One & Only…Field Marshal Manekshaw

On his 102nd birth anniversary…Sam1

It’s true when they say God doesn’t make ’em like him any more. India’s first Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, popularly known as Sam Bahadur, was truly a quintessential soldier and a gentleman. Those who are part of the armed forces of India and their families will know of this great man. Those outside, may not even be aware of what his contribution is to the history of India & Indian Army.

Without delving too much into his early life, I would like to share some incidents & situations that made him who he was – a legend. Spanning four decades, his career began in pre independent India. Capt Manekshaw, fighting in WW II, led his company in a counter-attack against the invading Japanese Army and despite suffering 50% casualties the company managed to achieve its objective. In the counter attack, Capt Manekshaw got hit in the stomach by a machine gun fire. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Division, Maj Gen David Cowan, having witnessed Capt Manekshaw’s valour, rushed to his side. Fearing that the young officer would die, the general pinned his own Military Cross ribbon to Manekshaw saying, “A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross.”

Capt Manekshaw was evacuated to Rangoon, and, when the surgeon asked what had happened to him, he replied that he was “kicked by a donkey”.

In 1961, his outspoken frankness got him into trouble with Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon and Lt Gen B M Kaul. He refused to toe Menon’s line and was sidelined, albeit temporarily.

Manekshaw was vindicated soon after when the Indian army suffered a humiliating defeat in North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), now Arunachal Pradesh, the next year, at the hands of the Chinese leading to Menon’s resignation. Prime Minister Nehru rushed Manekshaw to NEFA to command the retreating Indian forces. This had an electrifying effect on the demoralised officers.

In no time, Manekshaw convinced the troops that the Chinese soldier was not “10 feet tall”. His first order of the day said, “There will be no withdrawal without written orders and these orders shall never be issued.” The soldiers showed faith in their new commander and successfully checked further ingress by the Chinese.

In 1964, he took over as Army Commander, Eastern Command in Kolkata. He successfully responded to the insurgency problem in Nagaland, dealt with the Mizo uprising and strived to bring normalcy to the North East. It was here that my father, serving as ADC to Maj Gen KP Candeth, ( commanding 8 Mountain Div) met his Army Commander for the first time. This interaction also taught a lesson that my father has handed down to the next two generations in our family. It so happened that after the day’s work, both Maj Gen Candeth & Lt Gen Manekshaw were relaxing that evening in the GOC’s quarters. My father, being the ADC wheeled in the bar trolley and lifted the bottle of whiskey to pour a drink for both Generals. Lt Gen Manekshaw saw the way this young captain was holding the glass and the whiskey bottle and asked him a question, “Young man, how long have you served with Unni (GOC’s nickname) and do you have a girlfriend?” My father replied, “I have been with Gen Candeth for 8 months Sir. And no Sir, I don’t have a girl friend.”

The Army Commander winked at my Dad and said, “It shows that you don’t have a girl friend by the way you hold the bottle. Remember, always hold the bottle by the neck and your girl by the waist. Never the other round…you will get a kick in the wrong place.” That priceless lesson was handed down to my brother and me and that was the first thing I noticed when I fell in love with my man. He got the permutation right!

As the 8th Chief of Army Staff, Gen Manekshaw’s experience was going to be put to test in 1971 when we went to war with Pakistan. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was yet to understand her Army Chief. When she asked him if we were ready for war, Sam Bahadur’s classic reply was, “I’m always ready, sweetie.” It makes me smile every time I think of the PM’s reaction to a statement like this. Having said that, he also pointed out that our armed forces had to be readied for war and that would take time. He said he could guarantee victory if she would allow him to prepare for the conflict on his terms, and set a date for it. The PM acceded to this and thus, Bangla Desh was born. When the PM asked him to go to Dhaka and accept the surrender of Pakistani forces, Manekshaw declined, magnanimously saying that the honour should go to his Eastern Army Commander, Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora.

He was the epitome of soldiering with dignity. After the 1971 War, he was visiting our injured soldiers in hospitals. He met a young man who had three bullet wounds and quipped, “You received three at this age; when I was of your age, I received nine bullets and look—today, I am the commander in chief of the Indian Army.” He ensured that the 93,000 prisoners of war were treated with utmost respect. Officers who served with him were told to maintain the dignity of the captured soldiers. He personally supervised some the PoW camps, which led to even some of the Pakistani officers salute him for is humane approach.

Handsome, charismatic and a razor sharp wit characterised Field Marshal Manekshaw. That he held politicians in disdain is no secret. He was blunt about the views he held of them, the most famous one being, “I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter.”

On another occasion, PM Gandhi asked him whether he was planning to take over the country. Pointing to his long nose, the General replied: “I don’t use it to poke into other’s affairs. I don’t interfere politically as long as nobody interferes with me in the Army.”

Suave in all his social interactions, Sam Bahadur could charm the pants off anyone, including Bollywood stars. This incident was in Nov/Dec 1999 in Mumbai. A talk & ceremony was organised to honour the heroes, martyrs and war widows of Kargil. The theme was “Lessons from Kargil” and Field Marshal was the main speaker that evening. My Dad had the opportunity to share some of his thoughts and we were in the audience. Some of our Bollywood stars like Raveena tandon & Nana Patekar had visited Kargil just before this event and were also present. It is was an emotianally charged atmosphere and Raveena in her exuberance declared that all soldiers of the Indian Army were like her brothers and wanted to tie a rakhi to Sam Bahadur. He promptly got up from his chair, hugged her and said, “Raveena, a pretty girl like you should tie rakhi to this young General and not me. You and I are friends.” The young General was my father, pushing sixty at that point!

Such a hero was treated shabbily by the government as they did not give him his dues as Field Marshal. His death also showed us how this country views it’s soldiers. Irrespective of how he got treated by the politician & bureaucrats in his life or death, Sam Bahadur will always be loved and respected by the likes of us who have known him or known of him.

And to think he wanted to become a gynaecologist when he was 15 years. When his father refused to send him to London to study, Sam Bahadur rebelled and applied for the entrance examination of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun.

Thank you Uncle Sam for rebelling when you did…because India got one her best and most celebrated army officer!

Quintessentially Indian Army…

“You have never lived until
You have almost died,
And for those who choose to fight,
Life has a special flavor,
The protected will never know!!!”
-Capt R Subramanium Kirti Chakra (Posth)images

Happy Army Day!

Saluting the Indian Army, to which I owe a lot in my life, I have put together some amazing facts for everyone to read. The more I dug into my research & reading, the more I found…I can’t really do justice to what this proud institution has done for Indians & for India. This is merely an attempt to educate the people out there…

  1. Indian army has close to 1.3 million soldiers, making it the second largest army in the world. Numbers do matter.
  2. Indian Army is located in some of the most inhospitable terrains of the world and have never buckled under pressure.
  3. Every scenario encountered in these terrains have been battled and faced by our armed forces.
  4. It is a united army not based on any social, economic, religious or cultural divide.
  5. We are considered to amongst the best in high altitude & mountain warfare.
  6. We are regarded as the best army to deal with counter insurgency operations.
  7. Indian Army controls the highest battlefield in the world – Siachen Glacier.
  8. We have fought four major wars and helped in the creation of an independent Bangla Desh.
  9. The Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 ended with the surrender of about 93,000 combatants and officials of the Pakistani Army. This is the largest number of POWs taken into custody since World War II.
  10. The Portuguese ruled Goa for more than 461 years until 1961. They refused to hand over Goa to India even after the Indian independence. The locals were resisting the Portuguese, but even after many diplomatic efforts, Portugal did not alter their stand. in 1961, India with a massive force outmatched the Portuguese force 10:1 and annexed Goa in just 36 hours.
  11. Battle of Longewala was fought in December 1971 between India and Pakistan, in which just 120 Indian Soldiers with 1 jeep mounted M40 recoil-less rifle held the fort against 2000 Pakistani soldiers backed by 45 tanks and 1 mobile infantry brigade. Indian soldiers held their grounds the whole night giving the Pakistanis the impression that there were around 500 Indians soldiers. When the fire was brought from the sky by Indian Air force in the morning, Pakistani soldiers fled their positions leaving behind 34 tanks.
  12. The Indian Army built the highest bridge in the world. The Bailey Bridge is the highest bridge in the world. It is located in the Ladakh valley between Dras and Suru rivers in the Himalayan mountains. It was built by the Indian Army in August 1982.
  13. The Indian army has a horsed cavalry regiment. It is one of the last three remaining of such regiments in the world.
  14. The Indian Army is respected because it is one army that knows, understands and fights terror on its own soil, daily. We have combat commanders that actually experience  others shoot at them, and soldiers who actually experience the sheer chaos when thousands of men and machines try to kill each other.
  15. Indian troop commanders develop doctrine-strategy-operations-tactics based on their actual combat experience.
  16. India’s unique positioning allows its army to enjoy some of the best of what both West and East have to offer.

The Indian Army is a powerful one, not just in terms of numbers, but also in its resilience siachen-1and ability to handle stress. Our soldiers complete a minimum of 2 years tour of duty as opposed to the American system of 6 months. I have always wondered whether soldiers from other armies would actually survive a 3 month tenure in Siachen?

Leadership in the army by and large focuses on the psychological & emotional well being of the soldiers. Yes, I know the question of soldier suicides is bound to come up here. Very rarely is this work related. Most of these cases are related to problems at home pertaining to spouse, family feuds & financial dealings. It is here that the rich tradition of regimental life has stood the test of time and the strong bonding woven in an army unit, results in high levels of camaraderie. For those interested in reading more about this, I would recommend Lt Gen Ata Hasnain’s blog – http://www.ibnlive.com/blogs/india/lt-gen-syed-ata-hasnain/why-the-indian-army-handles-stress-better-than-all-other-armies-14405-1153882.html

Indian Army has its share of problems and challenges. However, I do not think this is the 20141213_LDD-VSK-MN_POP IMA-11a-1-kuFD--621x414@LiveMintday to highlight those. Today, we celebrate the 68th Indian Army Day and raise a toast to all those who fight to keep us alive.

When you see a soldier…
Be sure to shake his or her hand,
Let that soldier know you’re grateful,
For the protection the military affords our land.

But most of all express your thanks,
For every soldier’s personal sacrifice.
In order to serve our country,
They risk their entire lives!

Jai Hind ki Sena!

Living…with a dash of sass

There’s something about the year end that puts most of us in an introspective mood. This year end is no different. There have been ups & downs, mostly ups, which include my girls doing well in their respective lives, a brilliant holiday we all enjoyed together, setting up a second home in another city and the launch of a couple of new businesses. The downside is realising that we are fast losing one generation of people to the inexorable process of ageing. While on one hand, I understand this is part of life’s cycle, it nevertheless saddens me that this process deprives us of one of the most extraordinary generations that India has seen. The veterans of World War I are no more and the people born during World War II are in their late 70’s or early 80’s.

I have spent time with that generation. I have sat through their stories of growing up in an India that you and I can only visualise and never experience. This is not to undermine any other generation’s experience. I am writing to share what I have learnt from these septuagenarians and octogenarians. This particular blog is dedicated to all those who belong to the 15th Course of the National Defence Academy for you all have influenced me to lead a rich life!

Find Ways To Do

One of the easiest and simplest thing is to find reasons why we can’t do things. They are called excuses. My biggest lesson from these stalwarts is to find one simple reason to do things. That one overwhelming “why” that will ensure the barriers come crumbling down. Living in different cities, leading hectic lives make it difficult to meet close family & friends. However, the older generation has taught me that it’s important to cherish those relationships. I still see them make an effort to be a part of everyone’s lives around them. new-year-quotes-07

Share Your Life

My parents have shared their lives with my brother and me. It just made communication so much more easier for all of us. I never had a problem expressing to my parents what was going on in my mind and why. I also realise that this was only possible because they were genuinely interested in our lives and shared activities with my brother and me. A lot of things I do now in my life are because of activities initiated by my Dad and his friends, while I was growing up.

Choose Happiness

Almost everyone I have met in that wonderful age group focus on quality of life and they choose happiness as the one determining factor. Most of them have gone through some kind of illness/surgery/treatment in the recent years. They see a sense of fragility that belongs to these experiences as directly contributing to their ability to savour life. “Tomorrow is unknown, future uncertain at our age. Lighten up and live life completely today.” Wise words from wise people. Rythm

Accept Life & Connect With Yourself

The terrace at my parents’ place offers a lovely view of the green canopy of trees in a quiet residential area. A wall of windows at my second parents’ home overlooks a lovely verdant patch of lawn bordered by flowering shrubs and lemon tree. Having spent ample time in both places, I see that later life has brought all four of them a sense of wholeness, acceptance, and the ability to enjoy small pleasures. They love the place they live, people visit them and are always welcomed, they entertain the way they want to and not because they are expected to…a complete sense of liberation & contentment.

Build A Life With Someone You Respect & Love

It sounds simple. Yet, very few can say this. Most of the couples I know, in their grand old 70’s and 80’s are the ones who have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. What I have observed and learnt can be succinctly shared in the following words…you have to like each other. Be friends, try to get past the initial heaving and panting, and make sure there’s a real friendship underneath that. I don’t think identical interests are important, but shared values are. That is the bedrock of the relationship. And critical. Build on that a set of dreams that both cherish & work towards.

And as my soul mate and I complete three decades of knowing, understanding, accepting & loving each other, I can happily say, we both love certain kinds of things. We both love movies, good movies, and part of our courtship involved staying up all night and talking out what an Ingmar Bergman film really meant. We both love to read, and we love to talk about what we read. A similar sense of humour — that is a very important part of our life together. The ability to make each other smile and laugh has seen us through some difficult times. story3

Here’s wishing all of you all a magnificent 2016 and praying that Santa Claus fulfils your dreams (incidentally, I still believe in magic and miracles for my life has been so). I sign off with C Joybell C’s quote, “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

 

 

 

Life – A Series Of Stories

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Phillip Pullman story4

I love listening to stories & story telling.There is a lot that we take away listening to stories. Some stories impact us immediately and some crop up at different intervals in our lives and leave their footprints. I have believed that everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes us what we are. We build ourselves out of that story. Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here!

I would like to share some stories that have impacted & inspired me and I carry them with me now. I know as a story teller I must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story2story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. So, I am hoping that these resonate with you all in some way.

Food For The Soul

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer, a building contractor, of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

His employer was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but it was easy to see that his heart was no longer in his work. He had lost his enthusiasm and had resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and his boss came to inspect the new house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built for ourselves. If we had realized, we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

 

How Great Love Is

Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, and all of the others including Love. story1

One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left. Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment. When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help.

Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, “Richness, can you take me with you?” Richness answered, “No I can’t. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place for you here.”

Love decided to ask Vanity, who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel, “Vanity, please help me!” “I can’t help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat,” Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by so Love asked for help, “Sadness let me go with you.” “Oh…Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!” Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!

Suddenly, there was a voice, “Come Love, I will take you.” It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder her name.

When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Love realizing how much he owed the elder, asked Knowledge, another elder, “Who helped me?”

“It was Time”, Knowledge answered.

“Time?” asked Love. “But why did Time help me?”

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, “Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.”

 

The Fence

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad or worse than a physical one.”

 

Big Rocks Of Life

A while back I was reading about an expert on subject of time management. One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it with you, you’ll never forget it either.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.  story3

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.” The title of this letter is the “Big Rocks” of Life.

What are the big rocks in your life? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all.

So, tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the “big rocks” in my life or business? Then, put those in your jar.

The last one is a personal favourite, as a lot of people ask me how I pack multiple activities in my life. My response to them I have found my big rocks…time to find yours now 🙂

 

Home Is A Person & Am Finally Home!

After my last post I have received comments and calls from people with whom the words resonated. I also had a lot of people query me about one point in my blog – “I don’t find my relationship with my partner/spouse as it was before, there is no common ground, how do I get over the boredom in my relationship, we don’t know what to say to each other, etc etc”   I'm home 1

It is unfortunate, but, true. Most couples face this at some point in life and they really don’t know what to do with each other. The children flying the nest brings home this fact in a more hard hitting manner. This is where couples have to make the extra effort if they want to sustain their relationship and nourish it with a different kind of love. Love is not just about finding the right person, it’s about working with them to create the right relationship – working with them in different stages of life to nurture that relationship. For it is the truth, as we move from one stage of life to another, our relationship also changes. Therefore, the way we manage that change is fundamental to how our bond strengthens with our partner.

Always make time for each other.

In every relationship, it is imperative that we make time for each other. It doesn’t matter whether you & your partner are in the same city or not. Always make time to communicate with each other. Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than anything else. There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with someone than simply being there for them.  Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused.  Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring on that particular day for your other half.  IMG_185610755141423

When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other.  With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger.  This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.

Bottom line:  I put in effort & stay in close touch with what’s going on in my partner’s life – communicate openly on a regular basis.  Not because it’s convenient, but because he is worth every bit of it. 🙂

 

Ending the day together.

Over a period of time, we all develop our schedules and time tables. Most couples create individual routines and forget to include their IMG_73268588016637significant half in that. What I find endearing about my man is that he waits for me to finish my last chores for the day and then we spend time together. It could be watching the news or a movie or a sport on television, play a game of scrabble or quiz, read something together. Then retire to bed at the same time. There’s something cozy about sliding under the covers together, talking about what happened during the day or what’s on the list for tomorrow.

Bottom line: this is a routine that helps us bond over music too…both of us love to listen to music before falling asleep. 🙂

 

What’s common to you both?

It’s important to keep your own hobbies when you’re part of a couple, of course, because you want to stay true to yourself and not change your personality. It’s also very important you and your partner can cultivate common interests without changing who either of you are, and it will make your relationship stronger as a result. I love reading and writing, which are typically solitary hobbies, but my partner doesn’t hesitate to grab a book and sit next to me on the couch.

Fortunately for us, we do share a lot of common interests – travel, music, genre of books we read, board games, crosswords, quizzes, golf. He isn’t very fond of getting into the pool, but, does so only because I enjoy it. I learnt all about football including certain terminology and nuances of the game, which he claimed women find extremely difficult to grasp.I only had to show him that women can learn whatever they set their mind to, especially if a loving partner is involved.

Bottom line: I made the effort to learn about some of the sports he enjoys because it gave me chance to reciprocate what he did for me & continues to do for me. 🙂

 

Actions speak louder than words.

When you love someone you have to act accordingly.  They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term.  IMG_71679248329286

You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t. Sometimes just words will not be enough. I have always used a combination of things to show my man that I really mean every emotion I feel for him. I have surprised him for his birthday, brought him unexpected gifts, whisked him off on a date just like that, sneaked up from behind to hug him while he was working hard on something. It’s important to learn what matters to your partner and work on it. This is more so with regard to certain existing relationships in your partner’s life.

Bottom line: walking hand in hand, occasionally exchanging a hug during the day (whenever work permits), doing a “weather” check once a day, sending a loving message  to each other…we do all these things…now it comes naturally to both of us. Yes, it definitely adds zing to our more than two decade relationship.

 

Socialize together.

Chances are most of your friends are in the same age group as you, give or take a couple of years. Over a period of time, while the kids are growing up, moms & dads tend to have a separate social life and find it difficult to in later years to  accommodate each other’s friends. One ofI'm home 2the common binding factors I have found with my soul mate, is that we have treated our respective friends as common friends. My friends are his friends and vice versa. As a result, our social evenings have invariably been with a lovely mix of people that we both know.

To this I have to thank our upbringing also. Both of us have not seen our respective parents go partying without their significant half.

Bottom line: when I treat his friends like mine & vice versa, we just increase the set of fantastic people in our lives. 🙂

 

Open up…especially in trying times.

We all go through highs and lows as individuals. Let your partner in when you are in your dark corner. I tend to share even the smallest of things with my partner. I don’t expect him to solve my problems or fight my battles for me…however, he faces them with me, supports me when I go through my crabby moods because of those challenges. Most times, we all just want somebody who understands, accepts and becomes a sounding board. relationships1-250x250

Allow your partner to stand by you. No false heroism that ‘I can do it on my own’. When you stand there with all your insecurities and vulnerabilities, you also give the space to your partner to share his/her own challenges. Always remember, sharing is mutual, never a one way street.

Bottom line: I share because it shows my man what I am feeling and I also get to hear the words “I love you” more often that way… 😉

 

More than just looks.

It’s true when grown ups say looks fade away, it’s the character that matters. When you fall in love, sure, looks make a difference. But, that’s not enough to sustain the relationship. I recollect reading somewhere, infatuating yourself with someone simply for what they look like on the outside is like choosing your favourite food based on colour instead of taste.  It makes no sense.  It’s innate, invisible, unquantifiable characteristics that create lasting attraction.  There must be common ground in your interests and outlooks on life.

In the journey of life, when you go through the rough & tumble, it’s not looks that show the strength of your partner, it’s what’s inside. Just as we all have our preferences for spicy food, chocolates, mint or cinnamon flavours, we also get attracted to certain characteristics of people. Sometimes it’s even the scars your soul shares with them that reels you in and creates the very platform that hold you together in the long run.

Bottom line: “no one gets me the way you do” these eight words became the bedrock of our relationship. The day my partner said this to me, I knew we had reached a level of understanding in our relationship that will sustain anything.

 

Little somethings of everyday life.

It’s the everyday stuff that makes life interesting or boring. All of it depends on how you and your partner view it. For us, our everyday stuff is exciting, expectant and exhilarating because we chose to make it so… yet, it’s also everyday stuff. Nothing new. We don’t beat around the bush when it comes to expressing – if you appreciate someone today, tell them.  If you adore someone today, show them.  Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone.  There might not be a tomorrow.  Today is the day to express your love and admiration. I'm home 3

A great relationship with your partner is based on team work and communication – both are two way processes. I have figured out, the most important trip I have taken in life is to meet my partner half way through. Otherwise, I would not have been his partner. It really is a full circle.  The strength of a relationship depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship. Finally, we as two individuals, determine the quality of relationship we want to have.

Both of us have always believed that a relationship can never be 50:50 all the time. Most of the time one of us will be stronger than the other. However, yes, there will be times when both of us have to be strong together. As long as the two of us understand that, we continue to be happy and smiling.

Saying “I love you”, “good morning”, “good night”, “how was your day” all have a long term impact on the relationship. Like the old adage goes, you can never have too much of the good thing in life. These are all good things of life, which when shared with your partner, strengthens the relationship at a subterranean level.

Say the following line to your soul mate and mean every word of it…like I’m saying it now to my partner(he hasn’t heard this one before) – Walk with me… no questions are that tough, when you walk with me in the journey of getting the answers.

Bottom line: it’s easy to fight about stupid things. When I look at his photograph, think of all the great times we have had and continue to have…when I look at how our children adore him and dote on him…I know that there is no other person on earth I want to wake up with every morning!

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Few Weeks…

That’s exactly what I want to write about…the last few weeks. Three different cities and myriad experiences…:)

My first stop was Delhi…a city that has always fascinated me with its colour, cultures, food, energy, zest for living the good life,jugaad approach. I love Delhi!!!

This time I traveled by the metro as my friends recommended. Was I glad or what! It saved me time…am glad I wasn’t on the roads in the crazy monsoon and even crazier traffic. I’m not writing to complain about what we all know and experience in different cities. I’m writing to share my experience of the metro. I absolutely loved it. For the first time in my life I felt safe as a female commuter in Delhi…no pushing, no pulling. On all the metro rides I had, which were during peak hours, I was given a seat by the men who were chivalrous enough to get up the moment they saw ladies :):):)

Last but not the least, the cleanliness at all stations made me so proud! I thought to myself, “what is it that we can’t do if we put our minds to it”

Thank you Delhi Metro for a wonderful experience and for making me feel safe and proud!!!

The second part of my journey took me to vibrant Punjab…a state that always makes me sing and dance. My daughters and my parents traveled with me and we were at a regimental get together for three days. The joy of meeting old friends and making new ones…the pleasure of meeting family friends who have seen you grow…and now they see you with grown up kids. Did that change the equation between us? Absolutely not..they still treated me like a ten year old 🙂 and I could kid around with all the old uncles and aunties the way I did thirty years ago :):):). As a result of those bonds, my children found it very easy to make new friends in the regiment.

After three days of winning and dining and socialising, we were off to Amritsar. An evening at Wagah Border stirred something deep for my daughters, as it was their first experience. I relived it with them! The emotional high of being right next to your neighboring country, waving at the local population on the other side of the border, talking to the border security guards…I cannot explain…I only pray a lot of Indians get an opportunity to experience it!

How can one miss the gastronomic delights offered by Amritsar? So, the five of us indulged in the locally made”chole kulche”, “aloo tikki” & my all time favorite, “gol gappas”.

All good things need not come to an end…so the good times continue in Bangalore now. See you all soon when I come back with more!!!

Till then…continue leading the fantastic life you deserve to lead :):):)

Life…a result of intentional habits!

I am back to writing…after a long hiatus. I don’t even know why I stopped in between…life happened I guess!!! Though that is no excuse for anything 🙂

What inspired me to get back was a series of articles I read off late about travelling and my own travels to different cities the last couple of months. 

As a teenager, I was always fascinated by young people from different countries who would travel without parents for months together. I always wondered how is it that they could just leave everything they were doing and travel…there was also an element of envy, that, initially I did not travel that way! Yes you guessed right…I love to travel!

Eventually I understood that while my structured education process (read school and college) gave me a lot of information and therefore knowledge, travelling just widened my horizon and my  understanding of a lot of things 🙂 :). Travel just became an educational process by itself.

I have had people who ask me…why do you travel so much? What gives me the “kick”? It got me thinking about why I love travel so much…I was at Abu Dhabi airport waiting for my flight to be announced and this young lady sitting next to me started a conversation. She asked, in due course, “Do you think I should go to graduate school or move to Vietnam?”

I told her “Vietnam”…not that she was really asking me…if you know what I mean. She was thinking out loud. Her response was, “Yeah…but…”. Three alphabets that can kill everything in life…BUT.

BUT is lethal. It makes it sound like we have the best of intentions, when really we are just too scared to do what we should. Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did it. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for grad school or a steady job still did those things after they traveled.

I am thankful that I got opportunities to travel widely in my teenage years…some opportunities I created for myself. Very often I heard some grown up say to me, “It’s great that you’re doing this … while you’re still young.” To me it sounded like vicarious longing and mid-life regret. Often I have responded saying, “It’s not about this being great while I’m still young! It’s great for the rest of my life!” And it’s true – what I learnt or still learn during my travel is something that has stayed with me…it is an intrinsic part of my life, of who I am. 

I realized as we get older, life can just sort of happen to us. Whatever we end up doing, we often end up with more responsibilities, more burdens, more obligations. This is not always bad. However it also takes away from some of our dreams, experiences that could have shaped who we become. 

Youth is a time of total empowerment. You get to do what you want. As you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important. The best way to do that is to make investments in your life so that you can have an effect on who you are in your later years.

Travel allowed me this luxury…the luxury of learning, experiencing and of discovering the beauty of life — to remember that I am not complete.

How can I put in words what it means to walk the streets of old Delhi on a cold December morning smelling some great Indian food, cycling on narrow country roads of Southern France and soaking in the beauty of the mellow countryside, walking across the moors in Scotland smelling the earth, the majestic beauty of the Himalayan range as seen from Nepal…words cannot describe these experiences. The only way you will relate to them is by experiencing them yourself. 

While you’re young, you should travel. You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. Spend an afternoon sitting in front of the Michelangelo. Walk the streets of Paris. Climb Kilimanjaro. Hike the Valley of Flowers. See the Great Wall of China. Get your heart broken by the “killing fields” of Cambodia. Swim through the Great Barrier Reef. These are the moments that define the rest of your life; they’re the experiences that stick with you forever.

Traveling will change you like little else does. It forces you to think about issues that are bigger than you…I realized that the world is both, very large and very small!!! I have a new found respect for pain and suffering, having seen that two-thirds of humanity struggle to simply get a meal each day. 

Its an amazing way to learn about the world as a magnificent place of art. The people that fill this world contribute so much to it…shaping it…building a kaleidoscopic culture. Soak that culture while you are still young. It can change your life forever. It did mine!

Invest your time wisely…for your future depends on where and what you invest your time in. A lesson that comes back to me repeatedly… life is a result of intentional habits. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. The habits you form in this season will stick with you for the rest of your life. So choose those habits wisely :):) 

And for those who feel youth has gone by…fret not. You can still travel…I know a lot of senior people who still enjoy their travails and do not hesitate to live life kingsize. I am learning from them also…so go out there and explore the world with all it’s infinite opportunities!!! ImageImageImageImage