A Place Called Freedom

Freedom is a 3-way street
where rights, values and duties meet.
It’s very challenging to find the right balance
and narrow mindsets can create a silence.

Freedom grows from hearts strong and sturdy,
unshaken and unafraid. Knowing what they hold dear is worthy.
Grounded in values no wind can blow away,
like the flowers that smile bright on hot summer days.

Rooted in kindness and consideration that will endure and stay
and find it’s place in every brand new day.

May we learn to break the barriers that we create for ourselves.

I chose the reference to a 3-way street to represent how challenging it is to truly find freedom. A challenge not just to find it. And also to find a way to hold onto it, and pass it on to our children by the way we think, feel, behave. And live.

This poem is about personal change and a journey that we all make as we live every day. 

A Dance

Would you dance with the devil if he paid your bill
let him blur your vision and shape your will?
Let him steal your freedom to have your say
and follow his rules blindly, rather than find your own way.

Would you dance with him if he was willing to pay the price
of all your mistakes, your careless
and the days you aren’t nice.
Let him distort your vision and help you pretend
that this world isn’t crying and that all is well.

Would you choose to dance with the devil or hold on and fight
Just by staying away from the ones who really aren’t nice.
Would you bear some struggle if it would help you stay
true to yourself and a better way?

Because our relationships shape our minds.

Her Glass Almost Empty

Her glass almost empty still has something there
it’s a sign of hope rather than one of despair.
She’s learned resilience over time
and can weather the days when the sun doesn’t shine.

Don’t think she’s amazing, she doesn’t do this alone
she’s got support systems – in her life. And in her home.

And her glass was never broken beyond repair
so she’s never been put through that unimaginable struggle and despair.
That hopelessness and pain, and bone-deep fear
when one picks up the pieces but they can’t fit anymore.

Her glass almost empty is a glass she can still hold
a comfort when the wind is too strong
or the night too cold.

Inspired by a discussion on a poem that I really liked – Hardly Human by Philapotamus. Thanks for the inspiration!

The Song

She’s not like the songbird who sings out her song
sweet and clear whether she’s happy, sad or been wronged.

She sings out her happy and even her sad
sings through the hurts and gets real loud when mad.
It’s not always pleasant but it clears the mind
helps her cope with the darkness and know that the sun will shine.

That the dark of the night will be followed by day
it’s how things work and how they will always stay.

To speaking ones mind.

Wake Up

If you give her 3, you give him 4.

Until old age makes you needy and then

she will get more.

More but never equal to him,

you measure in small increments

depending upon the ease she brings.

You’re the mother-in-law who couldn’t let go

who spoon-fed your son ‘cos you wanted control.

You were the daughter-in-law who kept her mouth shut

when they pushed you so low that you couldn’t get up.

But now things have changed and there’s hope ahead

‘cos your daughter-in-law was raised with dreams and won’t be lead.

She won’t accept those small casual slights

she’ll do for you, but with distance.

If you want her close, you’ll have to treat her right.

She’ll do what is wrong in your sad book of rules

because her heart hates this system and she won’t be a fool.

She won’t let you treat her like she’s less than your son

so wake up older woman, a new time is come.

A story of change based on observing some young women break the cycle of behaviour that pushes them down. Women who know how to teach others that all people are deserving of equal treatment.

Young women who help the older woman who was a victim when she was a daughter-in-law, and stop the unconscious behaviour that makes her victimize the next generation of women.

To the wonderful women who treat all equally within the family. This is not your story, but it is the story of enough women in India. A story that needs to be told.

An Ode To My Compost Pot


in a while.




We pick up matka biryani from the local restaurant once in a way and use the matka (earthen pot) to compost our kitchen waste and set cuttings from our plants to grow.

We have quite a few of them now, so we’ve started giving them away to friends.

Reblog: Self Help Books About Menopause — Tea & Cake For The Soul

Where do you start when there are over 2,000 self help books about #menopause? Here are some of my favourites including useful tips and personal experiences to help you navigate your menopause.

Self Help Books About Menopause — Tea & Cake For The Soul

A lot of interesting books in the link above. Please use it to read the original post by Teach & Cake for the Soul. I haven’t read any of the books in the post, but they look like they are really interesting and informative. For women experiencing either a natural, or a surgical menopause.

Finding Your New Normal Post Surgical Menopause

A surgical menopause is a menopause created by surgical removal of the ovaries. This is called an oophorectomy, not a hysterectomy, which is surgical removal of the uterus. This is different from a natural menopause in terms of it’s impact on the family for two reasons.

One, it is sudden. And two, it is accompanied by post-surgery recovery and the need for the body to heal from pre-existing medical conditions that made surgery a need.

Families often don’t realise that they need to make an effort to understand what menopause is. And also understand the impact of a surgical menopause and how the suddenness of this hits the woman going through it so hard, it can knock her flat if she doesn’t get help and support.

I write this post to reach out to women struggling after a surgical menopause. Every woman faces different challenges at this time. Experiences are varied and I am not a medical professional and therefore quite not the right person to talk about this in a general way.

So, I’ll talk about how I got my life back after my surgical menopause, and post links to articles that helped me. As I write this post, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to my doctor and surgeon, Dr. Meera Agarwal and her team. I cannot thank them enough.

(Dr. Meera Agarwal at Agarwal Nursing Home, Bandra West near St. Theresa’s High School).

Related post: Menopause – let education be the way to freedom

June 2016: Recovery

It’s over six weeks after I had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, ovaries and cervix) for endometriosis and my doctor says I’m recovered and can get back to normal.

I feel happy, well and hopeful. It’s the first time in years I’m living without the on-off discomfort and pain, the irritable bowel syndrome, and side effects of hormone medication that are so much a part of endometriosis for many women. And that, I discovered over the years, many medical professionals do not really understand. But that’s a topic for another post.

I am grateful that I have, over the years, been able to find good, kind and caring doctors when I needed. Doctors who listen, understand, and make an effort to help their patients live and stay healthy.

This surgery was a decision I took time with. I have had medicated menopauses that were the standard treatment for endometriosis at that time, so I had some knowledge of the effects of menopause. That I approached it with a feeling of joy and hope, might tell you something of the struggles I lived with for 13 years before I took this decision.

So, I’m allowed now, to get back to normal. And I have to discover what normal means to me now.

Fifty percent still working,
Running on hope and on faith.

from The Local Bus

July 2016: Getting back to normal

My husband had been on leave for 3 weeks to support me during and after surgery, and now, 3 months later, was back to a normal work life.

I went on leave for a month and resumed teaching after that. Working from home made that quite comfortable, and was quite nice actually. I didn’t need to worry about commuting and bumpy roads. I absolutely love teaching and it makes me happy, so getting back to work was great!

I had a maid who cooked for a while when my husband resumed work. She continued when I took over the cooking, chopping veggies, making chapatis, and helping with cleaning.

I had a tremendous amount of support and care at home, and over the phone with my mum, who talked me through this time of tremendous change. I am truly grateful to my wonderful husband, to my amazing mum, to family, my maid and friends for being there for me when I needed them most.

Now, it was time to move on. To let the support systems gradually ease, and to get back to my life. To somehow, find a balance that would help me work and manage my home and still have time to give in to extremely high level of tiredness and rest when I required. Until my body finally got the amount of rest it needed and moved on.

To a new normal. Yes, I’ll say it again a little louder A NEW NORMAL. It’s never going to be the same.

What my new normal means in 2020

I’m completely back to a new normal, so I can tell you what this means. Here’s a rough idea of what an average day looks like:

  • 2 hours with online piano lessons plus 1 hour with lesson planning and asynchronous teaching – assessment of homework recordings.
  • 4 to 5 hours on piano practise, a little daily writing, and study on topics like the subject of piano playing, teaching, communication, upgrading work related tasks to provide better quality, or any other subject I think is important. And teaching administration which includes responding to messages and calls from students.
  • Dusting, mopping, cooking, other tidying and cleaning.
  • Paperwork.
  • Family phone calls that have taken the place of face-to-face meets due to covid19.
  • Quick 15 minute shopping sprees downstairs when needed.
  • And the things that are the most important to me, and help me keep all of this together – my daily yoga-cum-move-and-sing-to-music workout, meditation, and my diary.
  • Hobbies. Some I spend time with daily and some weekly. I have many, but will name a few. Listening to music and podcasts. Reading. Looking up recipes for bread that I am never going to bake 🙂 Pulling out my sewing machine for alterations.

My greatest friend in times of need,
I talk to you, say what I please.
You help me out when times get tough,
You listen – never say you’ve had enough.

from My Greatest Friend In Times Of Need

I actually achieve much more with my new normal, than I did with my old normal. But I work much less. This less, is actually my limit right now, even though I’ve long since recovered from the tiredness and gotten my energy level back.

Multi-Tasking A Lot Less

The extreme tiredness lasted a year after surgery for me. It’s different for every woman. It continued for another year, because our down-sizing and reorganization was just so much more work. What I haven’t got back even today, are the tremendously high multi-tasking skills I had pre-menopause.

Don’t get me wrong. I still score way above what I think would would be an average level of multi-tasking. It’s just that my earlier work-flow and the way I’d work was based on my ability to work with at-least 3 tasks simultaneously – erratically switching from one to the other depending on my thought process. THIS failed me now.

I needed to figure out how to fit in all the many things that I wanted to do with this new and reduced ability to multi-task. I think this was my greatest challenge.

It was our greatest challenge as a family, because the busy of today, and the gender roles that are needed to support the long commutes that are a part of work-life today, provide little space to support family at home on an average working day. Little time for those working outside the home to enjoy spending time in their home. And very little space to just BE.

9 to 5 equals 7 to 7,
On days that are busy, they’re home after eleven.
Both of them work and their schedule’s real tight,
It’s what they expected, but this busy isn’t right.

from This Busy

We realized that this was something we wanted. For us. For me. And for family that was getting older.

And some things brought ease.

One. Splitting chores more equitably at home.

Frankly, this was only possible because of the new normal that is a part of work life for many these days. WORK FROM HOME!! I’m shouting it out, because it’s been wonderful despite the fact that many are screen tired and would rather work face-to-face.

Our maid did less work than earlier from 2017 onwards, as I’d started to get back to my usual routine of chores. Having her was a blessing and I used the time to work on the second thing that brought ease that I talk about later.

Because she’s like the bottom of the barrel that bears the pressure,
When it’s filled to the brim and there’s no ease or leisure.
The support for the busy of everyone else,
And when she’s not well, often the ONLY support for herself.

from She’s The Bottom Of The Barrel

I hung on to my diary for dear life during those pre-lockdown years, to get time to re-organize. Scheduling chores on a daily basis and working like a well-oiled machine, that refused to quit even though it was croaking and groaning, and not quite able to cope. High multi-tasking was so natural to me, that I had to work at chore organization, to find a work flow with less multi-tasking that was now my happy place.

Work-from-home has gave us some breathing space in a life that had just gotten too fast paced for many families. It’s not been that way for many though. I think a different model suits different families, and I hope that this time pushes a move to hybrid work models that provides some flexibility to those that work well with it and to jobs that suit it.

I don’t wanna be the woman behind the man,
let my dreams flow down the sink as I wash the pots and pans.
I don’t wanna be the woman who’s burning up inside,
and sees dirt in the smile of her sisters eyes.

from Wanna

Two. Downsizing.

We decided that the only way to have less cleaning was to downsize. Organize storage better. And have less to clean.

This was to have a HUGE benefit we hadn’t even thought of. It cut down time spent on kitchen chores to such an extent that our usually hopelessly untidy kitchen now always looks fairly clean, even after meals.

I search for the empty that lets me embrace
the busy that fills me with joy.
I listen for spaces
for rests that give meaning
to music that plays to the mood that I’m feeling.

from I Search

What the journey was like

The past few years have been really busy. Letting go of stuff means letting go of memories. And letting go of the sentiment attached to things that now, no longer have value can be hard.

Leaving the hit-miss-and-somehow-get-it-right way of home organization that worked so well for us for so many years, and embracing the work-less-and-get-more-done model meant instilling a small level of discipline in our lives, that we’d never ever had or needed.

It was a daily effort. It was challenging. And it was worth it!

Details on our journey to downsizing and a more minimal lifestyle with quick chores are posted at The Relaxed Housekeeping Challenge – a free downloadable set of challenges that anyone can use as a basis to craft their journey to minimal chores.

We now have more time for hobbies. Time to go for walks on weekends. And time to ourselves. Time for long family phone calls. And time to just BE.

Links with information on menopause from WebMD:

Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Ovarian Removal Surgery and Menopause


Fifty Shades of Menopause by Mickey Harpaz EdDC. This is the book that helped me be clearer about some of the issues around menopause. Please also check out my next post for more reading on menopause – link here.

Any medical links or references in this post are those that helped me be more informed when I spoke with my doctors, and are not a replacement for good medical support and advice.

The purpose of this post is to start conversations on this topic and help families understand the need support women during menopause. To support those women who have, in many cases been the support system for the full family, but don’t know how to get support for themselves.

To teach these women to speak out, communicate, and bring relief to their men who are worried and struggling to deal with the impact menopause has one them. Who are looking for ways to help and to care, and who might just not know how or what is needed.

Men and women who haven’t yet been on this journey long enough to know that it’s going to be ok. That it CAN be ok.

So, lets talk.

Equality – Rest is a Right

Every human being, irrespective of the role he or she has within the family, has the right to rest. I think we can all, no matter where we come from in our ways of thinking, agree on this.

Everyone within the family deserves, and should have the right to a weekly off, sick leave and a support system when not well.

I think it is a worthwhile exercise for every family to examine how this actually works within the family, for different members of the family. See the way things are in reality, clearly, and make it a topic of conversation.

Notice the factors that deprive family members of this right and think of ways to bring some change. Whether these mean making different lifestyle choices, better work-flow management at home, examining the impact of gender roles on care and support, or any other factor that the family thinks is the cause.

Challenge 10 of The Relaxed Housekeeping Challenge has a brief one-page questionnaire on this. You’ll need to print a copy for each family member.

Please feel free to modify this challenge and add factors like daily rest and sleep that I haven’t considered, if you feel your family needs to examine these too.

Stay covid-safe and well. May we all use this time of social isolation to notice factors that need to be addressed within our families, so that home is a place of rest for all.

Crazy Cat

Crazy cat is in the building

visiting anyone who’s willing

to fuss or feed him or let him sit

on their living room floor for just a bit.

Evening sees him in full form playing dead downstairs

I think it’s his idea of fun!

He’s really looking for a home

I wish someone would keep him.

He’s really looking for a home

but neighbours don’t want a cat that roams.

Lets be kind to animals and remember always that they lived here first.


There used to be a silence

an aloneness that went away.

I’d look back in longing

at those wonderful days.

Then it was messaging

and junk mail that clogged the mind

with a sense of ‘too busy’

even when there was enough time.

So it was unsubscribe and delete

and let’s talk on the phone

or goodbye for now

till your ‘too busy’ is gone.

Now there’s a silence.

An aloneness that I really enjoy

a quiet peaceful empty

with my hot cup of chai.

Because freedom needs space.

The lines goodbye for now till your ‘too busy’ is gone are meant as a reminder rather than a decision to create distance. A reminder that all relationships, whether they’re with family or with friends, need time and commitment.


All alone without it’s mate

it got left out and it was too late.

One washed and hanging on the line

the other still grubby but doing fine.

Separate, but the next wash will get them together

they keep me warm in cold, dry weather.

A riddle. This is an easy one 🙂

Because togetherness is built upon the foundation of separate-ness.

100% – The Work Of A Home Manager

100% – that’s all the work to be done

home management can be fulfilling and fun!

But it’s 10% more ‘cos they won’t put things away

don’t have assigned chores, but still have their say.

Add 10% for customs and traditions that are rigid

No longer needed but stay

and deprive all in the family

of freedom.

10 % ‘cos she just doesn’t know

ways that teach all of them the independence needed,

for a smooth easy work-flow.

10% for the OCD

that makes small simple tasks big

and really time-consuming.

So many 10 percents that drag her down

till she learns the secret – shhhhhh!

I can’t say it out loud.

It’s practise makes perfect and different ways to stand firm

Till it gets too difficult for them and they just have to learn.

When we talk about the work of a home manager, it’s important to separate actual work, and work created or made complicated by traditions.

By upbringing or ideas on gender roles that make people dependent on others for personal chores like eating, drinking water and putting their things away.

And the OCD, look it up if you don’t know what this is 🙂 that makes some women make their own lives difficult and then set rules for younger women in the family, and continue the cycle of suffering and self-sacrifice that is often totally unnecessary and unwanted by all family members.

I write this poem as a journey. So, I’ve tried to incorporate some of the paths that different home managers make, some finding a workable solution by keeping many ten percent’s, and others wanting to do away with them.

Different ways have worked well for me, at different times in my life.

I’ve always felt that these ten percent’s detract from the quality of life. However, despite my thinking, there are times I have held onto some ten percent’s because working within the existing comfort level of habit assumed importance to me.

A 2021 Update: Small changes I made within the boundaries of customs and tradition expanded those boundaries for me slowly. And have built up, over almost 22 years of marriage, to a totally different way of living that is now becoming a habit. A way that is so comfortable for all, that it’s starting to be a new custom / tradition.

This Diwali

I shall put on my best dress and stay at home

we’ll have our family gatherings over the phone.

If we need to go out, we’ll visit the shop

pick up some veggies and get a short walk.

It’s two zero twenty – time to be with ourselves

covid-safe social distancing – let’s make sure it goes well.

I wrote this some months ago during the Diwali of 2020.


Don’t go here

don’t go there.

Don’t stay out late

tie up your hair.

Don’t wear that dress

you look too old

and the colors don’t suit you

they’re bright and too bold.

Don’t put your career before your chores

do what we did and don’t want more.


because it makes us yearn

and wonder if we could have lived our dream

and still,

run our home.

Because the older woman is starting to look at the younger woman who has found a balance between her dream career and managing her home. And wonder. And learn.

Tales Our Housework Tell Part 2 of 2

Please read Tales Our Housework Tell Part 1 of 2 for an introduction to this post.

This second part of the post is a very rough approximation of one aspect of home management in our home. It ignores many aspects that I found difficult to measure. More details on the information in this post, in the introductory post mentioned above.

Graph 1 – Daily Chores (below)

The Total Daily Chores of 360 Minutes at the start of our married life have gradually reduced to 255 Minutes after 22 years of practise and learning. I credit this change to more efficient ways of working as well as better planning & organisation.

Step 1: Total 6 Hours or 360 Minutes a Day. The beginning of our married life with a clothes washing machine and in-efficient home management skills. It was a struggle!

Step 2: Time Saved – 75 Minutes a Day. Purchase of a dishwasher within a year of marriage – a desperate move to have some daily ease and manage jobs with long working hours and no maid.

Step 3: Time Saved – 30 Minutes a Day on daily chores. Increase in Weekend Chores – 90 Minutes a week. This was a secret that we kept until it was too old to be changed, because the general community tend to view frozen chapatis in very poor light, unles they’re branded and bought from a store.

Step 4: Time Saved – 15 Minutes a Day on daily chores, with an increase in Weekend Chores of 480 Minutes – until Step 6. We moved to Kharghar and did our daily shopping in Vashi. It was just convenient because shops here weren’t always well stocked at that time. Going to Vashi would often mean a day out as I found mall shopping stressful and would need a tea or lunch break to destress before I drove home.

Step 5: Time Saved – 15 Minutes a Day on daily chores. Another secret you don’t dare mention to other women 🙂 because, I had learned by then, they can be very critical. So I did this quietly. I started to cook larger quantities and we’d eat one fresh veg and one that was left over each day – instead of my cooking 2 fresh veggie dishes daily.

Step 6: Time Added – 15 Minutes a Day to daily chores, with an decrease in Weekend Chores of 480 Minutes – refer Step 4. Kharghar stores started stocking items better so we were able to shop local. Yaay!!

Step 7: Time Added – 45 Minutes a Day to daily chores to plan, downsize, reorganise. The change in the workflow of chores at home was gradual and more an outcome of our efforts than something we worked towards. There was a HUGE increase in Weekend Chores during this time, as we needed larger chunks of time to sort and organise. We added shelves and cupboard partitions, and it’s quite shocking really that small things well planned can bring such ease to work.

Step 8 : Time Saved – 30 Minutes a Day on daily chores – Life settled post downsizing so I needed a lot less time planning and organising. I still do that but it averages about 15 Minutes a day.

Step 9 : 255 Minutes a day on daily chores and a reduction in time for Weekend Chores. This is a rough estimate of the time we spend on chores daily, to the best of my ability to assess it.

Graph 2 – Weekend Chores (below)

Step 1: 120 Minutes a week at the start of our marriage.

Step 3: Add 90 Minutes a week making bulk chapatis to be stored in the freezer.

Step 4: Add 480 Minutes a week shopping in Vashi during our early years in Kharghar, until shopping local was feasible. It was just convenient at the time, because shops here weren’t always well stocked and that meant many shopping trips. Going to the Vashi mall would often mean a half day out. Very soon, I started to find mall shopping stressful and would need a tea or lunch break to destress before I drove home so this was quite a time consuming exercise.

Step 6: Less 480 Minutes a week – local shops finally got their act together.

Step 7: Add 120 Minutes a week for a major downsizing and reorganizing effort we undertook after years of busy when we just dumped things in boxes for later. I educated myself on home storage and organization, and learned to value workflow management and the impact planning has on easing the quantum of work.

Step 8: Less 120 Minutes a week – we came to the end of our efforts at downsizing and reorganisation and no longer needed 120 Minutes each week for it.

Step 8: Less 60 Minutes a week – I noticed that our weekend cleaning went down by 60 minutes.

Step 9: Less 90 Minutes a week – we replaced chapatis with brown rice for health reasons as well as personal preference.

60 Minutes a week – is the time we spend on weekend home cleaning and organization right now. Barring cleaning up the mess we make with hobbies we pull out on weekends, which I haven’t factored here at all.

Please click here to view the Graphs

Once again, please forgive me for inaccuracies and approximations. This is just a post to start discussion on a very important subject. On what Home Management is and on the value that it provides to society.

A shout of support to all the Home Managers in this world!

Tales Our Housework Tell Part 1 of 2

I think it’s important to talk about housework and the skill of home management, because it occupies such an important part of the time, and the lives of many. And also because it’s a hidden, secret place to those who have never done it.

Often unappreciated or looked down on, by a materialistic society that has, it sometimes seems, forgotten the impact of intelligent and capable home management on harmony within the family. And on the family health – physical, mental as well as emotional.

I write this post as a full time piano teacher with flexible working hours that give me time to be a homemaker. I actually work the same hours I did earlier when I had a corporate career, except that I now have no commute. Being self-employed gives me the freedom to work at timings that suit me and it has had a very positive impact on our ability to have family time and slow down the pace of todays busy life to the extent we need.

I’ve tried to be as clear and precise as I can with the time we need for chores, but I know I have not been as precise as I should be. I still thought it was writing this post, to throw some light on what home management and housework is. And the value that it creates for society.

So I hope you’ll be kind and forgive me for inaccuracies.

What parts of home management are not included here

  • Paperwork and bills.
  • Time on household and appliance repairs – done ourselves or outsourced.
  • Time spent on childcare, education and parent-child activity and interaction – that is associated with raising independent well-behaved children with a practical, as well as formal education.
  • Time spent on family commitments which might include any or all of the items of home management in this post.
  • Time spent being a caregiver for family members.
  • Stress saved with home-made cleaning and personal care products. They take some prep-time, but have reduced the weight and number of items I had to carry in groceries substantially, so I’m a lot more relaxed when shopping and spend less time on it. Time wise I’d say it’s not much of a difference.
  • Who does the work isn’t factored in here. It’s just an assessment of the work that needs to be done. Maids are quicker at house work than I am but then, we organize and tidy our stuff before the maid arrives. Family, on the other hand, organizes while cleaning. So I think both take the same time.

We don’t have children, so I’ve skipped childcare.

For the other points above – it was really difficult for me to plot these aspects of home management over time, so I’ve left them out.

My Thoughts: The commitment to look after children and elderly might arise from love and caring, but IS very much an activity that takes an investment of time, effort and even skill and knowledge of the right kind of family activity – a walk, a game, a reading session, etc.

These are activities, that outsourced, are only as important as the content of the activity.

In the hands of a parent, they provide value over and above the activity as they provide a medium and time for family bonding. This added value is covered below, under ‘What is not housework’.

What is not housework

There has been some discussion on housework and home management on social media and it’s generated some confusion. I see that people confuse acts arising out of personal relationships, love, affection and caring with activities needed for the home and family to operate smoothly.

So, I’d like to be clear. Personal interactions and relationships are not home management. Therefore, they just don’t figure here.

Continued in my next post Tales Our Housework Tell Part 2 of 2

This second post plots changes our housework over the 22 years of our marriage. The events which drastically increased home chores. And those which brought tremendous ease.

Silver Line

She’s a single mom though they’re aren’t divorced
his work is his life – he feels he has no choice.
His 9 to 5 is not 7 to 7 *
most days it’s so busy he’s home after 11.

Loan EMI’s and a lifestyle but missing a life
it’s a recipe for a lot of family strife.

She has a full time job but still manages the home
children and heavy elder care – she can’t cope alone.
So it’s maids, classes, caregivers and no unscheduled relaxed time
with lonely stressed kids that often are way out of line.

But now it’s work from home, caregivers but no maids
He does some house work and takes the kids out to play
Their kids have both parents for the very first time
and life finally feels good – it’s going real fine.

2020 has been a difficult time
but like dark grey clouds with a silver line.

* A reference to long commutes.

This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

You Can Wish Me Happy Birthday

You can wish me Happy Birthday any time of the year
you know me well so don’t worry my dear.
It really doesn’t matter how often or when we talk –
share our struggles, our happy, or laugh till it hurts.

Friends for so many reasons that the bond stays strong
it’s been some years, yet it doesn’t seem all that long.
Together in sunshine and when there’s just too much rain,
No time schedules, no expectations. I’ll say it again…

You can wish me Happy Birthday anytime my dear
in March, June or November, or even the next year.

This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

Movie Review ‘Gully Boy’

I haven’t watched a Hindi movie years. Actually I found them depressing as a child. Romantic singing and running around trees accompanied by squeaky violins and high-pitched female vocals just wasn’t my thing. I personally prefer lower pitched or more full-bodied vocal technique – I find this more relaxing to listen to and it often means I am quite unable to appreciate the artistic and musical achievement of high-pitched voices on an emotional level, even though I do on a mental level. Plus the typical saas-bahu politics and family intrigue just seemed very negative to me then. As it still seems to me now.

Movie plots have changed, and Bollywood music now includes a much wider range of vocals that I find more interesting. I’ve been reading about a lot of movies that are stepping out of standard story lines and decided that it’s time I started watching them. It’s a challenge quite frankly, because watching any kind of movie has been a once a year thing for the past decade.

So, I’m applying my piano practise techniques to fitting this into my life. And have finally got through my first Hindi movie in years – Bit By Bit – like I fit in practising a piano piece when I have too much of other stuff or other practise to do and am still really keen to get done.

I chose ‘Gully Boy’ because I’ve heard about it and because it’s just conveniently there on my netflix screen every time I log on. I watched it in 3 sittings and this post is my first impression of the movie and the characters. So forgive me please, if I am vague on specifics – they’re available at wikipedia. This post is intended to convey my general impression of the movie.

Why Gully Boy made an impression

This movie is a surprisingly accurate fictional depiction of real life in the slums in India and the daily struggles that come with it. It’s pretty stark at first, but the plot pulls one in as it unfolds.


She’s a demure young girl when she isn’t being rude, getting into hand-to-hand fights and throwing objects in temper. She wants a career and is able to get her dad – a very quiet, hesitant-to-stand-up-to-his-hot-tempered-wife man – to support her. Murad is crazy about her, despite a brief encounter with Sky.

Safina is hot-tempered when she has reason, and but has serious anger management issues that I mentioned earlier. She’s the daughter of a woman who thinks it’s okay to hit her daughter when rules and restrictions fail.

She’s genuinely upset Murad doesn’t study enough and lets go when a fan compliments Murad during a BEST bus ride and asks about his career. Unlike Jess Bhamra’s parents berating her on a public TV channel in Bend It Like Beckham, this didn’t have me screaming with laughter. I just thought it was plain rude.

That said, Safina is crazy about Murad and her temperament well suited to him. I think they’d do very well in life together if she’d get some counseling for anger management and learn to manage conflict effectively.


He is the lead role in the movie, the under-priveledged boy and the son of a father who has been badly brought up and who remarries and then treats his first wife (Murad’s mother) like a servant, while Murad’s grandmother watches silently, without protest.

Murad, unlike Safina, has the ability to control his anger and let it out when it’s necessary and useful. Family issues and the need to support his mother make financial independence a priority for him and his studies take a back seat, as he realises that his dreams could bring a quick win.


She is the girl who has a ‘thing’ for Murad. A really nice and different portrayal of the ‘other woman’ or ‘other girl’ in this case – she appears unaware at first, that Murad has a significant other. Sky has a resilience that Safina doesn’t have, and is willing accept rejection and to let go graciously.

It’s evident that she still has feelings for Murad, but keeps her distance while maintaining a cordial professional relationship with him, after she realises Murad cares for Safina. I think Safina could learn some maturity from Sky. And I think Sky has a niceness that would make her help Safina despite all that’s happened in the movie.

My last impression

Gully Boy is a subtle portrayal of a myriad of social issues that India faces today, and yet, despite the social messages, quite enjoyable to watch.

  • It makes an important point, that a badly brought up boy grows up to be a badly behaved man.
  • That education, and holding on to dreams, can be a way out of the anger and frustration of working at a poorly paid job, for a man who doesn’t value the dignity of labour.
  • It fails somehow with the brown is beautiful message for me, because my overall first impression was that Safina and Sky both had lighter complexions than other women in the movie, except one – D J Sher’s foreign girlfriend. A subtle reinforcement of the idea that is a part of many Indian mindsets, that fair is lovelier than brown.
  • The plot comments on how strict social rules result in friendships and relationships being conducted without the knowledge of parents. This is a very real social problem than puts a lot of girls at risk of assault – if they’ve unwittingly chosen the wrong friends, or have made the mistake of meeting their friends in isolated places where they can be attacked.

‘Gully Boy’ is so very different from the Bollywood movies I’ve had brief glimpses of over the years. A must-watch for any movie-goer and food for thought for an India that is working towards equality and progress. An India that wishes to break the cycle of deep-rooted anger that often targets women and vulnerable sections of society. An India that still doesn’t quite see the signs even though they’re shouting out loud.

Really looking forward to my next Bollywood movie!

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