Lessons from a pigeon

BY DEEPA KALYAN

You get to learn life’s most important lessons in the most unlikely of places. I did not imagine I would find one in my balcony.

Pigeons – I have never had a great relationship with them because they always messed with the few plants that managed to survive our humid balcony. A few years back, a couple of them managed to build a nest atop the A/C outdoor unit. When there was a water leak in the room, the mechanics told us it was due to a hole in the duct, thanks to the ever-gurgling pigeons. Sometime later, when we had to replace the A/C, moving the new outdoor unit to the terrace was the only safe option. Its pipe had to go through the balcony railing, and so a part of the shutter was open always. One particular pigeon pair made good use of this opening to build their nest in one of the potted plants. Thankful for even the smallest sapling that ever sprouted in our humid balcony, I was at my agnostic best whenever I spotted them on the railing. No matter what, they kept coming back through the small space and trampled all my plants.

Days went by without any respite. And then, one day, I found an egg in one of the recently bought jasmine pot. A pair of pigeons sat on the railing waiting for me to go away, so they can hop in and warm the egg. Not again – was my reaction. This time, I acted as if it was a real war. I would be on the lookout for even the faintest gurgling sound and rush to shoo them away. They would flutter and create a total ruckus – bringing down, at least, one weak branch down, every time.

One day, I secretly noticed the way they behaved when I was not around. While one of them stayed on the railing to watch over the egg, the other, the mom I presume, kept it warm and cozy. They did not mess with my plants – much to my disbelief. They stayed calm – no gurgling, just the silence of the sunny balcony to keep them company. It hit me so hard that day – I realized, it was me, who was making all the fuss.

With a change of heart, I approached them the next day. The mom sensed my calmness, or so I liked to assume. She simply gave me a timid gurgle as a sign of acceptance. It has been a month since then – we are good friends now; she never gets perturbed seeing me, neither do I. I check her out when I go to dry the clothes. She smartly hops on to the railing until I finish watering the pots.

She’s the most silent mom I’ve ever seen. She takes off to the opposite compound to ruffle her feathers and doesn’t mess my balcony with her droppings. A few weeks later, I found another egg. And, what a delight it was to see a new life waiting to come into the world in the comfort of our small balcony. Another few weeks down the line, the eggs cracked and two little pigeons came out. I can’t say they looked beautiful, but the way she cared for them, it warmed my heart so much.

The baby pigeons turned out exactly like human babies. While the mom was neat and tidy all through her nesting period, the babies messed up the whole place again. The plant was suffering and the place was smelly with their droppings. She didn’t seem to mind, though. She covered them during the crow visits and keenly watched over them – all the while.

Two weeks down the line, I was surprised to find her missing in action most of the time – to get them food, I assumed. She was not around when the crow flew in, or when the babies were trying to stand up by themselves. I was angry with her – how could she leave her two-week-old young ones to fend themselves?

Occasionally, I found her in the opposite balcony trying to avoid my angry glare. I brought it upon myself to shoo the crows and check the babies out, every hour. Each time I went near them to place some grains or a bowl of water, they moved away from me. When I heard the familiar gurgle in the balcony, I was at peace to know that she was back to look after them. The babies, for their part, were making good progress. In two weeks, they moved from being tiny, hairy creatures, to well shaped, independent beauties.

It only took another two weeks for the babies to look like adult pigeons, except that their feet were not completely pink, yet. They slowly started to move – I soon found them both outside the pot, exploring my balcony. One of them slowly started hoping on to the railing, attempting to fly. On a sunny Friday morning, one baby went missing. Panic struck, I wondered if it fell from our second-floor balcony. I could not spot the little one anywhere around, and the one left behind was now trying to flutter its wings.

Seeing me in tears, when the first baby pigeon went missing, my younger son consoled me saying, “They grow faster than us, Ma. And, they would learn to fly by themselves. ”

How true, is all I managed to reply.

As I write this, I know that the next kiddo will fly away soon. And, that’s exactly why I’m winding up at this juncture. I don’t want to wait for the eventuality to happen and then stop making notes. I close it with hope. I hope they become like their mother – she taught me the value of patience, persistence, and more importantly, that life can be nurtured, no matter what – all you need is a little love.

 

About the author: Deepa Kalyan is mom to a tween and a teen and this is her maiden attempt at writing. After all these years, she has just found the time to pursue two of her long-time passions – veena and gardening.

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About an aunt… and a nephew

GUEST POST BY FAIRY DHARAWAT

Being an aunt makes you feel old.

When you were the youngest  in the family for almost 25 years, and now behold, there’s someone younger, yes it does! You also feel vulnerable as you get a front row seat to a show that could be you in the future.

But it’s not you, and you keep reminding yourself that over and over again.

For a few days when the sister comes over, there is a wave of toys spread around the house. Strangely the room smells too. The house doesn’t seem like it belongs to us. But there he comes, my nephew, reminding us that the amazing elder sister has become a mother. It’s still hard to believe that. Also equally hard is when the sister says I have mellowed down. Is it because of this little tyrant who keeps plucking flowers and leaves to our mild annoyance? Maybe. But the family lights up when the nephew is over and the in laws whine about having to part with their grandson.

But with our family, there is calmness, patience and tolerance. Or the lack of sleep zaps all our energy to muster courage for just about anything.

My nephew is one and a half year old, and his mum says he likes me. He grins when I come over. I don’t think he will remember anything as he’s really young. But it feels good. I never thought I would be good around children. But then the last conversation that I enjoyed was with a five year old where we talked for 25 minutes on why we both preferred reds and purples. I hope to do something like that with my nephew too.

There’s a lack of literature and movies exploring the relationship between aunts and nephews. There are movies about uncles and nephews but not much is written or shown about aunts and nephews. Indian movies tend to show aunt’s regressive attitude towards nephew’s unconventional choices and they generally take solace in the mother. However, if you rummage through the classics, Miss Marple, a character from an Agatha Christie novel, demonstrates a delightful camaraderie with her nephew, Raymond. She’s understanding, wise, fun, and surrounded by welcoming and caring people. Also, she solves a murder here and there. I’ll say I want to be like that. Though finding murders might not be difficult, my crime solving abilities are questionable.

While the blog world is cluttered with dedicated websites on how to be an awesome aunt, I don’t know if I want to be his friend which it all boils down to. He will get friends when he grows up. I want to be special and the one and only. Now being eccentric sounds not all that uninteresting. I am not sure what will be there in the future as my choices and perspectives are changing and unsure to see where it all will lead to.

But an aunt with a guitar who writes stories, tells those stories, writes poetry, reads them on open mics, enjoys  Asterix and Obelix, and who wants to bungee jump and survive to tell the tale, you kind of feel from inside, that it will turn out to be wonderful.

 About the author

Mumbai-based Fairy Dharawat is a wide eyed dame who wants to be everything all at once. While writing grants her monthly pay cheque, this cat loving lass is a curious creature who goes out of her way to remind everyone that, Fairy is indeed her real name (she’s got an ID to prove that).

Now we are six

“I want to finish my dream mamma,” Re often says as I wake him these days. I know the weather is lovely and perhaps it makes for better dreams too, and better dreams can only mean better stories and better conversations. I often envy him for having whole, vivid dreams, full of texture and detail, unlike my fractured, jagged, muddly ones with rough edges.

These days he dreams a lot about mermaids (ever since he requested me for a mermaid tail which would help him turn into one) and once he told me I woke him just as he was about to turn into a mermaid. I felt really guilty about that.

Some days I wish I could have the sleep of my childhood when dreams were things you slept for. Once in a while, when I do have them, and I wake up thinking of them, I do try and go back to sleep, before my rational mind gets in the way.

Re once told me, “You can change your dreams mamma!” It seems all you have to do is think really hard about what you want your dream to be just before you go to bed.

“I always change my dreams,” he said. It is when I realized that as adults, we accept reality too easily. We give up on dreams and the world of magic too easily. We have become unidentifiable versions of our little selves.

But our dreams can still save us.

As you read this column, Re will be turning six. I have never really kept track of his milestones but felt the urge to google six year-olds and read the various newsletters baby experts have been relentlessly sending me since Re was a little life brewing inside of me. I read, among other things, that at six, the child is now at the centre of his universe. That he is more of a lot of things – more mature, more adventurous, more independent, more daring. What bothered me was the bit about “relationship with mothers being difficult”. I can feel that already. I also googled some key strategies to cope, and found them in excerpts from Louis Bates Ames Book, Your six year old: Loving and Defiant and some of them were: minimal direct commands, sidestepping, bargaining, not noticing, ignoring or giving more chances. I smiled, realising I need more ammunition now.

For the last two years, birthdays have meant a big deal to Re and he has already become somewhat of an expert in carefully choreographing all our birthdays, his being the most important, of course. This year, he told me. “On my birthday, I will do whatever I want to do for the whole day and you must not tell me what to do.” I quickly agreed, remembering what I read in the key coping strategies.

I remember buying the children’s book of poetry, Now We Are Six, by A .A Milne long before I had a child (I used to, at the time, make excuses for buying children’s books which I always enjoyed more than adult books, I don’t have to make those excuses anymore) and this poem beautifully encapsulates what being a six year-old is:

“Now We Are Six”

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

So my little wish for my not so little boy is the gift of dreams. It’s the only thing that will last a lifetime, if he lets it. So dream all the things you want, because if you can dream it, you can make it real.

 (A version of this post appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 22nd June, 2015)

 

Why I never worry about empty nest syndrome

Earlier this week, Re told me he wants to be a ‘take-carer’ when he grows up. I was amused, and asked him what that was. He replied, “It means I will take care of you when I grow up.”

I have no idea where that came from. Perhaps it is from the fact that we now have my mother around, so there is a constant shift in balance of who takes care of whom. So there is Re who looks after his babies (Dipsy and her baby, various princesses, Pooh, Bertie, Twilight and the gang) and occasionally, doubles as their doctor when it’s time for their checkups (ever since he took a shine to Doc McStuffins). There is my mother, who looks after the cats, Re and me in turns. And lastly there is me who looks after Re (when he will allow me), and my mother (when she will allow me or when it comes to doctors or paperwork or airports and other outside world negotiations that she cannot be bothered with). So there are three generations simultaneously playing out roles of child and parent and quickly reversing them with great felicity. But in the overlap of these roles is a lovely, fuzzy comfort zone where we are just ourselves, with no tags attached.

Re is taking his future ‘take-carer’ role rather seriously. He’s been holding doors for me and my mother and fetching our slippers when we can’t find them. He is the chief locator of my mother’s reading glasses and my phone, and the presser of lift buttons and the answerer of doorbells and telephones. So far, so good, I thought.

I watched Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (it could well have been called Motherhood) a few months ago, and it’s a movie that moved me deeply. The movie was made over 12 years, in real time, and films the coming of age of two children and their parents, as they individually and collectively go through some big and small upheavals. Patricia Arquette’s remarkable portrayal of Olivia, the doughty single mother in the film who is struggling to keep her family together fetched her an Oscar for best supporting actress this year.

“I just thought there would be more”, she says in an emotionally intense last scene, as Mason, her screen son is leaving home to go to college. In that one scene, she manifests the empty-nest syndrome as a full-blown existential crisis. She talks about her life as a series of milestones revolving around men, marriage, babies, career and raising kids and at the end of all this, there is a sense of bankruptcy which is so palpable. That scene encapsulates with minimal words the gritty and sobering nature of motherhood, the story of mothers who live for their children and completely lose purpose without them.

A few months ago, Re and I were riding with a PYT who was visibly intrigued that I chose to be a mother when I was 40 and clearly youth and sprightliness (the two ingredients most marketed for motherhood by the media and doctors) were not on my side. I told her it was all in the mind and my mind has never been as fertile as it is now, so clearly my child is at an advantage, because there is no angst of having to spend my ‘youth’ rearing a child.

She didn’t get it, and said, “But the gap between you and your child is so much!”

I then realized our vocabulary was different. She was a checklist girl and I was a follow-your-heart girl. So yes, the fact is that I will be 60 when Re is 20. And I will be 80 when Re is 40. But then, it is still math. Life is something else. I would like to meet her at 40 (if I am still around) and compare notes once again, but for now, I am going to let it go. Because we all plot our coordinates and figure the optimum time to do this and that when life is stealthily creeping up on us, and the funny thing is, even if you do everything by the book, there absolutely no guarantee that you will get it right. We are all winging it, as Ethan Hawke says in the movie. And the beauty of not knowing what comes next is a huge facilitator.

But I can say this with complete confidence that I will never be high and dry one day when he is all grown up and flown the nest, wondering if there should have been more. Because there will be more. There will be me.

 

(This post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 11th May, 2015)

Home is where the colors are

All it takes is shiny happy things

By the age of 18, I had lived in eight different homes. In the years that followed, there were three more with my parents, two hostels for working women (in which I had to change my room every year, making it six more homes; for me, every new room was a new home), three more as a free-spirited singleton who had moved up in the rent market and who wanted a posh Bandra pin code all to herself, and four more post marriage. And I’m not done yet.

I wasn’t born into real estate. I didn’t marry into it. It’s not that my father was in the services, or had one of those posh government or bank jobs where they transferred you every two years. My parents just never cracked real estate, so we never really owned anything (oh yes, my father did jointly own a home with his brothers when I was four, which they sold for a princely sum of Rs.36000 or some ridiculous amount for their sister’s marriage).

My mother, in an attempt to maintain her work-life balance and provide adequate care for the three of us, moved closer to her place of work every few years and my father followed. While the rest of my family moved up in the real estate ladder, filled their walls with white goods, my father gave us real adventures.

I always dreamed of a place where all our stuff could be found, where we had a room to ourselves. I often pretended to my friends that I did, and that my cats slept in a bunk bed and we wore night suits and that my mother baked scones and gingerbread (she baked other things, but Enid Blyton made scones so exotic!). But I never invited them home, for then my bubble would be busted.

Our real estate was memories.

I remember the home in which my father taught me the famous Jim Reeves song, “But you love me daddy”. My father is not a singer; my mother is a trained one. But the songs I remember from my childhood were mostly sung by my father (my mother was busy just staying afloat with three kids, hard times, the tyranny of her mother-in-law and other travails of the time).

I remember the home where I broke my nose, got my first stitches, the home in which I got hit by a swing while my babysitters (the neighbor’s children) were busy chatting. I remember the home in which my father made pav bhaji for the first time, the home where my mother made coconut cookies with cherry toppings (the cherries had to be cut into neat, square bits and we got to eat the leftover cherry bits that didn’t make the cut).

I remember the home where we walked half a kilometre to the nearest home that owned a television, to watch the Sunday movie. One day, they told us we would have to pay 50 paise for it. I remember then, we found another home, which was further away, where we wouldn’t have to pay, as our friend lived next door to it. I remember someone filched my brand new rainy sandals in that home and I walked home barefoot.

I remember the home in which my brother swallowed a nail, in which my sister fell from a slide and hurt her head, in which the nanny escaped by jumping off the balcony as she couldn’t bear my grandmother’s constant jibes.

I also remember our homes by the cats and other animals who adopted us. So there was one home of Kimi and Kallu and Pushpi, their proud mother, who gave birth to them on my ankles, there was another home where Tipu Sultan (my most handsome cat of all) died in battle and his mother Chinki was bitten by a snake. And where Millie rolled herself in rangoli on Diwali day and came to us, all multi-colored and we had a harrowing time washing her to get the color off.

My father eventually cracked real estate when I was 18 and we had a house with a garden, mango and guava trees, front and back entrances and all of that. But it wasn’t meant to be. That home resulted in a legal battle that took the rest of my father’s youth. That home also broke us as a family.

Meanwhile, I watched friends dating preapproved men on the EMI market, marrying into real estate, divorcing with real estate. I saw them upgrading to house number two just before they had a baby. To house no. 3 before they planned the second one. I saw their homes, immaculate and perfect, their walls adorned with art that never reflected who they were.

When I was pregnant with Re, I wistfully thought of myself as an ill prepared parent. We didn’t have a house, I couldn’t visualize a permanent address; I wondered what kind of security could I possibly offer him. It’s been five going on six years, and things haven’t been bad. Re has moved homes thrice already. He is magically Zen about it. Between home two and three, there was some turmoil, but then help came in the form of a kitten we rescued on the road and our transition got diffused in kitten care and all was well. Home three to four was smoother than I ever thought. It helped that it was on a hill.

But I never flinch whenever there is a “permanent address’ column in any form that I have to fill (and I still end up filling a few of them). I just smile and write my mother’s address. It’s a place I still go to when I feel impermanent.

And it no longer bothers me when I have to move. I just gather my best art, curtains, a few cushions and Re’s castle. I put them up. And it becomes home, so effortlessly.

 

(The above post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 16th March 2015)

When I was your age…

Yesterday and tomorrowWhenever adults (primarily parents or teachers) talk about kids, it usually begins with, “Kids these days…”. They talk about kids these days having gotten everything all messed up. Or that kids these days just aren’t what they used to be. There is of course the usual  talk of lack of “respect” or “responsibility” and the mandatory flashbacks into their time, usually beginning with, “When we were younger…”

Adults love to begin sentences with, “When I was your age…” We have all heard our versions of: “When I was your age, children knew to respect their parents. We owned up to our responsibilities. We took advantage of our opportunities. We made our own road…”

The thing about teaching is that you end up spending a lot of time with children and adults alike. And your mind is throwing you in entirely opposite directions. Among adults, there is usually a covert and mostly an overt condescension of the times we live in, the access (and often luxury) that children have, and the scant regard they have for their resources or the abundance of it. Among children, it is often how adults don’t get them.

I don’t know whether it’s because I have a small child (he is five going on six) and that growing down with him has significantly helped in parenting, but I find myself veering towards the children and I often wonder what the adults are bemoaning.

Our parents did it to us:

“Do you know I had to walk six kilometres and them swim a river to get to school?”, my father would say.  “We had to stitch our own clothes and wear them till they were threadbare,” my mother would add.

And we do it to our children:

“Do you know your father works 16 hours a day so we can give you this education?

“Do you know that we didn’t have television in our house till we were in college? And even that one didn’t have a remote control?”

“Do you know that I had to wait till I got a job to get a mobile phone”

“We never had any toys or puzzles; we just played with mud, stones and leaves!”

Can it really be that every generation is so profoundly different? How can the past always be ‘the good old days’ or ‘tough old days’? Why is now never romantic or perfect? What is this obsession with nostalgia to feel good about ourselves, the things we do and how we do them?

The further away we get from the here and now, the more our perspective becomes skewed. In our reminiscing, we compare what we see to our so-called memories, not to facts. We see it all through the veil of ourselves, our own lives, our own transitions, our own selective remembering. It’s convenient, really. And isn’t it nicer to think that you were once better than all that?

It’s convenient to take the easy way out and look at all the signs that point to the shocking newness of the present moment—the power of social media; the seeming abundance of choices for today’s youth that make the options of yore seem quaint.

But then, wouldn’t the first telephone and television have caused a similar agony among our ancestors?

It reminds me of the last few lines of Shel Silverstein‘s poem, “When I was your age”

 My uncle said, “How old are you?”
I said, “Nine and a half,” and then
My uncle puffed out his chest and said,
“When I was your age… I was ten.”

In these lines lies the problem with our memory of the past. You can idealize the good old days and bemoan the sorry state of today’s youth. You can point out how much harder it was in the past and how easy everyone has it now. Whatever your version, one thing is clear: our memory becomes warped over time.

The truth is, we grow up when we need to grow up. And growing up is hard. It has always been. It will always be. Humans are unusually good at stepping up when they need to, at taking on responsibility and living up to expectations when circumstances call. But they should truly call for it to happen. Becoming an adult is not just a necessity, it’s also a choice.

But for the children of today, there’s less of a hurry. They don’t need to help on the family rice fields, take over the family cloth business. They’ll grow up when they need to. And if they have the leisure of prolonging that moment of not-quite-adulthood, who are we to blame them for taking advantage of it? They have the leisure of choice. But is it their fault?

 

(A version of this post appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 2nd March, 2015)

An English teacher’s ode to Bollywood

I am just back from a class excursion with 50 adolescents. We went rappelling, rock-climbing, jungle cooking, bird watching, star-gazing, zip lining, trust-walking, obstacle clearing, bonfire singing and dancing, tree-climbing and strawberry picking, among other things. It was my first excursion as a teacher. The kids’ hormones were on overdrive, their responses to everything was hugely exaggerated and their ability to talk endlessly often tired me out. But what was interesting is despite our age gap, we had plenty of common ground.

On the onward bus journey which lasted five hours, there were the usually medley of jokes, knock- knocks and smart one liners doing the rounds. I watched, curious, not knowing how entertainment in today’s generation would unfold. Eventually they began singing, and in a few minutes, the verdict was clear. Bollywood won. They were singing my songs, although they were singing the remix versions. I was warned about the power of One Direction in today’s adolescents, but I am sorry to report, you-cute-in-a-monochromatic-way-boys, that you are nothing in comparison to Bollywood. Within minutes, One Direction was out and “Badtameez dil” was in.

I felt a sense of excitement when I sang the lyrics of the original “Bachna ae haseeno” with Rishi Kapoor while they belted the opening bars of the Ranbir Kapoor version. I thought back and realised our excursions were the same. It’s just that our songs were different, our stars were different. It’s Ranbir, Ranveer, Varun, Arjun, Deepika, Alia, Priyanka, Katrina (they only refer to their ikons by their first name) for them. It was Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Rekha, Hema Malini, Reena Roy and the gang for us.

But I was overwhelmed that Bollywood music has the same power to unify, irrespective of how the world has changed and how technology has taken over. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I thought to myself, and smiled.

When I was in grade 4, my English teacher, Mrs Ferns asked us to make sentences with a few words she wrote on the board. One of the words was ‘favourite’. I had just watched Chupke Chupke (or was it Charas?) and I wrote, “Dharmendra is my favourite actor.” I knew it was considered ballsy in my time, but I liked him so much, I had to immortalize him on paper. Some of my classmates saw what I was writing and rolled their eyes. “They seemed to say, “I hope you are not going to turn this in!” They were the “good girls” and “good boys”, the ones who were not tarnished by Bollywood. I was the outsider who went for matinees with my dad.

Thankfully, Mrs Ferns didn’t judge me. “Oh, Dharmendra?” she said. “I prefer Vinod Khanna.” It was the first time I realised that liking the movies had nothing to do with doing well at the exams. I always cracked exams, especially English and Math.

For the music vocal exams in grade 4, while most of my class sang bhajans and patriotic songs, I sang “Na jaane kyun” from Chhoti si baat. Thankfully, there was a boy who sang “Maine tere liye” from Anand and so we sort of neutralized each other. I still remember thinking it was cool of him to wear his heart on his sleeve, and the funny thing is, I still like boys who do.

Now I teach kids of grade 7 and 8, and one of my students is high on Bollywood. She told me her role model was Alia Bhat and the only reason she wants to get through school and college is so that she can be more articulate in interviews later in life when she becomes a movie star. To that end, she really wants to get her English right and so that makes her one of my most committed students. I loved her clarity of thought. And thanks to Mrs Ferns, I didn’t judge her.

When I moved to Filmfare magazine as Managing Editor a few years ago, I could sense much speculation about my ‘shocking’ career move among my peers. “Are you sure? Bollywood?”, a few asked. I of course shrugged and said that I would try anything. Now I am a teacher, but my students never wonder about my non-linear career path. They love backstories, and the more I tell them, the more boundaries dissolve in their heads. To them, it’s a big deal that an English teacher comes from a Bollywood lineage, who thinks conversations about the movies and movie stars are also learning. It ups my cool quotient significantly, added to the fact that I have met some of their crushes, even interviewed some.

I think Bollywood is as much a part of our growing up as is Science and Math and the reason it connects with the youth is the possibility that if you are willing to put yourself out, anything can happen. And of course there are other things that Bollywood  teaches you:

  1.  You are only as old as you feel. So yes, you can be in your fifties and shimmy away (and contrary to what you may think, Madhuri Dixit is still a huge hit with the kids as is Shahrukh) if you dare enough.
  2. If there are hobbies or interests that you’ve dismissed as unattainable, it’s time to tackle them head on.
  3. If you can dream big, there is nothing that is truly challenging, scary, or nerve-wracking.
  4. If the boy or the girl rejects you, there is always a song to celebrate your pain.
  5. Thinking out of your league (boy, girl, career, profession, destination) is a risk we must all take.
  6. Never underestimate the power of a great dialog.

(This post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on Feb 23, 2015)