Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A pocketful of…

When I was a young girl, most of my clothes were tailored at home by my mother and an enthusiastic set of aunts. If one aunt got me fancy fabric, the other aunt offered to embroider it, the third one offered to paint it and my mother presided over all, to finally decide what it would look like.

Almost plotting and planning over it like it was the project of the year, I’d be kept at arm’s length and called in only for some measurements off and on. It was exciting. But I was never part of it, till a loosely stitched garment was gingerly slipped over my head for a trial.

However once in a way, I was consulted. And asked what I would like in my next new dress. I have no idea why I was not vain like other little girls (Ok, ok... go ahead and say it, I was always ‘different’). But all I wanted in my next new dress was pockets!!! Not lace, not frills, not flowers. Nothing fancy, just pockets. One or two or more.

Pockets held for me a lovely charm. You could carry virtually anything in your pocket. Two of my all-time favourite toys – a white kitten and a teddy bear were pocket-sized. (Okay, you needed large pockets but so what.) You could carry loose change in pockets. Pencils. Erasers. Sometimes a crumpled piece of paper. Movie tickets. Train tickets. Bus tickets. Sometimes, someone else’s bus ticket with the lucky number 9 at the end. Pockets were your friends. The kind of friends that kept and almost treasured your secrets.

Coming back to my dress. One with pockets. Since this was the nth time I’d told my mother this, she relented. But with a wicked sense of humour (remember, she was MY mother), she made me a dress with a lot of pockets! Not one. Not two. But sixteen!

What joy! I was ecstatic. Over the moon. It was almost magical. All possible colours. Checked and floral and dotted patches on my one dress.  Front and back. Sides. I went on counting my pockets and discovered unadulterated joy.

With 16 pockets you could discover a whole new world! You put your hand in one pocket and out came a used eraser with your initial on it. The one you were saving lest your letter get erased away! That little red pencil. The piece of green chalk. Sometimes a forgotten sweet. Sticky but still a sweet. Sometimes simply a sweet wrapper that you had painstakingly fashioned into a doll. (Remember those?!) All those pockets. All that little tidbits of joy. A small little sunshiny part of my childhood.

Cut back to reality. Cut back to the present.

Of late with the ups and downs of circumstances, I’ve been thinking of my dress with those pockets. And while there has been one challenge after another, I’ve found time to spend wonderful moments with friends and family. Found time for sunshine and laughter. Jokes and the lighter side. Found time to dig into a  pocketful of smiles.

A friend’s surprise birthday getaway. An evening that reunited me with ‘my boys’ in the agency. An enthralling musical interlude in an amphitheatre. A quiet dinner with a visiting friend. An afternoon shopping and chatting with another. An evening out with my daughter. Another old buddies’ reunion.

Little pockets of joy. Little pockets of sunshine. Little smiles that light up my life. And then I think, this is what life’s about, isn’t it? A dress with sixteen pockets.

So where’s your pocket of sunshine? Have you found it today?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review - I am Life by Shraddha Soni

Shraddha Soni has done it.

In her very first book, she's taken the metaphor of life and spun it around into a preeminently readable novel.

Although deceptively slim, the book takes you through a rather long journey - that of the protagonist - Sid's misdirected search for God.

What makes it credible in this day and age is that he is really not searching for that piece of soul - its largely how to win his company and his fortune back.

Some drunken outings, a visit to a voodoo queen and suddenly Sid is on a long haul flight to Delhi. - a place that once was home to him.

The narrative weaves through the highs and lows of Hrishikesh and Haridwar as Sid stumbles along rejecting all supposedly spiritual avenues and finally serendipitously meets with Myrah.

Post that it's one thing leading to another as Sid comes to his final realization. And the fact that he is not even looking for a God is something that becomes a painful reality.

I ended up reading the major part of the book in one continuous stretch. Not a very good idea but I do know I'll go back for a second more leisurely read. For some. reading bits and savoring the life wisdom may be more palatable.

While there are very few characters, that of Sid is very credibly crafted. The others that drift in and out are equally flesh and blood. 

Sometimes the narrative flags or gets a bit too casual especially with Sid's ranting. Sometimes the entire metaphorical proceedings feel a bit forced. But one reads through all this because of the fluidity and the pace of the storytelling. 

A must read. I'm off to read parts of it again.

Want to buy the book now?