says,”oh it’s already 11:30pm” ,”let’s go to sleep”.

I began to realize and joke with him that we literally kill time between only and already. It doesn’t matter if it’s 9 or 10, the real difference lies between only and already.

If we are sleepy but it’s ‘only’ 10 we push sleep away until the ‘already ‘ time of 11:00 arrives.

From the last few days I have begun to notice this and realized that time is literally divided into 2 frames only and already. There is no real hour or am or pm. When I look at the time there is either enough time for me to complete my work or I have totally run out. Looking through this perspective it’s easier to plan and execute and live life and most of all prioritise,for I now simply know I want to complete things while I am in the only zone, as, if I don’t, regret will surely accompany already.

A couple of years ago,when I suddenly woke up to the fact that I was celebrating my 40th birthday (something I had blissfully forgotten ), I thought ‘God I am already 40 half my life is over’ (truthfully I thought it almost fully over), I rued over it until the day I said to myself I am only 40 the best is yet to come!

This change of attitude was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I now try and do whatever it is I am doing with more passion and heart than before for I know there is only so much time before its already passed!

None of us know which end of the spectrum we’re really in and so I pray that we all may enjoy this wonderful world the way it is meant to be ,whoever’s time has already finished, may they leave and transcend to a wonderful next, easily,peacefully, and joyfully, with a heart full of love and song!!

Best described In the words of Louis Armstrong . . . . 

(Song courtesy you tube )

Getting to know you

Summer’s here and although I had no real plans to take off to cooler planes,a situation presented itself and though the plateful of work I had on my hands made my head say no, the Sagittarian in me jumped at the chance and I found myself packing my bags for a short and much needed break. 

Landing at Brussels like I have number of times before but this time the presence of  extra security personnel around brought back  the recent ugliness experienced by the airport. 

I tried to shrug off the sadness and enjoy my holiday. 

Beautiful sunny skies, with fabulous cool weather and the endless patches of greens in all their varying shades welcomed me. I requested my driver to let me sit up front just to feast my eyes on the unrestricted vision of the endless trees, ‘the woods’ , they always make me smile and take me back to many a fairy tale.  

My driver was rather amused by my interest in the vegetation, something the locals take for granted, but do enjoy. Each garden has a different style and avenues with rows of trees lined with pink cherry blossoms or white flowers like snow flakes. 

Bye bye stress, hello holiday! 

The Gods were kind with clear skies allowing us to make a quick trip to neighbouring Netherlands. The cheese market tickled our noses and taste buds alike, and the fields of tulips felt like carpets rolled out by the heavens for us. We even had rain and hail for a few days which was a treat for one whose city only offers the seasons hot, hotter and hottest.

And finally as all good things come to an end so did my holiday. Back at Brussels airport we stood patiently in a temporary tent to check in our bags. Reminded again of the deadly attack,I couldn’t help marvel at how they had picked themselves up and continued with life ,while they simultaneously  repair the damages caused. A gentleman in line with us began to chat. He was from Ecuador, and we discussed how we were adviced by our friends respectively  against travelling and how it’s not possible to live under fear amongst other things. Saying goodbye to the new friend guiermo, we walked on to our respective  gates at the terminal nodding at more smiling faces.

They say travel is the best teacher, and the one thing that has struck me on this and recent holidays is that people around the world are getting more aware of ethnicities, of different races, different cultures, and more accepting of each other.

 More people are becoming friendly, in the small town of Gouda the Hollander selling cheese, struck up a conversation with me and I realised she wasn’t just being polite, she was genuinely friendly and wanted to know more about India. Our German  steward on the aircraft couldn’t stop raving to me about how beautiful Iran is and the scarves people wear around their heads. There is a surge of pluralism in the world. All along I have noticed people getting friendlier, and more vocal about not approving or understanding the crazy terror attacks in today’s world. 

This vocalisation of condemnation is slowly bringing about a sense of oneness in the rest of the world. A oneness that’s transcending colour, class, race and creed.

I see a mix and blend of cultures coming about, and a more tolerant, kind and caring form of humanity beginning to emerge, maybe there is , after all a silver lining to this dark terrorising cloud, maybe one day we’ll bloom together like a field of tulips individual, but one! 

Is it my imagination or maybe I’m just a dreamer, I don’t know ,but I know I’m not the only one ….. !

Dear Drummer

a message for a young enthusiastic prodigy in the neighbourhood. . . . .

Dear drummer of the mount , we hope you’ll hear our plea,

“It’s started”,animal-muppet we think, as to work , we take our seats,

When everyday you pick your sticks ,and your drums you start to beat!


Your rhythm, let’s be honest, although not so divine,

practice we hope in time, will help to make it fine,

beating  the barrels for  endless hours at a time,

we pray should  give you chops,  that will eventually be kind.


Dear drummer we appreciate ,  your sense of dedication,

But once in a way maybe you could indulge in a permutation,

For it never really hurt, to have a variation,

maybe  sometime you can throw in a metric modulation?


Music they say is a healer for the soul,

But the notes from this ghost, are leaving us for cold,

Please dear drummer  spare a thought for the old,

We do tire of hearing the battering so bold.


We do wish you the best, and hope you stand loud in every single test,

And eventually pocket a grammy , when you are one of the best,

But until then dear drummer, could you sound proof your room,

So when you beat another, we need not hear the boom,

Let’s restore the peace and quiet, for most and many,

In our queen of the suburbs, good old Mount Mary!!



might is right

10:30 pm, as usual Cy and I had over indulged in the delicious homemade food ,graciously and lovingly prepared by mum. Now groaning and moaning we thought we’ll step out for pan (digestive betel leaf loaded with some sweet stuff).


We drove down to our favourite pan shop ,a hole in the wall actually, enjoying a peaceful drive, in the quiet bylanes of bandra. As we turned towards home, a big fancy car turned in ahead of us , and suddenly the peace was shattered. There was a jeep behind us frantically trying to overtake us. We wondered what the fuss was all about before realising, that the baby ahead of us,had been seperated from it’s care taker(unknowingly)by us. For those who didn’t understand, the car in front had a self proclaimed VIP who feels constantly in threat for his life, and therefore has a Z security (maximum security rating), which gives him the right to a jeep and a bunch of rowdy security personnel armed with automatic weapons, who think it’s their birthright to stop ordinary citizens in their step, to allow for their VIP to pass , for every little leaf that shakes is percieved as a threat to his self proclaimed highness.

So here we were, in the dark of the night,in a  narrow 1 car lane, mr. paranoia in a big fancy car (traveling fast because, he has to, he is important), ahead of two pan chewing indivduals in a smaller fancy car (traveling slow because we don’t need to rush we’re ordinary people), followed by 1 jeep with now hyper paranoid guards swerving left and right trying to overtake. Cy and i looked at eachother and  with a twinkle in our eyes and a smile on our lips, both thinking alike. We would not give them way. We have every right ot be on that road, and drive at our pace. So we trundled along, taking off the pressure of the accelarator, while the pressure on the bowels of the guards began to grow.

They whistled, they honked, but it all fell on deaf ears, while we enjoyed Andrea Bocelli croon in our car. When we reached the end of the lane we knew, this play would end they would soon reunite with their boss safe and sound, in his bullet and bomb proof personalised 2 crore car, as they drove past, they couldn’t help break into a smile as we laughed in their faces at their inability to overtake in the tiny lane. We watched relieved faces, guns clutched in preparedness disappear into the distance, ahead of us.

This is not an unusual sight and is a daily occurance, from businessman to politicians, to movie stars, we see this entourage follow. While i have no problem with their personal fear, and the need to protect themselves with sometimes private isreali  security, i wonder the reason for this fear for their lives.

Many leaders, in all fields roam around freely, then why are these people so scared? Unless of course they have given, someone somewhere reason enough to want to destroy them.

Many lives have been lost in ambulances while traffic is halted for hours to allow dignitries to pass, in convoys of sometimes, 30 vehicles. Only recently some functions where cancelled on a 2 day notice due to the arrival and landing of VVIP helicopters in the vicinity,causing great inconvenience to party hosts as well as venue owners. We’ve heard of many innocents being at the receiving end of the wrath of security guards, who take the law into their hands, in fact attack unlawfully.

might is right

Today again we hear of a young man who lost his life due to the apathy shown to the common man.

One can run and hide from repercussions of wrong doings, but it would be impossible to hide from a conscience that lies within. The blood of this young man today and all those who have died in the past similarly, is on the hand’s of the all the system makers of such rules. Ironically, this young man might’ve even voted his angel of death to power.

Cy and i had a laugh that evening, but this is really no laughing matter, and the common man the true VIP’s needs, need to be addressed , for true might rests in their hands, and there is no digestive that  can come to the  aid of the loss of one , so as to  be written off as collateral damage !! 

 something stupid

It was already midnight as usual,I was watching tv before turning in . It’s late I said to myself . Struggling before finally falling off to sleep. Suddenly I woke up, I couldn’t stop thinking of this bad investment I had made and ended up losing it all. As the thoughts swam through my head,sleep took wing and deserted me. Now like an owl I found myself up, thinking of all the goof ups I had made all my life . 

 How could I have been so stupid I thought. Every little thing that has gone wrong in life up until now decided to playback in my head. And how others had planned and orchestrated  theirs lives so perfectly well. 

I began to recall the most financially successful friend’s life, seemed so smooth and perfect. Like on a chess board he had made all the right moves to avoid any mishaps. The happiest family  came to mind next.The kids always did and said the right thing. Eventually I think I did drift off to sleep. 

Waking up next morning with the dull reminder of failure at the back of my mind I went about the day. During the course of the day I decided to catch up with a friend to discuss some ideas and exchange views on a certain subject that he is an ace at. As we spoke he said to me,”if I begin to tell you the mistakes I have made in my life and money lost you will laugh at me”, “really ?, I asked, “I did  such stupid things that I wonder how I didn’t realise it before doing it”, he confessed. “It’s too embarrassing to even say anything “! 

At this point I suddenly felt elated not at his losses but the fact that I wasn’t the only fool or the only one who had ever made a loss or a mistake in my life. 

Of course we all know that success is like an iceberg where most of the struggle is not visible at the surface. Sharing our stories of failures can actually be therapeutic and it is so important. We all hesitate to mention when we do something wrong but when shared somehow the mountain in our heads retracts into the molehill it really is,specially when we get to know we aren’t the only ones having done it.

Sharing stupidity is so important, it helps  solve a mistake, or just lightens up the situation enough to laugh it off. Just mention something that makes you feel sheepish there will be another to share in the feeling, mention a panic attack and the rest of the room will share theirs with you, speak of a childhood trauma and their will be another who has had it worse.

 In conclusion I say there is nothing more healing that sharing something stupid over a cup of coffee with friends, living and learning is what it’s all about. None of us are getting out alive so even if it is something stupid like I love you, say it.For all you know they will love you back!!



You’ve heard of black,you’ve heard of white, you’ve probably heard of yellow skin too but ‘wheatish’, I bet that’s one you haven’t heard of .

I remember this term being used for me as a kid, specially as my sister  has light skin the comparison of ‘beauty’ was constant. From growing up as a person believing brown skin is not pretty with the constant feedback from most Indians, the first time  I began to  realise and appreciate my skin colour was when a stranger in Italy asked me where I got my tan. And although we didn’t speak the same language she did manage to convey the ‘colour’ was very nice. 

‘Wheatish’,I think back now , what a ridiculous term!

Indians unfortunately have a complex to anything white and will bend over backwards to oblige a white person. I have witnessed this in shops where all the salesmen suddenly wanted to sell to one white customer and the rest of us were left to fend for ourselves and ,in our school where we had a Dutch student for 1 year, she probably never had such a big fan following in her life before or after our school. This would never have happened to a dark skinned student even if she was a foreigner. 

I remember when one of my friends told me what a great guy my husband is and ‘so fair and good looking’ too. Cy and I still laugh about how an approval was based on his skin color.

We are a nation obsessed by fairness. In India fair=good looking. A car could’ve driven over you face and smashed in all your features but if you are fair, you will pass the test. The evidence of this is in the sale of fairness creams, the marriage ads in the matrimonial column, where a only a fair bride is invited to apply. A trend I have noticed over the last 40 years. 

When one of our’s is attacked racially in a foreign country we cry foul and yet with the recent attacks on the African students, in our own country some of our ministers have made  generalized statements as to the illegal activities undertaken by all the kids.(should’nt he have condemned the acts instead of generalizing ?) It’s so sad and shameful when I hear the foreign kids say they feel unsafe and are generally treated shabbily due to their race. Which many did on the news channels.

When in college I remember my own college mates passing degrading remarks when dark skinned students passed by, in Hindi no less,so they wouldn’t be clobbered by their bigger sized prey. I always thought this so pathetic ,to be mean to another just for their skin color. Once one tall,well built, student (who obviously knew some Hindi)turned around and asked ‘kya bola?, ‘ the bullies were hoping the ground would swallow them by the looks on their faces. That was one punch I would’ve been happy to see . He didn’t deliver, I’m sure because he is a guest in our country and decided against it.

We speak of being highly cultured but what happens to all that culture when we divide and further divide on class and race? Our culture teaches us ‘atithi devo bhava ‘ (guests are like god) and yet when they are black we don’t like them?! Hypocrisy to the hilt! 

As a kid my father always said to us ‘only if you accept your own mistake can you improve on it’. 

After hearing of the Tanzanian students attack and more so of the rickshaw driver spitting on one students face instead to returning his change, the fact that racism is deeply rooted in us is a fact we need to accept,IF ,we intend to change our attitude and tap into the humane side of our culture where we learn to accept all as our equal and respect everyone for their worth as a fellow human! 

It’s high time we peeled the fairness mask off our brown faces and made a few corrections in our mindsets.