Sunday, 10 June 2018



I’ve always been fascinated with learning about other cultures- two years ago when  Ricky Martin’s La Mordita song was a constant on my playlist, I was being influenced by everything Latin American- including binge watching Narcos, Jane the Virgin, picking up a few Spanish words, and falling in love with Mexican food, their music, dance and carefree attitude. So it was a natural decision when I wanted to work on my health and do something fun whilst at it- I decided to enrol for Salsa classes. Tried persuading my hubby to join the same with no avail and I decided to do it alone.
It’s been almost a year since I have been learning Salsa and it’s one of the best life changing decisions I made. Tell you  why


I’m so at ease
  • talking to 1000’s of strangers be it at workshops/support groups I facilitate or presenting at International conferences
  • dancing soloto Bollywood music in bathroom/living room /dancing with friends – no problem with any of that. But holding another guy’s (who’s not my spouse) hands and move in sync to music – BIG PROBLEM.I remember the 1st few weeks of my intro course to Salsa- whilst the instructors were on about the ‘frame’ we had to maintain- I had to work on not shaking/trembling & overcoming the feeling of wanting to run out of the room to a safe space. Add wearing pointed heels which I hated and still do(if you know me- I chose comfort over beauty every time & believe that sneakers, sandals & flip flops are mankind's best inventions) – it was another first in my life to buy heels not just to walk but trying to dance ‘gracefully’(insert rolling eyes emoticon here!!)- SO MORE BIG PROBLEMS!!! Talk about stepping out of one’s comfort zone- this was more like free falling into an abyss!
          2.   SELF CARE
For me being in the job that I’m in, and the person that I’m -I strive to be empathetic to all the stress that my clients/friends/family are facing-it takes a lot out of me emotionally and physically – I knew that I needed a space where I could be just myself- where I’m not a social worker,mental health professional,wife, sister or mother – just somebody who is trying to learn something new even though it scares the s#@*t out of her!! It’s about self care. After a year of being on this journey, it’s now my stress buster- I make time for salsa-it’s one of my self-care routines where I get to move(gracefully or not) to soulful music and in the company of adults who want nothing else from than me than to have a good time! And I have made some great friends for life there which is an added bonus given that our lifestyles weren’t conducive for socializing opportunities.

          3. INCLUSIVITY
The first thing that always makes a good first impression on me be it people, organizations or community is how ‘inclusive’ or ‘multicultural’ they are. I’m so impressed with the diverse group from all races and ethnicity that come to our dance studio. I’m also impressed with the sense of community the dance studio Soul2Sole ( fosters by having free inclusive events open to the community members throughout the summer months at the Streetsville community square. If you are passing by or accidentally see me waddling like a duck in any promotional picture or video- just ignore that and remember that I was having a great time whilst waddling and felt awesome belonging to this dance community.😊😊😊

Friday, 3 November 2017


Are you a bucket filler or a bucket dipper?

For those unfamiliar with the terms - simply put - it is the concept taught to kids at school that we all carry invisible buckets of feelings. When we use our dipper to fill another person's bucket - which may be a kind word or gesture- we set about enhancing not only the other person's sense of worth but also fill our own buckets. On the other hand, a person with an empty or half filled bucket may use the dipper to dip into some one else's bucket which maybe saying unkind, hurtful or mean things. This may not only decrease the other person's positive emotions but also diminishes ourselves.
Sounds simple to understand but how many of us pause to think or reflect about how after every interaction with another human being be it in your personal or professional space or even with members of society at large if we have filled or dipped into someone's bucket????
In my professional world, when working with caregivers of people living with dementia- we reiterate how 'emotional awareness' is a persisting asset till the end. The emphasis for caregivers is that people with dementia may forget the words that was said to them but may remember 'how they were made to feel'. And so how important it was to be mindful of every interaction they had with their loved ones with dementia, to be aware of how and what they communicated and what feelings it engendered in the person living with dementia.
So brain disease or not- it's not hard to fathom why human beings tend to latch on to feelings that arise out of either a pleasant or unpleasant interaction with others they interact with long after the incident is over.
It's fascinating how human brains are like a Velcro for negative memories and like a non stick or Teflon for positive memories.

The underlying need of every human being is to be accepted, liked or even better loved by others.

When we like the person we are interacting with, bucket filling happens effortlessly. It's when we are in disagreement with another individual that we tend to dip intentionally or unintentionally.
We need to be mindful of most (if not all)interactions we have with another person as to what are the feelings we are leaving the other person with because of what we said or did. Even 'not communicating' is a response too and we may have different reasons why we may do it - be it to establish boundaries or fiercely guard our personal space. But at times it might be a message that the other person doesn't matter much or you can take them for granted.

How long do we think we are going to  be walking on this earth? Not long- the sooner we get that, the easier it is to be more compassionate to each other. If we cannot add to someone's bucket we must be cognizant of at least not depleting their buckets. Just like a full bucket gives us strength and confidence and hope, an empty bucket saps us of our energy and undermines our will.

So, everyday we are faced with a choice- we can fill buckets or dip - an important choice that profoundly affects our outlook,our choices and relationships- so choose wisely!!!

If you can't fill -don't dip!!

Thursday, 24 August 2017


Dear Anvita

As you turn 12, I want to write about things that I've always tried to get across to you in many ways all these years.

 I realize that as you are becoming your own person, not just pretty but a 'pretty strong' young girl- being a female I see how people around you - be it friends, family or society constantly (knowingly or unknowingly) try to condition you that you are a girl/female and that you need to feel/do/talk a certain way. I have tried my best to tell you otherwise and as you are about to become a teen - here are some thoughts for you to ponder, process and practice !!

1.First and foremost- want to tell you that unlike what Indian or many cultures prefer or perpetuate- I always wanted my first born child to be a female and was delighted when I learnt about you. A girl with whom I would experience the same closeness I felt with my own mother, a girl with an independent mind and knows what she is doing, a girl who is kind and strong. So I tell you - we were ecstatic when our prayers were answered. You've been and still are a great role model for your brother and hope you continue to grow and evolve and be always beautiful from the inside!!!

2.You may not know or realize - not once in these 12 years I've asked you to do a chore or learn something because you are a female- which was a conscious effort on my part - to spare you from what I've been exposed to!! I'd 've asked or nudged you because I want you to have life skills that would enable you to survive or adapt anywhere that you would choose to be. So don't do anything because that's what girls/females are 'supposed' to do.

3.Don't follow rituals/participate in activities cos you are expected to as a female if it doesn't make sense because I'm pretty sure they are man made or woman made - a learnt behaviour which  can be easily 'un made or unlearnt'. You don't have to prove anything to anyone or anybody by doing any of it.

4.Don't let anyone tell you that you need to look/dress a certain way because you are a female.Eat,sleep or exercise right in order to be healthy not to subscribe to how society thinks you ought to be. Be free to experiment with how you dress or look as long as it adds to your confidence, is safe for your body, makes you feel good about how/who you are!!

5.Don't let anyone tell you what you do or how you do things are  unfeminine or not graceful - there's no such thing!!
Learn to cook, play soccer, drive, sew,be creative or change tires -just do whatever you want to do as long as you are experiencing fun, get joy out of it or learning something new.

6.Feel free to pursue your passion - be it to be an animation artist(like you are saying right now),teacher or an engineer or explore space - go for whatever lights up the fire in your belly. Remember the Carl Sagan video we watched. Life is short and precious, it is important to spend your life being with the right people, being in a career that excites you and doing things that is not just about earning money.

7.Develop nurturing relationships and  friendships with others (doesn't matter what language, skin colour, race or religion they come from) but rather with those who respect you, treat you right, you can learn from and be inspired-those with whom you can reciprocate all those. Never settle for less !!!

8.Call people out when others around you perpetuate gender based stereotypes particularly when you are made to be part of that stereotyping.    In all the jobs I've had so far in 5 different countries - I have noticed that the top Management staff has always been females- I'm sure they didn't subscribe to these either and just believed in themselves to get to where they are.

'Fairy tale retold' assignment
9.Remember no job is just a man's job and you should never be the 'damsel in distress' - you may have seen me climbing ladders, fixing stuff at home, think about pros and cons and make decisions as much as Daddy does- sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the circumstances. It's not about male and female roles and expectations- it's about getting things done individually or as a team!!!

I felt so proud when in grade 5 - you had a different take on Rapunzel for your 'Fairy tale retold' classroom assignment. She was not in the ivory tower but rather outside fighting off the evil people. She didn't have long hair but a short, colorful chic hairstyle you conceived for her.
You just GO GIRL -just dream and work hard -the sky or should I say 'space' is your limit!!

10.Lastly don't forget about self care because girls/females/women tend to put others needs,wants,desires ahead of theirs most of the time coupled with feeling guilty for taking care of oneself. This is a lesson I have learnt (still learning) pretty late in life but I'd rather you didn't. It is wonderful to be kind, caring and compassionate to others but be sure to be those to yourself as well!!!

As you grow,I hope to be there for you whenever and however you need me in different roles - mom,friend,counsellor,confidante,laughing companion, partner in crime for trying out new things, sharing clothes or accessories, serial hugger- just let me know!!

Lots of love,hugs,kisses and pride!

Monday, 29 May 2017


Marriage is not for everyone. It takes special talents, skills, strategies to stay married to another adult your entire life. As we are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary today, 18 years of knowing each other (feels like a lifetime)- I was reflecting on how we have made it work this far without strangling each other, keep the war and conflicts to the minimum [it's always good to dream big πŸ˜‰ ] and managed to keep the love, peace and all emotions going(in some type/form or way)!!

Some highlights that seem to work   
  1.    Marriage is not for the fainthearted- you need a sturdy and strong heart. For the multiple heartaches that might occur along the way- you need a solid one that will regrow itself not from stem cells/a donor heart but from repeated acts of kindness, loyalty and utter faith in the relationship.
  2.      Marriage is not for the short or far sighted people -it requires a special vision to look closely and etch in your memories all the little and big things that this person does that warms up your heart. Also to 'look away' or turn a blind eye to the kind of things that totally drives you up the wall or running for the hills. For eg: not putting things back to its rightful place, procrastinating certain 'to do' items, 'corner syndrome'(will not go into details to keep the peace I was referring to earlier).
  3.     Marriage is not for the hard of hearing -it requires special hearing skills to listen to what the other person is saying (or not saying), be present in the moment to hear their hopes, dreams(broken/intact), the ability to tune out all the unnecessary noise that comes from your partner(including snores!!) when they turn from human to an alien you don't recognise.
  4.       Marriage is not for the serious minded -you require a sense of humour (actually loads of it) for being able to laugh with each other, at times at each other or at the absurdity of it all. Sometimes being able to laugh away the multiple curve balls that life would keep throwing at you both or even catch them together as a team or to fling them far away into outer space(sometimes 'denial' helps too πŸ˜‰)
  5.      Marriage is not for the people with reduced spatial abilities -it requires being able to be very close, feeling connected and yet when everyday demands of life, work, technology, parenting might wedge a gap - being able to hang onto each other (even if it's just some fingers you are clutching instead of an entire hand) and resisting the tendency to push/grow away from each other. It's also having the ability to give space to the other person to be their own self, to be valued, appreciated and validated by friends, family or others, pursue their interests or hobbies - anything that will keep the sanity and peace(see how many times I have referred to the word 'peace').
  6.     Marriage is not for those who have photographic memories - people who hang onto hurts, keep looking back in time, haul heavy emotional baggage all the time and keep scratching that wound from the past. That constant looking back would not only stop you from knowing where you are going but you'd also end with a wound that won't heal!! 'Selective memories' in marriage goes a long way acting as glue to cement that bond. (Note to hubby - I hope you don't forget what I said we would do if and when we make it to the 25th anniversary!!)
  7.   Marriage is for those who have accountability or ownership  and clear boundaries- knowing what you invested or put into that relationship, being able to take responsibility for the choices we make(good or bad), and the consequences that come with everyone of those choices or actions we have made.
  8.     Marriage is for the brave and the adventurous - for those who don't maintain check lists of to do items on the relationship menu, who can seize the moment. It is also for those who don't mind going on a crazy ride, taking small steps. It is about learning to trust the journey, even if you don't understand it at all times!
  9.     Marriage or being married is a commitment, a feeling, it's an emotion-it's both about giving and taking. As someone wisely said -"give your best to each other, not your leftovers after you've given your best to everyone else in marriage"!
  10.      Marriage is the safe space, or shelter or that rock you can crawl into when the whole world is plotting against you, when your kids turn into aliens or monsters, family members, relatives or friends behave 'unfamily' like or unfriendly. 

Such useful coping strategies come in handy to overcome 'the urge to strangle' overwhelms myself :)

Saturday, 15 October 2016

                               Ohhhhhh..those STEPS!!!

All my closest family and friends know how I’ve not been very fond of driving. Might be due to the fact that I learnt driving in the last few years – I don’t feel like I have the expertise or have the finer skills that come with years of driving experience. It worked out well that hubby loves to drive & I like to be in the passenger seat soaking in the views and enjoying the music during long road trips. Learning to drive after you are an adult is difficult cos there’s so much baggage, fear and anxiety of all the things that could go catastrophically wrong.
For survival reasons,  I’ve been driving around the bare minimum like picking and dropping kids, commuting to the train station and nearby places.For example – I can drive from to the train station (A), drive to my kids schools(B), shops or libraries(C) and come back home without being petrified. Simply put I can easily do A to B to C.But I have a nervous breakdown if I have to do option 2 cos changing destinations means driving through unknown routes lanes and changing lanes means mini heart attack. And if I saw a highway sign when I was driving on smaller lanes, then it would mean a full blown panic attack and seizure!!!!
(All expert drivers – you can stop reading now cos you won’t be able to empathise with what I’m saying & might even consider it silly!!).

When that highway sign looms large, I can physically feel the panic in my stomach building up, my heart racing and I would do anything to avoid going anywhere near the highway. Its funny how in all other aspects of my life –anxiety/panic is an alien concept for myself. Be it presenting before 1000’s of strangers, making decisions in split seconds under high pressure situations or going for job interviews- I’m the epitome of calm and cool- the more stressful the challenges- the better I think & deliver or solve it- in fact I love the adrenaline that comes with such situations & I thrive on dealing with it. But when it comes to lane changing and highway driving –I’m a complete mess. Many people have been unhelpful when they say things like “You don’t know what you are missing out”(as if I don’t know how 2-3 hour commutes feel like on my way to work and back in public transit),”It’s soo easy”(easy for you but not for me),”You just need to try”(as if I haven’t already)!!!

What they didn’t understand is I’ve been conditioned to fear and be scared of driving on the roads with not just one but two unnatural road accident related deaths of my family members who died very young-it’s a baggage you cannot so easily discard- the perennial fear of either killing someone else or getting killed cos of my driving plays out like a movie in my mind every time I attempt it.
One of my dear friends who understands the source of my fear(love her for not judging me for it) was equally concerned about how much travelling in public transit reduced the time I get to spend with my family during a work day.She has been relentlessly egging me on to drive on the highway for several months. She and her husband kept working on my conditioned fear, offering support & even sat with me(bravely!!)to talk me through the panic symptoms when I got on a highway with a good dose of humor. 
Change is not easy but I knew something had to change if I wanted more work-life balance.

This picture always helps me to give perspective to change things if they are not working well for me.
I knew I was now on step 3 and just had to slowly move up the steps one at a time. Hanging on to the baggage is only limiting what could be a better situation for myself. I set myself a deadline for October when I wanted to drive on the highway to work and back. I have been torturing hubby and my kids for the past several weeks making them reluctant passengers during trial runs on weekends to my new work place work trying to gain mastery over lane changing. October 3rd was the D day and I unleashed myself from decades of painful memories, fear and anxiety by driving to work and back.Can't tell you the exhilaration I felt when I parked on that day!!!

And happy to say that it is now 2 weeks of driving to work driving on the highway and instead of a 2 hour commute through multiple buses/trains/walking – now I’m reaching home within 45 minutes. And I’m thankful and ever so grateful to my family and my close friends who have been supporting me to let me get here.
I’m ALIVE and so are others so far- LOL 

I feel like I’ve gotten so much of my life back and the feeling of being on the top step is unparalleled!! So the next time you are dreading change,check where you are on the flight of  steps and take one step at a time and if you persist without giving up you will also eventually get to the top!!!
Since I started driving in October - have clocked 18000 kms and I've been going places(even remote destinations) and have actually started enjoying driving.Never thought that day would come when I'd say it :)

Thursday, 25 August 2016


Well Anvita turned 11 day today. A few weeks ago - we found this 3 page letter on  our bed. A well thought out letter written by a soon to be 11 year old. Not surprising at all cos I love to write as did my mom,her father was a writer/poet(on my maternal side of the family we have a genetic predisposition for the arts,creative stuff and writing). Anvita often leaves love notes & essays at all places in the house(which I have a habit of preserving cos I think they are valuable & precious)😍

This particular note+ letter had her birthday wish list. We are quite a no nonsense family - we don't beat around the bush- we get straight to the point!!
My sensible,practical,fun loving daughter who loved sweatpants and shorts to wearing dresses,who preferred to play basketball/soccer to playing houses asking to colour her hair???
I was taken back by item no 1 on her list. 😱There was no way I was going to let my 10 year old (more like going on 20) daughter to make a choice that could cause damage to her lovely hair- not at least when she is still living under our roof!!

This list was followed by a letter of persuasion - a letter in which she had carefully listed out all her accomplishments throughout the year and justifying how she has earned it & persuading us to agree to her wish(es)!

On one hand - I'm thoroughly amused that she has an independent mind and is very clear on what she wants. Every year she tells us in advance how she wants to celebrate her birthday - for instance once she wanted to invite her friends,then another time it was a slumber party. Yet another year she wanted to explore an amusement park. She has been doing that since the time she could talk!! We let her make her choice and we do our best to honour it within our means.
This time around - it was hard to agree to what she wanted. She's a tween and I'm already dreading how teenage would look like if this is a sign of things to come. We had a choice - go outright & say NO to her unreasonable demand which as parents we believe is harmful for her hair and body. But it didn't feel right to crush her spirit,or quell her attempts at exploring,experimenting and expressing her individuality. In the very least I thought it merited a thorough conversation with her - a discussion on the pros and cons.Even though I couldn't completely convince her even with the help of Dr.Google - she seemed to appreciate the fact that I treated her as her own person,an individual who has the right to think,make choices and think about consequences and that her opinion is valuable too. I must admit my daughter has the makings of a lawyer and a master negotiator- at one point she almost convinced me as to how the tip of the hair are dead cells and that technically she wasn't causing any harm to herself and that in the worst case she could trim the hair in 6 months time and erase all signs of it if it turned out to be a mistake.

Somehow this bout I won and  managed to dissuade her from making that choice.
Each day I'm proud of the little person that she is turning into. But I/we need to accept that there might be many more such battles to come in our parenting journey and colouring her hair pink/brown might be the least of my worries then!!!
Here's to many more such letters and discussions and non violent fights/arguments(and parental wins??😜)

Happy 11th birthday sweetheart and hope all your assertiveness happens when you are facing the big bad world outside!!πŸ˜œπŸ‘✋🏻

                                                         Anvita and her bubble tea today🍹

Saturday, 6 August 2016

                                       10 BENEFITS TO HAVING KIDS

Given the way our lives are fast forwarding in this fast digital age at break neck speed - many young couples are rethinking having kids or postponing having them- I have some thoughts for you to mull over!!

In spite of what everyone warns you about that your life is complete (or finished) when you have kids - it’s not all that bad. Even though there might be some(or several) occasions that even if for  a few hours you might’ve (atleast I have many times)felt like pawning them off to your neighbors or others - for the most part-  it is an enlightening experience about who you are as a person,your fears,your anxieties,your baggage and how you lead them to be a better version of yourselves. 

Having a kid or two means you are declaring to the world that you are not completely invested in yourselves and that you are able to put the needs of another person who is smaller,younger and more vulnerable than yourself above that of your own.

Really there are real advantages to having kids-I 'kid' you not ;)

The following are insights culled from my own experience as a parent - some of which might be eye openers for you and make you think about parenting in a new light altogether(eye roll!!)

  1. Kids are good couriers- they will fetch you stuff that you have kept in the top floors or other rooms that you are too lazy to get it yourselves
  2. Kids are good detectives - they know the junk that you ‘ve bought and remember where exactly you stored(read:hidden) them
  3. Kids are  good substitute for alarms- they would know exactly how and when to wake you on the weekend when you are trying to sleep for a little longer.A caveat -their alarm capabilities seem to decline,diminish or disappear altogether during weekdays and it's not easy waking up a child to get ready for school!!
  4. Having 2 kids instead of 1 gives you the opportunity to play multiple roles of Judge,match referee,bouncer and dispenser of justice more often than you like!
  5. Having kids teaches you to hone your multitasking skills and take it to a different level altogether like for instance when making phone calls and cooking and keeping an eye on the fight that is brewing between your kids before it gets bloody or violent.
  6. Having kids elevates your negotiating and bargaining skills to an all time high cos they will not take ‘No’ for an answer that easily.
  7. Having kids makes you wary of the words ‘WHY’ CAN’T I?’ cos of the number of times that word would crop up in your entire span of parenting career.So that in turn would lead to you improve your conversation skills by anticipating ‘trap questions’ and be prepared ahead of time with comebacks!
  8. Having kids creates in you a new found respect for your parents who have done it so many more times than yourselves(in my case 7 cos my parents had 7 of us!!! -I often wonder how they stayed married or none of us ended up in prison or an asylum)
  9. Kids make you realize that size is of no consequence and in fact size doesn’t matter at all when it comes to getting things accomplished(?their way).They have inbuilt radars for detecting vulnerabilities and moments of weaknesses in parents or other adults.
  10. Kids are good witnesses for fights that you have with your spouse-they come in handy during the trial and prosecution!

I hope that this list is fast tracking you on your way to making babies sooner than later !!! LOL!