Be A Winner, This NewYear

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Congratulations!!  You have been so amazing
You there! Yes you…you are a bona fide winner

You have made it till the end of one lifeshaping year
You’re all set and geared, for another bountiful year

You could glide smooth through this long dicey year
You bravely overcame all your big and small fears

Your going got tough, but how you evolved even tougher
You did not permit the icy turmoils to make you shiver

You faced lethal demons, that were so hard to beat
You never knew you had it in you, but see…you did

You understood life’s all about stealing joyful moments
You learnt to be grateful for the life’s very existence

You made some friends, but you sure lost some
You got some love, and you did lose some

You took mindful steps towards the betterment of self
You perpetually endeavored to achieve your best

You dived headlong, reached out to grasp a fuller life
You were resolved to work towards a blessed family life

You lost some, but then you did gain some
You made it through, aren’t you just awesome?

You can do it all again, all this and much more
You have it in you, and you always will forevermore

You’ll be blessed by God, in this brand new roller-coaster
You’ll emerge out stronger, year after year, year after year.

© 2016 Alka Girdhar

 

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Three Sisters – Blue Mountains Katoomba – timeless resilient mounts

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Wish you all lovely readers and dear followers of my blog, a very HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!!

May your  new year be better than the one that you are leaving behind.
Did you have a great 2016, or not so good? Hang in there.

As you can still keep your hopes alive in 2017.

R U OK?

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We all have lost touch with somebody or the other.
Reconnect to make more time for the people who matter.
Why?  If you initiate the conversations, it can break the ice.
You never know, it can save someone’s life

Start a conversation. Ask “Are you ok?”
Listen. Pay attention. Do not judge
Encourage action, in the right direction.
Help people around you feel ok.

~~ Alka 2016 ~~

Today, the 8th of September, is R U OK Day. In Australia, it’s a national day of action and a reminder to regularly check in with family, friends and workmates.

So here I am asking my readers: Are you ok? You are free to share your problems with me, either via your comments here, or contact me. You never know, some reader may come up with a solution to your problem.

In Transit…

yllo

 

Early Ephemeral Signs

The weather man declares
Here’s your last day of summer
Be prepared, relish the change

I wonder at their confident claims
And look for subtle signs of change
Nature’s fleeting moods and frames

Yes! Yellowing greens, falling leaves
True! Shorter days, stillness in the air
Not too hot, and not yet cold here

Summer’s silently slipping away
Auburn autumn’s not too far away
Winter will soon be on its way

~~~

Transitory Thoughts

Toddling childhood
Romps away
Youth a guest
Never overstays
Fleeting desires
Melting moments
Nothing remains but
Cobweb of memories of
Tangled mesh of wishes
That refuse to untangle
One day, the last breath
Resolves everything
Good or bad, all
Comes to naught, like
Dispersing dewdrops

© 2016 Alka Girdhar

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These are my two poems written in response to The Daily Post’s today’s writing prompt: Fleeting

 

Facing a Scorcher of a Fry-Day

It’s going to be a scorcher in Sydney.  A sizzling day! Record breaking heat wave in November like never before.  Stay indoors. Take a break if you can afford to…blah blah blah!!’

Since yesterday, all the TV weather experts and radio-anchors have been warning us about how bad a day will this be – a sizzling Fry-day. That it’s going to fry us living beings with temperature soaring above 41 degrees. And sure enough, it’s an extreme given that it’s not even summer yet and the maximum till now has been around 23 degrees.

That way, Wednesday and Thursday too were rather warm, lethargic and humid.  In the morning as my son woke up I could see him listless, as if he had body-ache. I showered some wisdom on him, that if he sleeps topless like he does, and that too with a ceiling fan on at its full speed, he’s bound to get body-aches.

After saying this I was surprised at why I said that.  And then I remembered something said by someone long ago.

It was when I was younger – in school and later in college –  the good old days when we had fans or else those big four-footed coolers externally stuck to windows outside the rooms. There were some AC type gadgets for inside but I think they too were mini room-coolers. That’s because even though nowadays almost every middle-class Indian home has air-conditioners, these got popular only in the last ten to fifteen years.

So yes. Back in those days, even on a very hot Indian summer day, I was happy with a full-speed ceiling fan, but I generally avoided sleeping too close to the rhythmically noisy coolers that had a habit of occasionally sprinkling water droplets on us (they work by circulating water within the machine). These stray droplets did feel good but you know…a sleep disturber plus one may wake up with a runny nose.

Sometimes, on such hot and sultry days I used to share my room with someone who couldn’t even bear a medium speed fan.

My grandmother, who usually didn’t live with us, used to visit us off and on. My mother didn’t want her to sleep alone, so we youngsters were supposed to share a room with her. Given that my sister very essentially needed a watery cooler next to her bed or vice-versa, whereas I was content with a fan, usually I was the one to sleep in the same room as my grandma. In any case I was fond of talking to her, or at least I could sense she always needs someone to talk to and I was happy to do so.

Thus sharing the room, with lights off and a ceiling fan on at a very low speed, I would be half-asleep while listening to her as she told me about many of her everyday problems, her daily health issues. It was on one such day that she had mentioned about why she felt her aches and pains became worse if the fan is at its maximum number. I tried to agree with her while patiently bearing the discomfort of a less than desirable room temperature, for I knew it that I’ll fall asleep anyway for I had a busy school day ahead.

I don’t know exactly what she meant by her experience with hi-speed fans and there’s no way I can ever find out for she’s no more there to tell…but if there was any truth in her saying, shouldn’t it apply to current conditions as well?  But my son laughed it away.

Well, coming back to dealing with Sydney sizzler…it’s arrived and there’s information on ways to deal with it.

While we do that, this sudden onset of high temperatures certainly means it’s time to pack away the woolens and sweaters, to stack them on the top shelves of the closets.  And I suppose it’s also time to pack the beloved memories of dear departed souls; stack them away in mind’s closet till they force themselves out, resurface to touch my life like this heat-wave and catch me unaware. Like they always do.

Meanwhile, here’s some sunny thinking about the worst of heat waves…

Red, White and Blue

 

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Huge Solidarity

Opera House roofed
In blue, white and red hues
Lighted compassion

For two days, the sails of Sydney’s iconic Opera House displayed blue, white and red, the colors of the national flag of France. See more pictures from around the world here.

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Jacaranda-Tree

picture credit: ireport

Crying Jacaranda

Purple blossoms rain
From canopy of branches
A beautiful mess

Sydney streets are commonly lined with Jacaranda trees and in late spring to early summer that it is now, trees display magnificent purple flowers. There are carpets of blue all around and from a distance, the flowers blooming above and the ones fallen below, kind of look synchronized.
But stale fallen flowers soon become a messy risk for pedestrians who have been known to slip on these.
Jacaranda is very much a dream tree of Sydney-siders who kind of measure time with the arrival of flowers on street side Jacaranda trees.

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These were my two Haiku for Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge 71
The two prompts provided were Cover & Color.

The featured header image is Mumbai’s main railway station, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus lit up in the colors of the French national flag.

The Story of a Valorous #War-Widow

 

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The Story of a Valorous War-Widow

It was the Australian country town of Muttaburra where young Barbara first arrived as a bride.

She departed from her ancestral English town in Sussex, with no time for goodbyes. Hers was a sudden nuptial with young Australian digger Richard, who was boarding the next fleet heading back Down-Under.

Richie was based in a colony within a remote Aboriginal village. But the couple couldn’t get to live with each other.

When the World War started, there was a call to join RAAF forces heading towards Gallipoli. Richie volunteered without a second thought.  All by herself, Barbara bade him good-bye as the steam-train puffed into oblivion.

That was the last she saw of Richie.  While she cried tears of self-pity, she didn’t go back to England. She wanted to wait for him in Australia.

Years rolled by. She stayed in Muttaburra, whose Aboriginal language and culture she was completely alien to.

More recently, 90 year old Barbara was awarded an Order-of-Australia medal.  All major national newspapers highlighted her life-long services to the care and education of poor natives.

Looking at the pictures of this prim and serious lady, no one can imagine she once was a very sloppy girl who hated books, served in a tavern and wanted to be a ballet-dancer.

 © 2015 Alka Girdhar

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That was my short story for Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers (FFfAW)  where we write a fiction of around 175 words, based on a photo prompt provided.
This week’s photo prompt was provided by Louise from “The Storyteller’s Abode.

RAAF stands for Royal Australian Air Force

 

I’ll also share this hit song by ‘Men at Work’ about my land Down Under, that is Australia.
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Thanks for reading! Do feel free to share your views via your comments.

Promise me son not to do the things I’ve done…

The Daily Prompt:  Well, I Never…
“Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do.”

~~~

That way I have a list of things that I’ve done that I would advise a friend or a relative never to do.

One can give suggestions but most people learn from experience. What works for one person may not work for the other. This is especially true about career, love and relationship issues. Moreover, what is wrong for me may not be wrong in the eyes of others.

Many years ago I didn’t want to migrate out of my birth country. Not just because of love for India, as I was born and brought up there and I had some duty towards that developing country. Not also because I do not love Australia…a truly wonderful country with genuine unpretentious people. But mainly because I don’t like divided loyalties.

I had other apprehensions too. A migrant’s future generations become mixed souls, with no true belonging whatsoever. Either they become perpetually confused, being sandwiched between two cultures, or else, as I have recently observed in some migrants from my own family, they start taking extreme pride only in their new found identity of being an Australian, as if they never even had a different birth country ever. This could be due to pressure to conform.

But anytime I have advised others not to migrate, they did not listen. They come here, they proudly take Australian citizenship within two years while continuing to (pretend as if they) love their home countries. Thus they have no qualms about divided loyalties or confused identities; qualms that I had. Probably I was and still am wrong, as this is the trend of the day, the essential realities of a globalized world.

Therefore, take advice from others, follow it if it sounds genuine, esp. if this advice comes from a wise and trustworthy person. But also listen to your own heart and brain. Act according to the demands of time, situation and environment.

Listen to ‘Coward of the County’ by Kenny Rogers:

His dad asked him:
   “Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done
   Walk away from trouble if you can
   It won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek
   I hope you’re old enough to understand
   Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man”

But his own experiences taught him otherwise…till finally he said:
   “I promised you, Dad, not to do the things you’ve done
   I walk away from trouble when I can
   Now please don’t think I’m weak, I didn’t turn the other cheek
   And Papa, I should hope you understand
   Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man”

~~~

Kenny Roger’s another song ‘The Gambler‘ also also has good lyrics:

Our life has many situations requiring gambling and risk-taking. These suggestions are good.

If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

You’ve got to know when to hold them
Know when to fold them
Know when to walk away
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sitting at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealing’s done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to surviving
Is knowing what to throw away
And knowing what to keep.
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
In your sleep”

I rock!!!  By being my own rock.    

With time, I have learnt to be my own rock!  Even in times of dire need I’m well able to keep my worries to myself till I can.  I feel, any time spent asking others for help, can be utilized trying to do it myself. That’s because now I know many life answers.  Other than that, even though I try to help others whenever possible, I do not find it easy to ask others for help.

Not just asking, I sincerely do not expect or demand any help from others. Life is very busy for all such families who are working full-time or over-time so I try to avoid telling people to take precious time out from their busy schedules. I also do not judge anyone for not having helped me.

But I was not always like this.  Being born and brought up in a big family was a different thing altogether, when we all were dependent on each other.  Later on, the family I got married into was also the same, quite big though smaller than my birth family. In both these cities, both families had huge extended families with all their social events, perpetual marriages, birthdays, religious events and what not.

In big families people are just there for each other – simply by being there.  They do not have to ask each other for help yet all the work load, little miseries as well as bigger problems, literally every little thing is automatically shared, often without a word. Emotional problems also get taken care of.  Thus, inside home-front or outside, my native cities were full of relatives and friends who, despite occasional conflicts, were co-dependent on each other as well as stood by each other.  I too found strength experiencing the merits and the demerits of such dependency.

These were the lessons learnt during first half of my life.  But that’s that. Thereafter it’s been a life that was pretty much lived alone.  Alone means, as a couple with no extended family at all in the city I live.  A growing child is a company but he could not be our rock as such.  By the time a child is grown up enough to understand what life is all about, parents have already become their own rock.  So it was for me.

Years ago, when we initially migrated to Australia and we were younger, there were friends galore, rather one too many. There was too much of mutual dependency as our kids were born, school issues arose or we were generally helping each other settle down in a new country. But soon people got busy and scattered to different locations. Actually my family moved away. More new friends came along but we left them behind after once again moving to a distant suburb.  All these wonderful friends, who were very close once, seem to be totally changed whenever we see them after a long time. Our priorities changed, lives moved on. None of these groups could ever be our constant rock so we learnt to rely primarily on ourselves. Of course, other than these ever-evolving friendships, there are ever-changing workmates, besides the wider Australian community, new neighbors as well as Indian-Australian organisations. Helpful but they can’t be our rock.

Overall, when this process of change occurs a number of times in life – this parting from family and friends – we become stronger. Thus after this vagabond life, at some stage I became my own rock.  Literally I seek strength mainly from myself.  And it comes. It always comes. It’s there inside us.

For example, owing to my husband’s work hours as well as work-related tours, I often got to experience a life where, along with my own career goals, I had a major share in household work as well as taking prime onus of bringing up our only child who never had any grandparents or extended families around him. I had to do my best. I could do it.

Only after his schooling finished that I finally felt free to spread my wings around, to seek local people who can be of some help.  Such people are many and yet they are not many. Because only a handful of people in the world truly care for us. That’s not surprising given the fact that most people can’t relate to our life and circumstances, esp. those who live far away have not seen our life’s ups and downs.

And yet, through all this, my mother who lives in India has been my constant rock, even if it is more of moral strength.  I should not and do not expect her to be my rock, as it is rather they, our aging parents, who need us to be their strength which we cannot be as we live so far away.

Lately, as my son got busier with his higher education, another realization has dawned upon me that parents can’t keep centering their lives around their children, as they eventually leave the nest sooner or later.  Getting prepared for the inevitable time, I too am gearing myself to become stronger than I have always been.  Moreover, if the family structure and priorities change, all my previously acquired strength is not going to be of much use. That’s because growing young children need a different kind of all-round support and love.  But soon it will be more of mutual exchange without any expectations from parents’ side. Parents need to become a rock as they learn to let go of the usual smothering and clinging love they once had for their off-springs.

Parents approaching middle-age also need to strengthen their physical health, while fulfilling their pending career dreams and hobbies, as well as learning to be happy for themselves rather than seek joy only through their children who are about to move out to have their own life.  When children become less dependent, parents also need to renew or strengthen their family friendships and look after their own social needs. At this stage, I too will need more friends for things big or small.  Being busy with our young families and career issues, we ourselves drift a bit apart from our close friends and families, we isolate ourselves mentally.  That uncaring attitude has to go to a certain extent.

And yet, I may still not rely on too much help from others. I will always try to be my own rock – mentally, emotionally and physically – at least till I can. I usually seek internal strength through prayers and music. That will continue.

~~~

In response to The Daily Prompt:  I Am a Rock
‘Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?’

Catch the Criminals

The Daily Prompt:  Dear LeaderIf your government (local or national) accomplishes one thing this year, what would you like that to be?

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Reading this for a while I thought , which country – Australia, India or the whole world? The whole gamut of issues exist that need to be fixed.

In Australia, there are certain recurrent issues that need attention and solution. Treatment of asylum seekers is one such problem that has become a Human Rights violation issue. Another issue is related to the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. Much as they have been exploited and disadvantaged in the past, they need huge improvement in their lives as crime rate is going high amongst their community

Talking about crime rate, in general Australia has always had low crime rate compared to many other countries. But nowadays, this too is becoming a major issue, albeit one that directly influences our lives.

Recently, one busy early morning as I casually watched TV, some superintendent from Crime Stoppers was warning viewers about how criminals nowadays do not look for empty homes.  He said they now focus on occupied homes when inmates are inside so that they can get car keys and other things easily and walk away.  At this, the TV host asked the superintendent a plethora of questions about how to keep oneself safe. I too paused my work to pay attention to this part.  As I mentally noted his warnings, exactly five minutes later I came out of my front door only to discover that my car had been burgled. I must say it was a very spooky coincidence. My previous post was on this topic.

So yes.  Crime in Sydney should not grow higher than what it is.  Australia should continue to be a safe and peace loving country that is always has been. Police should not take such burglaries lightly.

Other than this, I am lightly familiar with the casual working style of government officials and leaders. From a very early age, for a few years I worked as a casual newsreader at All-India-Radio. Later on I also worked in Australian Public Service for some time. These jobs were my direct stint with the workings of government offices. Wonderful as they are, they have their limitations.

People want quick results from their leaders but after winning the elections (by hook or by crook), by the time political parties settle down and devise their strategies, it is their time to leave. Slow as snail!  Policies get no time to be fully implemented. So much nepotism and red-tapism runs within government offices.

Therefore, for us public, it’s not enough to keep hoping for miracles, and also not enough to identify what we would like our leaders to do. It is necessary to voice out your opinion, in whatever way you want – via radio, print media or some other voluntary organisations. Let your public voice be heard!.

I participate in local government affairs by calling various talk-back radio shows to convey my views on sociopolitical issues. Other than this, it is the Non-Government Organisations – the NGOs – that are now a big force of change and we should work for them. Whenever possible, I try to do voluntary work for Australian and Indian organisations, as well as those in any other part of the world.

Our dear leaders are not enough. They have better things to do than solve our problems.

Do you need an Excuse for a Snooze? Not Me.

Sleep takes up a very big part of our lives. I have often thought about this ever since my childhood days.

It always seemed funny to me how we close our eyes at night, go limp and get lost in our private world of dreams, that too for hours and hours. After which we wake up by ourselves when we have had optimum dose of this vegetative state called ‘sleep’.

Sleep is life, but how much like death it is. A sleeping person looks lifeless but we all consider him/her to be normal because we know they are going to ‘wake up’, become alive and kicking again. It often becomes sadly humorous when elderly members within our families over-sleep and we fear they are no more alive. Only after we have checked their heaving chest or heard their mild snore that we get relieved. That’s how akin to death this sweet sleep is.

This death-like sleep is a dire need for every living being.  Our bodies are programmed by nature to eat food after specific intervals and also take regular rest. We coined these terms exhaustion and rest, which proves we are like machines that can’t handle too much stress and need a break to recharge our batteries. Many people do not seem to be able to do this recharging. They badly need rest but, owing to their secret worries or ill-health, they can’t fall asleep. Sleep deprivation further leads to irritation and sickness before this sleeplessness becomes cyclical and chronic. Difficulty falling or staying asleep is Insomnia and many people, esp. above the age of 40, begin to get addicted to sleeping pills.

Luckily I have never had any problem falling asleep at night. That’s funny given my sensitive nature I should have been the one to be awake for hours, thinking of this and that. Rather as I hop on to bed, within five minutes I am asleep like a baby. I also love cat naps, a refreshing siesta during the day if I am at home that is. I can do without food but if I am sleepy, I just have to fall down on the bed and snooze off, even if for five minutes.  Sometimes I doze off while sitting.

Nowadays I consider my sleep pattern to be normal but there was a phase in my life when I had felt more and more need for naps. Moreover this sleep had a nature of urgency about it. There were dreams galore in this plentiful sleeping. This got me worrying, enough to consult my doctor.

My General Practitioner related this drowsiness to simple health problems like lowered immunity, seasonal allergy or elevated blood pressure. He said, contrary to our belief, sometimes thinking too much can cause more sleep. He asked me if I get dreams. Yes I do, I said excitedly. Sometimes I get nightmares and often very predictive dreams. A night before Australian Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was killed by Stingray, I saw his death in my dream. My GP laughed at this and said Dream Analysis is not his territory.  Rather, by asking me about my dreams he was trying to assess the quality of my sleep. As most memorable dreams occur in the last stage of our deep sleep called the REM sleep so if I remember my dreams vividly, it means I’m being woken from my deep sleep. Which also means, if my immunity is low, then it is due to my defective non-REM sleep.

The GP advised some tests via another medical specialist who further gave a very quaint verdict. Other than the prickly RAST test disclosing my extreme sensitivity to cockroaches, the clever specialist accidentally saw my nose shape. He informed me that the left side of my nose bone is slightly risen. How come I never noticed it but a veteran who is deft in operating faulty noses quickly pointed out that I’ll be better off with a small operation? He attributed my need for naps to this nose structure. He said possibly I have Sleep Apnea, because even though I happily think I sleep better and longer than all the insomniacs, my nose does not let me have sound sleep at night. This was funny news for me.

Now, Sleep Apnea occurs when upper airway is blocked, causing breathing to stop for a time during sleep. Truly sometimes I do wake up with a jerk but I always thought it is due to common cold.

After I discovered all this I became kind of paranoid.  As I researched more on this topic, I started imagining I have other sleep-disorders mentioned on various sites. Possibly I have Narcolepsy which is ‘extreme tiredness with intermittent sleepiness during the day, which can include involuntary napping.’ It is indeed true that on feeling sleepy I just fall unconscious abruptly. It also makes me a bit cranky if I do not get this nap. But does it qualify enough for Narcolepsy?  My doctor ruled it out completely. Other than that, I’m sure I don’t have Sleep Walking or Snoring.  What about occasional Restless Legs Syndrome but that could be due to walking around too much, I concluded.

Thus, when my excessive sleep began to give me sleeplessness, I decided to take it easy. Finally now I believe it was deficiency in vitamins that gave me plentiful sleep.  Anemia, genetic Thalassemia, lack of B vitamins – all these came up in further tests. People assume that if we eat more than required, we feel heavy and sleepy. It could be true. But if we are eating less than required and this is causing vitamin deficiencies in our body, then also our body urges us to rest and recuperate so as to cope with daily stresses. Eating nutritious food can make one feel less sleepy. That worked for me.

I also got pest control done to keep away allergy-causing cockroaches but I haven’t got my faulty nose operated yet. The cynic in me didn’t even believe there is anything wrong with my nose. Steam inhalations have been enough to open up the airways. What helped me further? I made changes in my diet and sleeping habits. I used to love creamy and tasty oats for breakfast as they are soothing but I discovered oats too are sleep-inducing. Which means, addition of protein based food, peanut butter, boiled eggs, and sprouts helped me feel less sleepy.

Another effort was to have a regular sleep pattern. We may fall asleep quickly and that is great, but if our sleep gets disrupted again and again, we are bound to feel drowsy during the day. If, in a family, different members have erratic timetables and there is even sporadic or slight noise around, we do not get sound sleep. Of course keeping the computer out of the room, switching off the phone, dabbing drops of lavender oil on my pillow, taking Magnesium/Calcium supplements for restless legs, experimenting with sleeping postures, sleeping on the back and many such little tricks worked. Whether these served as a real panacea or a placebo, I’m not sure. I feel, either I had no problem at all to begin with or else the fact is that simple solutions work better for our seemingly complex problems.

The point of writing all this is to convey the ways in which overall sleep management must be done by one and all, in whatever way you deem appropriate based on your symptoms. The goal should be to get enough sleep as well as quality sleep.

That also means if we can wisely manage our sleep pattern then we can get away with lesser hours of sleep, that are better in quality not quantity. Once we do that we’ll be amazed to see how our day-dreaming goes out of the window, and how we get extra active hours that we can spend in wide awake state, doing proactive productive work.

Of course no harm in taking a siesta off and on as long as it adds to your productivity. This stray cat lives in my backyard, plays with her kittens the whole day, works/hunts hard for her living and yet doesn’t feel guilty enjoying her afternoon nap under the sun.
Enjoy your sleep!

Daily Prompt:  To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Header: Sleeping Child – by Dez Pain  http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/2dyWQ1G/no+title

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