Saturday, November 20, 2010

Polly put the Kettle On, Let’s all have Tea!

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a competition organized by a famous tea company from a social networking site, in which they wanted the participants to give ideas for advertisements. Here’s the elaborated version of what I thought up:

A son studying in a hostel finds his eyes closing every now and then as he tries to study for his exam. He gets up, frustrated and goes to the kitchen to make tea for his own self in order to stay awake. As the tea brews, memories of his mother bringing tea for him while he studied come to his mind that make him really wish that she were there for him or that he were at home.

From the hostel kitchen, we are led to the welcoming kitchen of a loving household, where in front of the stove, stands a granddaughter making special kind of tea with just the right mix of ‘masala’ her grandfather preferred. She carries the tea to her grandfather’s room and places the tray on the table next to her grandfather’s antique rocking chair, seated on which was not her grandfather but the sleeping form of his wife. The light thump awakens her grandmother, who picks up the cup of tea as the two stare at the picture of the deceased. Tears trickle down the cheeks of the woman, who has taken up the role of her husband in order to keep his memories alive.

In a family of over-enthusiasts, a newly-wed girl who has never tasted tea ever, amidst the numerous flashes and clicks of cameras, takes a sip for the first time from the hands of her ‘sasu-ma’ in her 'sasural' just to please her in-laws as the whole family of tea-buffs, old and young, gathers around to magnify this interesting little activity to the height of an event worthy of celebration.

From the hustle and bustle of that family living room, we are led to a room that literally holds pin-drop silence and reminiscent within the room, is a businessman, on a trip away from his family, taking some time out from his busy schedule in order to relax himself with a cup of tea and stare at his happy family photo. His thoughts travel to the life he lives, where every evening, his wife would carry a tray with enough cups and mugs of different shapes and sizes according to the preference of the variety of people forming the joint-family household setup. Soon to follow would be another tray carrying assorted tea-time snacks and biscuits for everybody. He smiles for a while before the silence of the room brings him back to the striking loneliness of the present.

The concept is that tea is a part of the routine lives of these people and when you are away from your loved ones, the only thing that you really remember is the everyday happenings and the customary things in your life, which is pretty much what you can relate your routine cup of tea with.

The concept I presented was quite clich├ęd and I agree that there was nothing new about it. Maybe because I inherently believe that there’s nothing new about drinking tea either. Ever since I can remember, I have seen my mother keep a pot of tea to brew on the stove regularly in the mornings and evenings. I also remember having tea-biscuit for breakfast with the help of my mother before I left for kindergarten class. The nursery rhyme in the title also brings back a lot memories of the most common and basic toys that most young girls grow up playing with - tea-cup and kitchen sets.

For someone accustomed to drinking tea more than thrice a day, up until a few years ago it was quite surprising for me to hear that some people really don’t drink tea! Since, it’s like an overall family tradition to have tea with breakfast and in the evenings at least, we’ve long since wanted to teach our older Mithoo to drink tea. On the other hand, the little-est and not to mention the cutest member of our family, despite being less than four months of age, really shows family instincts as she excitedly stares at our cups of tea. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Mithoo Series – Life is simple!

And it sure is, when you look at it through the eyes of a three-year-old!

The homes that are blessed with children can always find a source of relaxation as a few moments spent with these tiny little beings can cheer you up and leave you in a lighter mood despite the circumstances you’re in. They’re like flowers that require a nourishing atmosphere, care and protection from all troubles and in order to inculcate such an environment, we tend to forget our own problems just by being with them. 

My Mithoo and I
By the Grace of the Almighty, our home is Blessed with two wonderful little princesses, who happen to be my nieces, three-and-a-half-year-old Inaaya and three-month-old Tahani. This is a series dedicated to my Mithoo, Inaaya, whose little actions and constant chatter and cute interpretation and usage of words brings lots of cheer into our household. I thought it would be interesting to share her antics with everybody as I’ve always found my friends enjoying when I shared with them my experiences with her.

Inaaya had been called to school this weekend on Saturday because of the numerous holidays they had been granted owing to the difficult situations our city has been facing. Not having a habit of sleeping in the afternoon, she uses all of her time to play, play and play – the one thing that signifies her right as a child. She sometimes does feel the need to have somebody else around whom she could share her enthusiasm of playing with. It’s not impossible to say that she might find that companion in her younger sister once she reaches that age. But for now, she either has to do alone or convince the elder people in the house to frolic with her.

After her constant activity, she went with my parents and sister-in-law to see my father’s uncle, who has come to settle in Pakistan after staying a long, long time abroad. It was way past her early bedtime when she returned home. All her exertion the whole day long had rendered her so exhausted and void of all energy that she could only muster up a little more just enough to slump on my parents’ bed. Her condition had led the elders to decide that she would not be going to school the next day so just to tease her a little, I told her that she has to go to school the next morning. Knowing very well from the conversation that had transpired a while ago that she would not be going, she said, “Aap, hai na, aap, hai na (You should, you should)…” My heart melt at the difficulty she was experiencing in thinking straight because of her weariness as it took her a long time to form a proper sentence. “Aap school phone kar ke bol do ke kal school nai rakhey, main kal nai aaoonga (You should phone the school to call an off tomorrow because I won’t be coming)!” She managed finally, putting her hand to her ear as an illustration.

I laughed at her innocence. Kids make everything sound and look so simple. They don’t just want but expect the whole world to go according to their will. May Allah always Bless the innocence of these wonderful sources of joy in our lives and Guide them to become great people.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Impending Goodbyes…

This one’s going to be a really, really sad post and has been written with just such a state of mind.

Saying goodbye - always the toughest of things to do, isn’t it? Saying goodbye to a job or a place you’ve called home for years or saying it to friends you’ve worked with, studied with or to best friends who’ve left you behind – actually, scratch that, in these cases you never get to say it, it’s just a silent one, from within your own heart. But the thing is that it’s always tough.

It turns out my best friend of years is going to go away. Well, she was always going to go away, once she got married that is. She was always going to settle down abroad. But what’s more striking about this new discovery is that this is something that can be helped, unlike marriage. She’s going to go off to study. And it really doesn’t help that she’s the only best friend I’ve known in a couple of years now. The other one is just so engrossed in her own life that she’s forgotten she ever had a family before her current one, let alone remembering me. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m really happy that she’s happy just not happy that she’s never there for me anymore.

There’re very few friends who create a lasting impact on your life. And there are fewer best friends who manage to motivate you, who would say things like they are to your face, they would thwart you when required, set you straight when you go wrong, encourage you when you need it, and most of all, lend a listening ear to all your rants that would always cheer you up. Going out with friends is the only vent you get from your monotonous life. The way they feel bad about not being there when you got sick but didn’t get a chance to tell them, the sudden plans for going out shopping and for dinners, the long late night conversations over the phone are all the things I’ll really, really miss. I’ll also miss advising her, scolding her when she’s wrong, cheering her up and also the feeling of being important to somebody and making a significant difference in somebody’s life.

Best friends are people you can share everything with. Even the things you would never share with your family because you don’t want to upset them. I’ll miss that the most because only best friends can make up for this. No one else and no other friend can.

Friends are like this ray of hope when you feel you’ve reached the edge of the road. How I’ll manage to survive without this ray of hope in my life is something I haven’t gotten around to asking myself because I’ve been so busy crying my eyes out and fighting this suffocating feeling of loneliness. True, I’ve got other friends. But you don’t call your best friend the best for nothing.

Ok, so there’s still time. There’s still time to build up on some last few pleasant memories; there’s still time to share a few good laughs, some tears and a lot of talks. But it really doesn’t help that she’s gone for Umrah just when I’ll be having my last day in office. It gives me a feel of how it’s going to be when she actually leaves. Although I really hope she enjoys her first trip to Allah’s House to the divine and Blessed experience that it really is.

And yeah, my leaving office is another impending goodbye that seems less saddening compared to this one although it wouldn’t seem that way when that day actually arrives. I’ll be saying goodbye to my office of two years full of all kinds of memories and to the few but precious friends I’ve made here. I will miss you buddies hard and I know you guys know it.

If I’ve depressed you people enough, I’d sign off and leave you to mourn over all your long lost friends and best friends and jobs you’ve left behind. Sharing felt good, though. As a colleague of mine put it, writing can be a relieving activity. That really stands to be very true.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And hence began my journey…

How ironic. What signals an end also indicates a new beginning. The day my resignation got finalized was the day I got appreciated for my writing skills that I had been too shy to present to even my friends, let alone to the general public. It may appear as a small achievement to others, but to me, being recognized as a writer – be it by my father, my friends, or colleagues – means a lot.

I wrote a reply to a colleague’s humorous and well-written article, which was meant to be a tribute to girls on Women’s Day. I agree that my article may not be completely comprehensible or as much fun to people not working in our office but what follows is my first ever public and humble attempt at writing humorous non-fiction:

Speci-Men in Our Company

Warning: This article is meant to hurt people’s feelings but the author and her creative team do not claim any responsibility whatsoever with regard to tears running down anybody’s cheeks.

Over a large span of time, various kinds of species have evolved within this company. Since Men’s Day is still a long way away, we, the girls have decided to ‘pay tribute’ in advance to these peculiar but interesting creatures in our company.

Our first category is the Cactuses. These species are the touch-me-not category. Even minor contact would drive you running out of the cluster to get some fresh air, the air of attitude they throw about is such. Be careful when you interact with them because the thorny tone of their voices is bound to make you bleed.

The Rubber-band kind prefers to stretch so far back in their seats from time to time that one can fear that they might snap or at least their chair would. Not to mention the fate of poor unfortunate girls sitting behind them who to avoid their outstretched arms, have to crouch into their cubicles.

Then there are some at whom the word style starts to begin but forgets to end—simply put the (J) Bravos. Apparently being trapped in the wrong profession, they seem to fantasize themselves as models and the corridors of the office as ramps. If by any chance, you’re ever stuck walking behind them, you’re bound to reach your destination a couple of hours later than you anticipate.

There are also a few Richie Riches, who have probably been brought up with servants at every beck and call. They seem to perceive every passerby as one and would not think twice before handing over their used mugs and glasses to them to be taken away while they sprawl lazily on the sofa.

There is another batch of species that lack simple courteousness of moving away to give space to others (read girls) or leave the seats of those they are sitting on. But mind you, having said all this, they would still not refrain from pretending to have manners, trying to make up for their lack by using extremely muddled up definitions of ‘Thank you’ and when to put a ‘No’ before it. Poor souls also really have a hard time deciphering that the word Sorry can also be used an alternate for “Could you repeat that, please?” and not just as an apology.

There also exist some Free Biscuit Lovers, who can just sense the fragrance of free biscuits like anything. They pounce on those biscuits and finish them off when the owner isn’t at her seat, making her wonder if she even bought a pack that day.

Then there is a type who use their pen (or should I say a word processor?) to criticize everybody under the sun (or at least under the company’s illuminated roof). This makes you wonder if there is anybody that they actually like.

In the end, I would just like to say that within the categories defined above, I’m sure there isn’t a complete dearth of etiquettes, consideration or good people for that matter. It’s just that as is the case with our management, the good points just tend to ‘slip’ out of the mind when you begin writing.

Strict instructions had been shared amongst the girls that no questions regarding the identities of the guys would be entertained so as to avoid bad feelings and embarrassments and so that the article could indeed be taken lightly. But there are always a few bad elements set out to try to ruin your wonderful day, aren’t there? Try as they might but they couldn't succeed though! It’s situations like these that make you wonder how you can go from having no opinion about a person to a very low opinion about a person.

But what moved me was the appreciation and support that I got from everybody. It was this that made my day. There was something else that made my day even better and that was the pride I saw on my dad’s face when I shared with him my experience at office. I truly can say that this was one of the happiest days of my life.

I always believe that the success and achievements of a person are measured by the contentment they can bring into other people’s lives. The happiness, ease and relief that a person brings into the lives of their loved ones – whether it’s family or friends - are the primary achievements in a person’s life. It is what makes life worth living for a person. All other successes are secondary.

I’m grateful that I have the greatest of parents, wonderful-lest of cousins and best-est of friends in life. May Allah Bless them all always.

I dedicate this first blog entry to them and to my colleagues. A lot of people have been very encouraging about this blog too. I hope everyone enjoys what they read here. Happy Reading! :o)