Whats In Your “Dabba” ?

While cleaning my kitchen cabinets I found my lunch box right at the end in a corner. I took it in my hand and suddenly it was all nostalgia. Holding it in my hand, I had so many memories flooding to me and I realized these boxes play a much bigger role in our lives than just carrying food.  They build memories, everlasting memories. They help you to learn, care, evolve and most importantly, share! 

“Dabba” as I call my lunchbox and I think most of the Indians do too. Dabba has a much more homely and affectionate feel to it than lunch box.

When I was a school going girl, we looked forward to our break. We wanted to finish our dabbas as early as possible and go out and play so it had to be something quick to finish. In my days, it was not compulsory to carry roti-sabzi or snacks prescribed by school, so it used to be chips, biscuits or sandwiches. We used to finish it and run to play. Dabbas would also help us to learn something about our friends. My mom would pack me chips whenever she was unwell, and everyone knew that my mom was unwell if there were chips in the dabba. My friend’s mom would fast on Mondays and her dabba would have sabudana wadas or khichadi and we all looked forward to Mondays. That’s the first important value that a dabba teaches – “sharing.”

Now I pack my daughter a nutritious snack, which comes back unfinished, but if I send her something interesting (junk, usually), it comes back really clean with a complaint – “my friends eat my food too, you should have packed more!” My niece was telling me recently that her grandma makes excellent shrikhand, and whenever she takes it in her dabba, nothing remains for her to eat so she has to eat her friend’s food. Finally, she started taking two, one for herself and another for her friends. 

I worked with a big IT company and had a good fortune of having that lunch hour with my colleagues. It was certainly a special time. We all would gather together at 1 PM and would be curious about what’s in everyone’s “dabba.” The lunch hour used to be about enjoying each other’s food with great conversations. Conversations are quintessential to make the experience of sharing a dabba great. A wide range of topics from in-law troubles, bitching about bosses or colleagues who aren’t at the table, a client or a customer who is giving trouble, pulling someone’s leg, office romances and gossips were discussed. Exchanging recipes and views happens over lunch time.  We used to have potlucks in office, and it would unite the team whereby everyone would chip in and take responsibility of bringing their best cooked recipes. Dabbas have better team building impact than team building exercises.  

Now that I am writing about it, I realize that the dabba plays such an important role in learning and appreciating other cultures and to an extent, incorporating those cultures in our lives from a food perspective. You invariably have a vegetarian whose religion doesn’t allow meat or onions or garlic to be consumed and everyone ensures not to cross those lines. They also broaden your food palette. You eat something new that you like and try making it at home and do your part in spreading the taste of the culture. 

I have also used dabba as a lie detector test on my daughter. I religiously pack her roti sabzi and she would bring it back saying either it was very spicy or oily. Most of the time it looked untouched. One day I packed her favourite pasta and reminded her to eat her lunch before she left for the school. After she came back from school I asked her if she finished her lunch. She responded with “you always make sabzi so spicy I couldn’t eat”. Make sure you finish what your mom pack or you will find yourself in mom’s dabba trap.

Another unique and unexplored aspect of the dabba is carrying out romantic gestures. A friend of mine would pack a dessert or some interesting snack in her husband’s lunch box and would slip a love note like “I love you” or “I miss you.” I think that is more romantic then typing up a WhatsApp message. It shows the effort that she took to bring a smile on her husband’s face when he might have least expected it. 

Before I sign off, I am sharing one more dabba memory that my daughter doesn’t allow me to forget. On Janmashtami, her school was having a small function and they were going to make dahi kala (a mix of curd and puffed rice to be offered to Lord Krishna) in school and sent a note to send an empty tiffin. I assumed the kids will get to eat there and some will be sent back home, and I sent an empty box. It turned out that all kids were supposed to get their normal dabba and an empty one. My daughter was the only one who didn’t have anything, and her teachers managed to give her some food in the break. Normally she doesn’t remember anything I tell her even if it’s 4 minutes ago, but this happened when she was in nursery and she still reminds me of that incident. 

Do you have any memorable dabba memory? Do share it in comments!

018. My Struggle As A Kidney Patient Part 11 – Second lease of life

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Anybody who goes through an illness or near death experience, truly understands how precious life is and I am no exception. 

For two years my life was a roller coaster. Physical pain, emotional turmoil combined with compromised quality of life.  I certainly defied death but I was not really living with dialysis, physical handicap and weakness. I just existed.  It all changed with the kidney transplant. My life quality really improved and so did my view of looking at life. 

You get used to the misery of your life. For two years I was in combat mode. My days were filled with dialysis, tests scans, medications, health issues and with the transplant, it all disappeared. Once I was home and adjusting with new kidney my days were empty. It felt weird in a good way. I no longer had to prepare mentally for days of dialysis. It was unbelievable. 

Things started improving even more after three weeks once my stitches were removed. I could move freely and it felt so good. All that weakness and tiredness was gone. I could eat better and drink water! Lots of water. No restrictions! I ate happily and enjoyed food. It was great not to visit hospital every alternate day. That was such a mood lifter. 

I focused on  my physical rehabilitation. I relearned walking, climbing stairs, helping myself up from the floor in case I had a fall. After being chaperoned everywhere for two years, I went on my own for a walk near my house. I stopped every two minutes feeling tired and breathless but it felt  amazing. Independence feels good. I went shopping with my friend and walked around to an extent that she had to ask me to slow down and sit for sometime. It felt great as the last time I had visited a mall, I was on a wheelchair and it was a terrible shopping experience. 

As of today, I cannot walk fast, climb stairs easily and have balancing issues . I get tired easily.I don’t look the same. I have to take heavy medications which plays havoc with your moods and appearance.  I have to avoid crowds but these are small adjustments for the quality of life that I have now.

My attitude toward life has changed a lot. I used to get worked up on small things but now I am much more chilled out. I enjoy the small things in life. Taking a walk in the park, working in my small terrace garden, reading a good book and eating without restrictions. These things sounds very ordinary but my new attitude makes them luxuries that every one should appreciate and enjoy. I am now more empathetic towards people going through tough situations. Biggest learning is value and enjoy your now, you never know when it will taken away from you. 

The emotional healing is much tougher though. There are moments when I suddenly feel that I am on the dialysis bed or waiting for the doctor in the hospital. Sometimes I wake up in the middle night and some of the moments from the hospital plays out in my mind. Its scary! It is not easy to forget.  Five six months after my transplant, Mamata suggested me  to write down my entire journey.  She said it will help people who are going through a life threatening disease and it will also help you to get it out of your system.  It will be like a therapy. I agreed. 

It was not  easy though. I was sceptical if anybody would be interested in my story which was quite dark and gloomy. I started to write and every time I attempted to write, I would end up in tears.In fact, I have cried writing most of these blogs. It is not easy to relive the past but I am happy I did.

I called up people to find out what happened, spoke to my daughter for the unadulterated version of the situations. All this time,I had never bothered to ask anyone what happened during the days I was unconscious. I was amazed at the gravity of the situation. I never realised it as I was unconscious. A lot of information was new for me too. Writing it all down has been a great catharsis. 

I am overwhelmed with all the appreciation and praise I have got from all those who read my blogs. It was wonderful when I received positive comments and messages and asking for the next blog. It made the entire exercise worthwhile.  A big heartfelt  “Thank You” to all for reading my health journey. 

Before I sign off I would like to reiterate “ health is not valued till sickness comes”  I paid a heavy price to realise that and I urge you to learn from my story and take care ! 

PS: 

Many of you have suggested that I should take up writing and I am.  I have set up a Facebook page  called Miracle Moments where I will be publishing blogs on various topics.  Do subscribe to the page. 

What Type Of A Gym Person Are You?

Finally the gyms in Maharashtra can be open from 24th October and there is excitement as well as apprehensions about it.  COVID is a difficult bitch. 

Gym goers are definitely missing gyms and reason is entirely not about fitness. I joined a gym 10 years back, primarily to lose weight and continued to go to there to lose weight quite unsuccessfully. The reason people including me keep going there because then you become a part of a universe which is quite disconnected from your friends and family. You make new friends, find love, learn new things, get that solitude as you get fit .

I observed many people who worked out at the same time I did and have classified them in certain types. I am sure you can identify yourselves and other gym members to one of these types. 

Fit Ninjas : I do not like to call them gym rats. They are serious about their fitness and health goals. You will always find them working out, doing advance level of exercises and give advise to others. They carry their protein supplements in workout area. Most of them have great work out clothes too. 

My trainer and I: These people only work out with trainer and make everyone know that they have hired a trainer. Most of them are snobbish and pity people working out on their own. 

Lovebirds: They are their for love. Love for each other and of course fitness! They join the gym first and then they find love or it can be vice a versa. This category is seriously discussing which machines to use, do couple workouts, take a long water break, crack jokes, click pictures. They are pure delight to observe when you are walking on dreadmill. 

Mommy Club: Deadliest of them all. They are talking and laughing loudly, exchanging family updates and recipes, openly flirting with the trainers,  ambush fitness ninjas for their tips and not follow them. If they get time in between all this they do work out! The party moves from the gym floor to changing rooms to car parks and if time permits a coffee and breakfast, lunches, gossip sessions, the list goes on. They complain with the gym management the most, as they spend ample time observing the gym operations than working out.

The Rock – You will find them in weight section. Guys with muscles and who do heavy lifting. They are invariably wearing racer back t-shirts. They do not look at anyone. Most of the weight section has mirrors and  these hunks are marvelling at their biceps and triceps during their break. They lift and admire themselves in the mirror with full awareness that everyone is watching them. 

Fashion brigade: They are naturally blessed with good bodies and  wear fantastic workout clothes. They are their to be noticed. They are clicking selfies or shooting their workouts to gram it. These cannot be clubbed in narcissist as they need acknowledgement of how lovely they look and make efforts to connect with people. Nice people and makes the gym environment easy on eyes. 

Tintins:  Teenagers usually come with someone or in a group. They are looking at people working out with amusement and in their mind relating them either with a cartoon , character, or an animal. They catch two adjacent machines and when they find something funny, look at each other and giggle uncontrollably.   

Sweaty Joes: They sweat a lot and I mean a lot!! I mean you are in gym to sweat it out but so much.  The good ones have a gym towel and clean each and every machine after using them. 

Lone Ranger: They go to the gym, do the drill, observe the people, make absolute no effort to talk to anyone .  They like to be left alone with their music. It’s their downtime. 

I belong to two  types “My trainer and I” and “lone ranger”. I hired a trainer for the lack of motivation to exercise on my own. My trainer became a good friend of mine and great conversations (gossip) was an added bonus. On the days I did not work out with the trainer, I was a loner. I chose a machine and listened to my songs. No one would notice me. 

Do you identify yourself with one of these types?   Let me know yours in the comments section. 

Writing Prompt SOCS Letter M- Mirror Mirror on the wall

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

We all have heard and read this story. Every time the evil queen asks the question to mirror expecting her name to come up, mirror takes the snow whites’s name. What follows is saga of jealousy, gaining supremacy and in the end snow white is victorious. 

The story plays out differently in our lives now. You are the evil queen as well as the Snow White. The mirror has been replaced by the social media.

We are forever clicking selfies, photoshop them to get that flawless skin, lovely cheeks and beautiful smile.  We post them and check with bated breath for the first like  and then every five minutes how many likes and comments are being received.  When you get the response as per your wish you are the Snow White and when you don’t you are the evil queen. 

The evil queen keeps looking for answer, that perfect selfie or a post. Till she gets that she throws herself in the vicious cycle of low self esteem, depression and feeling of rejection. 

Wouldn’t be the best if you try to be the mirror instead of snow white or evil queen. Mirror sees exactly what is in front of eyes, it is honest, it doesn’t lie. It is the fairest character of the story!  Be the mirror!

The Saturday prompt by Linda G Hill Stream of consciousness Saturday #SOCS starts with M . to know more visit the link below and enjoy my post

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/24840312/posts/2982119933

017.My Struggle As kidney Patient Part 10: Not Without Them

Reading my journey, I am sure you must have noticed the tremendous support Dinesh and I have received from our family and friends.  Difficult times are true barometer of people who stand by you in your difficult times and I am extremely lucky in this department. 

My illness got me closer to people with whom I was already close and also got closer with people who I was closer once but kind of lost keeping touch with regularly. 

Our friends became a pillar of support in the initial trying phase of my illness. While Dr. Sanjeev helped with overseeing my treatment rest of friends were taking care of Dinesh who was having hard time grasping with situation. His wife Mona was there for my transplant to make me feel comfortable and updated Dinesh about surgery. Dinesh’s other friends Dinar, Jyotsna, Satish did not leave his side, waited with him in the hospital, slept in the car in the hospital parking area and boasted his morale. They would visit me regularly in the hospital as well as home when I was little better. My friend Sarika came every day in the evening to give me and Mamata company. 

When Dinesh had to move to Mumbai, all of them were on my sister’s speed dial and would come home to help her with me. There was one instance when I was not feeling well in the night I ended up crying, Mona and Jyotsna came all the way to console me and cheer me up and left only once I fell asleep. They would take Sayali with them to spend time with their kids.

My kitty gang did not have our monthly luncheon when I was unwell and even when I was in isolation, kept me in good spirits. 

Few friends who do not live in Pune but are regularly in touch found it unusual when I stopped responding to their messages and calls. They knew something was wrong and called Dinesh and kept enquiring about me. One of my friends on my not responding to her calls went to the extent of taking out her late husbands cell, charge it and  dial Dinesh’s number. When she found out my illness, she dropped everything and came to meet me next day all the way from Mumbai. I am so touched with that gesture. 

My college gang kept calling me frequently and came to meet me which was a much needed breather in my otherwise boring existence that year. Just not my friends, even my sisters friends came to meet once they realise how grave the situation was and my sister needed comforting shoulder. 

My colleagues kept checking on me, called me and visit me. In fact in one of the annual meet ,my team recorded a lovely video message and signed a get well card and sent me. I still watch that video. 

I also got very close to my cousins. We were always close but kind of got busy once we got married with our life, work and kids. My cousin Vrushali had called Dinesh to wish him on his birthday and came to know about me. The next day, all my family members made a trip to hospital. They would cheer me up. I had lost my appetite and refused to eat hospital food. My eldest cousin Anita Tai, would cook a sumptuous lunch and send every day including a dessert which invariably was the only thing I ended up eating. 

At home, they would often come home and spend time with us. This was such a relief for Mamata, she would have someone to talk to as I would be sleeping most of the time. Vrushali who is a  Pranic healing practitioner , an alternative healing therapy, came thrice a week for that entire year during her lunch break to give me therapy. Her healing sessions would relax me and help me sleep better. When we were not in a mood of healing, the session ended up being a gossip session. 

As a family, we are much closer today compared to few years back.  In fact when Anitatai’s  daughter was getting married, we had a party for her at my place and everyone was there. It was really enjoyable. If you have ignored your family ties, don’t wait for someone to fall sick to regroup. Life is short and unpredictable. 

Just not my family and friends, our domestic helps have played a huge role. Apeksha was a hired nurse but she proved to be an outstanding support. She ensured I was taking my medication on time, reached dialysis on time. She was extremely vigilant when it came to my help. Many of the hospital staff would ask her help as she was a trained nurse. 

My driver Sachin didn’t take any leaves till I was going through dialysis, he would always come whenever he was needed. I would scold him if I didn’t want to go for dialysis but he wouldn’t listen and he along with Apeksha made sure I reached on time for my dialysis. He was among few who offered his kidney for me. My nanny Radhika who was with us for five years looked after Sayali so well. We didn’t have to worry about her school, classes at all.  Once Mamata asked Sayali in a lighter mood “who are you scared of the most?”  She said “Radhika” It was bit of a shocker for all of us but she was the one who kept her in the line. 

I have lost the count of people who came to meet me and cheer me up. So many of them have prayed for me, wished me good health and it is because of them I have been able to come out of my illness. 

If there was a Forbes list of richest people on earth on the basis of good people in their life, I would make it to that list for sure!