A rant…From Me to You…

The Daily Prompt: From You to You  has asked us to…Write a letter to your 14-year-old self. Tomorrow, write a letter to yourself in 20 years.”

Oh baby! Was I ever fourteen?  I can write about 40 as that’s not distant, but 14 seems so remote though I do have vivid memories to share. My sensitive and studious 14 year old self does need some sermonizing on practicalities of life but I’ll leave it for some other time.

My son should answer this prompt. In fact, I can write on his behalf as I know him inside out. I think I do. On the contrary, maybe I don’t. He’s always been a thoroughly good boy during his schooling and now university but generally, as they grow up they have their own lives, esp. our sons. As such, in these times we all live in our own cocoon. Particularly at young age they want to carve their future, spread out their wings so they’re busy trying out new ventures and journeys.

Right now at this moment my son is in London. He went all alone for a month long academic trip to Europe. After Switzerland and Germany, he’s now in UK.

The last few weeks were anxious anyway but today I’m worried like hell, for he has not been picking up the phone since yesterday. Right now it’s midnight in London and I assume he must have been caught up in tube transport strike during the day or when coming back home late evening. Something to do with that.

When I last talked to him almost two days ago, he said he will not go out of his accommodation on Thursday as the city may get chaotic. But the whole day on Thursday, his phone was switched off, so I have no idea what’s been going on. Due to his hectic schedule and the time-gap between the two countries, his phone calls have been generally erratic throughout his trip, but this one’s the longest disconnect we had.

Of course, all this gave me a sleepless Thursday night. On top of that, today on Friday morning, I woke up to a power shut down. It’s not usual for Sydney to go without power, but that’s what happens when you need something the most. A few hours of no electricity meant phones can’t be charged, problematic net connection and all. Finally the power is back so I’m writing all this.

Now…waiting for his phone call. Possibly he’s asleep at this time. He will wake up and call us. But I have the phone numbers of Australian Embassies ready and also that of London Police.

My husband, who is busy with his inter-state tasks, tried to contact him as well but was amused at my panic. He laughed and said …”Police. Huh! Aren’t you too worried?“

Yes I am.  For I am a mom.

So yeah… 4, 14, 21, 40, 60, 80…nothing matters as long as we are safe and alive.

mother and child

My son with his mom when he was younger, she was younger but not 14

Whether we get little miseries or bigger woes, abundant achievements or tremendous failures, small joys or exhilarating happiness, it all holds value only when we ourselves are secure, and sure of the safety of our near and dear ones.

So. What will I say to my fourteen year old self? Maybe some of the above. And much more.


He called later in the day, as if nothing happened. So everything is ok now.

I can’t hold his hand anymore to keep him within my range. I should realize that it sets me free as well.

If You Ever Feel Small. Please Don’t.


“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” –Stephen Hawking

Our physical universe is full of scaling. Higher, lower, bigger, smaller…it’s all relative.

Our much revered Sun – the source of our survival – is just an average star compared to the vast galaxy of stars in the cosmos. Our one and only earth is merely a minor planet, with much bigger planets even amongst our known list of planets as can be seen in the pic.
Likewise we humans may feel we are the best of all the species but vastness of nature scales us down and we become insignificant and small, like any other animal.
Look closely at the below pictures that I clicked in Sydney and surrounds. There is vast sea, there is land, mountains and trees but where are humans? Look for them. Very small part of nature.

Bondi Beach

Watson’s Bay


Watson’s Bay in Sydney

And last but not the least….me in my old picture below. Clicked in India (in mid 1990s)


Climbing a huge branch/root of huge Kapok tree (Ceiba) at Lal Bagh, Bangalore/Bangaluru

In the above picture the giant tree makes a regular woman look smaller than she is  And the little shrub on the floor gets totally ignored by the bigger size of the woman and the Kapok tree.
Here are my lyrics…

I really look up to you
so please don’t put me down…”

Of course, it’s all relative…our size, beauty, greatness/smallness, even our status and wealth.

Who else knows this better than us humans who spend our whole life living up to others, trying to get taller, bigger, thinner, prettier or richer than our friends and relatives. Appearances matter too much. Bulimic and anorexic young girls aspire to create bigger pouts and whatever, like their media role-models (KK).

Humans label each other as a pygmy or a giant, based on their size. But all shapes and sizes are normal. Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels experienced this very well, as the giants and Lilliputians cared for him better than his own-sized people. In nature, giant dinosaurs had their own world as now big elephants do. We admire them for their size. And yet, tiny but perfectly intelligent and organised, ants are no less than anyone.

We humans are rich or poor only by comparison. A person with two cars and three properties is poorer than somebody with five cars and six properties.  C’mon guys!!  Time to grow up. And never allow or train your children to have comparisons based on their barbie doll, video games and later smartphones. There are many in the world who don’t even have these toys to play with, not even a very old model.

Also, how to know we are smart or dumb?  Who decides that?  An Einstein-like genius will be considered more intelligent than the smartest teacher in the best school around town.  Likewise, even a really smart artist will fall short in front of legends like Picasso.  But for a mother whose child has Autism or Down’s Syndrome, intelligence means her child’s ability to tie shoe laces or pick up a spoon to eat or read basic alphabets. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Never let others decide you are big or small.
Be brave! Be proud of who you are…
When people try to scale you down, just stand tall.


My post was in response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Scale.”

© All rights reserved by alkagirdhar.wordpress.com 2015

Deep Wall of China

The Great Wall of China depicts depth in all possible forms.  And of course it is a brick wall so long that it tells a story about ancient times, about the people of China.


The Great Wall of China runs far and wide across a large sprawling mountainous terrain, and so the pictures taken by us depict depth in all its facets. There is linear as well as horizontal depth in all these pictures.

Firstly, any mountain region has its own vertical depth. Then this wall seems to go deep and deep into the mountain horizontally. Moreover this depth varies with the rise and fall of the wall.

The fog adds to the depth as it makes us sense that there is something yonder…beyond the horizon…not visible but definitely there.

Life is also ‘deep’ and meandering like that. And like in life, communities from all over the world converge and connect here with each other and with nature.


The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Depth and Converge.  I have also added this to Photo Challenge Wall and Connected

Alka Girdhar.
© All rights reserved 2015

India(n) Land Monsoons

Yesterday was Australia Day as well as India’s Republic Day and I happened to hear Australian national songs on TV, one of them I still call Australia home…”  is very sentimental in its tune and nostalgic in its lyrics.

“I’ve been to cities that never close down
From New York to Rio and old London town
But no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home”

Thus, any native Australians who are born and brought up in Australia but move to another part of the world, they ‘still call Australia home’.   

Which raises a question in my mind as I respond to the The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Free Association.”
Which place should a non-resident Indian like me I call home?

‘India is my native country’, this statement I have used too often without thinking but today google-searched its meaning and found that ‘native’ means natural, inborn, intrinsic and deep-down.   Basically, everything that is real.  So should I say, India is my home?

But I live in Australia so this too is ‘home’, albeit the practical real one – where I have my ‘house’ as well.  But that way I have many houses in India too where I hardly get to reside and that’s why I am a non-resident Indian.

It hurts me as I recollect that when growing up in India, I used to be sarcastic towards my fellow Indians who opted to go abroad and settle in a foreign land. How can they even think of leaving India and settling elsewhere?  Didn’t make sense to me. Hence, a patriot like me should have never left India as I am not in favor of divided loyalties. India was my motherland and we can’t have two mothers, I used to debate with my foreign-crazy female friends who desperately wanted to settle in Canada or U.S.

But a couple of years later when we as a family impulsively ended up taking that very action which I always criticized in others, then there was no way out but to go with the flow. Soon the magnanimous-hearted Australia gave us shelter, jobs, house, opportunities, and in all the years to follow gave us an abundant life. Whether I wanted to migrate or not is a different thing, whether I wanted to live in Australia for this long or not is a different issue. But I actually did and that makes Australia my home.

And yet, home is where the heart is. This heart keeps going back to India often, now please don’t ask me how many times a day.  All this may sound like cheating and bigotry as I live in wonderful Australia. But India is in my blood, my inner soul and I can’t change this fact, can I?  Should I?? That is a dilemma of being a migrant.  We, the people with divided loyalties.

All in all, if I have two homes now, that again means India too is my home of which I have soft memories of childhood, parents and siblings, remembrance of various houses I lived in, just as there are memories of settling down in Australia, the initial struggle and memories of various Australian homes and overall Australian cities, the Australian land.

I’m talking about land of these countries and land is soil. That will make me move on to the next ‘soil’ part of the daily prompt. Once again I find myself talking about India, the Indian soil and its land mass, which is the actual geographical land of India that occupies a vast portion of our planet earth.  It used to occupy much more than that in its long history, but lands get transferred when a new country is formed out of the big old country…quite like a new home, a new family is formed out of the big joint family home when people in the same family move out of the family house.  All this proves that man-made land boundaries, that enclose our countries, are changeable and do not mean as much as we think they do.

Coming back to Indian land, the subcontinent struggled or suffered so much in history that reading about it or actually visiting the self-speaking historical places gives shudders, though not as much as reading about holocaust or Auschwitz does, whose 70th Anniversary falls today, that is on the  27th of January as I write this article.  Basically, the inclusive and gentle Indian culture embraced every foreigner, irrespective of their religion or race, only to be duped by these invaders in its own land.

People who have gone through struggle and bad times, esp. at the hands of others, can relate to the pain India went through. But time and again, India not only survived the worst but moved on with head held high.  I feel, it is due to the strength and resilience developed by such struggles, that it is now forever marching towards bringing back its lost glory, greater heights and vast achievements.

Besides the land size, the second aspect of this Indian land is that it is truly beautiful, its gigantic mountain ranges are one of the highest on earth, its mighty rivers always swelled with lush waters. One single country has been blessed so abundantly by God almighty that Indians living in India need to see their own country entirely before they venture out towards foreign lands.

And of course this beautiful Indian land is very multicultural with its wide variety of cuisines, languages, festivals and religions.  Yesterday only, after seeing India’s 66th Republic Day parade, I had salty water in my eyes (as usual).  But with years of experience I know that this sombre ‘migrant’ mood stays for a day and then there is the beautiful reality of Australia which is very much my ‘home’ too.

I may or may not be able to go back to India forever, but God bless India – my ancestral land, my birth place, my first homeland. Possibly, at some stage it may become real homeland again if I go and reside there forever, but till then my feet will remain on two lands. And I thank God that “lands are not boats”.  Now this is a quote I created just now.
But nothing wrong with the Australian land too.  Like my India, my Australia too has a wonderful glorious land mass like no other.  I need to write more about beautiful Australia in a separate article.  My both countries are vast and big, and awesome.

Now, moving on to the third part of the prompt, the ‘rain’.  I simply love rain in all shapes, forms and moods.  If you have heard of Indian Monsoons or have experienced them in real, you would know what they are. Of course, monsoons are not the same all over India but I can only relate to my experience during almost three decades of growing up in India. Sheer beauty…but a bit of mess too.  After hot and humid summer weather, the much-awaited monsoons come as a relief…and it’s like “Ahhhhh!!  Here they are. At laaast!!!”. We embrace them full-heartedly.

For one and all, monsoons are a cause of merry-making and dancing in the rain. For festive Indians, who make a full-fledged festival out of every occasion big or small, rainy season too has many colorful festivals, each with its own dance, own food and fancy clothes.

My adopted mother (land) Sydney too has rains like no other but they are different from Indian rains. Indian monsoons were/are a balm to my senses. They caress the heart as we inhale the fragrance of wet soil and deliberately or accidentally soak in water that cools the perspiring body.  But often this slow and dull incessant rainfall during monsoon season can act like a numbing rhythm that slows everything down. This is when continual rains become boring and cumbersome, a hindrance rather than an inspiration, not even for poets and musicians.

Compare this to Australian rains, whose near regular feature is that they come with sudden dark raging noisy clouds and lightning, scary and awe-inspiring wild thunderstorms. Such rains have a waking effect, as if they create an urgency and tell us to move on and live life to its fullest.  That’s the very Australian spirit. Once they have vented out their energy full-force, the thundering clouds become quieter and the downpour slowly becomes more mellowed.  At this stage, Indian monsoons and Aussie rains become the same.   No difference.

Yes, no difference really. No difference in various nations or their lands, our various homes and various rains. The whole world is our home, the whole of mother earth is our shelter. All lands are good, and what about rain? Rain is rain after all…same the whole world over.  Not my rain or your rain. Mother nature is beautiful wherever we live.

Yesterday, my emotions were wayward and confused as it was a special day for India as well as Australia.  But now I have had a healthy rant by writing it all.  If Sigmund Freud is reading my article from above, he will be happy to see my inner feelings pour out and his psycho-analytic therapy of “Free Association.” working right here at Word Press, and that too in the hands of some ‘Happiness Engineer’ acting as a doctor/psychologist for a day by throwing three simple words at us unsuspecting prompt-addicts.


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