A Festival of Minds

Day: 20 March 2019

Time: 2:15 pm

Place: Bhakti park, Wadala, Mumbai

I am taking a taxi with my daughter Diaa, age 6 years and little sister Prerna, age 30 years to The Seventh Sense movement centre, near chowpatty beach. We are headed that way to attend a paint play session by Prerna Bagaria’s Mann Mela. What I am really looking forward to is watching the two angels of my life in action. The elder one, how does she tackle a gang of kids aged 3-6 for 2 hours. The younger one, how does she react to the totally new world of umpteen possibilities which I am introducing her to today.

Time: 4:00 pm

Venue: The seventh sense movement centre

When she entered the venue, after climbing the flight of stairs, three floors to be precise, she was welcomed by serenity, peace, and calmness. The fresh cool breeze made her forget her breathlessness and my daughter seemed to embrace it with her small open arms. First impressions last long!! She was already eager to begin her journey with paints. Unable to contain her excitement, prerna allowed her to help in the pre session preparations. Removing the covers from the canvas boards, assembling the easels, putting the aprons in place for kids to pick, sticking the big mat in place, and other simple ways to take the load off her dear masi.

Soon, the other kids arrive and the journey starts or rather unfolds, bit by bit, stroke by stroke, paint by paint. What I witness for the next 2 hours just doesn’t cease to amaze me even for a second. Armed with a brush, armoured in aprons to protect against unwarned splashes of paint, they start of with a simple session of pencil and paper, move on to paints on canvas, then different paints and so on. The sessions just flow from one to another without the kids realising that they have actually been introduced to so many things. The start of each session makes them more excited and by the end of it, they are hungry for more stimulation, more innovation, more expression and more curiousity.

Then comes the climax, the finale. The young paint warriors set out to conquer the world of their imagination. The canvas is now not limited to their easels, the walls are thrown open to them. The paint brushes are not the only weapons, take your pick from a wide variety of tools or bare hands will do the trick. The aprons are flunged in the air. They are fearless, unstoppable, ready to take the bull by the horn. Next, You see a blob here and a splash there, a stain above and a mark below, a print to the left and a sketch to the right, a drip here and a spray there, and lo and behold!!! The plain boring white wall is transformed into a storyboard. There are stories of

joy,(look at my handprint!!),

happiness( I made a circle!!),

excitement( can I paint anywhere on this wall!!),

Generosity( you share your tool with me and I will share my paint with you),

Boredom ( I have tried everything, now what do I do)

curiosity( what if I dip this tool in this colour and make a splash!!),

Possession (this is my part of the wall!),

revenge( you spoiled mine, I will spoil yours!!),

Friendship( hey look, our colours got mixed to make a new one!!)

There are so many impressions for us to interpret. If only we adults could understand it and if only we were equipped with the sensibility to interpret it. Life is a canvas, if only we let the children paint it the way they want. They want to break barriers, if only we don’t mould them into set shapes. They want to think out of the box, if only we don’t restrict them in boundaries. They want to soar the sky, if only we don’t clip their wings!!!

If any of you wish to initiate the change, then do like the Facebook page of MannMela on the link shared below and subscribe to get notified about upcoming events and camps.

More power to you Mann Mela and Prerna Bagaria.



School days

Dear children

I write this today, not as a girl, a mother or an elder. I write this as an ex student. Today I want to share with you my school experience and hope to strike a chord with all who read it.

My school’s name is Trinity English School in Ahmedabad. It was a very small school with just one class for each std. Because of it’s limited student strength, we all were very closely knit into the threads of friendship. The teachers knew us all inside out and it was very difficult to get away with any mischief.

There was a huge badam tree in my school compound. One day a few friends and myself were hitting stones at the tree to make the badams fall and one of us missed and the huge stone hit the glass window of my principal’s cabin. She was a very strict lady, petite and thin in frame, but equally magnanimous in discipline and character. She was Mrs. Tanumati Christain. She looked out from the broken window and saw us all very clearly but we all ran away thinking that she won’t know who it was.

Next day, when we came to school, the glass was mended and there was a huge heap of juicy ripe red badams under the tree , all washed and cleaned, ready for us to savour. Ma’am was standing near it and all the students were asked to pick one on the way to their classroom. I was foolish enough to think that I have got away with what happened the previous day but when I approached the heap to take my share, I could see it in her eyes that I have been caught. That Stern glare was all that was needed for me to confess. I said sorry with tears welling up my eyes. She touched me gently on my back and gave me a badam. Not a word said, spoken or uttered and yet she explained it to me and all the others that carrying a guilt or a lie inside you is very burdensome. Such an important life lesson taught in such a simple way! This memory has been etched deep in my heart. It is moments like these which shape you as an individual.

Today, she is no more and my school also closed down. But even today, whenever I pass by my school or even a distant lane which leads to it, I feel elated. I want to tell you all that school life is the best phase of a human life. You are all making some of the best memories of your life here. You may not realise this right now but once you grow up and get busy with your responsibility and careers, then you will understand the value of it.

Lastly, I will give you one advice. Dont forget the watchmans and mausis who are working equally tirelessly to give you a safe and clean school. Wish them good morning or just smile whenever you cross paths with them in school. Keep in touch with the school even after you leave it. Take out sometime from your busy life to visit it. Wish your principals, teachers on Teachers day, send them emails or letters. They are treasure chests full of wisdom. You never know when you might want a gem from them.

Wish you all very happy schooling days!!

An ode to my teacher

I have memories of you galore,
Some sweet, some very sweet
Makes me smile, makes me cry
Wanting to go back in time

I may have been naughty
Prankful, extremely Mischievous sort
But I knew you would always
Appreciate my sincere effort

I may have been talkative
Disturbing the class more than self
But I knew you always heard
My silent calls for help

I may have been irregular
Incomplete in my assignments
But I completely trusted you
To regularly nurture my talents

I may not have won medals for school
Or shine in the school alumni
I may not be a cherished name
That will make you smile

I may not have been a high scorer
Or a popular child in class
I may be another name
In the list of promoted and passed

I know I am forgotten
Not leaving an impact
But I am still unique and
I will still be your part

I will never forget you
For you have left a mark
Carved deeply with your gentle ways
On my mind, heart and soul’s bark

I think of all the cards I made
Every year on this day
Thinking that mines would be the best
Out of the many that came your way

With drawings of flowers,
Butterflies, rainbows and hearts
In your favourite colours
From the end to the start

I wish I could come to you
With a similar one today
To wish you whole heartedly
A very happy teachers day.

Satyagrah Chawni, 22/538

Childhood memories are always special. It is the birthright of every child to have a happy childhood. Unfortunately its not always true for all kids. I am one of those lucky few who had a happy childhood. I feel really blessed to have experienced this. One of the most important part of any ones childhood memory is their house. The four walls, the floor and roof, doors and windows, is what forms a major chunk of the memories. Every nook and corner, every stair, every wall has a story to tell.It is a different feeling to visit your childhood house long after you stop inhabiting it. Most married girls will agree with me considering the fact that society rules ask the female in the relationship to settle in the male’s house. I had completely absorbed my maiden home before leaving it because I knew its not going to be around always. My parents had put it up for sale. Those last few minutes, just before we were leaving for bombay, for my marriage, still give me goosebumps.


I lived in a joint family in a very cosy house. I still remember the feel of the grass under my bare feet, my hair swaying in rhythm with the swaying of the swing, the badam tree, the mulberry tree, that left red stains on the parking floor when riped Badam and mulberries fell off it, the small servant cottage where I thought of building my doll house, the kitchen garden that saw many failed attempts to grow vegetables, the huge terrace where we slept under the stars in hot Summers, the kitchen where my mom cooked the most amazing delicacies for our never satisfying appetite, The drawing room and the single cane sofa right next to the tv, where we all 4 cousins fought to sit, especially to watch Jungle book and Hum Paanch, the spiral ladder which made me feel like a princess when I walked up and down on it, i can go on and on with this. But like i said, i knrw i cant hold on to it forever. When the deal came through after about 2 years of my marriage, I didn’t get the chance to say the final goodbye to it.


One day, when I was visiting my parents, they came to pick me from the station. I was sitting in the back seat, eager to see the new place bought by them. As much as I wanted to be happy for them, I was very affected when they didn’t take the obvious right turn to my old home and instead went straight ahead. The road thereon, seemed alien, unknown, strange, not my own, unlike the one I had traversed for 22 years and which was familiar. Its been 15 years since I made that right turn again. But it still feels the obvious thing to do. I did pass the house a couple of times when I visited a childhood friend who lived next door. The lane, the trees, the garden, everything seemed familiar but the house was not. The new owners have completely changed the look of the house. I used to think of showing it to my kids someday so that they know where their mom grew up but with so many changes on the exterior, I never felt the urge to enter the house. Perhaps, it would alter my vision of how I remember it. And I don’t want anything to change the way I look at my childhood house. I am happy with the blurry images that fog my mind when I think of stories which were woven in that house.


Why am I suddenly talking about my childhood house which I haven’t visited for the past 15 years? The reason is my uncle, my fathers younger brother, Mr. Narendra Bagaria, fondly called Don Chacha, with whose family we shared this beautiful house. He has recreated a model of this home of ours, in 3D, with the exact precision as it was when we lived there. Every detail has been taken care of, every door, window, staircase, everything is just how I remember it. When my cousin shared the pic of the model after it was complete, I had tears in my eyes. I could see myself in every corner of the house with my cousins. All my memories became fresh, as if life is giving me snap shots of my past memories, just like Facebook does.


Does my house miss me as much as I miss it?? Has it embraced its new owners?? I am sure it has, with the same love and warmth, as it had embraced us. There is something special about homes. They are accepting of all its residents, provided they look after it with affection, passion and child-like enthusiasm, just like our new homes accepted us when we all moved on in our lives and went our separate ways.


Thank you chachaji, for creating this masterpiece. I can now show my kids my childhood abode and relive my happy past without disturbing my perception of how I see it.

Stand to show respect


Picture this

I go to drop my 4 year old daughter to school everyday. In her school, I have to cross 4 other Classes before i reach her class of nursery. This particular day we were late. I told Diaa that today you will miss out on the National Anthem, for sure. As we neared the first class, we could hear the faint sound of the anthem being sung. It became more clear at the next two steps and immediately Diaa told me, “Mumma wait. They are singing the National Anthem. We have to stand.” I told her, “you are late for your class. Lets go, you can sing it with your classmates.” She just gestured me with a finger on her lips with one hand and the fingers of the other hand spread out asking me to stand still. We stood there waiting for it to finish. Actually, i was waiting for it to finish, glancing at my watch every 10 seconds. She was singing along, in no hurry. I noticed one teacher and two more mothers standing with us. They must also be passing the corridor and then stood still when they heard the students singing it. It lasted for only a minute and i immediately grabbed her hand to take her to her own class. As we neared the second class, we could again hear a faint sound. The moment we were in front of that class door, i realised that its now this class which is starting to sing The Anthem. We both exchanged one glance and i knew that she wants to wait here also untill they have finished. She told me, “Now this class is also singing. We must stand here also.” I obliged. This time i was also singing along with her. I also happened to notice the students. They were all singing along with the teachers in attention pose. There were a few fumbles in the pronunciation of a few words but most of them could sing without missing out on a word completely. Only a few children, maybe two or three, standing behind, away from the eagle eyes of the teacher, were staring out the door or fidgetting with something in their hand but their lips were in total sync with the rest of the class. Here also, it took us just about a minute to finish the anthem and we again started our journey to her own class. I was already prepared to wait at another class and my walking-as-if-i-am-running steps had slowed down but at the third class, they were just about to finish singing it. It ended as soon as we reached there. Diaa looked at me with a smile and said,”its over here. Come fast, i am late.” At the fourth class, the children had all settled down and were removing books from their bags as per the teachers instructions. Diaa again told me, “mumma jaldi chalo.”

Finally we reached her own class. Her teacher looked at her and exclaimed, “Diaa!! Good morning!! You are a little late!! We just finished singing the National Anthem!! You missed it dear!!”

I looked at her, we both smiled and i thought to myself, did she miss it?? Really?? Naaahh!! Infact, she sang it twice that day!!

On my way out of the school, i was recalling the entire 5-7 minutes journey that i underwent with my daughter. I was amused and smiling to myself when i recalled her image of how she asked me to stand still and quiet just using the gestures of her tiny hands. As i exited the school, two things crossed my mind. The first one was about the supreme court ruling making it mandatory for all movie theatres to play the National Anthem before the screening of every movie show and a few guidelines that came along with it. They say that it will instill a sense of patriotism in the hearts of the citizens. My experience today somehow strengthened my belief that it may prove to be helpful. Sometimes, when we do somethings repeatedly, the action and reaction to it becomes our nature. Like for example, the moment i see a temple while travelling on the roads, i instantly bow my head low, close my eyes and say a silent prayer. And i have seen many people do that because its been instilled in our minds that you need to pay respect to God anywhere you see Him. I think a similar reaction can be expected if people are made to stand in the theatres for the National Anthem. But i also feel that just this much is not enough considering the fact that not all of india goes to watch movies. We need to encourage it since childhood if we really want them to undersand that the National Anthem deserves respect wherever it is played, even if noone is watching us. So, in my opinion, making it compulsory in all schools, colleges and other educational institutions may be a better option to help achieve the desired result.

The second one was about the other three people who were standing with us at the first class. What must have made them stand?? Was it really out of respect or was it because they saw us standing and thought they should stand too or they will be seen as disrespectful or unpatriotic. Would they have stood if Diaa and me were not standing there already?? Maybe yes, maybe no. Like how it happens at a traffic signal. One motorist jumps a red light and many others follow him. Similarly, on a deserted traffic signal where everyone is violating the red light, sometimes there is this one car,bike or activa( like me ) which stops behind the line, irrespective of there being a traffic policeman or not, irrespective of the scorching heat troubling my little one and making those 110 seconds seem never ending and looking at us many others follow suit. What happened in school today could be an extension of this syndrome. Diaa made me stand in respect for the National Anthem and looking at us, three others thought of doing the same. If the supreme court ruling changes the attitude of even a handful of citizens, its quite possible that their patriotism will rub on others when put in a similar situation.

All in all, i think the supreme court is only trying to make us more expressive about our love for our country. The ruling can cause no harm, we have nothing to lose by following it even if we dont stand to gain much.

P.S. In the movie Dangal, the National Anthem is played towards the end of the movie when Geeta Phogat wins her first international gold medal and i saw everyone in the theatre stand up for it. As far as i remember, there was no instruction on the screen to do so but the scene was executed so powerfully that it invokes a sense of pride for the Tricolor and makes you want to stand in respect for it.

Let it flow when you have to

Picture this:

It’s 2:15pm. I went to pick up my 4year old daughter from school.  She was playing with her favourite hand puppets and was happy to see me. On our walk back, she playfully asked me to carry her to the activa. A menstrual back ache made me say no to her.  She requested, I denied, she insisted, I denied, she demanded, I denied. We reached the activa and it was all forgotten. The ride back was full of talks about what happened in school, whether tiffin is finished or not and the usual. In the evening, at about 6:30pm, she again remembered that she had asked me to carry her and I had refused and wanted to be carried now. I told her I will make her sit in my lap while she eats her soup but she wanted to be carried around the house and not sit in my lap. What concluded happily in the afternoon turned in to a tantrum in the evening. She was crying, howling and screaming in my ears sitting in my lap. After some time, I lost it. I screamed back at her. She just gave me a silent gaze startled by the sudden rise in my voice and again started crying. But this time, she was crying out of hurt. I could feel it in her voice. The same girl crying a few seconds ago was getting on my nerves and now the crying of the same girl was melting away my heart. I was angry with myself for not obliging such a small request by her. She only wanted to be loved and I couldn’t fulfill that.  The guilt had set in. I immediately took her in my arms and started carrying her around. All the pain and the cramps were forgotten.  She rested her head on my shoulders and hugged me tightly. The warmth in that hug said so much to me. I was shedding silent tears by now, Happy that she was not crying and guilty that I hurt her. She heard me cry and lifted her head up to confirm if she was right. She saw me crying and started crying again. This time, we were united in our sorrow. She was crying for me, I was crying for her. We both wiped each other’s cheeks and made peace. I gave her a set of crayons and a book to draw and colour. Now she went about doing her business and  I did mine.

All this happened in duration of merely 15-20 minutes. So many emoitons were experienced and so much was said silently but the one thing that was common in this emotional roller coaster was tears. We were both shedding tears. Tantrum tears, hurt tears, anger tears, guilt tears, I-love-you-you-love-me tears, lets-end-this-tears.

Tears have a sweet and salty relationship with the human heart. It is no surprise that nature has chosen this emotion to express our arrival in this beautiful world. A child’s cry is the first sound that falls on mother’s ears.  In fact the crying signifies that all is well and if the baby doesn’t cry then he/she is made to cry. From here begins a journey between the heart and eyes, connected by the watery gland. You feel happy, tears well up your eyes. You feel sad, tears moist your cheeks.  You feel victorious, accepted and successful or you feel defeated, rejected and unsuccessful, tears just show up without taking our permission. Just goes to show that they have a very strong mind of their own and will just arrive unannounced.  Even the LOL emoticon is shown having tears!!

In spite of having such a strong connection with all human emotions possible, tears or rather crying is considered a sign of weakness.  A person with a very active set of tear glands is always an easy target. But I feel otherwise.  I feel tears bind us very strongly. There’s a saying,” a family that prays together stays together.” I say,” a family that can cry together in its sorrow stays together.” What happened between my daughter and me was not the first time. It has happened before and ditto between my son and me. After each incident, we just realised that we love each other way too much to cause any amount of pain to each other. Somewhere it gave a message that your pain is my pain, your sorrow is my sorrow, and we have each other to share the downs as much as enjoy the ups. I don’t know if they understand this now but when they grow up, they will remember me as a human who had shortcomings and who also needed a shoulder to cry on just like they do. And also, I will be there for them should they need to lean on me and wet my lap.

Another aspect about crying which I like is that it really helps to vent out. Sometimes, things and situations are not in our control. They don’t go the way we want them to. It results in frustration, anger, helplessness getting built up inside. As much as you want to fight it and find a solution, you are just not able to see it right. But after you have cried your heart out, the fog seems to clear. You can see things in the correct perspective and work things out without losing your cool.

So, next time you feel like crying, don’t hold back, just let the tears flow when you have to and release the pressure.

You, from my eyes….

Hey friends!! This is my first attempt at writing fiction!! Please read it and give your valuable feedback!! I hope you like it!! Here it goes……

You, From my eyes…..

She is awfully quiet today. I can feel it. I am not near her but i know that she is deeply hurt inside. She needs someone to lean on, to talk to. I wish i could run to her but no i cant. I have caused her enough hurt. Oh god! Bring her to me so that i can ease off some of her pain.

She just woke up and left. Didnt even look at me. As if i am not there at all. We always left home together, arm in arm. How did we change so much? Where did our relationship go wrong?? We talked about everything under the sun, but now she doesnt need me anymore. Actually she needs me but has somehow forgotten that i was, i am and i will always be there for her. Ohh!! If only i was not buried under these books!!!

Its raining today!! Rains always remind her of me. I am sure when she comes home today she will miss me…

I was right. She finally came upto me. I told you that she loves me. Its just that she was too occupied in her own sorrow to be able to share it with me. The same sorrows that had seperated us, have brought us together again. We are looking at each other. We are holding each other. I can see her moist cheeks, smudged kajal and i know that she wants to pour her heart out to me. I opened my arms wide and took her every sorrow, all the hurt and pain in my embrace. Her tears didnt just wet me but my soul too. She just couldnt stop crying but i am glad she realised that i do love her. I missed her too. I was waiting for her to open up to me. I couldnt force her untill she wanted to. Now that she has shared everything with me, it will make her feel good. I am happy for her. She is sleeping soundly today, like a baby. The calm on her face after the turmoil is very reassuring. We are a couple again.

Its morning and just the way i like it to be. We had breakfast together and she spilled her coffee as usual. But this time it was on me instead of the floor. Its just a small spill. She didnt notice it otherwise would have reached for a tissue. We left for work together, arm in arm. The walk upto the bus stop was usual. She had a spring in her step. I know she is giving life a second chance. A break up is not the end of the world. Its tough to get over it but she has always been strong. I have been with her since her first crush. I know she’s been through this before and will emerge a winner again. We wont see each other till evening now. I cant wait to get home to see her.

She is seeing someone!! i havent seen her so excited about a date since so many months. Its good to see her fussing about her clothes, her hair, shoes and all that. Going by the effort she is putting in to look her best, i know she is seriuos about him. I hope she finds her soulmate in him this time. She has gone through enough heart breaks. Now i wish she has a ” and they lived happilly everafter” story with him. She has told me about him. He seems like a nice man. As much in love with her as she with him. I will meet him today for the first time.

He was late to pick her for their date. So i couldnt be introduced formally. I had a glimpse of him before she shut the door behind her. He is very handsome. They look lovely together. They walked upto the car hand in hand. I hope he opens the door for her. She likes chivalrous men, those who treat a lady with love and respect.

I think i will go to sleep. She will be late. I hope they have a good time. I am happy for her but somewhere i know she will see me less now. She will talk to me but it will be interrupted by his messages, phone calls and video chats. I will still be happy. She has found someone to share her life with and wont need a lifeless diary to speak to every night. I have been with her since she started understanding her feelings, sometimes being the mom she misses so much, sometimes the man she yearns for and sometimes the friend seven seas away but i am, after all, just a bunch of blank pages waiting to be inked with her life experiences.