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A thousand splendid visions

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This one’s for Papa – Happy Birthday

Beautiful words, beautiful gift for Dad, penned by sister. Calling myself lucky to have him as my Papa would be an understatement.

SoulSpeak with Sonam

And what made you think you won’t get a letter on your birthday just like Ma? 😉


Dearest Papa,

Happy birthdayyyy!!
May you have the most amazing year ahead and may God grant you all your wishes!

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On this special day, I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done – big or small.

Thank you for setting up an example of just how a man should be – understanding, caring, respectful, and dependable. Thank you for never letting us feel we were any less than sons for you and Ma (this goes out to her as well). Thank you for pushing us further, encouraging us to achieve more always. Thank you for being the most honest and hardworking self-made man I know – you inspire us in more ways than one.

Thank you for sending me to UK, for funding my education and for never saying no to anything I wanted – be it…

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I always wanted to…

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Image source: Pixabay

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I always wanted to write. Oh wait, I can’t say always, because frankly, I had no clue about the world or life, let alone decide what I wanted to do, until I was in high school.

In fact, I was clueless in high school too. I remember, I had to choose a “stream” of studies after Standard X, which could be Science, Arts or Commerce. I knew Science isn’t my cup of tea. (Ah, that means I wasn’t as clueless, after all!) So it had to be either Arts or Commerce, but which one?

I must interrupt and tell you, I wrote poems sometimes. I’d also pen down my feelings, emotions and thoughts, albeit infrequently. Inside my head, I must’ve scribbled conversations and stories a thousand times over. I felt a strange comfort in words.

Anyway, I can’t explain how light and hopeful I felt when I found my school is inviting a “career counsellor” for a one-day workshop to help students decide their future course of studies. After a series of tests came the much-awaited one-to-one session with the counsellor. If my memory isn’t failing me, she was Ms Amrita. You may want to note here that I was always a timid girl.

Ms. A’s first question: So Neha, what do you want to be?

Neha was zapped. She muttered to herself, “that’s what I want to know, and I thought you’re here to tell me!”

Ms. A again: Tell me Neha, what do you want to be?

Neha: Ma’am, I’m not sure. I can’t decide.

Ms. A: Do you want to be a doctor or engineer?

Neha: No Ma’am, I can’t study Science.

Ms. A: Well done, you’ve already done half the homework! So Arts or Commerce, which one?

Neha: Umm, I don’t know. Can you please tell me the career options both streams will open up for me to help me decide? I’m not really aware.

Ms. A: You’ve scored well in English. You can take up Arts.

Neha: And what can I do after studying Arts? Can I write or teach?

Ms. A: Okay, leave it. Tell me, what course do you want to take up in college? You have to decide right now as it’ll decide your career. You’re a grown up, and will be out of school soon. How can you say you don’t know? Is there any course you recently found about/heard about?

Neha was nearly in tears. A grownup she might appear, but how was she expected to know something she’d never been told about? Amid the mad rush of Standard X Board exams that were made to sound like do-or-die, she was asked to choose a stream one day. No guidance, no awareness, no information. I’m not sure a school-going child even understands what “career” means.

(After a long pause)

Neha: Umm, I read about BBA in the papers recently. I don’t know much, though.

Ms. A: Great! So you’re all set. Here’s your career path:

Commerce in Plus 2 >> BBA for three years >> MBA

With that, Ms. A handed me my career.

I joined Commerce. Plus 2 wasn’t a great experience. Economics and commerce were interesting, but maths was a foe and accountancy a burden. After school, I enrolled for B.Com (Honours). Thereafter, for 365 X 3 days, I wondered what I was doing, having been forced to mug up books after books of law and audit. My school didn’t teach me mugging – something I’m ever so grateful for. So to say that Calcutta University made me feel helplessly hopeless would be an understatement.

Oh, the other dilemma I faced during those 365 X 3 days: I am a Commerce student, so it’s mandatory to choose a professional course. Mandatory, as per societal conventions.

Chartered Accountancy

Pardon me, I don’t have a CA before my name. But B.Com + CA was considered the ultimate career choice for a Commerce student back then, particularly among Marwaris. I want to pause and apologize to my community here, as I’ve hardly followed conventions.

I didn’t enrol for CA, because my heart told me:

The amount of efforts (read: tuitions) you’ll have to put in to crack CA will debit happiness from your life. And there’s no guarantee the end result (read: a tax/audit job) credited to your life will make it any better.

Gossip about a new CFA program was making the rounds then. A friend told me it was mainly economics. I liked the idea, and enrolled. So it was B.Com + CFA for me, primarily, as I pursued several other finance courses/diplomas. I loved studying!

In between, I developed interest in the stock markets while watching CNBCTV18 with Mom. I got through a leading brokerage firm after college. Sadly, I was reduced to a telephone operator there, and my dreams of writing equity reports – the first-ever concrete dream I nurtured — went for a toss. Oh, didn’t I tell you I still wrote? The only difference was, they were mostly numbers now. I attended stock-market oriented workshops and courses. I spent most of my time reading about stocks and companies.

And then HSBC happened. A successful walk-in interview and here I was, working in one of the most prestigious organizations. Funds Administrator. Hedge Fund accounting. The Americas. On-shore trip to NYC! Life was on a roll. Except for the Excels.

In between, I bagged an opportunity to write about team events for in-house newsletters. That was the turning point. My HOD, Ritam Sir, had unknowingly reignited a fire within me, and handed me a career that was to shape my dreams. Had my work involved writing about numbers, I wouldn’t have left HSBC!

Sorry Ms. A, I’d deviated from the path you chose for me.

I dreamt again, of writing equity reports and articles, but from the comforts of home. I wasn’t game for another full-time job. For two years, my applications for content/creative/finance writing were rejected as I lacked a formal degree in English or Mass Communication. It was frustrating, to say the least, and for the first time, I regretted not taking up Arts in school.

Not surprisingly, I cried when I received my first cheque of Rs. 400/- from the Times of India group as a freelance features writer. I wasn’t half as emotional when I received a way fatter first salary cheque from the brokerage firm. But this TOI cheque was for writing, and that’s all that mattered. I found what tears of joy meant.

And then, Netscribes happened.

It was my life’s biggest turning point, as I’m living my dreams today entirely because Netscribes came along my way.

I applied to what I thought was a freelance finance writing job. It turned out to be a full-time vacancy. Had the HR not pushed me, I wouldn’t have joined NS. My first finance article was published on the internet on May 25, 2011. I felt the first taste of my dream – I’d never felt happier.

It’s 2016, and by God’s grace, I’m living the only dream I ever saw, the only desire I ever had. I’m writing finance articles, some on the lines of mini-equity reports, from the comforts of home for a company way bigger than I ever imagined.

If you think “I always wanted to…” remains unfulfilled, I just connected those dots for you.

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

I want to take my blog to the next level #Blogchatter

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Source: Flmb via Flickr

I was tagged by Prateek to write this post.

It’s funny how you find yourself feeling awkward in a situation that should be anything but that.

When I was asked to pen down my views about the next level for my blog, I was stumped. I didn’t really have an answer, because I haven’t yet visualized where I’d like my blog to be. How fascinating that my blog’s next level hasn’t made it to my thousand splendid visions yet!

Of course, you don’t see too far when you’re nursing a baby born 59 days ago, do you? You revel in the present, cherishing every moment of your baby’s growing up, trying to figure the best ways because the early days will shape its tomorrow.

That perhaps explains why I was stumped.

My blog must be the baby of the Blogchatter family, as it only celebrates its second month of being born tomorrow. I’m a happy mother, knowing that my munchkin has many beautiful aunt and generous uncle blogs who bring in years of experience in the family to be pampered, nurtured and supported by all along. 🙂

And that’s exactly how I want it to be. As an anti-materialist, monetizing my blog is the last thing on my mind. My writings are a window to my world, to all that goes inside my ever-rambling mind…and it isn’t something anyone’s allowed to put a price tag on.

Perhaps, the next level for my blog would be where my readers, and not I, are at the forefront of promoting and getting my blog out to the world. So yes, I intend to strike a chord with my visitors, and leave them with something to ponder that’ll compel them to come back. Yet, none of it will be to tickle the fickle tastebuds of the masses, because what appeals to the crowds doesn’t usually find favour with my mind. A thousand splendid visions is for and by my mind.

I wouldn’t worry much about where my blog will next be right now, but the Universe has some plans up its sleeves. So right when you desire to be more creatively fulfilled, isn’t it fascinating how the perfect connections and inspirations come knocking your door? There’s a reason why Blogchatter has graciously accepted my baby into its family.

Yes, there’s a reason for everything…
…and I want to take my blog to the next level with Blogchatter.

I now tag Reema to write her take on the topic.

 

 

A letter to my Mr. Future

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Source: Christian Ditaputratama via Flickr

Dear my Mr. Future Knight in Shining Armour,

First, let me congratulate you for finding a gem in a not-so-bright world. You’re about to start the journey of a lifetime, and it’ll be nothing like you imagined. Wait, don’t panic. The gem only promises to make your weddinghood better than you imagined!

(Oh wait, weddinghood? Is that a valid word? Never mind. It complements ‘knight in shining armour’, and I like the word, so let it be).

So my Mr. Future, now that you’re ready to dive into weddinghood, I understand that you’re also mature enough to understand that it’s always a two-sided game. You will be happy to know that I do not have great expectations. However, there are some things that I’d like you to know. Or let me say this straight: There are some promises that I’d like you to make. If not for promises, how else will you prove you’re a knight? 😉 Pay attention now.

  1. Promise that you’ll never leave breakfast untouched or your lunch box behind because we had a silly tu-tu-main-main in the morning. I would like to experiment my way to your heart through your stomach; and you must understand that a lot of pain (and love of course!) goes into making meals, especially during the morning rush. So growl, groan, or grumble, but have your food. 🍴
  2. Promise to take me to fairs and parks that make me happy, even if you can’t stand their sight. In return, I promise to watch those OTT sickening action movies and I-don’t-understand-f-of football matches with and for you. Sigh.
  3. Promise to sing to me. I don’t care who you’ve rented your vocal chords to — I’ll be over the moon if I can find Arijit Singh in there, but I’ll be as delighted if a frog jumps out. All I want is you to sing to me. What, you play an instrument that isn’t noisy too? OK, I love you more now. 🎼🎼
  4. Promise that you’ll never ignore or laugh at my expressions of love for you, no matter how childish you find them to be. Let me warn you: Love notes or letters may drop out of your files, or post-its may stick your shirts. Mushy SMSes may keep your phone busy, or greeting cards may knock your door at work. If you’re with me, you have to deal with it, AND say you love all of it. Note: Reciprocating will earn you brownie points. 😈
  5. Promise to never take a fight to bed, no matter how wildly we may have fought. We must keep the differences aside before we retire for the day, because I just can’t visualize us with our backs to each other. You may resume your fight the next morning if you’re so keen, provided you keep your first promise.
  6. Promise to discuss your day with me, unless you’re too tired to talk. Because I’d be the not-easy-to-find partner who’d love to sit and hear your stories, as I want to know what bothered you, or what made you happy in those hours you were away. Feel proud, because I’d want to share your struggles, and multiply your joys. Psst…told you you’d found a gem.
  7. Promise to put the toilet seat down. No, seriously. That thing up pushes the anger button in me, and I know your love isn’t so frivolous to infuriate me for something as little as two seconds of your time! 🙄
  8. Promise…oh, never mind. I don’t want to bother you much today. Filhaal inn saat kasmon ko nibhaane ka vaada kar lo, toh kaafi hai! Baaki toh weddinghood mein list milta hee rahega! 

Love,
Your future diamond. 🙂

Dear readers, before you send me congratulatory messages assuming I have found the one, please note that I’ve never been happier as now — single, living life on my own terms. I’m writing this letter imagining I’ve been taken, because trust me, it’s no fun writing to thin air (yes, I’ve tried that too). Of course, you must also know that “I’m blogging about the kasams I want from my man this Women’s Day with the #SadaSexy activity at BlogAdda”!

My Doomsday Moment

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Image source: Hldrmn/ Flickr Creative Commons
                                   wowbadge

I’d never felt as weak before. My right jaw throbbed, like the tiny finger would under a 100 kilo rock. The pain had swiftly leapt nerves and travelled to my head. I could feel a sharp, searing pain above my right ear, enough to black me out. I realized I had blacked out for some minutes each several times that night, cold with fear of losing the battle to the dawn that I believed I wouldn’t see.

I’d never felt as helpless before. I didn’t have a way out. The cause of the pain was known, yet unknown. Its roots weren’t within my reach, and the only person who could dive that far couldn’t see me before 9 a.m. Or six hours and twelve minutes, to be precise. By now, I was succumbing to my fate, almost sure I wouldn’t be awake to see him. Or see anyone for that matter.

All that I loved and cherished would fade away within hours. My to-do list for the day, and for all the years I’m yet to live, would never make it to the done folder. Though much of what I wanted to do was day-specific, as I didn’t believe in planning for the future. In all the dreams I’d seen and built upon, I’d lost much of the present, only to find broken pieces of the dream just when I thought I was about to see them fulfill. So that night, my to-do list didn’t really matter.

What mattered was how I lived those last few hours before the world came to an end. I couldn’t do anything as I was strapped under the pain, so I had to use my ever-racing mind to its best. As I lay hapless, I looked around to see whatever little the darkness around wanted to show. I saw my sister’s shadow, and thanked it for towing along the years, protecting and loving me like the tree over the grass under.

The grass reminded me of my school field, and the few friends I call my own. I had something to say to each of them, and I knew the moment was here. I spoke to each, baring my soul…in my mind that was a cobweb of emotions by now. I felt lighter, happier. I can’t explain how that pain appeared to have vanished for a nanosecond. The next fleeting moment, I saw my family. I drowned in my zillion thank yous and a billion sorrys as I sunk into my pillow.

When I opened my eyes, the sun’s warm rays were kissing my feet. I didn’t realize when I fell asleep, and I couldn’t believe the moon had set. But the pain was there, only worse. I could feel the stretch of dried tears on my sunken cheeks. I was parched, and all my energy had drained by now. Yet, I somehow got up and went to my parents.

I told them about the murderous night where I’d been stabbed by a blinding pain that ran through my jaws to my head, and down my shoulders and back the other side. At 9 a.m. sharp, I saw him. By 10 a.m., my pain had subsided.

I’d lived my doomsday moment that night when I was struck by what the doctor coined as a “severe wisdom tooth pain”. Thank you dear tooth, I’d seek the wisdom of the ages, but never yours, you villain of Krypton’s supervillain!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

#TalesOf2015: Indebted forever

It isn’t easy being an HSP — a highly sensitive person — in a world where you wake up to newspapers screaming riots and rapes. From that standpoint, 2015 sent me into an emotional coma.

The refugee with a backpack, which was also his world now…
The God’s child that left behind a broken world even as he lapped up the waves of hopes as he breathed his last…
The Earth that shook, jolting millions of sleeps that couldn’t find a sound sleep thereafter…

And then, I took to bed for two months as ailments came crashing down on me one after the other. You may not know, but an HSP takes greater time to recover as any pain, no matter how small, hits the person’s emotional and mental health with a brutal force.

My numb mind and feeble heart needed cortisone shots. I found some in the seas and sands that was home to the Lord of the Universe.

IMG-20150128-WA0005Pic: Author’s own. Captured in Puri, Odisha in 2015

My two short trips to Puri with family last year top my list of cherished memories. Not because I was holidaying, but because each time the waves kissed my feet, the salt washed away my fears. They left behind pebbles of solace, courage and hope.

The trips were an elixir for a heart that absorbs other’s pains as effortlessly as a sponge, water.

But no pain fades without teaching you a lesson. The sufferings and the uncertainty of life that I saw around knocked my senses out. That afternoon, as I sat by the sea shore, I saw something I’d never seen before: The words clearly floated on the wave.

You’re wasting time. You’re taking relationships for granted. You’re not living each day. You’re holding back your desires. Remember, what you lose today will never be yours; and I cannot assure you will see a tomorrow.

That wave, called 2015, was a life-changer. It gave me my biggest lesson yet: Do what you want to today, because tomorrow may never arrive.

I started having tea with family, and going out more often. I ensured I was on toes about my close friends’ lives. I started meditating. There were days when I shut down my laptop in a fleeting move and spent the rest of the day reading a book I’d bought months ago but never touched. I talked to my plants, and watched movies I’d wanted to but never did.

I felt happier and lighter. It’s difficult to explain what it was, but I felt a deep change within when I started taking life a little easy. Try it out if you haven’t yet. I promise you will come back to thank me.

This lesson of 2015 will define the person that I am here on. This lesson is here to stay, forever.

There’s another reason why I’ll always be indebted to 2015.

Miracles happen.

Out of the blue, one of my seniors I’d never interacted with shot me an email one day. Turns out, he was impressed with my work (I am a finance writer by profession) and wanted to help me do better. Magical, isn’t it? When one of your bosses affirms his faith and confidence in you?

I’d never felt as proud before. I confess I cried when he told me he wants me to improve my productivity, and was eager to help me in every which way. A new journey had begun.

Just before it wrapped up, 2015 gifted me a chance meeting with a friend I’d met when I was five, but hadn’t seen in more than a decade. Some hours with her, and I knew life was a blessing.

And with every magic in life comes gratitude. With the two incidents above, 2015 gave me another gold leaf I’ll preserve forever:

Have faith, and you’ll get all that you want. And once you get there, do not forget to be grateful, because gratitude leads to abundance.

I’ve never felt as blessed before. For everything that I have and do.

Before the sun set ten evenings ago, it left me a hope for each of the three hundred and sixty five suns ahead. Those hopes will be my leap of faith into the thousands of suns that I have yet to see. And I know each will be brighter than the one I kissed goodbye to last night.

Thank you, 2015 for being what you were. I promise to take your legacy forward, into 2016 and beyond.

“I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.”

 

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