Monday, May 31, 2021

So today when they read, I write...

nternational Book Day was celebrated in April, and I had lazily sent out a picture of my novel "Kismet" on social media urging people why they should read it. However, what fascinated me that entire week, was endeavours by my two. Both my kids are avid readers and recently they left me stunned with the new books they picked up and finished reading.

My older one barely 17, reads political science and "Durbar" by Tavleen Singh. She did not leave any moment to strike a conversation with me or her dad, to discuss the contents of the book. Until last week, we discussed "The Emergency”, the political leaders, and a lot of why's and what's. 

And the younger one, barely 7 graduated into picking up the "Blue Umbrella" by Ruskin Bond, a book that fascinates me all time. While the older one is a very observant reader, the younger one turns into a quiz book to me after his read. "Amma why, Amma how, but why" and so on, we go on.

    Today, struck in the lockdown, that is with restrictions on travel, my kids reminisce about their last vacation in India 2 years ago. When they would head to the local library (Nehru Library Manipal) on a rainy afternoon, seated in the auto-rickshaw with their grandfather, and their grinning faces sticking out of the window. While both jump like bunnies rejoicing Amar Chitra Katha books and admiring the shelving style, my father would walk hands tied at his back, around in the library, talk to the staff and then wait at a table resting his chin with elbow support. 

 Now, my kids discuss the geography, history of India with their grandfather on video calls. Also, my pesky little one screams how his granny has not heard of Percy Jackson or harry potter or even Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There is a special chord in the bonding with grandparents and children when they discuss books. This took me back to a time, and I remember discussing books with my grandfather. He had held my hand and taken me to the government-run library in the town. The town that resembled a village more in my formative years. I had myself gone to a school that barely qualified as an English medium school. Most spoke in their mother tongue. English was in the process of being explored. I distinctly remember running my index over the medium-sized letters of the "Nancy Drews" at one point in time and read word by word. Today, when I discuss this with my childhood friend Meera, we recollect, being the town brought up, we missed upon many of the opportunities that our friends were exposed to as "city brought ups". Nevertheless, we were secluded and content in our world then and are now still happy with our progress.

Today when I read my children write their schoolwork, the language they use leaves me super emotionally elated. I still run fingers on them and tell myself “Mission accomplished". Because, unlike the old custom, I am not going to live my unfulfilled dreams through them and trash it on them. But, having utilized every minute to provide them with the opportunities to learn and grow, that I probably missed upon, I feel accomplished.

    There is no app to replace the lap. I feel proud, of the hours I have spent reading for them and tricking them into reading books. My pride just multiplies when they use good vocabulary in their conversations. It is a pleasure to always find a couple of books by their bedside which is sometimes the Kindle too. 

Paulo Coelho in his book "By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept" tells us why we should let the child inside us live actively. And, I see the child in me when I read with my children.

So, today when my children read I write...




Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Badalthe Rishthey

The past year left us sulking in the lockdown. And as for we NRI's, it has been a double nightmare, not being able to travel to India, especially for us from the Middle East who take frequent trips to India. We sing in chorus now  ___ "Pal pal dil ke paas, tum rehte ho". I had bloated philosophically while my friends reminded me to write my satire or humour as I did some time back, before COVID-19.

The lockdown has although stopped me from traveling to India and wail but given me brighter opportunities to claw upon and crib. We have bid goodbye to the "bayi" and (cleaner) boy, and have conferred upon ourselves awards, running "Swach ghar abhiyaan". Men are only grumbling as they run dishwashers. But my grievances in the pandemic are severe. I have lost all my property rights now. My 7-year-old has seized my coveted study. The table is decorated with flying worksheets. "My" laptop is loaded with zoom links that say "Ms. Aofie English class", "Ms. Reynolds Music class". The lovely mornings that I romanced with my thoughts and scribbled random in my blog or my archives, are now "Woh bhooli daasthan". Now, I print and upload his homework.  Looking at the brighter side, I have learned basic Arabic from his classes and also enjoyed Ms. Reynold's music lessons. All I share with this room now is the -- "Kabhi khushi kabhi gham" relationship.  

I can not travel often to these two rooms from where the voices of different teachers resonate. Another room has turned into a branch of Birla Public Indian School, Class 12. My older one's. Well-dressed teachers in suits and sarees teach Psychology and Economics. I dare not enter the room. I fear a Zoom bomb dropped on me "Yes, you, answer this question". My school time and exam time dreams still haunt me. Sometimes, when the head of the family turns my only bedroom into his workplace, is when I feel doomed. The living room couch is ouch, in denial upon my entry.  The kitchen hates me after my new arguable relationship status with the men in red Tee who come on their bikes delivering food at any time of the day or night. 

But, the solo traveler inside me stubbornly doesn't give up. And, I take additional trips to the garbage chute rooms in our apartment to dispose of trash and claim good hygiene maintained in my house. Who knew, the trash chute room is now the new kitty (which I dread). Ladies from neighbouring flats join me in discussing woes. We care to leave the place when men walk in to do away with trash and throw astonished looks at us. With this fear, I then take a long journey to the Lulu Supermarket. Romancing with the vegetables, pulses, soaps, and shampoos on offers. Walking past the cold dairy section, I fantasize about my Georgia visit which just got cancelled during the first lockdown. 

New life. New routines. But in 2021, today, for the first time I am upfront here-- "looks like I am fine here in Doha. Not traveling to India sooner". Many more are connecting to it too. NO! Not because of the mutating virus but because of the mutating hatred in India. Let those waves calm down and perish. The same me, that cribbed every year, for not staying a little more in India in spite of generously contributing to the Air India Express 3-4 tickets a year, for the first time in 15 years, is not the same this year. 

So much hatred in people. The media is misbehaving like a spoilt brat. Why is the attitude towards the true COVID warriors so insensitive in India? We have memes portraying the doctors and police as heroes, "true warriors, we love you". But the same social media floods with videos with hate and abuse to police. A friend who is a doctor writes about people being negligent with their health, people taking beds in panic and not in an emergency, people scaring others unnecessarily. He pleads in public to support the doctors. Another friend says his old father who is a doctor is tired of educating people to get the PCR test done, but when things deteriorate these are the folks that blame the doctors, blame the government. And then forward cartoons with flying peacocks and disrespectful and insensitive images of authoritative Government officials.  If we chuckle at them, we are at fault. Yes, we are. One day the virus will leave. The one in the air. But our minds that are conditioned with poison have no vaccine made by health care! When Albert Einstein said "The difference between stupidity and genius is that the latter has limits"; he was hell right. 

I am another ordinary person. Not the "Aam Admi" though! If you know what I mean. I contribute to the economy. I exercise a vote. I care for the "real people in need". I do my bit. So I have the right to crib. Crib about why! 

The Virus has turned the lover boy Dev from the movie Dhadkan, "Mein tumhe bhool javu yeh ho nahi saktha, aur tum mujhe bhool javo, yeh mein hone nahi doonga".
That is because we have conceptualized the "Hum saath saath hain" far too seriously. We are ordered by our government and health care officials to follow "isolation" but we have only glorified - "Pass woh aane lage zara zara". Little by little, we have loosened our fears. And ventured out enough in public. We do not wear masks and blame 2020 and 2021 that give us bad times. 

Yes, no doubts, we will not remain masked forever. But for now, we must! There is no escape from the COVID unless we heap up sanitizers and glue our worthy selves indoors. 

When priorities have dwindled and flawed, we are responsible. Change is certain. And I am simply praying for the change. Sooner the better.

This Badalthey Rishtey is so surreal!

And what can I say?. We are like this only.💓

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Food for thought from the Heron Act

This is what happened in the deeper seaside of Doha. A flock of Herons about 50 of them in different shades of white and grey that swooped down the deep seaside and settled in a cozy “area”. There was no doubt they found their food there and soon most picked fishes with their long beaks that represented something like those of spoonbills. One of them picked a fish, came down to a smaller Heron, and fed it, beak to beak.

It was difficult to understand this act until this Heron repeatedly fed the smaller birds around. The bigger Heron looked strong enough. It swooped up and down around, stretched, and even retracted its neck. These birds possess the ability to retract their already long necks, in the sunlight of mid-morning after stretching it to fish out more food from the waters.  

After a 15 minutes exercise, they soared up gradually in the sky. The ascent of a few of them simply triggered the rest to follow or assumably most had their fill of the fishes. This is no doubt a habitual behavior, but, what is important is the lesson from the "Heron Act" of feeding other herons.

Do we see a striking resemblance to humans and them? Mildly yes.  All we do in life is for food and shelter. There is a popular Carnatic composition (in kannada - Ellaru maduvudu hottegagi, genu battegagi) by “Kanakadasa” who lived in 1500-1600 that translates to, “whatever we do is for our survival/food/shelter”.

Agree and disagree. We have the ability to stretch our reach further from necessities to luxury, from content to a little more and a little more. Now, talking specifically about food,  in the process do we waste food? Pretty much. Do we reach out best possible to someone needy around us? Sometimes? We are like this only!

Here is a lesson to learn from the Heron act. That is to remember to feed the weaker. When you are content, when you know you are stronger, shoulder responsibility to feed the weaker around you. Talking specifically about food, we are desperately helpless about how not to waste food. One of the conscious acts we could indulge in is to share it with someone around us who would appreciate that extra morsel.

It takes a little extra effort to curb any inhibitions, pack that extra food, and reach out to someone who will appreciate and accept it. The trash bins are not for leftover food. We are superior humans. We definitely indulge in charitable acts. But, to take care of that morsel which might be appreciated by someone else, takes a little thought, probably triggered by the Heron act. 



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Relation that needs no filtrations

 And this is about the incident in the fuel station. The driver lowered the car window and ordered a full tank. The old man in coveralls licked his finger, pulled out a slip of paper, reached the fuel tank, and also fixed his meter while stealing glances at the driver and the car. 

Jogging back to the car's open window, he murmured "glass clean ?" with appropriate gestures. The driver nodded with a smile that was not evident behind the mask. Now the driver switched quick glances between the smartphone and the short stout old man cleaning the windshield with a bright yellow sponge.  "Why was the old man stealing looks at me?". So thought the driver.

Now! The old man walked up to the window again and saluted.

"How are you?" he asked in full confidence. After a few seconds, rescuing the driver off the bolt from the blue, he said " you often came to this place a few years ago!" Another surprise. It was eight long years ago. The driver has changed their looks. The car had changed. How did the old man conclude this revelation? Fluke? No.  It was from the song the driver was playing in the car. It had never ever changed in those years, nor now! And also the act of pulling out some currency from that brown wallet as he cleaned the windshield.

The duo laughed and talked. About each other's well-being, the cityscape that changed, and the weather. Finally, the driver pulled off after tipping the old man as usual. And with the old man showing both his palm and nodding in complete soulful wishes to the driver.

While we most often meet different people, only a few stay in our lives. Some stay in our memories, some in our feelings, and some on social media. For the same reason as being the intelligent species, humans showcase expertise in rushing relations into complexity. We can't live simple. We can't think simple. because we are over-ambitious and begin to expect from relations, people or from our life! Most relations never get simpler. They only complicate and turn into the beautiful maze called life that we live in. And at one time, we turn to declutter our lives and minds off the negativity, from the hazards of our complex relation in life. Positivity becomes a quest.

Here, the duo has not known anything about each other. Yet displayed so much affection upon meeting. Wished each other and laughed together that left them contented and smiling profusely for the rest of the day. A relation that needed no filtration.

Most often such unlabelled relations bring about so much unknown joy in life. Of attaining some deep innate happiness. They are free of all commitments, expectations, or even any obligations. Most of us will connect to this. And will know why we humans can say "we are like this only".




#MyMuseToday  #WeAreLikeThisOnly

Sunday, March 21, 2021

What is right and what is wrong?

It is about a grubby bearded man. He entered the supermarket with dark shades hanging loosely on his already loosely hung curly hair which half-covered his ears. The grey Tee fitted him badly and the jogger pants screamed out declaring a bad fit. But appearances can deceive.

He then picked only a small packet of bananas and rushed to the billing counter. He had to fall in a queue there. He yelled at the security in-charge. His argument on why he should fall behind someone in the queue while he had only one vegetable bag and someone had a basket full. Well, the security man calmly explained some rules to this man in vain. While most around scoffed and squinted and beat foreheads he smiled profusely and continued with his neatly designed argument.

 And soon enough walked a lady with another packet of fruits. The man now turned his attention to her and argued with the security, she was pregnant, and she must not stand in the queue. So, be it. He got his way for the pregnant woman but waited for his turn in the queue. Few people around were petrified with his decibels and gestures.

He was loud, not rude. He was challenging, not quarreling. He had a point. Very much valid. Diplomatic relations in a supermarket.  Was he wrong? Was he right? Either he was both or he was right.

We are like this only!!  Rules stay as long as we are benefitted, else we debate. Should someone not have made way for him, breaking the stereotypes? What if he was not a “woman” crying out empathy? Why did not the pregnant woman help him in turn? Life is made up of such circumstances. Every day we encounter some situation where we seem right and wrong both! It is difficult to please everyone. It is also impossible to sometimes not break rules but also nice to break rules. This is life.

The grey shirt man challenged a rule. He was not selfish. And most times, we are not wrong yet not right or vice-versa and we remain inconclusive.  While rules are made for life, life is not a rule. We rule our lives. But what can we do about this diplomacy! We are like this only!



#MyMuseToday #WeAreLikeThisOnly

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

What do you do when life gives you lemonade?

Hi Friends,

I have been blogging here for nearly a decade. Recently, I published my first fiction work in the form of a novel. While, I remember all those who have been my best critics, and send out my gratitude to them, I distinctly share one anecdote. What do you do when life gives you lemonade? The answer is provided by a great poet, celebrity lyricist, and author, and a humble person.

Picture taken with Shri Jayanth Kaikini

January 2021 began with a head start with the release of my debut novel Kismet. No doubt, I have put in my toiled efforts. Finding my way out of a new maze, as a beginner, was never easy. It is more of an amalgamated attitude than an achievement. 

Here, I must mention the person whom I met when I was midway through accomplishing my novel. When he was at my residence in Doha, having brunch with my family, I was running a marathon. After my return, he talked about my interests, and his words filled up voids in my strong will. As he signed two of his books and gifted me, laughingly said next time you will be signing your book and gifting me! He is himself an award-winning writer, lyricist, and poet. Shri  Jayanth Kaikini. Worth mentioning here is his down to earth nature and subtle humour in simple conversations.

Those who did not hear about him can simply google him. That evening, addressing the Karnataka Diaspora in Doha, he said these words: "Felicitation is something I run away from. But when it comes my way, I take them as my cheerleaders. When Sushma ran her marathon and reached home with a medal, she must have met with many cheerleaders cheering up during the race, or also offering water or lemon juice. But she can not stop there, smiling and thanking them. She has to simply run faster to reach her finishing line. So, is our life. We meet with many people who may criticize us, or felicitate us or appreciate our work. This should simply motivate us to move further faster".

Today, after the successful release of the book, I am in receipt of many wishes, enquiries, and messages from friends, acquaintances, and even unknown people. And also few snubs, and accurately blunt critics. I take all of them with gratitude. All these have only challenged me. "They heal you," says my Reiki healing partner Pratibha too, to me.

One of the wishes that came was humorous too. One new reader, wrote to me saying he could only pronounce my name as in Kamla Harris.  This left me smiling away. 

Overall, I am delighted to feel that success to me, at this juncture, is nothing but the best wishes and love poured by people around me. It is my lemonade and all of you being my cheerleaders.

The definition of success depends on us. The sky is the limit. But it all begins on this earth where people have showered empathy on me and that makes a big difference. In the making of our kismet!

Sending loads of love to all people who mean :)



Friday, January 22, 2021

Forward The Message If It Spreads Love

Good Morning friends,

While we all want to wake up to a nice morning, sometimes it is just the opposite that happens. I too woke up one morning to horrid news. But soon, had to drag my mind out of the agony and stretch back to the routine and normal. And you never know, what may cheer you up! It could actually be those Good Morning messages on the green app that we most often read out very casually!

Most of us wake up winking to the green app and sometimes find positive good morning messages. I too wake up to a few like that, though I am not the person that will forward any of them.  Sometimes, I do not view all of them. As for me, the moment I click to open the app in the morning, messages pop out like random things from my handbag. Stuff simply shower, surprising me. And I am left rubbing index finger on the screen, deciding which ones to read first, or simply sort in in order!

But, there are two people. I read their good morning message. One is my mother who sends pictures of her floral garden. Another is my neighbor in Mangalore. Let's call her Auntie X. Our bonding is unique. She has grandchildren, but we are best friends despite our age difference. We can laugh and cry together.

And, I simply do not miss her good morning message. Many a time, the messages touch up exactly on what I need. It is just a casual affair yet effective to the core.

Few days ago, I woke up to this horrid news. My friend lost his brother to corona, after fighting for 45 days. This left me lost and sluggish the entire day. Earlier, if I heard such news in the media, the heartache was different. This time the strike was different. A dear friend! Simply thinking about them exhausted all my positive energy. 

But as is the norm, was there a solution to this Covid fear? We have to live with it and go with it. And I realized, I had missed Auntie X's message. Grabbing my phone, looking for it, and found this one today. So apt. The Foundation of life is love. And if love and positivity could simply erase all negativity in this world. This world is a place where money and power speak. So, why not spread little love ourselves. Why not forward this message, by saying good morning to everybody. 

You never know, it might actually lift someone's spirits one day.

It will, definitely will. So, forward that message.



Thursday, January 21, 2021

Have You Got Kismet in your To Read Book List?

“Life presents many choices, the choices we make determine our future.” – Catherine Pulsifer

True to this quote, life presents us with several opportunities, choices, chances, and several important decisions to make at varied stages. Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. But what happens when a decision you make takes the wrong turn? Or if a few choices take you through serendipity after all? That is the story of siblings Akash and Deepa. And this is my debut book. Kismet or Destiny in Arabic.

Kismet Buy Now

Don’t we all often make life’s choices considering the interest of our dear ones and our family? What if life’s incidents reverse, overweigh joys, and throw disappointments at you?

We attempt and bounce back in life optimistically, don’t we? Or sometimes, these incidents themselves turn into serendipity.

Set across India(Mangalore) and the Middle East (Qatar) with a narrative that traverses from early 2000 to the current times Kismet is a multitude of experiences in life by Akash, the protagonist.

Akash Shetty loves his family dearly and lives up to their expectations and happiness. Why did his sibling devastate his family? What was the impact it had Akash’s life choices?

Akash lands in Qatar for a short term. What incident leaves him emotionally devastated, and how can he turn it into serendipity?

As a story of love, hate, culture, philosophy, and humanity, the book challenges one’s perceptions of life. Akash and Deepa's anecdotes can make your cry, laugh and ponder! There lives an Akash within many of us, who reminds us that Kismet or Destiny can be turned into a stroke of serendipity.

By opening a window into the life of Akash, the book takes you on a journey to self-discovery and self-actualization. As Akash’s outlook towards life alters, the book vows to create a lasting impact in the mind of the reader.

Kismet is now available on Amazon, Flipkart and the Notion Press online store

Grab your copy now! Leave your review  :)


Sushma Harish

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Have you taken that step ahead?

January 12th is the National Youth Day in India. As well as Swami Vivekananda Jayanthi. Not to forget he was the key figure in introducing the Indian philosophies, yoga to the western world.

He taught complex philosophies of life in simple words.

On this day, sharing with you all the birth of the story of Akash. The protagonist of my story kismet (destiny), my first novel. A youth, tenderfoot's journey through serendipity is what it is all about. What steps Akash takes in his life and how the stories connected have a profound influence on our futuristic society.

The book has been launched. Whether I call it a success or just an outcome of several failures, I simply call it a part of my journey. For, I shall not stop writing or blogging. Yes, however, now I carry the responsibility of writing that can have a positive influence on the people who read me.

The entire journey has seen storms enormous. Needless to say, the first-timer has to go through struggles. So I did. Not to go through all those details (as of now), finally I found my way. Being an NRI and residing in Qatar, publishing in India is the challenge I have accepted and executed. 

Now, here in Qatar, my folks have poured in questions on me. What was that driving force for you to author a fiction novel from Qatar! The answer was simple. This was my childhood dream, which I cornered calling it silly. It was only my granddad with whom I had revealed and he had simply told me to chase my dreams. Do what you wish to! Today he is surely smiling from the heavens because I finally fueled my dreams and achieved them with the love from my entire family, husband, children parents, siblings, and my friend Anupama Rao, standing beside me.

Last week, as I stood holding my book during the launch event, the media person told me "you are inspiring". I said I have just taken another step ahead. And that has made the difference. 

Have you all taken that step ahead?  Do you feel you cant? Do you feel silly? Do you feel it is not important to chase your dreams? Whatever is your field, whatever is your open eyes dream, live it.

Let me tell you, feeling accomplished leaves you satisfied and successful. When you are happy, you keep people around you happy. I must say, If you have not yet taken that extra step, do it now.

If you want to be successful do not read success stories. It will only give you a message.

Read stories of failure. You will get more ideas towards success - Told Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam 

And so, I keep reading my own failures and pushing myself for more. Like Swami Vivekananda preached and practiced, we are the creators of our Kismet!

- Sushma