That Simple Life

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A simpleton was I, my dreams limited in extent

My life was peaceful, in relative ignorance spent

Politics was something  for important men

Who deliberated in meetings, using paper and pen

For all that I knew, their promises were meant to be,

Mostly false, never to be taken seriously

Even when policies changed, seldom it was so

That anything would be expected to interrupt the flow

Of life in a nondescript town such as this one

We enjoyed uneventful days under the sun…

**

The winds of change were blowing, before I knew

They picked up speed in our direction too

A civil war whose origins I’ve never understood

Destroyed us more than a tsunami could

Mass shooting, looting, arson, curfew

Entered our town and our lives too…

**

We were simple folks, had never thought

Of leaving the land on which war was being fought

Yet living under terror, losing family and friends

Hoping against hope for the violence to end-

Reluctantly we came to the inevitable conclusion

That leaving the country was the only solution

**

If only it were that simple….a shudder runs through me

As I recall each hurdle we faced to leave our country

Fake papers, bribes, arduous travel in disguise

Journeying through the night, hiding at sunrise

Braving hunger and illness, solely propelled

By the urge for survival, those monsters we quelled..

**

Now I am settled in a new land, and have heard

Similar stories from people from some other parts of the world

We have been uprooted for no faults of our own

For our losses, we cannot help but mourn

Yet we are grateful just because we are alive

Of course that trumps inability to survive…

**

I know time cannot be turned back, but I

Shall long for that simple life till I die

Before I knew how politics would change my life

Before I knew my land would be torn by strife…

Women at work

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working womanThey told me education I could not receive

It did not help in the household, so they believed

*

I learnt my letters, but I was explained

Going beyond elementary school was a financial drain

*

Schooling I completed, college was out of question

For I was of age to be bound in matrimonial union

*

A college graduate I became, got a masters’ degree

I would raise smart children, er… why was a job necessary?

*

I was educated, so I joined the workforce

Only to give it up after marriage, but of course!

My husband earned well, so why did I need

To work outside the house indeed?

*

Yes, I was a working woman…yet did I tell you?

I had to adhere to a strict nighttime curfew

And in the corner of the world where I resided

I could not drive to work- the authorities had decided..

So, of course, my independence was chained

To break free from my shackles I still strained..

*

As a well-educated, modern woman, I had the privilege

Awarded by my husband and in-laws, to work after marriage

Then came the baby, and different issues arose

To maternity leave, my employers were opposed

When I took time off I was promptly replaced

My investment in my job was all a waste..

Or I was forced to quit to be a full-time mother

As I was explained, one job had replaced another..

My commitment to my career did not count

Motherhood was supposed to be overarching, paramount….

*

At different times, in different countries I have been

Stopped from pursuing my dreams, I have seen

My wings clipped off each time with explanations varied

Yet I have crossed hurdles, moved forward indeed

It hurts to see that even in the twenty-first century

The workplace is not always ready for me

How many more roadblocks do I cross in order to prove

That educated women are here to stay, men may move..

 

(Image source: https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/communities/belle_fourche/working-women-of-wwii/article_8cbd1130-4118-5a27-835a-36fa1be04ecb.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am on the minimalist bandwagon…or am I?

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online shop

I support minimalism, at least in theory

“Lessons from shopping bans” make a capital story

Yet when faced with 60% off sales, my resolve

To refrain from buying more stuff quickly dissolves

I am “saving” for a rainy day, I rationalize

About the joy of a new purchase I fantasize

Before long, virtual objects have appeared

Miraculously in my shopping cart, and as I had feared

The “Place Your Order” button is staring at me

Of my love for minimalism, making a mockery

By this time, often I have already resigned

Myself to temptation, it is too late to rewind

The button is pressed, the order is placed

Another blow to minimalism my life has faced..

**

In a world where it is easier every day

To acquire more stuff- it’s only one click away

Curbing temptation is the hardest thing to do-

The thrill of acquiring something new

Has the feel of an overarching panacea

Shopping online seems like a good idea

To overcome boredom, anxiety, situational depression

All ills can be remedied by a new possession…

Thus stuff accumulates, when it was not meant to

Sucking time and energy from you too..

*

Maybe writing this verse will actually inspire

Me to initiate a shopping ban, and less stuff acquire…

 

 

 

 

 

Woman with a voice

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Then…she was young, and starry-eyed

Brimming with enthusiastic ideas inside

That on the tip of her tongue were ready to dance

Yet seldom did, because they were denied the chance

Girls were meant to be seen, not heard

They were supposed to be careful about each word

That past their vocal cords made its way

Not that a girl should have had much to say..

So the outspoken girl that needed expression

Gradually faded, went into recession

She learnt to speak little, and less often

Especially withhold any strong opinion…

**

Now… she finds herself tongue-tied

Words within her appear to have dried

So even when injustice towards women she sees

She is silent, unable to protest audibly

Her lack of words is often misconstrued

As consent for things of which she has not approved

Unable to voice her concerns, she has continued to endure

Unkindness, cruelty, crimes, and more..

She laments her lack of a voice, but the impact

Of societal conditioning is far-reaching, as a fact

Over millenia, her free speech has been curtailed

Therefore to stand up for herself she has failed…

**

In the twenty-first century, as I pen these lines

I know I am still fortunate to speak my mind

It irks me that women are deprived of their voice,

So early that they forget they have a choice..

I dream of an utopian world

Where any woman can utter any word

Fearlessly, without any repercussion

Where she can take part in every discussion.

Creative writing course

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She entered the classroom with some trepidation

It had taken her courage to overcome her hesitation

Clutching her satchel, an empty seat she occupied

Nervously, she looked around, other women in groups she spied

Of course they looked much more confident

They must be better at expressing their sentiments

Self-doubt filled her, she wondered what had made her come here

A creative writing course existed in another hemisphere…

*

As the class began, nervously herself she introduced

A homemaker from India was hardly enough to enthuse

This group of preppy, well-dressed local women

Who appeared to have much more creative acumen

Or so she thought, however the idea she proposed

For her literary debut, albeit somewhat verbose,

Was hailed as  something interesting and unique

In comparison to others’ ideas, her’s was definitely not weak..

*

Soon they were writing chapters and reading them out

Hearing some bad writing melted away her doubts

Several of her classmates wrote stuff that she would classify

As completely unreadable, her expectations were high

She knew she had a good story to tell, and the knack

Of keeping her audience hooked, enticing them to come back

To her story to know what happened next-

She peppered her stories with various subtexts

*

It came as no surprise that as the course neared completion

Only two participants had reached conclusion

Of their summer writing projects, and it was abundantly clear

That her writing had potential- she had nothing to fear

*

Her story was set on two continents and moved skilfully

Between past and present, weaving myth and reality

Liberal use of Indian proverbs made her language one of a kind

Her instructor, duly impressed, helped her find

A suitable publisher for her manuscript, ready and revised

It turned out to be a decision quite wise

The book was designed with interesting illustrations

Within a short period it became a sensation

*

If you ask her about the book, she would start

From the first day of class, when she did not have the heart

To go forward with the course- yet now she says

Her making it to the class was a sign in a way..

 

I am going to change the world!

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I needed a pep-talk. So I wrote this- too idealistic, but here I am!

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Like many others my age, as a young girl

I had dreams of changing the world

This was wishful thinking, I had not realized

To the world’s ways I was not yet wise..

 

Even as I grew up, the career path I chose

Seemed to suggest that I would be close

To changing the world, in my position

To heal patients as a physician

 

I encountered demands placed on life as an adult

My juvenile dreams were forgotten, as a result

I was in survival mode, yet the desire to bring about

A change in the world persisted throughout

 

Of course I am not famous, or influential

Large scale changes are beyond my mettle

Yet on thinking hard there are probably some ways

In which I make a positive change from day to day

 

When my child learns how to share

When he learns to be kind, I am aware

That in raising an empathetic child, maybe

I change the world at a minute level, positively..

 

I have no control over life and death, yet I try

To save lives guided by the One in the sky

When a patient, following my advice, improves

I have changed one life, this is in a way proved..

 

Many days I try to impart knowledge to students

Feeling uninspired, with a mutual lack of engagement

Yet once in a while I get a message thanking me

For teaching something that has helped someone considerably

In taking better care of patients- my efforts are validated

I am grateful then for this positive change I have created

 

Penning these words down I realized anew

How countless small things that we all  do

In our daily lives affect the world in a positive way

We all change microcosms of the world every day…

And when was life about measuring quantities, after all?

Every positive effort makes a difference, big or small!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heirloom

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Mangalsutra-604x320

Heirlooms are priceless, I think I’ve known

Away from homeland, they acquire a meaning of their own..

 

Going through the contents of my safe one day

I found the heirloom piece I had locked away

It was a necklace with beads black and gold

Family lore said it was two hundred years old

Not an ordinary piece of jewelry, this one carried

Significance of symbolizing women married

Two slender strands ending in a gold pendant

Studded with precious stones, resplendent

Passed from one generation of strong women

Of my husband’s family, connecting me to them

I fingered the “mangalsutra” that I did not wear

For its ostentation, reluctant to attract stares..

And wondered about the women who had before me

Adorned themselves with this precious beauty

Did all of them don it out of their own choice

Or was it forced upon some, who had no voice…

I wondered if the black beads had performed their duty

And saved their wearers from negative energy

It had been stolen once, so the story went

In it’s long journey, this was a significant event

On the auspicious day of Diwali it was recovered

Since then it was closely guarded, so went the word..

 

The shores of India, it left for the first time when

I brought it with me, as an article of adornment

It languished in the safe, for I could not find an occasion

That called for such splendor and ostentation

 

So I paired it with my western garb one day

Felt connected to my roots in a different way

Besides being interesting, it garnered compliments

(A pleasant side-effect, though that was not my intent)..

 

Far from home, every article that connects me

To my roots, is something to be cherished indefinitely..

(Image source:https://jharaphula.com/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I quit

musings

The more I climbed in the world’s eyes

The more my soul appeared to die…

*

At the pinnacle of success I was perched high

Yet part of me longed to bid goodbye

To this peak below which shaky was the ground

Ambivalent I felt about wearing the crown

The top, you know, is a place best defined

By never-ending stress on the mind…

*

I reached this height serendipitously 

The ascent too occurred precipitously

Leaving me without any time to acclimatize

I had become a celebrity long before I realized..

My story is Cinderella-esque, yet I complain

For fairy tales their fair share of woes contain

What began as an afternoon project one day

To flex my creative muscles in an unusual way

Over the next few months, became an obsession

I rushed home from work to “work” on my creations

Showcased them in a local exhibition at a friend’s request

Where, in a dream-come-true fashion, they piqued the interest

Of an entrepreneur, leading promptly to a collaboration

That became wildly successful, beyond imagination..

*

As business grew, multiple responsibilities I assumed

Worked hard to keep up with demands, as business bloomed

Of course I was happy my work had received such admiration

Yet stress coursed through my veins more often than exhilaration..

*

As my brand became international, busier I grew

Travel, TED talks, events were thrown into the milieu

I still had signature designs, but assisting me

Were other talented designers working for my company

*

My brand value climbed, my satisfaction plummeted

Despite tasting success, sometimes I regretted

That initial exposure that had catapulted me

Into the realm of business from my shell of creativity

I had soared higher, above my friends, leaving me

Excluded from their sphere, and lonely

The high that I used to get after a creative endeavor

Ebbed away- to the whims of the market I had to now cater

As a young female entrepreneur, I gained acclaim

Yet I did not gain happiness along with fame

*

Deeply depressed, seeing therapists, taking medications

Trying mindfulness, tai-chi, yoga, meditation-

One day I felt I could not take it any longer

Call me weak, but accepting defeat made me feel stronger

Before the inevitable decline began, I had decided to quit

In the world of business, I had never quite fit

So I sold my company and took a break extended

The broken parts of my soul I mended

*

My creative energy I now spend

On my own terms, I no longer bend

To the pressures of the market, my wares I sell

In local stores, supporting small businesses as well

The brand I created is still profitable

But removed from it, I am more comfortable

*

At the end of the day an artist am I-

Business definitely is not where my talents lie

I realized this in time, before depression

Could cause irrevocable harm to my person. 

Cafe Convention

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coffee

In a cafe let us meet

Enjoy coffee and something sweet

Watch people surreptitiously

And do what people have done repetitiously

In cafes around the world for centuries

Discussing ideas while sitting at ease

Maybe we would brainstorm and come up

With a brilliant idea for a new start-up

Maybe the alertness brought on by coffee

Would lead us to a new discovery

Or maybe we all would get galvanized

To create a revolution organized

While discussing issues that arouse our passion

(In a cafe started the French Revolution!)

If we did any of these things, we would be

Following the well-travelled roads of history..

 

From time immemorial cafes around the world

Have as catalysts for political change served

Fuelled by coffee, men polarized in their views

Have debated heatedly, created breaking news

Intellectually inclined folks have conducted discourses

On science and philosophy, setting into motion forces

That have changed the course of history

How cafes facilitate that is not a mystery-

A lot can happen over a cup of coffee, we know

When you have time on your hands, and nowhere to go

With company of  people who think the same way-

Coffee, time and great ideas make a perfect day!

 

On this rainy day let us all convene

In our favorite cafe, that has seen

Highlights of our lives over the last decade

We shall not let our camaraderie fade

Even if nothing earth-shattering we create

We can take burdens off each other’s plates

We shall warm our bodies with coffee, and

Our hearts with stories shared among friends…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a DREAMer

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[DREAMers: defines individuals in the U.S. who were brought to the country at an early age without documentation but have assimilated to U.S. culture and have been educated by U.S. school systems]

Daca-dreamers-protest-nyc-2017-billboard-1548

Some days and moments stay imprinted on your mind

That opened your eyes to realities to which you were blind-

 

I was a straight A student, no question there had been

That I would go to college, my future path seemed pristine

I would bag a scholarship, proud would my parents be

I would make their sweat and tears count, set them free

From the tyranny of toiling away sixteen hours in a day-

They had crossed many hurdles in their way

Coming to America on a limb, in an attempt to give

Better opportunities to me, a better life to live

 

So I began the process of applying for college admissions  

And realized that through the years there had been an omission

On the part of my parents- they had not let me know

That I was “undocumented”- the news came as a blow

Suddenly my world was turned upside down

I could be deported, forced to leave the town

That was the only home I could remember

Yet, instead of leaving for college in September

I could be headed to the country which was essentially

A completely foreign land with a nearly alien language for me!

 

I could not wrap my head around the whole concept-

We were all undocumented- how, I could not accept

My parents were small-business owners, paying taxes too

And I, an American, all the way through

I was angry- at life, laws, my parents included

I thought I was American- turned out I was deluded

 

I am a DREAMer- that’s the label I carry 

I am in college now, yet the uncertainty is scary

The idea of being deported sends shivers down my spine

I would be uprooted, this country is mine-

This country has invested in me, and I want to

Invest back in it, pay back my dues…

(Image source:https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/lifestyle/7988878/what-end-of-daca-could-look-like-personal-account)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book a day… keeps the blues away

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Different challenges people for themselves set

Announcing them somewhere on the internet

To gain publicity, or for accountability

It is trendy to challenge our abilities..

So I gave myself a challenge, announcing on “Goodreads”

That every single day for a month, a book I would read

Now forty-five days later, forty-five books I have read

On a variegated literary diet I stand well-fed

What did I achieve? That is something I cannot explain

I was already an avid reader, I did not need to “train”

To read a book fast enough to complete it in a day

You might ask if this obsession got in the way

Of my work, of other tasks to be completed

Surprisingly, reading a book a day never depleted

My time significantly, what it did actually

Was that each book became my best ally

For the day- enticing me away from TV and shopping online

As books worked their magic, I had less time to whine

Different worlds I experienced with each book read

Some barely touched me, with others tears were shed

From stories set centuries ago to politics contemporary

My selection of books was fairly arbitrary

Browsing through collections at my local library each weekend

Became a ritual of sorts, a gainful way to spend

My time- checking out as many books as I could 

Selecting books on varied topics such that I would

Be forced to move out of my comfort zone 

My reading choices expanded, I never felt alone

As books became my companions constant

I felt happy that my time was well spent

This was a challenge, which has reached completion

Now I shall withdraw from my self-imposed competition

Still continue to read daily, though not a book every day

I have waxed poetic about it enough, that’s all I had to say!

The bottomless pit..

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Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction. –Erich Fromm

I thought from my parents I had imbibed

Through my childhood, values right

Growing up, undue emphasis on money we did not place

Life was supposed to be much more than a race

To acquire more wealth, accumulate comforts material

Our goals were supposed to be loftier, less tangible..

Maybe I was not as strong as I thought I would be

In the face of temptation, I swayed ever so slightly

At first, the lure of more money was accompanied

By other rewards, and an eager need

To be recognized in my field, which, after all, 

Had a philanthropic aspect to it, though small

So I worked harder, giving myself the justification

That there was nothing wrong in pursuing ambition

It would only be for a few years, until I was established

Then I would cut back on work, and lead the life I wished

I marvel at my naivete during those early years

I wish more powerful had been my fears

About getting stuck in the rat race 

So I could have retracted from that slippery place…

Neglecting my life at home and my family

I did not realize when the fine line was crossed by me

Between healthy ambition and vile greed

The desire for more was constantly justified as need

What’s more, productivity was encouraged and applauded

So, for my greed, I was constantly being rewarded

Therefore, ignoring migraines, heartburns and such

I worked harder to acquire more, at no point it was too much

I should have known I was headed for a burnout

The writing was on the wall, but I was too busy running about

To pay attention to it, so when I had a mental breakdown

I finally took notice, and heard the sirens sound

I then realized how the slippery slope of greed

Had robbed me of my prized possessions indeed-

Peace of mind and sound sleep at night- 

I had given up both without a fight…

That too, for nothing, because insatiable is greed

Continuously presenting each want as a need

I learnt my lesson, my greed I vanquished

Got back the life of values for which I had wished