Marching On

Hello everyone! March is all but gone and April is upon us. Excitement has given way to the jitters. Just, in case it slipped your mind, one fine day, I lost my marbles (too much association with Biji eh Mymind?) and I signed up for the blogging challenge beginning this April!

As I mentioned my earlier post, the challenge is to blog every day in the month of April (except Sundays) using each letter of the alphabet on any topic – random or theme based. Wait there is more – there is a separate list for those who intend to have a theme based blog posts – I signed up for that as well! In addition, the participant has to read and comment other blogs as well – a great way of networking, finding friends and like-minded people in this vast alternate universe.

This weekend I spent most of my spare time checking out the participating blogs. What an eye opener that was. It was so exhilarating to find such a huge range of blogs with innovative and intriguing themes. I can’t wait to read them all – what? Oh darn it, did you have to remind me? Yes, yes of course err post as well.

Now that exams are over and you are all more relaxed and chilled out, I do hope you too will be able to spare some time for this blogfest? And while you go wandering all over the blogosphere, I hope you will drop in for a breather at Stories and more. 😉

Indian weddings is the theme for my blogging challenge and I do hope you will enjoy reading about some of the myriad customs and rituals that are part of the great Indian wedding. As an appetizer, here’s the link to some really strange wedding rituals from around the world.

So, come April, grab your cuppa tea, pull up your reading device and get ready to learn new words and new customs – just like I did. And oh yes before I forget, here’s Chapter 48 and more about this blog. How could I miss Calvin and Hobbes?

Calvin and Hobbes

By the way, Calvin and Hobbes don’t much care for weddings so they will be back only after the brouhaha is over and done with 😉

 Thought for the day

“The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he’s dead.”
Bette Davis

Now how about leaving me a note? At least wish me luck!

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Happy Holi–days

It’s that time of the year again – spring and colors are back with a bang. And as a special treat this year, a long weekend for all of us. Isn’t it grand? Celebrations are on and I am already exhausted.

Got the hint?

Yeah, I just laid the grounds for a leave application. There’s loads on my plate not only this weekend but also the whole of next month. April, as you know, will be a marathon session of blog posts everyday (except Sundays – phew). Plus I do have noble intentions (fingers crossed) to continue to post Moonshine as per schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

In view of the above, I do hope you will consider my situation kindly and grant me an extended leave of absence till the 30th March.

I will be very much obliged.

And as a thank you – the picnic finally happens! Here’s  Chapter 47 and Calvin – he really is incorrigible isnt he?

Calvin and Hobbes

Source:http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2008/02/25

Wish you all a very Happy Holi – of color, joy, forgiveness and new beginnings.

See you all next Wednesday – 30th March.

And don’t forget to leave me a note – remember just a minute of your time, a simple Hi can make my whole day 🙂

For image source click here

You are Invited!

Hello everyone – so good to see you here! I am terribly excited about the upcoming blogging challenge. As I mentioned in my previous Post, I signed up for the blogging challenge beginning next month. This is my first foray into the challenge, which has been running for the seven years now.

The challenge is to blog on every day of April (except Sundays) on any topic or a theme-based topic from A to Z. Taking the plunge, my initial reaction was to opt for a random write-as-you-go-approach but then a theme-based approach seemed more appealing. I juggled with several topics but then when I attended a great Indian wedding last week, every other topic faded to insignificance!

As per the rules, today is the A to Z Blogging Challenge -Theme Reveal day. So, hold your breaths – tantaraaaa –  here’s my theme for the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge – Indian weddings.

India is a huge country with myriad customs, rituals, traditions that stretch over days and vary not only from place to place but also family to family. And I have to confess, I have attended very few weddings. Actually mine was the only one I have sat through completely – though I did try to take notes on the last wedding.

I do hope that you will chip in with your variations, versions, comments, suggestions, and favorite customs. Mark the date on your calendars please – 1st of April 2016.

Nope it’s not an April Fool’s prank. Err well, you’ll never know for sure until you log in will you 😉

Now back to Rajani’s trials and tribulation as she journeys through her life – Chapter 46 and do check out the revised blog index entitled About this Blog.

But before then, a peak at the one and only one Calvin and Hobbes

 

Thought for the day: A wedding is an event, but marriage is a life:― Myles Munroe

As always, I look forward to hearing from you on anything and everything. Have a great day and a super week ahead.

More Training

Good morning all! Here’s wishing you all a Happy International Happiness Day in advance (March 20th).

By the way, anyone training to be happy? Time to take out your happiness scales and rate yourselves. Hope you find remarkable improvement in happiness levels! Care to share your results? But even if there is no improvement, there’s no need to be unhappy. We can start all over again. And again and again – after all practice makes one perfect. J And to help you in this happy venture, log on to this site and download a free Happiness Guidebook.

And while you are at it, how about some more training? Apparently one can even train to be resilient. Apparently, the key to resilience or the capacity to bounce back from difficulties is, by changing our attitude towards things. Just as Shakespeare famously wrote, “Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.”

Or, as researchers like George Bonanno, a clinical psychologist, put it – “Perception – Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as an opportunity to learn and grow? Events are not traumatic until we experience them as traumatic.” In this article, posted by Maria Konnikova, he speaks of a different term: PTE, or potentially traumatic event. He suggests that every frightening event, no matter how negative it might seem from the sidelines, has the potential to be traumatic or not to the person experiencing it.

Therefore, it is how one views an event makes it stressful or not. For instance, suppose I have a massive (or minor) argument with my husband (err well no need to suppose I guess!) I could fret and fume, expect and demand instant resolution of the conflict. Which of course could lead to amicable solution (in my dreams) or just escalate the conflict.

Or, I could utilize the unexpected (and much needed) bonus time to write Chapter 45 or browse through Calvin for a few laughs, or draw hope and succor from quotes on life in general or annoying ‘better’ halves, in particular. Psst – sometimes, I am tempted to provoke a confrontation just so that…hushhh (who knows he may just be reading this – well I live both in hope and dread)

Going back to the topic at hand, research has shown that people can be trained to think of and react to unpleasant events and situations in a less emotional way, or one that is less negative. And the good news is, training seems to have lasting effects.

On the flip side, the mind can also lead us to exaggerate or blow out of proportions the myriad events that occur in our humdrum lives. Often, an event is dissected, analyzed, hashed and rehashed ad nauseam until it becomes bigger than it really is. It works sort of like a bubble gum – diligently chewed upon until it spreads out thin and can be blown into a gigantic balloon. The bigger the better until it blows up right into our faces.

The ideal approach would probably be to chew on the event, absorb the juice and then spit out the tasteless pointless remnants.

Only when we acknowledge the addictive and pointless nature of this negative circle of thoughts and make a determined effort to put a full stop (or even a semi-colon) can we hope to emerge a better, stronger person to take on the challenges of life, heads on. It is a slow painstaking process, often one-step forward and two steps backwards. Nevertheless, it can be done.

Trust me – been there, done that (err… doing it)!

Happy training and wish you all tons and tons of happiness – not just on 20th March but ‘hamesha

Just look at Calvin – even he knows how the mind can trick you, perhaps even kill you.

 

Thought for the day

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
Maya Angelou

“What’s the use of complaining about something you have no intentions of changing?”
Mario L Castellanos

“If you can quit, quit. If you can’t quit, stop complaining – this is what you chose.”
J.A. Konrath

“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
Randy Pausch

Have a super weekend people and catch you all on Monday – hopefully with loads for me to read 😉

The Bhishma Perspective

Ever since my Amar Chitra Katha days, I have been a diehard fan of Bhishma, the ageless grand old man of the Mahabharata.

The image of the handsome young Debabrata standing tall and proud as he stood there taking his ‘terrible’ oath (though I must admit that as an 8-year old I couldn’t quite comprehend the terribleness of the oath) forcing the gods shower him with flowers and bless him with death at his convenience is permanently etched in my mind’s eye.

Side note: Just in case any of you is not familiar with the terrible oath of Debabrata – never to marry and lifelong service to the throne and whoever sat on it. It is because of this oath that he was henceforth known as Bhishma –terrible or dreadful.

Bhishma’s marksmanship, his victories on the battlefield, his unfaltering dedication to the throne of Hastinapur, his upright moral character, his steadfastness (he refused to give up his oath and marry even when his step-mother Satyavati, who instigated him to take oath, begged him) really wowed me. I couldn’t help but think here was the ideal man – one who followed his self-defined path of dharma and righteousness regardless of any sort of extraneous pressure.

Amba – I faltered. Poor thing to be left alone rejected by one and all for no fault of hers – but I recovered quickly. How dare she vow to kill Bhishma! What was his fault? Why did she curse him? Salwa was the one who put his ego before his love while Bhishma was only following his true path, his vow, how could she expect him to marry her? No, no she didn’t deserve my sympathy. I turned my back on Amba and stared starry-eyed at my hero Bhishma.

A quick recap for those not tuned into the Amba–Bhishma saga: Bhishma, on the orders of his stepmother, duly went on a quest to procure a wife for his half-brother, the young (and not so healthy) king Vichitravirya. He abducted princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika of Kashi from their swayamvara. Salwa, who loved Amba, attempted to stop Bhishma but was roundly trounced. Later, when Amba confessed her feelings for Salwa, Bhishma generously sent her back to Salwa. But Salwa, reeling from the bitter blow to his ego, rejected Amba. Upset and disgraced, Amba demanded that Bhishma marry her. But how could he? He was oath-bound. Enraged and humiliated, Amba vowed she wouldn’t rest until she avenged herself against Bhishma. But then, even the mighty Parashuram (avatar of Lord Vishnu) couldn’t defeat Bhishma.

How cool was that! I fell deeper and deeper into hero-worship – I marveled at the way he stood rock steady as things became messy and complicated between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Never once did he falter or deviate from his proclaimed path to remain true to the one who sat on throne of Hastinapur. My heart broke for him when his oath bound him and gagged him. What else could he do but watch while Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas was insulted, humiliated and disrobed in full public view? How painful was his predicament, his curse – the price he had to pay for his greatness.

There was no let up for him – he could only watch in helpless agony from his bed of arrows as his kith and kin were slaughtered on the battlefield. But duty was duty, he hung on grimly till the very bitter end, even though taking advantage of his boon of ‘death at will’ he could have chosen to give all the suffering pain and misery an easy miss. But he chose not to. How much greater could anyone be?

Hungry for more, I switched from the written word to the audio-visual mode – Mahabharata, the tele-serial that brought India to a mesmerized standstill every Sunday morning. Bhishma was just as great as I had pictured him to be. I watched the scenes unfold with bated breath and unblinking attention. Until the Draupadi disrobing episode.

Wide-eyed, I watched the publicly humiliated Draupadi scream, rave and rant, and horror of horrors, even accuse Grand old Bhishma of being an unmanly, unrighteous, cowardly stooge to the throne of Hastinapur.

Worse, Bhishma just sat there, head bowed, defenseless.

There was no denying it – my idol had feet of clay. He had no sense of right or wrong! He was just a rule follower. And for all his ‘greatness’, he had no power or guts to even call a spade a spade. His duty was to the throne and the one who sat on it – Dhritarashtra. So why didn’t he pull up Duryodhana or put a stop to the game when it was being played out? What was his loyalty to the son of the king?

The ill-fated game of dice was a well-publicized event and it was apparently an open secret that cheating was going on – yet Bhishma didn’t say anything. Not even to Yudhishtir, who surely would not have disobeyed his revered grandfather and desisted from playing?

When Yudhishtir staked his brothers or himself, Bhishma could have cited ‘rules’ and said that one who has lost himself had also lost the right to put his wife as stake?

The silence of the stalwarts of kingdom of Hastinapur – Bhishma, Dronacharya, Kripacharya is not only inexplicable but also untenable. Only a deep-rooted fear of being banished from the kingdom and losing their rights as favored members of the court could explain their behavior. Or is there something I am missing?

I sincerely hope so!

But that is not all – Bhishma was the one who chose (or rather ‘won’) Gandhari as Dhritarashtra’s wife (with disastrous consequences). Seeing Bhishma’s mighty army, Subala, the king of Gandhara had no choice but agree to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to the blind stand-in king of Hastinapur. In fact there are stories of Gandhara being attacked by Bhishma with the imprisonment of King Subala and his 100 sons – all died, except Shakuni who swore revenge against Bhishma for the injustice meted to his beloved sister Gandhari.

That brings me to some terrible questions (and dreadful answers) – could Bhishma be the root cause of the bloody battle of Kurukshetra? Could he have prevented the mindless massacre of his kinsmen?

And dare I say it – was it a subconscious (or conscious) plan on his part to destroy the very clan that forced him into celibacy and relinquish his right to the throne of Hastinapur?

Thoughts anyone?

Ahh well – here’s picnic update Chapter 44 and Calvin (and Hobbes!)

A few (more) thoughts for the day

“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.” ― Robertson Davies

“Sometimes your light shines so bright that it blinds people from seeing who you really are.” ― Shannon L. Alder

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?” ― Shannon L. Alder

Until next time 🙂

And just in case anyone is interested, the Blog Index

Chasing Spring

Hello peepools! How you doin? Better, one hopes, now that spring is in the air and summer is hot at our heels. In Delhi, this is probably the best time of the year – flowers blooming, the skyline dotted with flame of the forest. Delhites, take a moment, to look at the horizon while you travel to work or go back home – you can’t miss the red blooms that pop up from the most unexpected and drab buildings. Trust me, it’s not a sight to be missed.

Every year, Delhi just seems to burst into a riot of color almost overnight. This year I was determined to stalk it – almost missed it, but managed to catch the tail of the fire. Have a look.

image
February 27, 2016
image
March 4, 2016

 

March 7, 2016

Looking awesome isn’t it? But then look what happened today!

March 14, 2016

 

Back to dull and dreary. A unseasonal storm blew away the colors of spring too 😦

But never mind, spring will come again 🙂

What about your place? Anything special going on over there? Like to share something? Come on say something – anything. Feels rather awkward – to be the only one blabbering on and on 😀

Oh well, here I go again – Chapter 43 but before that let Calvin fill in the awkward silence shall we?

And anyone care for the Blog Index?

Thought for the day

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. Hal Borland
And I wait in a fever of impatience.
Edit: Btw, hope you didnt miss the mango blossoms? Yummmm 😉

Shankhadhwani

I am terribly excited! Can’t you hear the Shankhadhwani? Or the blowing of the conch shell – the Hindu equivalent of wedding bells.Well, I am off to attend a wedding.

Not just attend attend – but really attend if you know what I mean? Be there for all the rituals, customs and most importantly – all the delicious goodies. The menu itself could easily serve as today’s Post 😉 Don’t worry I won’t tease you with the details of the scrumptilicious goodies, but be prepared for tips on how to lose weight after binge eating!

Before you accuse me of slacking, let me tell you, I will be posting the next chapter on 11th March as usual. But I will spare you my usual ramblings – even Calvin will be missing – (taking him and Hobbes to the wedding :P). So for those of you who are following Stories and more, please do not wait for an email notification. But do check under Sugar and Spice for chapter 42 on Friday as usual.

Browsing the net, I came across these advertisements from yesteryears. For a trip down memory lane and a reminder that success begins with the small steps – do check them out.

Don’t forget to leave me a note, just a simple Hi will do!

Oops I almost forgot – Chapter 41 and Chapter 42 oh – Calvin is just too much!

 

Thought for the day

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” —Henry Ford