Friday, August 21, 2015

Simplicity - LBC Post

Simple Simon met a pieman
Going to the fair
Said Simple Simon to the pieman
Let me taste your ware

The pieman said to Simple Simon
Show me first your penny
Said Simple Simon to the pieman
Indeed I have not any

I don't know who made up this old English rhyme, but it apparently shows a man of slow wits being put in his place when he tries to buy something without money. Oh, the harsh realities of life! My understanding of the word 'simple' was always something along the lines of  'stupid'. 'Are you simple?' is a term of abuse where I come from, often said to someone who is a bit slow on the uptake.

I've often been slow on the uptake, although I know I'm not without intelligence. I remember a woman at work being extremely bitchy towards me back in the day, in my working days in Ireland, and with my now-enhanced awareness, I realise I was beyond her bitchiness. I just didn't get when she was trying to put me down. If that makes me 'simple' I'd say it was a good thing. It saved me a lot of pain at the time.

Simple wasn't always negative. I remember a very nice, pure white soap, called 'Simple Soap', available years ago in Ireland and the UK. This was a soap for people who were allergic to the perfumes and additives which mostly appear in soap today.  The word 'simple' in this context meant something pure and good.

In India, sometimes 'Simple' is a girl's name, although I've never actually met any girl bearing that name. But in Indian English,'simple' means something very good and positive. You'd often hear people speaking approvingly of a 'sweet, simple girl', for example. Usually the girl they want to marry their son.

Simplicity is good because it's usually uncomplicated and easy to get along with.  I'm all for simplicity in every area of life.  For me, the opposite of 'simplicity' is 'complicated' and God between us and all harm (as we say in Ireland - or used to say, rather), I'm not into 'complicated' at all. Give me 'simplicity' any day. The less complications the better, as far as I'm concerned.

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) post.  The LBC is the blogging group to which I've belonged for several years.  We blog on Fridays on a common topic and we are, in no particular order, Rummuser,  AshokgaelikaaLinMaxiPadmumPravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

Thanks to artur84 at for the image, 'Water Glass'.  A very simple image indeed and perfect for my post.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Climate in my Hometown LBC Post

I am originally from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. We have a maritime climate, neither too hot nor too cold. Cool, wet winters and warm summers.  We get the odd freak weather condition, like several feet of snow, once in a while to make life interesting.  Pretty ideal really.  

Now I reside in Lucknow in north India. In the Indo-Gangetic plain.  Cold dry winters, roasting hot summers and a humid rainy season.  It seems like it's always too hot or too cold. Or too humid. Humidity is something I dread.  It brings itching, rashes and all of that.  Okay, too hot will work for me. So will too cold (although I hate dry cold, that's energy-sapping). But humidity is .......not at all good. And that's a euphemism if ever there was one,. 

I wish to dedicate this post to my beloved and erudite rakhi brother Rummuser, who suggested this topic.

And thanks to for the above illustration, 'Paper Weather Icon Illustration' by SweetCrisis.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserPravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

This and That - LBC Blog Post

My daughter, whom I personally call 'the princess', is studying history and political science nowadays.  Sometimes, when I get a spare minute, which admittedly isn't often, I look over her shoulder and have a look at her course material.

I got to proof-read one of her essays recently on an Indian patriot named Subhas Chandra Bose.  Now as someone who has been involved with or lived in India for the last thirty-odd years, I have read my share of official Indian history and could be forgiven for thinking that the Indian freedom struggle was all about Pandit Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and very few others.  

But that's wrong.  Very wrong.

Yes, I'd heard about Subhas Chandra Bose here and there, but I'd never really taken much notice of his story.  However, I looked it up yesterday and I was literally stunned.

The man was phenomenal. He dared to do what very few would ever think of doing. If he had been successful in his mission, the story of modern India would have read quite differently. The man literally sacrificed everything for his country.

I just want to say that I am an apolitical person.  I can't vote because I'm not an Indian citizen and I don't live in my own country.  Also, I don't believe in violence and I would have probably preferred Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent approach had I been an Indian living through the freedom struggle. But having said that....

Just like Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, Subhas Chandra Bose was born in a wealthy lawyer's family. He excelled in studies and passed the examinations to join the Indian Civil Service in 1920.  However, it seemed wrong to him to serve an administration to which he could not be loyal, as he felt that India should try to become independent of foreign rule. So he left and edited a newspaper which promoted the independence ideology.  He joined the Indian National Congress and worked to raise the people's awareness of the need to break free of colonial domination. He was quite the intellectual and from the little I've read, was a very lucid writer. However, first and foremost, he was a man of action. 

From the time he left the government service in 1921 until the late 1930s, he worked very hard to promote the idea of independence for India.  He also travelled to Europe and wrote some books about the Indian freedom struggle. He appears to have visited Ireland too and met Eamon De Valera, Ireland's first Taoiseach (Prime Minister).

The Second World War sees him coming into his own.  He decided that India should not support Britain during the war.  There were many who disagreed, so he walked alone in this respect, although, of course, he had his followers. It was suggested to him that he should try to go to Germany and meet the German Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, so they could co-operate with each other because of their 
common anti-British stance.

At this time, he was being watched by the administration.  He confined himself to his room, pleading illness and grew a beard. Then one night, dressed as a Pathan tribesman, he fled from Calcutta to Afghanistan. It must have taken a long time to reach Afghanistan because there's a huge amount of land to cover to get from one to the other.  From Kabul he went to Moscow, another huge journey and from Moscow to Germany where he was able to meet Adolf Hitler, who apparently received him warmly.  Bose stayed in Germany for several years and he lived with Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian woman he'd met and secretly married several years earlier, when they worked on a book together. During this time their daughter Anita was born.  Bose was well into his forties by this time.

Meanwhile, the Indians living in Asian countries had begun to get together and try to do their bit for Indian independence. Some meetings took place and it was decided to call Bose to Japan and get him to head a provisional government of free India and lead a free Indian army. How did they know where to send him the message?  It might have been known in Japan, Germany's ally, that Bose was a guest of the German government.

Bose seems to have been disillusioned with Germany.  He was a man who believed in equality regardless of caste and creed. He may have noticed the racism in the German regime. He was also horrified when Germany invaded Russia, a country he admired. Somehow, he realised that his purpose would be better achieved going to Japan.  So, he slipped away quietly in a German submarine and travelled halfway around the world, transferring to a Japanese submarine on the way and eventually ending up in Japan. He was made the leader of the Provisional Free Indian Government and he took the headship of the Indian National Army. On the north-east side of the country, Bose's INA bravely fought the British and the women soldiers drew great admiration from many for their bravery and endurance.  However, when the USA dropped the atom bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered, Bose knew that it was time to give up. He boarded a plane in Saigon and it was reported to have crashed on the island of Formosa, now Taiwan.  Bose reportedly died in the plane crash.

The end of the man's life was tragic, but what a life he lead! His story reads like a thriller in parts I mean, not every person can just get around the world, from Germany to Japan on a freaking submarine!  Sorry, two submarines! A Bengali speaking man, communicating in Germans and Japanese people - it's an awesome story by anyone's standards.

We don't hear quite as much about Subhas Chandra Bose as we do about other heroes of the Indian freedom struggle, but this man deserves to be remembered for his innovative efforts to serve his country and for his remarkable tenacity.

He hasn't been forgotten in India. His legend lives on, including an interesting story that he didn't actually die in the plane crash in Formosa, but I'm not even going to go there. That's another story entirely.

In my apolitical way, I just think the man was amazing.  That's about it! 

What does Subhas Chandra Bose have to do with this and that, the blog post topic for the LBC this week?  Nothing really. That topic was proposed by me and nothing has anything to do with it. If I'd written this post two hours before, it probably would have been about stray dogs, a favourite topic of mine.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserPravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so. 

Thanks to freedigitalphotos for the image, 'Parachutist' by Watiporn

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Women's Health Month

Did anyone who reads this blog by any chance know that May is Women's Health Month?

Indeed, some may ask, why should there be a women's health month? As in, are men and children not equally important/ Well, of course they are, but, generally speaking, the chances are, children have a mother and men have a wife or a partner to keeps an eye on their health matters. More often than not, the woman takes care of partner and kids and neglects herself.

I recently got myself analysed and discovered that I am eighteen kilos over the desired weight. This is bad news for my health. I've decided to do something about it.  From now on, I'm going to watch what I eat and drink and step up my physical activity. I plan to lose the whole 18 kilos.  I spoke to the expert at a local health centre who advised me to sign up for their programme. It involves the use of machinery and guarantees results.

The truth is, though, I already have experience of successful slimming in the past and I know what I have to do.  I just have to apply the knowledge that I have in my head and make sure that I do so.  I think that deep down, every woman knows what she has to do for the sake of her health. It's applying that knowledge that makes the difference. 

I was invited to write this post regarding Women's Health Month by an insurance company called Oscar. I'm not getting anything in exchange for writing this post, but they did supply me with a rather nice checklist of items to keep in mind regarding your health, no matter what age you are.  Besides, as a blogger, it gives me immense pleasure to help spread the word about something so worthwhile.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Synaesthesia - LBC Post

I've been absent from my blogging for a long time.  My life has been a bit crazy lately.  I'm writing a novel and I also had a lot of work going on.  Editing and writing text at home.  Between that and housework, I'm rightly shanghaied now, to misquote Sean O'Casey.  Anyone out there familiar with Sean O'Casey? Remember THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS?  I loved that play, particularly the character called Bessie Burgess.  She was the one who told the main characters "you're all rightly Shanghaied now!"

We have some new LBC members.  I have not yet welcomed them, for which I do apologize.  I'd better get back to regular blogging again and visit all my old blogging friends.  But yeah....our LBC topic this week (the LBC is the Loose Bloggers Consortium, my blogging group) is SYNAESTHESIA.  And all I have to say to that is what the..........?!...I have no idea what it means.  Curious, I went over to my brother's blog to see what the heck he's made of this topic.  You know my brother, don't you?  Ramana?  The handsome and erudite blogger from Pune??  Okay, he's my adopted brother. So what?  I like saying 'my brother".  It's something I could never say when I was younger.

Synaesthesia is something to do with feeling something in another sense.  Does that make sense?  Of course it doesn't.  Well, I am a person who is governed by my ears.  I am sensitive to what I hear.  If someone ever says something to me in the wrong tone of voice, I can't handle it.  I swear, I read words and I can hear tone and emphasis even if the author probably didn't mean it.  I was once attacked by a blogger/author in my own comment box (I later discovered she'd received some spam in her inbox with my name on it - it was a stunt by some social network to have people their site) and I felt as if I'd been kicked in the gut.  I probably hadn't, but I always 'hear' the words I read in my head.  When I read her (now deleted) words 'stop dumping your shit in my mailbox'  my own brain supplied the sound effects. It's that real.......  I had the person's name written along with the story, but I deleted it.  My purpose in sharing the story was to share a story, not to slander someone.  This person is some sort of religious leader and is revered among bloggers and I have no wish to spoil anyone's reputation.

I'm the one who'll tell you your colours are 'loud'.  If they are and if I feel like being open with you. If I don't, I'll just say nothing and probably talk about it afterwards, preferably to someone who doesn't know you, because I don't like gossip.  I only like hearing nice things.  Nice positive things, actually.  Loud colours, loud decor, loud people - from these things I like protection. The poppies in the above photograph are a bit loud, but in this case, I like it.  I am, however, a first class chatterbox who talks non-stop from morning to night.  There's always something going on in my head.  How's that for a contradiction?

Can I 'hear' pain?  Sometimes, yes.  Can I hear what people are saying to me?  If I'm listening, yes.

Did I get what synasthesia was about?  Probably not.  But that's me.........sometimes I just get it.  And sometimes, I just don't get it.......if you know what I mean!!!!!

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including Rummuser, Pravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so. 

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at

Friday, February 27, 2015

Another Mashup/Catchup - LBC Post

Things have been crazy lately.  My nephew's wedding took place and my home was turned upside down.  It was like thousands of people were walking through our house on a regular basis.  This was an Indian wedding of the extremely traditional variety.  I can't say I had too much to do with what was going on, I was more of a fascinated bystander really.  A lot of the functions in the wedding took place in our home, so there were caterers, priests, domestic workers and of course, guests.  Relatives, friends, you name it.  My head is spinning from the surrealism of it all.  I woke up one morning and there was a  priest chanting mantras in my drawing room.  He was also creating the legendary Hindu holy fire.  Certain guests were invited and all dressed up for the 'hawan' as the occasion is called.  However, as a simple Christian woman, it was all a bit beyond me.  At one stage, the holy fire, traditionally meant to purify the air, seemed to get a bit out of hand and everyone in the house was practically choking and coughing.

Then there was the evening I woke up from having an afternoon rest (I need to as I have to go to sleep late at night and wake up early in the morning) and found a crowd of people dancing in the drawing room.  The music was very loud with a driving beat.  My head nearly burst.  A cook was hired for the ten days or so the wedding went on.  If there was ever a competition for the greasiest food in the world, this geezer would win, hands down.  Heck, I think even the salad was greasy.  We ended up eating sugary mithai until it came out of our ears.  The trouble with mithai is that it goes decidedly off after a couple of days so the kids and I had our fair share of gastric problems.

The thing is, I had this type of wedding myself, twenty years ago.  The difference between this wedding and mine was that mine, in keeping with my late father-in-law's simple ideas, was shorn of all but the most necessary ceremonies.  Our marriage ceremony took place at 9 am on a Sunday morning and was over and done by 1 pm.  My mother in law served some fresh mithai (holy prasad) to the guests and everyone went home so we, the family, could have lunch together. This wedding took place in the distant city where the bride lived, and entailed a procession and an overnight wedding ceremony.  I didn't actually attend the wedding ceremony, but I couldn't, as I had three kids with examinations on Monday morning.  My youngest, who had a role to play in the festivities, along with my husband, was the only one of us who attended.  But we were joined within twenty four hours by the bride and groom and of course, there was a big reception the day after that.  So like I said, I'm just coming back to reality now.

Now to get back to my routine.  I'm going to dash through all the recent blogging topics which I've recently missed.

A Winter's Tale (January 23rd)

Last winter, Irish author Sally Clements sent me a copy of her latest romance, SNOWBOUND SUMMER.  What an intriguing title, eh?  It was, in fact, a Christmas romance, so you get all the thrills and spills of falling in love in a situation where the hero and heroine are snowed in somewhere in the mountains in Ireland during some freak weather.  I read the book last week during a moment when I needed a break from the wedding of the year.  I must say, it ticked all the boxes where Irish romance novels are concerned but as we're now coming into spring, I'm really late with the review.  So my apologies to the author and I have to say that as your story is so nice, I'm sure readers would enjoy it all year round.

Common Sense (January 30th)

In the Irish language they have a saying, which roughly translated means: 'bought sense is the best sense'.  I love the idea of having common sense, but as I was always the type of person who had their nose stuck in a book, I'm afraid I'm very short of that obscure commodity called common sense.  It doesn't come naturally to me at all but I do hope I've learnt a thing or two down the years.  Personally, I think I really did bite off more than I could chew when I burnt my bridges and came out to India to live my married life.  I don't have any regrets of course and I hope my stock of common sense has increased.  If it hasn't, then things are in a bad way indeed.

Sleep (February 6th)

Sleep is definitely something of which I need a lot more.  My husband has a demanding job in the next city and seems to be out of the house every hour God sends him. In the last year, he has had such crazy working hours that my sleeping pattern has been literally wrecked as I've waited up to give him his dinner at unearthly hours.  Sometimes, I have literally woken up with headaches owing to sleep deprivation.  My doctor has prescribed some meds and advised me to sleep every afternoon which has probably just about saved my life!

What Is The Most Surprising Thing About You? (February 13)

The most surprising thing about me (for some people) is that I have actually broken with the church in which I was brought up.  I was born into a Roman Catholic family and was devout for most of my life.  However, I am sorry to say that I have found certain things about the Church don't square up with my beliefs anymore.  I used to think that in order to be a real Christian, you had to be a Catholic.  Now I believe that in order to be a true Christian, you simply have to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead.  I respect other religions too, of course.  My husband is a Hindu.  I'm not going to go into why I have broken with the Roman Catholic church, although I'm quite open about it and have actually discussed it in other posts.  I'm not anti-Catholic either.  But I am anti-superstition and anti-idolatry and quite anti-tradition too.  Nowadays, I consider tradition to be simply entertainment for the elderly.  I mean the old-fashioned elderly, not aware senior citizens like my absolutely amazing and fabulous elder rakhi brother Ramana.  There's another wonderful senior blogger Grannymar from Ireland who is more current than many younger people.  To name but a few.

Child Abuse  (February 20th)

The abuse of children and animals and of course, women, well anyone really, is something that breaks my heart.  As a child a certain person messed with my mind, speaking to me at a young age of things which were, in many ways, beyond me.  Although I wasn't sexually abused, I can identify with people who have been  because when someone discusses sexual matters with a kid who isn't up to the conversation, it is a form of abuse.

Abuse of children can take many forms.  One day, here in India, I was passing a Halwai (sweet) shop when I heard shouting and screaming inside.  The proprietor of the shop was beating up his shop assistant, a kid of about ten years old, who had made some mistake in his work. The man was shouting loudly and the child was screaming.   I was horrified.  Lots of people were around but not one person intervened to stop what was going on. I was quite scared too and had my two young kids with me.  I walked up to the shop and shouted at the man 'Kya kartha hain?  Chor do isko!'  Now, my Hindi is not the best, but I what I was trying to say was: 'what are  you doing?  Leave him alone!'  The tension was somewhat broken and I walked away.  I never found out what happened to that kid but wherever he is, I hope he's okay.  Whenever I remember him, I pray for him.

Christina Lobo Jha, a social worker from Mumbai who has recently moved temporarily to Lucknow, once started a 'ring the doorbell' campaign to help victims of domestic violence.  It means simply that if you hear a person being beaten up in their house, you should just go and ring the doorbell.  The abuser will realize that he or she is being watched and will probably not have the impetus to continue with their behaviour.  In India, people tend to look the other way when this sort of thing is happening and I think Christina is spot on in this regard.  I've been privileged to meet this amazing woman who is currently working in the area of animal rights and she is truly remarkable.

Abuse of children, or anyone else for that matter, is lamentable and should be stopped at once.  We should never look the other way when we see someone being abused.

Sabbatical  (February 27th)

A sabbatical means taking time out from the regular routines of life.  Well, over the last few months my life has been out of routine, this is why my LBC post is full of several topics instead of just one.  So you could say I've been on a blogging sabbatical...

If you've actually got to the end of reading this post, thank you for bearing with me.....

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, ShackmanLin and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Comfort Zone, Duty, Nondescript Items, Unmentionable Topics and the Travails of City Life - LBC POST Mashup ....Catch Up!

Duggu, my new dog.
I admit it.  I'm hopeless.  There I was, thinking I'd only missed a week or two.  I'd missed a freaking month.  Between getting a dog, writing a book, releasing another book, rescuing another dog, being ill........I guess there's only so much you can do.

My comfort zone?  I live in a combined Indian family.  My nuclear family, meaning my husband and I (oh, don't I sound like the Queen?) and our four offspring and dog, have a couple of rooms to call our own in the family home, but owing to circumstances beyond our control, it is impossible to make those rooms completely private.  My husband doesn't mind too much, but he's out of the house most of the time and not being able to shut my door completely and shut out the world is what you might call stressful at times.  So where's my comfort zone?  Inside my own head, that's where.  Someone once told me a long time ago that it is impossible to control the outer environment.  So I don't even go there.  I adjust myself to my circumstances and try to be happy as best I can.  And so do my children.  Upstairs in our house, we have some privacy, so we enjoy that.  And I'm good at switching off mentally when I need to concentrate on something.  A bit too good at it, actually.

Duty?  Well as a wife and mother it's my duty to put my kids and husband first always and my own needs last, right?  Women who do that are praised loudly in the environment in which I live.  Well, I beg to differ on that one.  I do wear myself out at times taking care of my significant others, all half dozen or so of them (no, I only have one partner, I mean the kids, MIL and dog, as well), but before I go completely bonkers, I have to take time out occasionally and recharge my batteries.  If that doesn't happen, I get ill.  I just get that I can't do anything and have to lie down for a day or two with a headache.  So taking care of myself is not selfish at all, it's a necessity.  I just need to do it more, that's all.

Now as to nondescript items which have had a profound effect on my life.  Many years ago, a friend of mine, Carmel, who had been a trainee hairdresser, used to help me out by trimming my hair every so often.  I used to pay her for it too, as I'm not in the habit of making people work for nothing.  It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, as she got some money and I got my hairstyle (such as it was) maintained, quite inexpensively.  My sister Bernie gifted me with a pair of sharp scissors so that I could be sure that Carmel could do the best job possible. A very practical gift indeed.Some twenty five years later, I still have that scissors.  It's still working very well too. My kids use it for craft. I guess some gifts just stay with you forever, while others don't.  A scissors, for heaven's sake!

Unmentionable Topics at TED?  What's TED?  I'm sure I have no idea.  But now regarding unmentionable topics, I could wax lyrical, so to speak.  I edit books and when my online boss, Serena asked me what were my preferred topics to edit, I replied that anything was fine except erotic material.  Because of the kids, you know.  I wouldn't want them to stumble upon anything unmentionable if they were using my computer for a school project.  Besides, I don't think my other half would be too thrilled at the idea of my editing stuff like that.

Travails of city life?  Well, what's the alternative?  Village life?  I wouldn't live in a village other than an Irish one, if you paid me a thousand Euros a week.  I live in the city, but I'm mostly at home taking care of the family, doing my editing and writing my book.  I don't know, half the time, whether I live in a high rise apartment or a cottage in the woods.  Or a freaking spaceship.  Cities have their advantages as does rural living.  Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

And that's about it!

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman, Lin and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so.