Life and death



I lost my Mom today, fourteen years back. One of my favorite memories is of her taking early morning walks in Lodhi Garden, and forcing me to come along on the weekends. I would grudgingly agree on a Sunday morning, force myself out of the bed and trudge along. As she bounced along the tracks in the garden, I tried hard to keep up with her pace, puffing and panting, wondering how a middle aged lady could beat a college kid like me at walking. But when she cooled off in between, we had the most interesting talks on a myriad of topics – life at the hospital and life at college, markets and movies, sarees and jeans, surgeries and exams, patients and teachers, and everything in between.

Today after many years, I revisited our old haunt – to relive the old days, maybe to honor Mom’s memory in some way. As I rediscovered the place, I realized there was so much beauty in it… nature at its best, a wonderment. The splendid scenery, the smell of jasmines and the chirping of birds swirling around. Life in the thick foliage, the bamboos and the bougainvilleas and the birds and squirrels. Death in the enshrined tombs and the dead leaves. Life and death swirling together in a song. An old dead tree trunk overgrown with blooming creepers and flowers. A barren tree with the sun rising in its background. The living and the dead playing games and life prospering, in spite of all odds. Everything around a display of life’s full circle. A symbol of the joy in struggle. The reason in sorrow. The calm in storm. The light in dark. And the hope in tomorrow. Saying that no matter how much the pain today, someday, things will fall into place. And life will be okay.


Doctor, doctor, solve the problem. ( On WhatsApp, if you please )



Doctor, sorry to disturb you at night. My tummy has been hurting since morning.

I am sorry to hear that. Where is it hurting ?

Just at a point below the navel on the right side.

Why don’t you come to the hospital tomorrow and we will have a look.

It only hurts here. Not all the time, just every hour or two… ( follows with a pic of the stomach with a finger pointing at the indicated site ).

Sorry, that pic won’t really help. You will need to come in.

What could be the cause, doc ?

I will need to see you to find out. When you come to the hospital.

Still, what do you think could be the problem ?

I really couldn’t say, Madam. Till I see you in the hospital.

I have been looking up the net all day. Could it be syndrome XYZ ? Do you think I should get a CT scan ?

Again, I can’t tell you anything till I examine you. In the hospital. Not on WhatsApp.

The colour of my urine is more yellowish than usual. Should I collect it in a container and send you a picture ?

That, won’t be necessary. I’ll take your word for it.

When the pain starts, I have this ‘gurr-gurr’ sound in my stomach.

Did you record that on your phone ?

No ! Should I have ?!


Do you think it could be gas ?

It could be. But you just said it’s likely to be syndrome XYZ.

Doc, I’m really worried.

That’s why you should come to the hospital for assessment.

Could you prescribe me some medicines ?

No can do. Not on WhatsApp.

Do you think I should start an antibiotic ? I have Norflox-TZ.

But antibiotics won’t work if it is syndrome XYZ.

So you suggest I come to the hospital ?


There is a clinic close to my house. Could I show myself there ? I will make their doctor speak to you.

Madam, I would still like to make my own judgment. And rule out the Google syndromes.

( Resigns ). I guess I will come to the hospital, then.

( You think )

Can you see me precisely at 9:00 am ? I need to be somewhere at 9:30.

Sure. I don’t know how long the consultation will last, though.

What do you mean ? You think this is serious, don’t you ?

I will have to sign off Madam. Why don’t you see me tomorrow morning ?

Doc. At least tell me what you think. Doc ? You there ?

How not to meditate.



“ Ok, let’s begin. Sit comfortably.”

Sure. Hari om.

“ Sit in the lotus pose.”

Wait… what ? That’s not comfortable. Do you know how hard this floor is ?

“ Keep your back straight. Don’t move.”

That’s impossible – I need to shift my bottom.

“ Are you in the moment ?”

I think so. My arse is really hurting at this moment.

“ Observe the sensations in your body…”

My nose is twitching. My bum is itching…

“ Now breathe – slow and deep.”

I think I’m about to sneeze. Aaa…. Aaa… Sorry, false alarm.

“ Don’t venture into the past.”

Of course not… I really should have bought those shoes, though.

“ Don’t think about the future.”

Hmm… What’s for dinner today ? It better not be tinday.

“ Be in the present.”

Do I smell chai ?

“ Listen to the sounds around you.”

Why is that kid next door bawling ?

“ Watch your breath go in and out.”

( Snoring )

“ Can you see the imaginary flame at your eyebrow center ?”

Not really. But I can see the imaginary chocolate.

“ Observe your body…”

Chandan sa badan…

“ Listen to your body…”

( Stomach growling )

“ Surrender yourself. Just let go.”

Oh shit, I just farted !

“ Breathe in. Breathe out.”

Are you nuts ? Don’t you smell the fart ?

“ Observe your thoughts.”

I think my bladder is full.

“ Not the past…”

I should have peed before this class.

“ Not the future…”

I wonder how long I can hold…

“ Observe the present.”

I really need to pee.

“ Don’t get carried away. Just be with the flow.”

Does he know something ?

“ Meditation is a thoughtless frame of mind…”

Right. No more thoughts. No more thoughts. Wait, isn’t that a thought ?

“ Be a passive observer.”

Inner peace. Zzzz…. Inner peace. Zzzz…

“ Be aware of this moment. Don’t sleep.”

Wha… I’m awake ! I’m awake !

“ Now watch that flame from your eyebrow center fade away.”

But I never saw the flame ! If it helps, the imaginary chocolate is gone too.

“ Open your eyes slowly. See how light you feel !”

I will, in a moment. If only I can reach the washroom in time.

“ Do you feel energized ?”

Trust me, I’m ready to run. Hari om.

The last day



If today was the day the time ran out,

And the world this moment you had to leave,

Would you depart with your hearts full ?

Or a casket of glory would you weave ?


Did you laugh and dance in the rain and walk on the wet grass,

Or stroll on the beach with the sand slipping between your toes ?

Surrendered yourself in the lap of the mighty ocean,

Gazing skyward underneath a giant wave as the time froze ?

Did you soak your feet in a chilly stream,

The soles caressing the pebbles on the bed ?

Or sipped its sweet water on a parched summer afternoon,

As the sun and the earth, on a fiery June wed ?


If today was the day the time ran out,

And the world this moment you had to leave,

Would you depart with your hearts full ?

Or a casket of glory would you weave ?


Did you watch the sunlight flowing in the sky,

Running between the canopies and skirting the leaves ?

Or felt it draping you in warmth and happiness,

Flooding the joy and love up your sleeves ?

Did you listen to the air whispering in your ear,

Or to the wind singing a magical song ?

A longing tune tucked away in its wings,

From the lands far away, carried along.


If today was the day the time ran out,

And the world this moment you had to leave,

Would you depart with your hearts full ?

Or a casket of glory would you weave ?


Did you bend down to smell the flowers,

Felt their velvet against your skin ?

Glanced above at the clouds shifting spaces,

Wondering at their shapes turn and grin ?

Did you sit voiceless in a moonlit night,

And hear the stars giggle and spark ?

Sensed a cool breath rustling up your back,

The familiar touch of a departed soul in dark ?


If today was the day the time ran out,

And the world this moment you had to leave,

Would you depart with your hearts full ?

Or a casket of glory would you weave ?


Did you see the birds soaring in the evening,

And imagined how far they would fly ?

Held a butterfly or beheld a murmuration,

The entrancing dance of freedom in the sky.

Did you hold an animal in your hands,

Lay your face on theirs and realize ?

The boundless bliss and the innocent hope,

The wonderment in the world through their eyes.


If today was the day the time ran out,

And the world this moment you had to leave,

Would you depart with your hearts full ?

Or a casket of glory would you weave ?

If this was your last day living,

Would you leave the world with your name ?

Mounted on a plate and etched on a wall,

Remembered by all, a legacy to proclaim.

Or would you leave it living your life ?

Everyday a first and everyday the last,

And everything in it a wonder and a gift,

Each moment, the present of the future past.

Incredible India

American flag background for Memorial Day or 4th of July

An Indian parent…

“ Mummy, dekho kutta potty kar raha hai !”

“( Name – generally a syllable followed by AAN ) bete, ‘ kutta ’ nahi bolte – ‘ doggy ’ bolo. Say ‘ Doggy ’ !”

“ Mummy, dekho doggy potty kar raha hai !”

“ No darling, not ‘ potty ’! Say ‘ poo-poo ’! …”

“ OK Mummy, doggy poo-poo kar raha hai.”

“ Now say it English.”

“ Mom, doggy is doing poo-poo.”

“ Good Boy !” (Pun unintended)

After a few minutes…

“ Mummy, susu aa raha hai…”

A smouldering glare ensues…

“ Oh sorry. Mumma can I go pee-pee ?”


Meanwhile, an NRI parent abroad…

“ Bete, Mummy se bolna kude waala aaya hai ..”

“ Kude – what ?! Dad, say it in English.”

“ Can you tell Mom the garbage truck is here ? (Angez ki aulaad…) ”

Diet no more



Have you ever been coerced to go on a diet,

When your heart screams no, and your brain shushes it to be quiet ?

A host of ploys that you’re forced to say hello,

Atkins, vegan, detox, South Beach and keto.


A morning rinse with lemon water and honey,

A rude early awakening for your raucous tummy,

As you are alarmed by the soury fluid inbound,

When it could have been a warm sugary coffee that you downed.

And for a hearty breakfast as you start getting eager,

Frugality is served with a helping of oats meagre,

Or a strange nutty mixture called muesli,

Taken with milk and raved about profusely.


But consider yourself lucky, if you will,

Coz some days may be harder and uphill,

For you may be served a bowl of sprouts,

Whilst you’re looking for food hereabouts and thereabouts.

Those tentacled alien spherules that you are cajoled to swallow,

Invading your food pipe and swarming in your stomach hollow,

And though they may tempt you with their colors weaving,

Look out, because the looks may be deceiving,

Coz for all the health and taste they appear to fake,

They are sure to torment your belly into a writhing ache.


As the day gets warmer and you think you’d be cut some slack,

Oh, if you could only hope, to sneak in a little snack !

“ Snack all you want !” your diet yoda would say,

“ But only chew on an apple or sip on a green tea, okay ?”

Carbs are your enemies and veggies are your friends,

So you better throw out the junk, and begin to cleanse.


When you assume there is nothing worse left to fear,

“ Don’t be so sure of yourself, ” a voice whispers in your ear,

Loud and clear the instructions boom – “ No rice, no roti, no bread !”

Striking you with a thunderous lightning, as you pray furiously you were dead.

Your innards squirm with anger and unrest,

At this breaking news, as you fervently protest,

“ But what pray, will I eat ?” you cry out loud,

“ Why, proteins my dear !” says your diet, head bowed,

“ And what of sweet cravings and dessert?”

“ Fruits will come to the rescue !” comes a reply curt.


How, do you hope to survive this ordeal,

When all you can think about, is meal after meal ?

How would a fruit stand by for a cake ,

And green tea cure that office headache ?

Can oats fill you up like a buttered toast ?

Or the measly sprouts confidently boast,

Of filling the tummy and greed both,

And not sprouting on your insides into a mouldy growth ?


What do you do, when you can’t eat rice or bread ?

A terrifying thought unthinkable, filling you with dread,

How do you satiate yourself with salad ?

With gluttony and craving playing a rock ballad,

Do you drink air when you are parched with thirst ?

Then how can an appetite, with such proxies be nursed ?

So please show some heart to our belly and bowel,

And let us enjoy our beloved rajma chaawal,

For no amount of those healthy foods can substitute,

The relish of curry and carbs, and their power absolute.



* rajma chaawal is an Indian dish consisting of red kidney beans in a thick gravy served with rice.