‘YOLO-Living in Your Truth’, by Komal Sudhir.

“YOLO YOLO YOLO YOLO !!!”, Sen would always scream jubilantly at almost everything we would talk to him about. A tesseract at heart, this young lad never failed to surprise anybody with his zeal.

When I came across Komal Sudhir’s brainchild, “YOLO – Living in Your truth”, all I could think of was Sen’s eccentric mojo in life and of how that silly overused jargon actually hid the most fundamental truth of our living – You Only Live Once !
From my humble set of life experiences, the favourite one remains to be, “You attain Power only to Empower !”. This novice author’s book is nothing but an unadulterated testimony to that lesson I’ve learnt.

Lend your ears to this 27-year old Investment Professional and a dancer at heart, bubbling with profound joy of having scribbled her small-wins and heart-aches down :

“Since we only live once after all , why not leverage the learning from others’ experiences and mistakes so that you can get on with the process of enjoying your life?
That’s why I wrote this book !
At 18, I decided to become a chartered accountant, and to do so I was required to pass an entrance exam, followed by a three-year internship at an accounting firm. On the one hand, I was very excited to swiftly begin my career, but on the other, I knew I would be sacrificing my typical “college life” and miss out on many of the social experiences my friends would enjoy. However, my journey into the corporate world turned out to be nothing short of eventful; it has more than made up for the excitement I may have missed out on in college, such as YOLO-filled party nights. During my internship, I collected an array of lessons about relationships, emotions, work, and life. Now, I want to share those in the hope that you will be able to benefit from them.”

I’m sure you’re thinking how ‘experiences’ that are individual-centric and of course, highly subjective, can be applied to another individual, given the popular maxim,”Each and every single person is unique”. That’s when I opened the book with utter curiosity and scanned through the chapters. A few that struck similar chords were – ‘Please Stop Pleasing’, ‘Judge Me Not!’, ‘The Big Fat Ego’, ‘Do Good’, ‘Confide Before You Collapse’, ‘Keeping it Real’, ‘Rejected!’ & ‘Road to Resilience’.
“Hey this sounds like an instruction manual to my life !”, I exclaimed to myself. That’s precisely when the beauty of human nature dawned on me. No matter how different we are, our trivial insecurities and daily hurdles are all pretty much the same – a heartbreak, a difficult boss, social outlook, the conundrum of choice, ego barricades, wasted potential…the list is exhausting.

Intrigued to the core, I began to read it.

Listing down a few of my favourite excerpts :

“People pleasing not only costs you, but also costs others. If you don’t happily do things for others, you may end up damaging your relationship out of sheer frustration.”

~Please Stop Pleasing .

How often do we wish if only we could say “No” ! We wait for those occasional lava bombs of emotion to do the talking until the final eruption savages our own peace of mind.
Komal, a people-pleaser herself, talks about how one such lava bomb had strained her friendship with a colleague who kept pestering her with his validations of every act and thought. Years later, at the opportunity of a new venture in her career, another mighty hurdle stood ahead of her in the

form of her ever supportive boss who wouldn’t agree to relieve her from the current company. The guilt-trips we often corner ourselves with at such situations take a toll on our decision-making. Komal gives you effective solutions from the lessons that she learnt with her colleague and her boss.

* * * * * * *

“As toddlers, we had no shame in dancing our hearts out, but as we grew older, we began to look for ways to hide from the limelight while we danced. We were afraid of those critical looks, secret whispers, and cutting opinions. We started to develop our own judgments too, both about ourselves and others.”

~Judge Me Not.

Judgement – this 9 letter word which is in fact our society’s fabric have infiltrated dreams with doubt and fear like no other poison. Of course there exists none who is non-judgemental. But being aware of the depth and breadth of the judgement one’s making, its potential to make or break yourself or another is to be understood carefully. Be the critic of the story you write, not of another author’s, not of another book’s; simply because no matter what your credentials are, you haven’t lived that story.

Komal talks about Sanya who could barely communicate effortlessly without giving every word a scan before she actually spat it out. Such are the chains we impose. She describes the significance of “Live & Let Live” aptly.

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“After spending years in corporate life, I began to feel like a machine. Although I had one of the best degrees in finance and my job was going well, I often felt like I was squandering my time. It was as if the best years of my life were flying by faster than I could enjoy them; I felt I was doing nothing to make them memorable.”

~ Do Good

As I read this, all those times I’ve been to dinners and parties with Rushil’s corporate folk rang bells. This is what they talk about, all the time, every single time. This intelligent cohort had no vents to be human and that was definitely wearing them out.
This is the piece where Komal has my heart. She talks about the little things she does on a daily basis to make a difference to that one star fish. The satisfaction she treasured in doing so inspired her to volunteer to write the law examination for 28-year old Mohan and their interaction is a story worth remembering.

* * * * * * *

‘YOLO-Living in Your Truth’ is certainly an everyday guide to deal with the vicissitudes of life and if not victorious, emerge from the abyss, happier ! Komal, a hustler like you & I, uses simple and powerful set of words to throw limelight on behavioural traits that we often burry consciously or ignore blatantly, conveying what we already know but have looked past. The best parts of the book according to me are the quirky Chapter names and the thoughtful ‘Takeaway’ at the end of each and every chapter. The latter if collated can make the most useful Disaster Management guide that emphasises on the right stitch at the right time, ergo saving you an expensive trip to the tailor.

Simply and justly put, it is a rendition of reminders that reverberates aloud in our head and resonates with our past experiences. The book is currently serving me my timely dosage of motivation and optimism I definitely need to get my days filled with dreams, drama and defeat going strong.

Unless you’re a cat, go ahead; Give it a read 🙂

PS – I’m gifting this one to Sen :’D

Say Hello to lovely Komal and stay tuned with ‘YOLO-Living in Your Truth’ on FACEBOOK .

Know more about this wonderful book here .

Grab your copies here .

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Spring in a bottle.

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Flaunting Spring around, dangling down my neck, corked with chromes in love with each other felt rejuvenating on a melancholy monsoon morning. It’s not every now and then that you adorn yourself with Mother Nature’s  beauty; the kind of beauty that arises from donning a bit of evergreen; the kind of complacency that arises from wearing a living – breathing work of art; the kind of high spirits you indulge in owing to that “terrarium” of yours, singing rhapsodies in chorus with the pitter-patter of the rain.

Yeah, I know ! Let me help you :

terrarium

(tə-râr′ē-əm)
pl. ter·rar·i·ums or ter·rar·i·a (-ē-ə)

noun

A glass container, chiefly or wholly enclosed, for growing and displaying exotic plant or moss, providing a “space of life” for an ecosystem to thrive sustainably.

However, Ms. Supriya Donthi, the heart and brain behind the gorgeous “Leafy Affair” , gave a new dimension to the meaning of terrariums.
“Green treasures crafted with love” , as she would describe them fondly, Leafy Affair is the first in India to bring you an array of hand-made preserved moss terrarium jewellery. She successfully materialized her love for plants and unique adornments and created this line of succulent jewellery ; tiny glass jars with earthy enchantments , I must say !

Getting to the nitty gritties of these corked lovelies:

Terrariums are small sustained ecosystems where a collection of small plants grow in a transparent or sealed glass container to keep an ecosystem in a small scale. Terrariums are extremely low-maintenance and require little to no watering at all. No live animals or insects are kept in the jar. It’s purely a miniature garden. Within the transparent environment, sunlight is able to penetrate the vegetation causing the water vapour to rise. The vapour is trapped on the roof and drops at night as temperature cools down creating a cycle of water. The cycle allows for life to flourish creating a self sustained ecosystem.
Evergreen, quite literally !

A terrarium can be pampered with these constituents –
Types of exotic moss like Reindeer moss, Rock Cap Moss, Fern Moss, Feather Moss and Cushion Moss, small plants tolerant of indirect sunlight and humidity such as Baby’s Tears, African Violet, Creeping Fig, Ferns, Mini English Ivy and Begonia , pebbles, sea shells, wooden chips, sand, crushed glass and smooth river rocks.

As for a personal style statement , I don’t really go gaga over jewellery BUT the unique ones that are exquisitely crafted have my heart. ( Yeah , I’m a sucker for those treasures !! )
And trust me, these little gardens by Leafy Affair are keepers !

You can wear their minimalistic pendants and dress up your basics ; own their ornamental chokers which is the current trend and get your style quotient soaring ; bask in whimsical aura with their charm adorned terrarium bracelets and necklaces apart from the myriad of possibilities these precious earthy treasures can offer to enhance your ensembles.

Supriya also customizes them paying heed to the details of your fancies. I got this classy double layered terrarium necklace on a silver chain from her and is uber thrilled to have it.

You can follow Leafy Affair on :

images – https://www.facebook.com/leafyaffair/

Instagram_App_Large_May2016_200 – https://www.instagram.com/leafyaffair/?hl=en

…. and shop these little curios at :

https://www.instamojo.com/LeafyAffair/?ref=offer_page
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Shoot Day Frolic

What do you call a photographer who is prettier than the pictures she creates ?!
Vidhi Trivedi .

Vidhi is my Nagpur find who other than being a graphic designer ready to take off to the US for her Masters in a  fortnight, shares the same enthusiasm as mine for shutter, sneakers and fairy lights. We also have a similar playlist which made falling in love with each other easy.
Rushil , the husband ( mine ! ) chauffeured us around the picturesque Seminary Hills one Sunday early morning and we found a great spot with a wild bougainvillea tree spilling on to the pavement , wet from the previous night’s rainfall , with a bed of shed leaves and flowers awaiting us.

Creating these magical frames with Vidhi were like a dream come true and I owe her a kidney and a Biriyani.

PS – Special thanks to Rushil for picking up leaves and throwing them on me for a shot :/ .
Also for protecting Vidhi from being hit by the cars plying on the road.

PPS – Yes . I got pricked by the unforgiving thorns :/ !

Now I insist you scroll up and indulge in the earthlings once again .
Nature never goes out of style, does it ?! So what are you waiting for ?! 🙂

#curlyhairDOcare

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How true is that ^ ?! 😀
Those expectations of yours are what I’m intending to meet with in this post.

I’d like to begin with a confession . I used to hate my hair !!
Being the sister of a pretty one who was blessed with beautiful silky poker-straight hair kept me busy struggling with the combs and breaking enough teeth all through childhood. I would over shampoo my hair until it looks like a mop , straighten it every 4 hours, comb it in different techniques to get rid of the waves , tie it tight and strain my hair until it would just be straight . But NO !! My cauliflowers just loved defying gravity !!

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Once I got into college in 2010 and around that time was when the #naturallycurly outrage hogged the limelight. I had strangers and friends walk up to me and comlpiment me and I was just like ” Where were you humans all this while ?! ” .   I attempted to like my curls and move with the public opinion ( like an idiot !! ) but I just didn’t like the way they looked. There had to be a fix !!
That’s when I started reading up about curls and understanding them . I threw away all the products I had owned that were meant for straight hair and got a new set , indulged in routines and packs , repaired all those many years of damage in the course of one year and finally ended up with supple, untamable , big and bouncy curls . Love happened 🙂

So , I very well know WHY extra care and check needs to be constantly maintained with curly hair . Whoever who came up with “curly hair , don’t care ” , certainly did not have curly hair :/ !!

Let’s embrace the curl, shall we ?! 🙂

1 . UNDERSTANDING YOUR CURL TYPE

Curly hair is an umbrella term used widely for wavy ,curly ,coily and kinky hair. Therefore , all curly hair is NOT the same curly hair .
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I have a 3B curl type like most indian curly haired woman . So please note that this post strictly deals with the life of 3B curls and not of any other . If you are of a different hair type , please consult a hair stylist or read up on it and do extensive research online .

2. MOISTURE MOISTURE MOISTURE !!!

Moisture is everything as far as curls are considered. The more moisturized your curls , the more bouncy they are .Now , I’m going to talk some science ; bear with me . Apart from believing that the universe blessed you an extra bit , have you ever wondered why your hair is curly and not straight ?! It is because of your hair follicle’s shape .

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Due to the shape of curly hair strands, the hair tends to have Multiple Personality Disorder where the scalp is oily and the hair ends are dry . HOW ?!

Your scalp produces natural oil, sebum, to moisturize your hair . Straight hair wicks the sebum down the shaft easily, so that the whole length of the shaft is moisturized. Brushing aids this process by distributing the oils thoroughly . Curly hair, on the other hand, is shaped irregularly and the oil has a hard time wicking throughout the length of hair because of the twirls. It’s also impossible (and often painful) to brush when dry, so brushing can’t help, either. In fact brushing curly hair often wrecks it. Your dry curly hair is then exposed to the environment without anything to buffer it from the wind or the sun, and so gets damaged easily. Further, the unused sebum ends up sitting on the scalp collecting dust . This is essentially why we have 2 grave problems to address –  a greasy dirty scalp and dry frizzy ends .

Once you understand this relationship , you will also understand that this is an everyday affair and there’s no one time shot at a solution . Hence , daily hair care routine is of utmost importance .

3. DAILY HAIR CARE

I’m sharing my personal daily hair care routine here and it has 4 steps to hair you will love and more importantly , love you back !!

– STEP 1 : Oil your curls .

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The benefits of oil for hair are innumerable . I’d like to just point out that they revive the moisture balance, improves the texture and the health of hair , and also regulates the harsh chemical effects of all the cosmetic products one shall be applying on the hair post an oil massage .
Now , to choose the perfect oil for the curly hair just has one rule . The more viscous the oil is , the better for your curls as it helps in deep conditioning. I have been using cold-pressed virgin Olive Oil for years now and according to me , it is just the perfect , non-greasy daily oil for curly hair. You could also use almond oil but you must be aware that over time , almond oil leaves a brown tinge to your hair .

How to ?!
– Oil your hair half an hour prior to your shower . Take enough oil to massage your scalp and to run it through the hair so that you can detangle the knots and comb it with your fingers. Tie them all into a bun or a braid. I wake up at 6 am and immediately oil my hair before even brushing my teeth so that I can take a shower by 6 30 am and rush to work by 7 am. Weekly once , you may leave the oiled hair overnight , however , if you have a super oily face like mine , please do not do so ! The oil seeps down your face and you’l wake up with pimples as if puberty hit you again during your slumber. 

-STEP 2 : Shampoo your curls .

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” Sulfate-free ” and  “Paraben-free” are the key words to scout for while deciding on which shampoo to use. Sulfates and parabens are harsh cleansers , often used in detergents and you certainly don’t want the consequential frizz to spoil your romance . Opt for a deep moisturizing shampoo which will remove the excess oil and yet add suppleness to your curls . The first shampoo I had icked specificaly for curly hair back in college days was Herbal Essences – Totally Twisted , which was really good . However , after I landed in Mumbai and to combat that grade of pollution and the super greasy scalp and super dry hair it gave me , I switched to L’oreal Professionel’s Absolute Repair series upon expert opinion from my hair stylist at BBlunt , Mumbai. She suggested this not because I’ve damaged hair but because this shampoo meant to repair extremely damaged hair obviously has more moisture infusion contents that any other shampoos of the same brand . So it works better than a shampoo intended for curly hair as well . The Absolute Repair shampoo works wonders with my hair and strips off the excess oil and keeps it well moisturized. It’s creamy texture itself is a promise for the additional moisture it imparts to hair.

How to ?!
-Wash your hair upside down as this will give your curls a chance to curl right from the root and make sure your product is applied all over. Take ample amount of shampoo and lather it on to wet hair and cleanse your scalp . Rub it along till the ends of your hair and wash it off .

-STEP 3 : Condition your curls .

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The conditioner is the heart of your curls . One needs a formula that is rich in moisture, grease free and one that doesn’t weigh down hair . I use the L’oreal Professionel Instant Reconstructing Masque from the damage repair series and it’s been breathing shape into my hair ever since. I chose the masque over the regular conditioner of the same range as this one’s creamier and thicker and as I said before , the more viscous the product , the fuller your curls .

How to ?!
– Squeeze out the remaining water after the shampoo wash and apply product evenly on the hair with your head upside down. Avoid the scalp and roots as the sebum shall keep the area well moisturized already. Apply generously on to hair ONLY and comb it down with your fingers . Scrunch them up when you finish combing and untangling the curls . Leave it on for a minute or two and then rinse it off. Scrunch the excess water out and wrap the hair with a towel .

-STEP 4 : Leave-in Conditioner for your curls .

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Kerastase Oleo-Curl Definition Cream is the holy grail leave-in conditioner to bouncy , fluffy, glossy and wholesome curly wurlies . The most elite in the world of hair-care , Kerastace’s products are undoubtedly bottled science created to befit all our myriad hair needs and wants. The nourishing formula will leave your hair soft, supple, light and shiny from root to tip and curls will be left defined and disciplined. Though I’m still trying to save up to buy the entire series comprising the shampoo and conditioner which will cost me more than a month’s savings entirely , I always make do for this one bottle I certainly can’t do without !! When looking for something more easy on the pocket , I would suggest Loreal Professionel’s Spiral Splendour leave-in conditioner which is the next best thing .

How to ?!
– Apply appropriate amount on to towel wrapped (not towel-dried) hair and spread evenly from mid lengths to tips. Remember to avoid the scalp . Comb it down with your fingers . Scrunch them well and leave it to dry naturally .

Four simple steps to beautiful and bouncy curls , all day , every day 🙂

4. DRYING & STYLING YOUR CURLY HAIR

* What the hell is a comb ?!
You do not need one . Your hair is untangled and free from knots if you follow the 4 steps as you’re doing enough of combing through your fingers . Combing your curly hair , while wet or dry will result in damage and ugly shapes. Curls are rebellious creatures. You should let them be !!
( I’ve never owned a comb in the last 6 years . But I’ll let you run your fingers through my curls and guarantee you that you won’t get stuck anywhere at all. Want to bet ?! 😀  )

* Towel-wrap your hair !!
Forget towel dry . Don’t even think about rubbing your hair and your towel and generating enough friction to get you looking like Lion King . The more you try to distort your curls , the uglier they will look and the frizzier they will get. Just wrap your hair in a micro-fibre towel ( the soft textured ones ) and let it absorb the excess water. Apply your leave-in and after scrunching if you want , you may take off the excess product by scrunching with the towel too . But that’s it. No more .

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* Blow drying is NOT for you !!
Diffuser is what you need if you aren’t looking at letting your hair naturally dry . Not the regular blow dryer nozzle. The diffuser ensures your curls aren’t meddled with or subjected to hot air strain which is the case in a regular dryer.

* Thou shall not brush thy hair when it is dry !!
This wrecks your curl pattern by breaking up the hair strands that are forming curls.

* Do NOT touch my curls . Thankyou !!
Avoid touching and playing with your hair. The more you try and fiddle with them , it gets limper with grease accumulation .

* Extra-special days , eh ?!
For those , I can tell you about a technique called “twisties” . After you apply your leave-in , you have to take small sections of your hair , just enough for your index finger to hold and twist them tight with your fingers and leave it to dry naturally or use a diffuser. Once they’re dry , you will have super-duper curly hair that will let you run the world .
If you are a BIG hair lover ( like me !! ) and want an extra bounce , you can use the Kiehl’s Super Thick Volumizer that will give your hair all the bounce it needs .

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5. PACKS & HACKS

These are the hair packs I indulge my curls with once every month. During my wedding time , I used to splurge in these once every week because I had elbow length of curly hair to live with . These divine mixtures are from my research, my grandmother’s erudition and my own tried and tested experiences .

(1) Banana – Mayo Hair Mask

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HOW ?!
Mash the ripest of bananas with an equal amount of  Mayo and put it in the mixer adding olive oil to suit the level of consistency you want . Make sure it isn’t too drippy . Apply it evenly to roots and hair with a brush and wrap your head in a plastic cover and then with a hot towel ( dip a towel in hot water and squeeze the water out )to generate enough heat for your wrapped hair for intense conditioning. Wash it after an hour. You will feel the bounce !!

WHY ?!
Provides deep conditioning and locks moisture .

(2.) Hot Essential Oil Pack

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HOW ?!
Mix almond oil , olive oil , castor oil and coconut oil and to this mixture add 4-5 drops of the essential oils like tea-tree , lavender , chamomile , lemon or argan oil. Heat the mixture and apply with fingers to scalp and hair and massage well. Towel-wrap your hair and leave it on for an hour or two or leave it overnight , depending on your skin type.

WHY ?!
Essential oils have been used since antiquity for their medicinal and therapeutic properties. Unlike ordinary vegetable oils (sunflower, olive, almond, sesame), essential oils are highly concentrated and potent oils. They are extracted or distilled from various parts of plants and trees, such as flowers, fruits, leaves, stem, roots or bark. The gentle power of these plant extracts can work wonders on your hair and scalp. These aromatic oils penetrate deeply into hair shaft and follicles and help produce healthy, shiny hair. Some oils can be extremely helpful to soothe dry, irritated scalp. Other essential oils influence the sebaceous glands and can normalise their function.

(3.) Hibiscus – Aloe Vera Hair Mask

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HOW ?!

Mash hibiscus ( shoeflower ) leaves to pulp with the help of grinding them in a mixer and adding adequate amount of aloe vera jelly you can obtain from aloe vera plant by peeling away it’s outer thick skin. Apply evenly on wet hair and wait for an hour . Shampoo wash and dry thereafter.

WHY ?!
Hibiscus leaves with it’s vitamin C, Phosphorous, riboflavin, carotene and calcium content restrict hair fall control, dandruff and graying of hair due to it’s properties. Aloe vera contains something called proteolytic enzymes which repairs dead skin cells on the scalp. It also acts as a great conditioner and leaves your hair all smooth and shiny. It promotes hair growth, prevents itching on the scalp, reduces dandruff and conditions your hair. 

(4.) Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

4HOW ?!
Take a mug and pour one-sixth of it with apple cider vinegar and dilute it with water. Douse your hair after washing with this solution. Rinse thoroughly, and follow with a light conditioner.

WHY ?!
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar will remove residue from product buildup and help you get shiny, lustrous locks. Gloss is a guaranteed outcome from this rinse.

(5.) Egg white – Curd Mask

3HOW ?!
Take egg whites suitable to the length of your hair ( I use 1 egg ) . Mix it with ample amount of coconut oil and thick curd . Mix it to even consistency and apply with a brush to scalp and along the length of hair. Wait for it to dry ( say 20 mins ) and wash it off .

WHY ?!
Egg is the best source of protein. Using egg for your hair is extremely good for moisturizing it for longer period of time. The egg white is full of bacteria eating enzymes and cleanses your hair and scalp and is suggested for those having oily hair.
Curd intensively conditions hair and leaves it dandruff free and bouncy.Coconut oil helps in hair growth and general health of hair.

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Phew !! THAT IS PRETTY MUCH IT, Curly humans !!!!
Don’t let anybody dull your curl 🙂
Go !! Run the world !!

Ammamma’s White Saree

There’s a story behind every six yards of love !! This one, my Ammamma’s White Saree, has an immensely painful but proud undertone to it. If you listen carefully, you can hear it sing rhapsodies of saudade ; of love that remains  !!

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Something fateful happened on Sunday, March 9, 1986.

Something that shattered a family and a community into pieces that bleed profusely until today; pieces of broken hearts that make a compassionate whole . Something about a man, a visionary, I’ve never seen but I personify, I’m told. Something about a leader, whose struggle echoes with the ongoing lives of quite a few eminent advocates, politicians, trade unions and bank employees. Something about a benevolent father, whose mere memory brings in tears of pride to my mother’s eyes . Something about an enthusiastic singer and an ardent fun-lover, my uncle, my second father, seems to have taken after. Something about a loving husband, whose loss takes the colour of melancholy my dear grandmother prefers to be draped in. Something about a humanitarian, whose lineage I hold strong being the eldest of his own. Something about a fighter , to whom my forehead bears a striking resemblance.

Something about a simple, humble , beautiful man , who still lives in every kind deed of his near and dear ones , big or small, that goes into making a troubled soul, any troubled soul, live ._MG_1483 copy

 

It was this huge laminated picture in the house , next to the Gods in the “puja room”. A rather grumpy looking man with curly hair,a pair of kind eyes beneath a pair of over-sized thick-framed spectacles and a large forehead always looked back at me through it.
“Amma, who is that ?!”
I was 6 years old , I guess.
“He’s my father !”
She must have hid her tears behind that radiant smile of hers.
“ Where is he ?! “
“ He is no more Pooja. He had a heart attack and passed away when I was a girl.”
“ Oh. Why do you keep him there though ? In the Puja room ?!”
“Because he’s the only God I pray to.”
“ Oh. What’s his name ?! “
A.V.G Nair.
I still remember the pride in the air.
“ What do I call him Amma ?! “
“ You can call him Ammachan ! “

Ever since that day to this , I keep talking to my newly made friend; the grumpy one with curly hair, kind eyes and a huge forehead ,who looks at me through the lamination.

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“Ammamma !! Why do you always wear white ?! Why can’t you wear a nice pink or blue saree too ?! “ , I would fuss to my grandmother , elegantly draped in her white silk saree.
“ I used to wear all that vava ( baby ). I don’t wear those colours anymore ever since Ammachan passed away ! “
“But why Ammamma ?! “
“ I just don’t feel that colourful anymore !”
She would draw her handkerchief and wipe her tears and smile back at me.

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“LOOK !! LOOK !!”
I jumped in the car as we passed the Cherooty Road Junction of Calicut on our way to the beach, pointing at the huge board that read , “ A.V.G. Nair Memorial Hall “.
“Isn’t that Ammachan’s name ?!”
“Yes it is . Ammachan’s colleagues and friends built it as a token of love and respect after his demise “ , Amma told me.
“ Wow. So Ammachan was a great man ?! “
“ Your mother’s going to cry any moment now. Who wants to lay a bet with me ?!” , Dad chuckled .
“The greatest I have ever known “ , Amma said quietly , laughing at dad’s remark.
Dad had won the bet after all.

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Every vacation, my sister and I were packed off to Cochin, Kerala where our dearest grandmother and her helping hands would be eagerly  awaiting us to drive the neighbourhood crazy. And like any other fairy grandmother , my Ammamma was also the kind who fed the glutton little Pradeeps , meat, fish and more of the same. Not to forget the skin and hair care routines with all things natural and organic , right out of a tree or the soil, mixed in milk or tomato puree or beauty oils.  Amidst the culinary nirvana and body rejuvenation spells , Soorya and I would escape into Ammachan’s study , a room filled with books and files , a teak-wood table and a spinning chair that creaks age , a deewan amidst antique wooden chairs , a huge gramophone and records , memories and stories, dying to be told to us grandchildren.
“Ammamma. Whose books are these ?! There are so many in here” , Soorya seemed interested in the multitudes of law books stacked neatly in the various shelves of the dozen cupboards.
“ These were all your Ammachan’s ! “
“ So he was a lawyer ?!”
“One of the finest !!” , M.K.Damodaran Uncle , the then Advocate General of Kerala, one of Ammachan’s colleague and close friend who was was always a warm part of our vacations in Cochin concurred with Ammamma’s proud silence.

“And these awards belong to ?! “ , I enquired trying to count the rusty brass awards stacked atop the cupboards.
“They’re also Ammachan’s ! He was the All India Bank Employees Association’s Vice President . Also the All India Deposit Collector’s Federation’s President . And an active member of the International Labour Organisation. So he would get these awards and mementos time and again.“
Soorya and I looked at each other in disbelief. I looked at the grumpy man with benevolent eyes looking back at me through the large framed photograph , the same one that was there at home . There were dusty files next to it , filled with newspaper articles and cuttings of grandfather’s work in various fields , all punched and tied to the paper-bound folder .

Mom wasn’t exaggerating . He was a great man indeed !!

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Our neighbor recently moved out of the rented house to his own apartment ; Mom, Dad , Soorya & I went to their house-warming function.
Whilst Soorya & I were busy playing with the annoying little children and getting our brains gorged on, Mom and Dad were doing the formal meet and greet with everybody present there .
“ We’re originally from Kannur !” , I over heard an aunty say.
“ Oh, is it ? So is Seema. Her ancestral home is in Kannur as well “, dad replied looking at Mom.
“ Oh !! We’re from the Thalassery side. I don’t know whether you would know the place exactly. A famous landmark would be Akkara Veedu , A.V.G Nair’s house. “
Dad, Soorya and I instantly looked at Mom.
She smiled.
“ I think I have seen your house. I know Akkara Veedu very well. A.V.G Nair is my father ! “ , she laughed .
All the eyes in the room were suddenly on her. She felt nervous , I could tell. But she was used to it . Being A.V.G Nair’s daughter was her favourite avatar. The wound gushed a bit of blood that fell down as tears over her cheeks though her smile lines as we drove back home .

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“ Look at her forehead . It’s just the same; the very same !! “ , they would proudly discover the resemblance I bore to a visionary who had once changed their lives for the better and would bless me with their promising smile and teary eyes and carry on with their humble lives.

“ Amma , everybody used to really love Ammachan is it ?! “
“Oh , you’ve NO idea, Pooja ! “ , his daughter would smile back at hers with glistening eyes.

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My eyes caught on to a familiar book with a red paper-bound cover and a black inked title in Malalyalam my friend was emerged in, in one of our library periods in 5th grade .

“ Hey Arya. What are you reading ?! “
“ Oh it’s this book I found in dad’s shelf. It’s about this humble humanitarian, his life and work. Have you read it ?!” , she handed the book to me. The same book I’d seen in book racks and shelves back at home and in Ammachan’s study in Cochin.
“ Nope. Not yet ! “
“Ah . You must. Dad said he’s made a difference to so many families . I think the Malayalam is a bit too difficult for our understanding though. But the … “
She kept talking while I zoned out into the book’s title.

“Amma ! Arya at school was reading ‘A.V.G. Ormakurippukal’ { Memories of A.V.G } “
“ Really ?! How did she find the biography of Acha ?! “
“ Said she found it in her dad’s library . “
“ Ah . Must’ve been politically connected . This somehow made my day though . “ , Amma smiled.
“Yeah , mine too ! “
I took the copy at home and started reading it .

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“Sir , this is Dr. Seema Pradeep . She’s a renowed dental surgeon practicing in Badagara. That’s her elder daughter, Pooja .“ , a mutual friend introduced Amma and I to the Mayor of Calicut, Mr. Thottathil Raveendran.
“ Hello Doctor . Where are you originally from ?! “
They started off with the quintessential conversation.
“ I’m originally from Thalassery ( Kannur ) , Sir. But I was born and brought up in Cochin . “
“ Ah I see. I do know a few extraordinary advocates in Kannur and Cochin . I don’t know whether you’d be knowing them . A.V.G. Nair and his contemporaries from … “

I looked up at Amma’s smile and her moist eyes .

“A.V.G Nair is her father, Sir “ , Amma’s mutual friend interrupted .
He was taken aback . There was an eerie silence. Folded hands and a grateful smile are usually followed after these occasional discoveries . Amma returned the kind gesture magnanimously.

10 minutes later we drove home and I kept teasing her of how so boastful her pumpkin red face which would burst any moment looked like. We laughed our hearts out !!

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“ Hey Puchu. Don’t you think it’s numbing how Amma & Ammamma still cry when they hear a whisper of Ammachan’s name ? “
“What do you mean Soorya ?!”
“ I mean, it’s been 3 decades almost. I thought we accept death in due course of time and move on. Of course the loss hurts . But how fresh can a wound be ? It’s been a really long time since he left us. I can’t believe they still well up with the very memory !” , Soorya was gloomy from seeing Amma cry at the dinner table because Dad had cracked a political joke on Communists and Amma remembered her days with a celebrated communist leader back in the days, her father .
“ I guess he meant everything in the world to them. It’s not the pain , perhaps. It’s the love !! “
“ How is it even possible to love somebody this much ?! “
I didn’t have an answer to that one. I just didn’t know. Our mother has been the epitome of love for both of us; selfless and unconditional to the core. We’ve always wondered how she could do it all ! How she could love everything ; her self, her husband , her children , her work , her family !

I’ve even asked her once about it to which she replied ,
“ Acha taught me how to love . “
“ How though ?!” , I’d ask.
“ Well , I learnt it all from watching him. And I wanted to be just like him. And before even making a conscious effort , I had started to emulate him. Yeah, that was all. I just wanted to be like him. He was everything !!”
Her voice quivered. I made my ugly faces and got her laughing again before we started talking about something else; my heart , heavier than usual however !

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Akkara Veettil Gopalakrishnan Nair , fondly known as A.V.G. Nair or A.V.G , was an eminent civil rights advocate by profession, an active communist by choice, a humanitarian by calling and during load shedding , a wonderful singer and a music enthusiast.
“ To know and understand commitment and the essence of an ideology being put to practise , one ought to have met A.V.G at least once in his lifetime” , quotes famous social activist and writer , Late Mr. P.T Bhaskara Panicker in his foreword for the biography ,“A.V.G. Ormakurippukal “ , written by Mr.P. Sudhakaran.  A principled man who pledged his life to the then exploited trade unions and bank employees and devoted his time to the welfare and empowerment of the common working class man is how many remember him today as.  All India Bank Employees Association’s ( AIBEA ) Vice President , All India Deposit Collector’s Federation’s ( AIDCF ) President , active member of the International Labour Organisation were few amongst the many roles he has played in his life of merely 52  years.
Apart from devoting his life for the people , he had a family whom he loved unconditionally . His wife N.K Lakshmikutty , retired teacher , daughter Mrs. Seema Pradeep who is a Dental Surgeon at her own 25-year old G.G. Dental Clinic , Calicut, Kerala and and son , Mr. N.K Sanjeev who is currently heading the Research & Development wing of the MNC , Synergy Maritime , Singapore.

It doesn’t end here either. Other than being a celebrated hero to his very own , he has one more role to his credit. The one that I hold dear to all my years of growing up but sadly have no living memory of.

A.V.G. Nair is also my grandfather .

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The following is the phone conversation between Amma and I on Sunday , March 7 , that shall painfully unfold to tell you the story of Ammamma’s white saree .

“ Amma . I know this is going to be tough for you. Get some tissues in hand already . “
Oh please. Stop it now. There’s no way I’m couriering this book to you. I’l just tell you the synopsis of it all and out of my memory “ , she said with a chuckle.

“ Okay. “
I took a deep breath because this is the first time I was intentionally going to make her cry .
“ What is the first word that comes into your head when you think of Ammachan ?! “

Compassion” , she replied .

“ Wow . Really ? I’d asked Sanjumaman the same question and he picked ‘compassion’ as well !!” , I exclaimed .

Well. At least now you can be sure it’s the truth “ , she laughed.

“ Tell me an episode which you very clearly remember ? Something that has had a lasting impact on you .”

Ah. There is one . This time when I was a little girl and I eavesdropped. So I was studying and I could hear Acha scream at someone in his office. From what I remember , he was a bank employee who had just been suspended that evening until further notice because of his carelessness at work . I could make out that he was crying and pleading to him to speak to the bank manager and revoke the suspension . But Acha just wouldn’t because he was wrong here and there was no way he could help him in this case. It was probably the disappointment that made him rage with fury. I was so scared of all that noise. The shouting continued for an hour almost after which Acha came out of the room and called out to Amma . He said ,
‘ Lakshmikutty , how much cash do we have at home ?! ‘ .

‘ We just have the money we kept aside for the children’s books for next year . ‘
‘ Shall we give it to him ?!’ , I remember Acha asking Amma hesitantly .
‘ Do you really want to ?! This is all that we have. What about Seema’s & Sanju’s books ? ‘
‘ I’l find a way. We’l manage saving here and there. This man in my office, he doesn’t even have enough money to buy ration. He’s the only bread-winner of his family of five. He’l be definitely suspended for this month. I don’t have the heart to see him cry like this. He’s a good fellow. Mistakes are just human, aren’t they ?! Let’s give this money to him . “ , they agreed .
He went back and gave him the money . There was no escalated anger anymore. The employee cried again and left after dining with us on being forced by Acha.
This incident somehow always remained in my head . About how selfless, righteous and humble a man can be.

“ You had a financial crunch then, yeah ?! I remember the stories . “ , I said.

Oh God !! You won’t believe it Pooja. We never had enough money. Never ! There was always the pinch and itch of the struggle. Sanju & I would never tell Acha about excursions in class because he would feel bad if there isn’t enough money to spare. Or even new books or clothes for that matter . We were always happy with the old ones . We never had enough money, my child. But I can’t possibly tell you how happy we were . We were the happiest !! We found happiness in the small things , in togetherness , in music , in uplifting each other, in our pet dogs and so many other crucial components that beat the vissicitudes of our lives .
We would always wait for Acha to get done with all his office work . It would get really late , but we would just not have dinner until he joins us at the table.

The house was always filled with his comrades, 15-20 at any given point of time. His colleagues would infact take Sanju & I away from the house during exam times so that we could study in peace.
We would eagerly wait for power cuts too. Because Acha would stop his work and then entertain us with ghazals and melodies from the golden era of songs , those sung by Hemant Kumar , Kishore Kumar and Talat Mahmood . Such a passionate singer with a mesmerizing voice he was.  It used to be the best time of our lives !!

Amma’s voice had begun to bear the brunt of time . I didn’t have to ask her the next question . She continued talking ….

Everything was going great . I had gotten into Calicut Government Dental College and Sanju, into Thrissur Government Engineering College and Amma and Acha were continuing with their honest lives in Cochin.

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It was March 9 , 1986 .

I got a phone call asking me to immediately go home as Dad had a massive cardiac arrest.

I went back to world’s end . It was filled with a thousand people mourning the unexpected demise of their loving comrade and leader and amidst them all , I found my mother and brother , broken . I was only 19.  And .. “
Her voice was trembling over the phone. I sniffed back my grief and interrupted .
“ Okay Amma , don’t talk about that day. What happened after ?! “
She got herself together and continued ,
Time stopped still. So did our worlds. Jimmy, our German Shepherd , coughed blood and died a week later because he just couldn’t deal with the sorrow. Sanju & I were devastated beyond what I can possibly ever articulate .
“ How did Ammamma cope up with Ammachan’s loss, Amma ?! “
She never did !! She couldn’t !!  She was bed-ridden for months and later on developed a skin stress syndrome which she had to battle all the more. It was very difficult for her . It was terrible watching her crumble all the time.
“ What about your expenses ? How did you take care of those ?! “
Ah ! That is a story. Amma only had her meager salary which she got from teaching in a government school. And Acha didn’t have many savings. Most of it had gone to the needy. And everybody knew that he threw kindness and monetary help around abundantly.
The AIBEA thereafter contributed a fund which amounted to Rs 500 each to Sanju & I every year for our living and academic expenses .  Even my marriage with Pradeep for that matter was entirely arranged by the union . Amma was too hurt to even think about my marriage without Achan being around . I don’t think any of us were entirely happy because his absence haunted us every time we smiled.
Anyway , back to the point,  Sanju & I were hardworking and we got into government institutions on merit , our fees weren’t much at all. Hostel fees and mess fees and other important payments would be made with the Rs 500 we had .
We also had a plan. We had to save some money. I remember how I used to go to the library and study or borrow books from seniors but never bought even one on my own. Apart from the plain rice and dal we used to get in the mess, a delicious omelette or an enticing fish fry would cost an additional Rs 5. It was very tempting , but Sanju & I gave up those little things and saved up for an entire year .

The very first year which Achan passed away , the very first year where our mother fought to stay alive , the very first year she embraced the absence of colour as her second skin , that very year , with the money we saved up, we bought her her first white cotton saree .

Amma burst out crying. So did I . It wasn’t the pain. It was the love , indeed !!

Ammamma’s white saree never seemed like it lacked colour ever since. It’s the most brightest , beautiful and bold 6 yards of memories I have treasured. This off white tissue silk one with temple borders she wore on my engagement ceremony with Rushil , picked by Amma herself , is my favourite so far.

I calmed down somehow and mustered up .
“ Go wash your face now . Please be okay ! “
I will I will . Don’t worry . Rushil’s back home ?!
“ No. Not yet ! “
Okay . I’l go attend to my casts now. The technician is going to come any minute.
“ Okay Amma . I’l speak to you later then. Bye. Umma ! “
Bye vava. Umma!

I kept the phone down and tried to look at the word document filled with errors I had typed amidst all the emotional outrage and blurred vision.
( phone rings )

“ Amma ?! “
I just wanted to tell you that you’re so much like him. And that he’s very proud of you !
I gulped my heart down .
“ Atleast we now know why I should be honoured about the curly hair and enormous forehead I have , eh ?! “
We laughed and hung up .

 

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Dearest Ammacha ,

We talk everyday. There’s nothing in particular I’d like to tell you today as it exactly marks 30 years of your numbing absence, except for this quote that I came across online .

“ If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die ! ” .

Your curly hair , grumpy face , kind eyes and statement forehead stole my heart. You will live !! Through my mother’s smile and heart , through my uncle’s zeal and optimism , through my scribbling and rebellious nerve , through my sister’s wit and brain and ofcourse , every single day , every single moment ,  through Ammamma’s timeless white saree .

Love ,
Your eldest grand-daughter.

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PS – Guess what Uncle and Mom wrote behind the placards made for the then upcoming bank employee strike at Trivandrum, Kerala ?!
WE WANT BIRIYANI !

PPS – Amma. I know you’l read this spread over and over and over. Ammachan is SO proud of you, you have no idea !! Stop crying, Amma 🙂 .  Moinkutty loves you 🙂

 

WEDDING101

November 22, 2015 !!

This one’s going to be a quickie.
Simply because I CAN NOT marry one more time .
*faints*

This one day had it all .

Boisterous laughter , swollen tear glands , a hyper-ventilating loving father, the ever beautiful mother, the soul sister I grew up with, the fairy grandmother, the favourite uncle & aunt, rioting cousins, the joyous family, the cant-live-without best friends, beautiful beloveds , yards of Kanjeevaram, ostentatious jewellery, main men and support systems, pot pourri of cultures and traditions , lit lamps, aromatic flowers and religious paraphernalia, quintals of confusion, overly tensed bouts , tears of joy raining down them cheeks, the sumptous feast, another ginormous family to call my own, a kazillion photographs, vibrant colours, hearty celebrations, revelrous atmosphere, and of course , the man I love !! 🙂

The Bridezilla

Errr , Hi !!

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I got diagnosed with the infamous fad syndrome sometime in June as I was recovering from the big fat engagement hullabaloo . “You’re exhibiting the Bridezilla symptoms !” , Soorya told me with disgust. Oh Jeez ! It was true afterall . Who’d let a perfectionist who is unfortunately also a control freak let loose like that ?! The very thought of miles of kanjeevarams were enough to get me heaven high anyway !!

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Speaking of which, I was very disappointed and let down as the weavers at Kancheepuram said that it would be difficult to weave the saree of my dreams I had in mind in less than 3 months and that would be risky since I’d be cutting it too close to the wedding. To thrive that , the enthusiastic grandmother , the mother India and I took off to Chennai, a week later, sometime in August with a vision of buying my bridal ensembles and also kanjeevarams for the near and dear ones. We Pradeeps are quick to shop. It’s more like we’re biologically engineered with a radar that easily sniffs the best yards of silk out of an emporium . Want figures ?
Well , we scooped 40 odd kanjeevarams in 18 hours of shopping spread across one and a half days. Saree erudition went up a notch alright !!

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My mustard yellow kanjeevaram with a dual tone of burnt orange and intricate zari throughout is by far the most gorgeous bridal monotone saree I’ve seen . Love happened . This one’s from the pioneers, Sundari silks , Chennai .
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Since we had an Andhra-Kerala hybrid wedding, as part of their customs, I was to change into a white and red kanjeevaram saree and come in again for the second “muhurat”. This classic one filled with huge gold zari motifs and the green lining at the ends of the border is from the famous Tulsi silks , Chennai .

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For a Kerala bride who is religiously supposed to be covered in gold from head to toe always seemed ridiculous to me. Who wants to look like festive elephants on their wedding day ?! Gone are the days where it used to signify the wealth of a family or the dowry given or any materialistic aspect of the then narrow minded society. It isn’t even deemed as a worthy investment anymore owing to the meteoric crash of the gold prices in the last 5 years that is still expected to continue. Today, it’s either a personal choice or indoctrination by the elders in the family ( I guess ! ).

Either ways , personification of an elephant’s headgear is a big NO NO for me. I can not stand the unaesthetic mixing of matter. I just wanted to wear one statement piece ( less is more, isn’t it ?! ). Whilst mum and dad let me run the show, I had to sport a rebel and throw tantrums at extended family and those annoying aunts who just went on with their rants anyway. Ammamma pleaded though. So I agreed to wear one more. My mother & I scouted in Calicut, Bangalore , Chennai and Cochin and we picked what we connected with the most.

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The uncut diamond-south sea pearl choker set is from Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri ( TBZ ) , Cochin , Kerala and the second chain which is an uncut diamond Goddess Lakshmi coin necklace is from Alukkas , Cochin, Kerala. I got the maang tikka made from TBZ itself according to my chandbaali earrings . The uncut diamond kadas ( bangles ) are from Tanishq , Calicut,  Kerala and the coloured glass & metal ones from Goodwill Collections, Cochin, Kerala . The ruby studded Goddess Lakshmi waist belt ( oddyanam ) and the enamel worked Goddess Lakshmi armlet ( vanki ) are from Chennai, the paradise of temple jewellery . The rings are those that Ru gave me and that royal ruby one is what Ammamma wore on her wedding day, nearly 60 years ago ! ( It’s my most priced possession indeed. )

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My hair and makeup was done by this lovely lady, Mrs.Seena Babu Cherian and her team at Angels Bridal Studio , Calicut, Kerala. I’m glad they understood my fuss with super-oily skin better than the acne that grows on it. Not to forget the troublesome hair either.

Now let me tell you bridal things that are way more important than these precious stones and metals :
* Get a well fitting blouse. Always opt for simple blouses with square rounds as necks and backs as they compliment the drape of the traditional saree. Do not overly put embellishments or embroidery on your blouse. Too much of sound is noise and cacophony means chaos . Hence, avoid !!
All the tailoring for the entire family was done by Paris Boutique , Cochin under the designer , Mr. Anil who is a gem of a person. Their work is something I can vouch for. Bespoke tailoring at it’s best !!
* Opt for padded blouses despite the fact whether your back is low or not. They make your frame look appropriate .
* If you’re opting for really low backs , get the string tie with simple tassles at the ends ( doesn’t apply to brides who don’t have south indian hair decor rules to follow . If you’re going bare back , get the most eye-catchy tassles. Check Gaurang Shah’s latest collections for ideas. ) If you’re going super-low , use “body tape” at the corners so as to avoid them from creasing or jutting out.
* Keep shoulder width of 1 inch only please. It helps broaden your frame. Use body tape at the upper bust line though ( you do not want to risk scandalizing family elders , yeah ?! )
* Don’t just get a petticoat/underskirt. Get a fish cut one with box pleats . They’re well-fitting and comfortable.
* Wear extremely comfortable heels . Wedges,preferably.
* LAUGH ! Don’t just sit and be coy and shy and smile there. Laugh out loud and break rules and go crazy. Don’t think about anybody or anything. ONLY think about the pretty photographs ( Rushil thinks that’s why I married him !! He knows me well ). Just remember that there are a lot of candid photographers hunting your emotions down. So you better get your best face showcase lined up .
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The Mother India

Well , she can walk in in her doctor’s coat , or right out of bed with drool on her face or maybe after a shower like a wet hen and still look like a Queen.
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Amma beautiful picked up her elegant Kanjeevaram pink and orange dual tone saree with peacock motifs all over from Varamahalakshmi Sarees, Chennai. I picked that one for her especially because it seemed worthy of her, just perfect.

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We picked her uncut diamond necklace from Malabar Gold & Diamonds, Calicut and the uncut earrings from Tanishq , Calicut.
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Yeah man , I know. She looks like a beautiful dream !!
Guess who has taken after her ? ( smirks and grins and does the chicken dance )

THE Pradeep .

Acha , the man with the plan , looked as simple and handsome as he is at heart.
I got him a Dennis Morton off white pure silk shirt because though a little on to the expensive side ,I think the range of shirts the brand has for dhotis and their fittings are kickass.

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Dr. C. Pradeep Kumar is a hero who magnanimously deals with a dental surgeon , an educator and a criminal lawyer; 3 fiercely independent yet ridiculously emotional women , for 20 odd years and counting. ( kindly say a silent prayer and wish him more luck ) .

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The Younger Pradeep 

My Freida Pinto looked SO ravishing , you have NO idea !! She opted for Ammamma’s timeless ruby and pearl jewellery that will make your jaws drop as you scroll further down.

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“I want aanakutty ( baby elephant ) on my blouse” , she said gleamingly when I suggested a heavy blouse for her rich pink kanjeevaram . So be it !!
( Beads , all of them . Emphasized the sleeves and the back of course. I’m super glad Paris Boutique made my sketches of penguins with trunks actually look like elephants . They infact sew the exact details I’d drawn on paper . Amazeballs this blouse is !! Imma show it to my children !)

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She’s always been the most painful person to style. Looking at her that day however made all of my head ache bouts euphoric . She’s MY aanakutty after all !!
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Ammamma 

My fairy grandmother looked so kind in the traditional kerala handloom saree with gold zari weave at the borders from Kasavukada , Cochin. She’s only been this happy when I put on 7 kgs once !!

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Ze Soulsisters

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Kanjeevaram sarees for the gorgeous women are from RmKV, Chennai. Malu’s and Anu’s ( who is missing in the picture because she was searching for my heels :/ ) silk half sarees were assembled from these palettes I had in mind : Red-Green-Yellow & Orange-Pink-Yellow for which , amazing silk materials were thrifted from Nalli’s, Chennai.

The Noris 

Doing the groom’s styling too was just painful okay ! I mean , I need to be paid for this shit -.- !!
I mean , look at him …. SUCH A BEAUTY !!

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The plain and simple kanjeevaram silk kurta and the dhoti did the trick , I guess !! The kurta and jhootis are tailor made from Quora, Mumbai and the dhoti is from Hyderabad. His hair and beard styling was done by BBlunt, Khar, Mumbai.
Did you see the rest of the Noris ?? Oh you must !!

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Mummy wore an orange-pink Kanjeevaram to be coordinated with Amma ( such high school girls , I tell you ! ) , Papa wore a silk Kurta from Fab India and I chose this deep yellow silk kurta from Manyavar for Harshil .

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In other news , Mummy’s Hyderabadi kanjeevaram shall be stolen very soon. I think I’m growing fond of the loud kanjeevarams they weave that are very distinct from the Kerala and Tamil kanjeevarams. I think the Andhra-ness is kicking in slowly now !!

Ze Best Friends 
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Got the galaxy-eyed idiot a rust orange raw silk kurta and the normal-eyed idiot a white pure silk kurta. Their dhotis were lined with their kurta colours along with gold zari , all picked from Jayalakshmi Silks , Calicut. They’ve extremely good collections for ethnic silk attire for men.
So much malluness I tried adorning these two with , they certainly looked better than boxers and vests I’m used to seeing them around in.

Now for the buzzkill , the beige one I got for my Tambi with so much heart didn’t fit him and he had to wear another one ( cries ! ). But Mohamed Jameer still managed to look as charming as ever. ( cant.stop.crying.though )

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Speaking of Jameer , DID YOU SEE WHAT THIS INGENIOUS ONE MAN ARMY MADE ??!!

Magical, isn’t it ?! 🙂 . Rushil & I are particularly glad that we have been his test subjects all along and the boy has never failed to amaze. If you would want him to cover your wedding or associated celebrations you’d want to pickle forever , contact him on mohamedjameer9@gmail.com or Ph : 09790957428 .

Now as for all the brilliant captures above and the official wedding highlights down below , Lumiere Wedding Company , Cochin did a MARVELLOUS job.

Behold . #JaWedsRu !!

Congratulations You 😀 !!
Now that you’ve completed Wedding101 succesfully , I want you to know that there’s something bigger, better and brighter that I am living at the moment.

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It’s called marriage 🙂 .

A commitment slightly greater than just adorning yourself with priceless rocks and frocks ; an institution which fairy tales, Yash Raj movies and dreamy bokeh photographs of clamour and glamour don’t cover.

For I’ve always wanted a marriage more beautiful than my wedding.

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And guess what ?!
It’s happening 🙂 !!

I need some time to articulate the nuances of it however. A few more months perhaps ?
Until then …..

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PEACE OUT !!

SANGEET101

“BAAAAANI !! WHAT EXACTLY IS A SANGEET ?!

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A hyperventillating me made Sheebani ( my right artery ) explain the nuances of the revelry amidst her office hours through whatsapp that day.
Because I’m a Malabari Nair getting married to a Hyderabadi Brahmin ; { also read as EXTREMELY BORING FOLK } who don’t usually have happening wedding eves.
Luckily , dance, music and food are more important than people to me and hence, dad let me freak out ; provided I plan one ( he’s cruel like that ! )

And I did !!
It was my first !!
If only I could articulate merriment aptly , I’d gladly write about the evening of November 21,2015 .  Here, I’m just going to share a few extremely attention seeking pictures taken that day ; the kinds where the photographers go , “Look up here “ , ” Chin down” , ” Smile and look to your left “ , “Twirl and laugh at the same time “ , ” Blush a little “ … that sorta torture.
That apart , I’m writing about my ensemble detailing because after years of sketching, scribbling designs and figurines in my notebooks , I finally decided to sew it all up with a needle , sparkle and rosedust !!

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* Champagne is a dreamy colour and one of my favourites . Also , at the advent of gold being the most overdone bridal colour after red , why not some champagne ?!
* I am an ardent believer of Lord Sabyasachi. hence, I pray to bling and glitter .
* Right from the days of “Bole Chudiyaan” , I’ve always had an idea of how I wanted to look at a similarly dramatic function . Thankfully , Instagram has kept me updated and hence, creating an ensemble was a natural process.

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* I got all my fabric and linings from Sree Tirumalai Stores at Four Bungalows, Andheri(W), Mumbai { STOP ! Don’t judge the place by its name. It’s one place where you will even find what to make clouds with ! ” }. The laces were hunted after hours of searching in and around Santa Cruz(W) , Mumbai .
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* Since I’m a fan of colour block I decided to sport rubies, roses and rouge lips .

* Mother India of mine and I are COLOSSALLY particular about jewellery. To the extent that we finalised on my ruby choker after 8 months of search across cities and got my jhumkas made according to what I had in mind. The choker is by Venkatesh Naik Mohandas & Sons, Calicut, Kerala and Jhumkas are by Malabar Gold & Diamonds , Calicut , Kerala.

The Nori !!

* Now the bridezilla had to do the groom’s ensemble as well since he only knows how to shop at a Nike store . So I decided to get him a complimenting attire in wine red .

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ALWAYS REMEMBER : Whenever you design anything at all for another person , make sure it looks like them . Character and class are inseparables. If I had it my way , I’d make Rushil look like a floral colour bomb , but then that wouldn’t be him at all. So I chose a pure silk kurta and pants and customised juttis along with a self embroidered zari worked bandi ( jacket ) . I wanted it to be rich in colour and yet monotone . That’s just how my man is . Quora, SV Road, Mumbai did a brilliant job with the bespoke tailoring of his attire. I chose the fabric from the same place as well. Telon, SV Road , Mumbai is also a good bet .

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*Both of us being dancers wanted to go crazy on our wedding eve. So we didn’t want anything too heavy or cumbersome . Though I made my ghaghra out of 8 meters of fabric, I avoided the net padding inside and used crepe as lining which gives billowing flare and yet easy to twirl in. Which is why I even ruled out the conventional sherwani for Rushil . Bandis make do for extremely smart mens wear, comfortable and classy at the same time .

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 The Younger Pradeep !!

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* The little one loves onion pink and gold. So be it ! Adding a splash of fresh peach to it was the best thing I did actually. Getting her laces, fabric and tassles from Tirumalai stores and in and around manish market , Andheri(W),  took me half a day though. Extremely picky pretty she is !

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Treasure trunk full of gratitude to Lumiere Wedding Company for capturing all the special moments throughout the revelry . I wish I could post more , but they’ve givenme 3000 odd pictures to sort . So I’m slightly confused and boggled ! Forgive me kindly .

However —–> 

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To know what went down ^ here , watch :
https://www.facebook.com/pooja.pradeep.1804/videos/vb.100001137372279/919741138073790/?type=3&theater

Wearing something I scribbled on the last page of my wedding planner months ago , scouting in and around Mumbai getting the fabric, the lining , the laces, tassles and borders , explaining your details to the designer and the tailors, colour blocking it with the rubies, roses and also doing the same for the younger Pradeep and the Nori were all highly fulfilling . I hope you share them feels .
Much Love .

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PS – All the pictures are raw and unedited.
PPS – Those eyelashes do not belong to me !!

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Puppy Pink

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AMMMMAAAA !! OH MY GOD !!!

WHAT SAREE DID YOU BUY AGAIN ?? WHICH COLOUR ??

SHOW SHOW !!! “


Soorya & I frolicked around her clapping our hands and fluttering occasionally like pixies. The Mrignayani jute bag always brought along such elated vibes into my home that houses three ardent saree enthusiasts .
A tad bit of general knowledge for the world , bear with me :
Mrignayani , is the state government undertaking of Madhya Pradesh , the heritage enclave of the authentic chanderi silks , tussar silks , maheshwari silks , crepes , jutes and cottons . The corporation is devoted to the development of small-scale cottage industries which are widespread in the state. It encourages, promotes and directs their orderly and planned growth along with rendering assistance to prodigal and exemplary craftsmen and artisans, providing them the much-needed encouragement and financial support, eventually helping the sales and marketing of their hand-woven 6 yards of love .

“Y’all are going to LOVE this one !” , smirked my proud mother and continued her chirp.

“Guess the colour Guess the colour ?! “
“PINK” .
Soorya & I ran to touch wood . It was an easy guess. Our mom’s the annoying pink kinds .

Guess what pink then ?! “ , she argued like a little girl.
“ Baby pink ? “
NO
Onion pink ? “
NO
Hot pink ?”
NO
“Candy pink ? “
NO
I warned y’all . She’s the annoying pink kinds.
Orange pink ?!! “ , Soorya and I giggled .
Oranges aren’t pink you idiots !!”
We laughed .
“C’mon Amma just tell us and show it !! “

She carefully held the cloth casing inside the bag and took out the bundle of billowing silk . I swear on Mother of All Biriyanis , I saw drapes fall , clouds engulf us and violins play .


“ It’s Puppy Pink !! “ , she smiled with glistening eyes .

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No guys ! Amma ain’t crazy . I mean , she is ! But not the crazy crazy . Allow me to explain .

For a girl , being around 5 dogs right from the time she was born , into her childhood and then her teens , having found a samaritan in them , companionship that was string free , an uncomplicated ,simple and peaceful friendship , I wouldn’t be surprised if puppy meant blissful . The tussar saree she held was blissful pink . The kind you find in Olympus. . Zeus has an evening jacket tailored in this chrome , I bet !
[ I even call the folks I like “pup ” . For example , Puneet is my pup for eternity . Like that ! ]

* I’m aware I’m trying to draw a similarity between Pluto and banana , but I hope you get the feels !

Since my { love for sarees} >> { love for puppies } , let’s talk about the former first ?!


Tussar silk (alternatively spelled as Tussah, Tushar, Tassar, Tusser and also known as Kosa silk) is produced from the larvae of different species of silkworms chilling in wild tropical forests of our country ( No. Really !! ) . It is renowned for its natural deep gold colour , sheer rich texture , light weight and glossy transparency. Timeless elegance and magnificent splendour are the two quintessential trademarks of Tussar. India is the second largest producer of tussar silk and the exclusive producer of Indian Tussar (also known as tropical tussar), which is largely tended by tribals. Bulk of the Tussar silk production is in India and some forty percent of it is produced in Malda District of West Bengal and Bhagalpur in Bihar, where it is called Bhagalpur Silk; Madhya Pradesh, Jharkand and Chattisgarh being the other pioneers. Once an exclusive privilege of the royalty is today the established choice of women across the country .

Especially , the annoying pink kinds 🙂

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Let’s whine now !!

I DO NOT HAVE A DOG !!
( breaks crockery and throws cutlery )

Nobody ever got me one . And I never could pick one from elsewhere because my first encounter with the adorable species was when a 7-year-old me jumped into my music teacher’s compound to surprise her not knowing that Tom ( the healthiest , mightiest and ferocious Alsatian alive) would pounce on me , bringing me down to the floor and bark the ghosts out of me ( or seemingly eat my face ) . “ Bowbows ” , as baby Pooja used to call them became her most dreaded nightmare. I’ve been in emotional coma ever since 1999 .

My mother has a different story to tell however . Shabby ( The Pomeranian ) , Jimmy ( The Dachshund ) , Sam ( The Great Dane ) and Simi ( The Labrador ) were a part of her family . I grew up listening to Shabby’s mischief , Jimmy’s selfless love , gluttonous Sam’s entertaining acts of jumping into the well and chasing cats and fat round Simi being Amma’s side-kick all her life . The most touching one out of the kazillion is the one where when Grandfather passed away unexpectedly because of cardiac arrest , Jimmy lay beside the body when it was brought home just before the funeral . He didn’t bark or eat anything for a week thereafter . He wouldn’t even get up . He fell very sick towards the end and vomited blood and bid them goodbye . I couldn’t believe such kind of love exists back then .
Even today , our old house in Cochin has their huge cage with green gates , very much part of our home . I’ve never seen it alive though. At times I just stare at the bars ,trying to feel the multitude of moods and memories it contained .
Yeah !! You are right !!
I have failed miserably , time and again, trying to manipulate the unfathomable love this fragment of my unseen family that used to once prance around joyfully in the green cage shared with my own. Nobody lives in that house today . But the dogs that lived there once upon a time remain immortal in my head.

The green bars always made me smile 🙂 . Always always !!

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Latha aunty was my music teacher. The Alsatian who almost ate me ?! Tom ?! He was her oldest son . The best part is that ,I’m not joking . Kumar uncle and her didn’t have children . They had dogs . 6 of them . I don’t remember the breeds or names because I was way too small and terrified to even look at them . They were all bad bowbows . But I’ve seen how they take care of each other . Kumar uncle used to have night shifts and she would sleep alone in her house . Two dogs beneath her bed . One in the hall , One in the kitchen and Tom outside the house . Even ghosts would stay away , trust me !! And you must see how she brushes them and hugs them and kisses them . I always wondered how she dealt with the fact that she had no children of her own and yet how she was so content having doggies to fill in the voids.

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With time and age I understood its love. Love that has no bounds or limits. Love that isn’t restricted or limited by ay lines . Love that is pure and happy . Love that leaves paw prints on your heart . Love that is puppy !!

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“Pooj , I don’t want to talk today ! Can I sleep ?! “

He only avoids talking to me to sleep off when the grief chokes him too bad . I knew he wanted some time alone this time though. He would cry to bed . Silently .
“Are you sure Arjy ?!”
There was no reply .
I was so nervous . I didn’t know how to console him . I was in Mumbai , far away from him . It’s difficult to not be there for your best friend when you know he’s crumbling from within .

You know Bubbles is in a better place right ?! She didn’t have to suffer atleast . She’s happy wherever she is “ , I carefully worded a tight hug courageously.
Bubbles was Arjun’s girlfriend , his princess ! Her stories of swagger and pompousness along with her partner , Buddy , his other German Shepherd dog have always filled my low bouts with laughter . As for Arjun, he’s the very shut kind of human . The shady shut kinds . His alter ego which as seen publicly is that of a careless , happy-go-lucky guy who dances like he’s possessed by Shahid Kapoor, has a hot face and bum and is , hence ,also a womanizer . Apart from the debauchery , strangely enough , there exists only three women in his life . The ones who know him inside out , the ones who can stand his racism and the ones who believe in him . One’s his mother , the other , his best friend and the third was his favourite , his Bubbles . Apart from the four years filled with stories of Buddy and Bubbles smeared over our friendship , they seemed very much like family to me . I knew what fraction of the universe Bubbles meant to Arjun , I knew he’d be devastated .

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“Yeah ! She’s in a better place . I’l call you tomorrow “ , he replied sniffing back the tears .
“Is Buddy alright ?! “
“He is okay ! “
“Will you be ?!
“ Yes I will . Goodnight ! “
He hung up . I stared into the phone .


Pooj . Bubbles is nomore

I read the message again , the message that came ten minutes back that made me call him painstakingly . I cried and went to bed too , contemplating how to cheer him up somehow .I wonder why anybody termed them animals anyway . They’re pieces of one’s heart , fragments of one’s life.
Bubbles had been sick for a while . And I knew her days were numbered . They were together for a decade almost . He used to talk to her about his days and nights , pamper her and cuddle her to squeaks. As for her , she wanted him more than anybody else . They were both attention seeking whores ; made for each other , I used to joke !

To the world , Arjun as a person was always a lie , but to Bubbles , he was the ultimate truth .

He’s the stronger one amongst the both of us and the week ahead found him consoling me . My skype sessions with him and Buddy are the best things in my life today . And Buddy is just like him . SO annoying and stupid . Everything’s peaceful now . Time eased the pain of loss . It doesn’t ease the memories though , fortunately !
We miss Bubbles . Terribly !!

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Little 13-year-old Sowmya could not control her tears . She was so angry but also pained . She couldn’t watch it anymore . The cries of the Pekingese pup in the torturous cage and conditions of the horrendous Friday Market in Kuwait had her heart bleeding .
“Appa can we please take him home ?! Please Appa . Please Please “
She couldn’t stand the vendor punching him so that his nascent barks would catch the attention of the restless crowd . She couldn’t take it one bit . She cried hopelessly begging his parents to take him home .

Bubble Jaan “ , she whispered into his ears and cuddled him with her warmth . Her parents couldn’t see the pup dying , let alone their morose daughter . The family nursed Bubble for days together , without the careless blink of an eye and all the love in the world . In about two weeks , LO BEHOLD !!
Bubble was their new guardian angel !!

One day , a couple of years later , Sowmya was heartbroken . You know how mean boys are at school . She’s always been a strong girl but this one time was too much for her . She shut herself and burst out , collapsing on the bed . A playful Bubble noticed his friend’s outburst and climbed on to her lap . An astonished Sowmya sat up . Bubble was not the expressive kinds . He won’t touch neither does he like to be touched , cool like that . But this time was different . He looked at Sowmya with reassuring puppy eyes . And licked her face. Sowmya giggled amidst her swollen red face . Bubble wouldn’t stop though. He kept cuddling her and licking her face all the more , dancing on her lap because he had to get his girl back to the crazy she is.

“ I’m okay Bubble Jaan , I really am !! “ , she hugged him tight .

Her laughter echoed the house .

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Their home was filled with a painful gloom that had no bounds during the last days of Bubble . He was the pup who made it through , and he lived as long and happy with a family that was his own , but now , his time was up. He was tremendously ill . Loss of appetite , loss of weight , a heart condition , an intestinal complication were all taking its toll on old Bubble boy . Sowmya and her family constantly juggled between Kuwait and Coimbatore due to work and family . Bubble’s last few days had her mother away in Kuwait and the rest of them with Bubble , easing out his last few days . Sowmya was devastated in the course. Seeing Bubble not move a limb in the last week cut her open entirely . It was the same crumbling feeling when she saw him in the cage , crying for help the very first time , years ago . She knew her friend’s time was nearing .
“Amma !! You must come down !! You must !! “ , she weeped desperately into the phone .
She took the next flight to India .
* Doorbell rings *


To everybody’s astonishment , with all that pain and weathering self , Bubble was at the door to greet her , wagging his frail tail and collapsed on her lap .

Their home broke down . It has never been the same ever since . He was an integral part of their lives , a part of their family . It’s funny how you rescue a being from pain only to count the number of times he’s rescued you from your hearaches .

9 years later today , little Sowmya has magnanimously evolved into a Superwoman with her life pledged to the well-being of animals , being the essential voice of those beings who don’t have a voice of their own . She dreams of having an animal rescue home and shelter one day and is working hard towards achieving that little peace for her own good and for the world .

Whoever said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend , obviously never had a dog . Never had Sowmya’s little guardian angel . Never had her Bubble Jaan 🙂 !!

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Ja , is it possible that sometimes you fall in love momentarily with someone out of a bustling nowhere and you two find yourself bound by a euphoric nexus ?! “
He was lost in thought . Zoned out entirely . I knew he was serious and I sure as heavens knew he wasn’t referring to me .
“Woah !! Of course Ru . Remember this painfully short love story of this hot guy and I , the one who crashed his car into the auto I was in ?! “ , I giggled ..
He was still lost in thought . I got really curious :/ .
“Hey wait a second . This is you. And such is a rarity . Another woman actually managed to catch your attention ?! Aphrodite eh ?!

Uhmmm.. Well, it wasn’t a woman !! “

THEN ?! “

It was a puppy !! “

It was like the umpteenth love spell that has been cast upon me . We will be soon moving into our own pillow fortress where we plan on doing weird things and discussing weird stuff that are all very important to us 😀 ( YAY )

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AND WE ARE ALSO GETTING A DOG !!!!


I hope . I mean, he promised :/ . He better keep this one ! But I think he’s secretly worried whether it’l splinter me a zillion if at all something were to happen to my puppy . But then again , what’s life about if we’re all too careful like that yeah ?!
I want a dog in my home. Another one apart from Rushil 🙂 !!
I need to be kibbled , it’s a kiss and a nibble together ; it’s what only dogs shall offer you , it’s unadulterated love personified , it’s years of my childhood , it’s a pot pourri of memories , it’s puppy drool war , it’s puppy poop tales , it’s tangible happiness , its everything I’m looking forward to right now .( apart from chopping off my uber long ultra boring curly hair )

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SECRETS :

* Tussar silk sarees like these , or any for that matter that are just billowing plain colour-show demands a quirky blouse if you’re up for it and young at heart . If you want your elegance to outdo the crazy you are , stick to the same colour in silk and get a full sleeve blouse . You will look like you gave life to all those silkworms that went into making your beautiful tussar silk saree . Amazeballs guaranteed !!

* NEVER WEAR THE OBVIOUS BLOUSE. I hope y’all remember that one !!

* I picked a sequin blouse but NEVER wear just the sequin blouse . It makes you look tacky and very much like a disco ball . Lest of course you’re wearing the blouse to a club . That would be crazy . Must send me pictures .
I used a threadworked net over the sequins to set a complimentary contrast and also subdue the bling so that it doesn’t take all eyes off the saree .


* When going contrast , I like keeping it minimal . That explains the lack of sleeves . But that’s just me . My mother likes playing with the contrast factor so she goes all three-fourths with them and MY ! They look gorge max !!


* I flicked ruby earrings of Amma’s well in advance. Make sure you’re sly and smart like that .

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* Titan Raaga watches are a saree’s best friend . My priced possession is from the garden of Eden collection and I wear it with almost any saree or indian attire . Looking at the time has never been this dainty !


* Maybelline’s Buff is THE BEST creme pink lipstick I’ve ever come across till date . Though the new variations bleed too much , the one I have is a keeper .

* About the tresses ,sing with me everybody ,  “I whip my hair back and forth I whip my hair back and forth” !!

* If you have nails , paint them fancy . If you don’t , keep biting them when u do !!


SHOOT DAY FROLIC :

Say “Bow” to my main ladies , Chelsea and Julie . They’re relatively new friends of mine though Rony is my age old friend . They’re his life bits . It’s so cute how they’re both so different . Chelsea is a nuclear reactor on four legs and Julie is just so Zen about everything in her life . Like human beings almost .How we say we’re all unique . Dog beings are no different . In fact an average dog is a better person than the average person . And the more people I meet , the more I love dogs !!
Arjun( loser ) helped me with the saree of couse . He gets the pleats better than me . I often wonder why !!
Jameer , my prodigal man , IS COLOSSALLY SCARED OF DOGS !! Hahahaa … You should’ve seen his face when Chelsea ran to him to bark a thankyou for all the shots . But he has outdone himself yet again and served just the right kind of justice to Puppy Pink !!


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Ja wants a St.Bernard 😀 !! “
“ You have me ! Pick something else ?! “
“A husky !! A husky !! I’m going to name him Snow . He will have Arjun’s eyes too . OH MY GOD . He’s going to be such a hero 😀 !! “
“In India ? Really ?! Why torture them Ja ?! You do know even the genetically modified ones have a tough time . “


Bah . I hate it when he’s always right about things .


“How about a shih tzu ?! 😀 “ , I leaped . This had to be it !!
“A WHAAAAAAA ?!
I don’t want any shit in the family “


YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW ANNOYED I GOT -_-

I want a Lion cub !! “ , I clenched my teeth .
There was a minute long silence !!
“FUCK :O !! I KNOW YOU’RE SERIOUS !! “

ISIS is currently torturing Turkey and I hate that . Gotta do something about it . Also , back here, as a consequence of having hyperventilating sets of parents, change of plans from Turkey to South Africa for a happening honeymoon happened recently . Hope I get myself a cub soon enough 🙂 !!

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Chao guys 😀 .

Pray for my boyfriend 😛 !!

KthnxBye !