Archive for the ‘Musing’ Category

Autumn Girl

She has a bit of a thing about leaves. She uses leafy themes and shades of mocha to decorate around the house.

Rake up the leaves and jump right in! An Autumn girl needs the fresh, crisp air and the sound of dry leaves crunching under her toes.

The autumn girl

The autumn girl

An Autumn girl bakes. Take her to the farmer’s market. Fill her basket with harvest fruits and fresh, brown eggs.

Kindle nightly fires to cuddle up beside. If she is restless, take her outside, even in the rain. Tell her – her eyes are like topaz.

Every Autumn girl embraces her dark side. At times she will be as mysterious as the fog rolling silently through a cemetery. She smiles at the spooky. Explore a haunted house, shudder through a ghost tour. Let her clutch your hand and drag you into a corn maze. I bet you’ll have fun.

The Autumn girl is a cheerleader and a homecoming queen. She has team spirit and never misses the playoffs. Some cold, Friday night take her to a high school football game. She appreciates nostalgia too. Warm up with hot chocolate at a roadside diner.

Gift her with small, carved, wooden, antique jewelry box for her to store her jewelry or a set of designer luggage to hold her clothes for a vacation trip. Buy her new scarves and soft cashmere cardigans.

Be glad and be ready, for an Autumn girl is adventurous. Hike a rocky forest path. Canoe on a mirror-still lake, take the paddles and let her lie down for a long rest so that she may look up at the fire colored trees against the bluest sky.

Gratitude is her greatest virtue. Above all, an Autumn girl gives thanks. She knows her worth and will show you the meaning of true abundance because life to an Autumn girl is a cornucopia spilling over with fun, beauty, adventure and delight.

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The Lost World Of Soviet-Era Children’s Books

“It is to books that I owe everything that is good in me. Even as I grow older, I realize that art is more generous than people are…” – Maxim Gorky

Those books - I grew up with

Books of the Soviet era I grew up with

This morning, my father pulled out an old black and grey dusty old suitcase with a golden handle from under his bed and declared that henceforth I keep ‘my property’ in my own room.

‘What’s in the suitcase?’ I asked him donning a strange expression, and as I rushed to open it [to my surprise], the smell of my childhood consumed me. It was full of old books of my growing up days, books from Soviet publishers and writers, books that were left unattended for years.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to go through each of those books – I grew up with – figuratively speaking; those that have always given me a feeling of warmth and magic.

Those days, while I was already getting familiar with names like CS Lewis,  Beatrix Potter, Charles Dickens, E B White, Rudyard Kipling, Louis May Alcott, and not to forget Enid Blyton, my parents also bought me a stack of books from Russian publishers and authors [most of those names unfamiliar to me] from book fairs which I equally cherished.

A feeling of warmth and magic

A feeling of warmth and magic

Those rusty, illustrated books from the Soviet, translated in English and regional languages were stories about real children and their tryst with life.

My mother often read those stories to me at bedtime. The lovely sketches and covers with simple and realistic plots, intertwined with magic, folklore, and a healthy dose of humor enchanted me.

In them, a mischievous eight-year-old boy finds all sorts of trouble. In another a small boy’s transforms from an underachiever into an A student.

I vividly remember a book where the protagonist Elena, a poor girl with little hope of living, meets a magic cat and that changes her life trajectory forever.

I remember a hardback pocket book on astronomy called Space Adventures in your Home by F. Rabiza fueled astronomer ambitions early in my childhood, until my math and physics classes in high school made it clear this was an unrealistic life choice.

Books simple and realistic plots

Books with simple and realistic plots

The bulk of my mini book shelf was made up of books published by Raduga, Malysh, Progress Publishers, Pravda and some lesser known others—and those were an essential part of the growing-up years. Tolstoys, Pushkins, and Dostoyevskys naturally came to my life in the course of the journey.

It has been nearly three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union and those Soviet era books are a lost world now. Potter maniacs may give me a glance of scornful indignation, but for a generation that grew up in the ‘80s [and earlier], these glossy books, with their touching stories and fascinating illustrations [translated in English or regional versions], served as a sort of strange connection between distant lands and still fire the imagination.

Strangely, the world depicted in the Russian stories was so unique, far removed from the neighborhoods of Indian cities or towns, different in weather, names, food, and facades, yet, those exotic books belonged to a world its readers felt able to touch, to sense and know well and today it remains a part of my most cherished memories.

The world depicted in the Russian stories was so unique

The exotic world depicted in the Russian stories

A Piggy Bank Of Happiness

The happy pig

The other day, as I stepped out on the balcony to sip my morning tea, and just started to enjoy the bright orange flowers on the roadside, blooming against the brilliant blue summer sky, a sudden unintelligible shout disturbed my peace. To my horror, I looked down to see four agitated men running through the streets,  some intentionally causing damage to the parked cars, while others caught hold of a young man probably in his early twenties, punching him so hard that he fell on the ground. He tried to get up but others were in no mood to stop.

It was a pretty horrendous thing to even stand there, watching the young man getting beaten up brutally. After a few seconds of shock, I shouted, “Hey Stop it…What’s happening there?” from the balcony. Not sure if the men even bothered to listen to what I said, but a police van landed in no time to put an end to all the confusion.

By then, morning walkers, security guards of other apartment and several other onlookers started jamming up, offering them their ‘invaluable’ comments and opinion, and some even looked busy capturing those moments of chaos on their mobile phones. It was a matter of only a few minutes and police happened to make a strange yet welcome interruption here…. But those undesirable few minutes were enough to disturb your inner peace. To say the least, it was pretty disgusting.

No wonder, we live in an age of outrage – where anger, resentment and fear rule over its combatants love, friendship and respect. I must admit to having being caught up in the outrage machine myself.

It’s kind of fancy to flag off angry tweets, write fiery Facebook updates, post snarky comments, and so on. It shows our outrage about our neighbors, state of the world, about people who are in some way or the other ‘different’ from ours. There’s so much of resentment that things aren’t working out exactly as we would like them to; and fear of what the future holds. As a consequence our daily lives are eked out amid a litany of complaints.

End of the day, you sit and wonder, what purpose does that serve? Not only are we eaten up with negativity about the rest of the world, we also end up being angry, depressed and dissatisfied about our own lives.

Piggy bank of happiness

Piggy bank of happiness

Well, I don’t know about you, but I am tired of living like this. So, in an effort to look past all that is awful and actively search for the good, I am now keeping what I call a ‘piggy bank of happiness’ and it is just working wonders. So I decided to share this thought with you.

We have a small piggybank where, instead of putting money, we put our happy thoughts. We started writing down our happy thoughts and insert them through the small open slot. We then come together once a week to read them and share a happy moment with the family.

This Saturday, as I opened my weekly piggy bank, I found so many wonderful thoughts in it: a phone call from my friend who lives abroad. We chat, we laugh, we catch up on our lives, we make plans to see each other soon. Old friends. Something to be truly grateful for.

Another thought in the piggy bank – as I was clearing out my cupboard last week, I stumble upon an envelope of old pictures: my childhood pictures with the entire family framed in it, lovely time at a riverside with my parents, zoo time with my aunt and cousin – lovely moments captured, laughing our heads off at some long-forgotten joke. And a priceless photo of myself with my college friends, the zesty, carefree souls, with not a care in the world. You really can’t put a price on that.

Here’s one more… Sunday mornings are the day to experiment with breakfast options. This time, I tried Bread masala, a snack I first had during my university days in Manipal [near Mangalore, India]. It was sold at food carts catering hundreds of students like us, who often stay awake in the pretext of late night studying. I put together the ingredients from memory, try and get the exact degree of crispness and sauce. And guess what? It’s absolutely perfect. The taste of my university in every delicious mouthful. My son just loved it crazy.

There are so many more -a moment from my karate class, Kush’s first word, a fun event in the family…. oodles of fun and laughter with friends at the school reunion.

At the end of the day, I have come to believe, it is in these tiny moments of joy that true happiness lies. And I am so grateful for each such moment in my life that I have decided to document it. In the little piggy bank of happiness, I can dip into whenever I am feeling sad and depressed and thank our stars for so many happy times gone by and pray for many more that’s yet to come.

I may not revolutionize the society, but through my blog, I can at least spread the word. So, all I can say is take a moment out to count your blessings; you will feel much happier for it. And just like charity, happiness can also begin at home, if we make an effort to be happy.

 

Web of Lies!

Loneliness in the Age of Social Networking

Loneliness in the Age of Social Networking

Often wondered, instead of getting entangled in a web of lies, why can’t we take steps to improve our real life so that our virtual life follows suit… As Marcus Aurelius, the good Roman emperor, best known for his meditations on Stoic philosophy, observed: “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” You can read the blog here: Web of Lies!

Full moon shining brilliantly

The Dojo, the ground where we practice karate offers a respite from the crowd; it’s a breathing space among the concrete jungles.

This evening as I dashed across the open space and happened to look into the sky, I was fascinated to see the full moon shining brilliantly – bleaching the ground, the nearby water pool and the bushes of the adjacent park – turning the leaves and weeds to silver.

I stood there silently admiring the moon – don’t know exactly how long – forgetting the world around me, when our unplanned rendezvous was disturbed by a phone call.

As I came out of the Dojo, talking on the phone, stealing one final glance at the silvery sky, I could sense a fleeting moment of contentment and perfection – some things we often forget to appreciate and rejoice in the fast paces of city life.

Road To Cherry Hills – A novel by Sohini Bagchi

Road To Cherry Hills - A novel by Sohini Bagchi

Road To Cherry Hills – A novel by Sohini Bagchi

Abstract:

‘Road to Cherry Hills’ takes us into the world of Rimjhim, as she walks down the memory lane to her campus days where she meets Ankit, falls head over heels for him and thought her life has changed forever. Of course it did, but in the most unexpected ways, as she soon finds her life taking a completely different turn.

Rimjhim, now a single mother and a successful professional, moves on to fight her own battle. As she explores new places, encounters different people and meets with new experiences, she not only makes a difference to her life, but also touches lives of others in the most positive ways.

What happens to Rimjhim as she narrates her trials and tribulations, her dilemmas and achievements, her darkest fears and her deepest desires? To know more, buy and read the book now on: http://amzn.to/2Ch2n8N

You will also find the book on Flipkart [http://bit.ly/2F5oZLh]

Book enthusiasts staying abroad in the US, Canada and UK, too can now book online: “Road to Cherry Hills”  will be delivered at your doorstep. Click on the link to register:
https://www.dkagencies.com/…/DKC44716276321731…/details.html

About the author:

Sohini Bagchi

Sohini Bagchi

Sohini Bagchi, a professional doctorate in media studies is a journalist by profession and a writer by passion. She has worked for media houses such as The Times Group, IDG Media and Hindustan Times.
Currently, she is working as Chief Editor with an online media house in Bangalore. Sohini has received the National Human Rights Promotion Award 2003 for her work on Child labour in Kolkata.

Sohini blogs during her free time; is trained in karate and loves to read, travel and listen to music.

[Courtesy: Lifi Publications]

A Midnight Dream

It was almost midnight… the wind and rain intensified the thick black darkness. She was awake, huddled up to keep herself warm. Her long silky hair tied up in a brown satin bow, she stared out of her bedroom window trying to decipher the outer world with her dark, curious eyes.

The magic happens every night at midnight

The magic happens every night at midnight

It was very gloomy and dark, and quite frankly miserable, but then from the corner of her eye, she saw something dancing around on top of the murky water of the canal next to the courtyard that looked truly royal with its silvery glossy finish.

She picked up her orange quilt blanket that her grandmother made her, then sauntered down the staircase, taking great care not to trip and fall or make any unwanted noise. Then she slowly opened the door with the silver engraved handle of the doorknob…

To her surprise, her eyes widened and all she could see was a bright white light all over. Dancing happily on a lily pad, was a water nymph. It waved at her then dove into the water, just like a dolphin she saw at the city water park the other day. But then it swiftly flew away. And before it was completely gone, it gestured at her again. She became curious and naturally started following it.

She soon found herself in the middle of the central park where she plays with her close gang of friends in the day time. But the park somehow felt different.

The faded colors looked freshly painted and the stone steps leading down to the canal were so shiny that she could see her own reflection crystal clear.

The golden winged lions and horses looked as if they were made of solid gold and they were polished to perfection. All of the brickwork was dappled and looked like a rainbow; it was truly a magical sight.

She realized, all of a sudden, it would soon be dawn, but she made a promise to her new friends that she would visit them every midnight so that she could have many more magical adventures.

The nymph on the lily pad

The nymph on the lily pad

She could feel the cold night air against her thin night dress and the breeze of the wind against her face. As she strolled down the alley, she thought how happy it made her feel. She would surely return for another night of adventure, she thought with a smile and by then she had reached the front of her house.

Slowly opening the door, she crept up the staircase and into her small, secluded room. As she fell into her bed and dozed off within seconds.

There were silver lights all over. The charismatic town and it slowly sank into the deepest ocean. The nymphs lay on the lily pads with moss blankets to keep themselves warm and started to snore softly. Soon everything was back to the way it was, the buildings old and dilapidated. The lions and horses began to fade.

But she feels the magic every night… at midnight.