Dec 28, 2011

My New Year's No-Resolution!

Unlike Calvin, I don't think I'm perfect the way I am. However, my New Year's Resolution in 2012 is not to have a New Year's Resolution.

Am I making sense at all?

Statistically, The third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year. By that time, New Year's Resolutions have already been broken, the lull after the festive season have just set in, you're in the middle of the work humdrum  and yet summer sun is still nowhere in sight. 

I've never remembered following each of my New Year's Resolution list throughout the whole year! I consider myself pretty strong willed but sometimes I feel I don't take my New Year's Resolution seriously! Why should I when I'm just following trend?

On my birthdays, I always have a list of things I want to do for the next year. Through the years, I realized I have a habit of  procrastinating my lists. A few months before my next birthday, I'd go through the list and rush to make sure I marked off the list that sometimes, I admit (sheepishly), I do the things on my list just because I want to tick them off. Does that make sense to you? My whole point of making the list in the first place is to venture out of my comfort zone and enjoy and live in every single moment of it! FAIL!!

And to think that I would have two lists every year?? Who am I kidding?

This year, the day after Christmas day, on the darkest shade of blue Mondays, I woke up late, a bit sore and a blocked nose. I knew my week of reflecting on the passing year and making my New Year's Resolution has started. As I took out a sheet pad and a pen to start jotting down, I realized the first on my list was "Have Breakfast at breakfast hours ". Ironic isn't it? The first Resolution in my list is, but, something I am sure I will break on the first day of the New Year!  

Let's keep it real here!!

I, therefore, bask in the last days of 2011 and wait to say 'Hello' to a resolution-free New Year!

Dec 26, 2011

Top Six Things I'm Thankful for in 2011

Just a few days left for 2011. And though I'm excited to enter a New Year, I feel I should reflect and jot down the things I'm thankful for during this year. I started with a detailed list, and after writing a really long list,  I realize I'd never finish writing this post. So I rounded off with my Top Six. What surprised me is that my Top Six things are things that I've always taken for granted! 

So here it goes:

1. Academically, this year has seen me gain another degree (or at least half of it). I finished my MPhil's Viva Voce and embarked on yet another (scarier) journey- a PhD.

2. My Family. Especially my dad. Even though I will forever long for a sister, my brothers make a 'helluva'  butt kickin' siblings. But when you have only one parent with you, you learn the value of having him for another year! I'm really blessed and immensely thankful to have my dad with me for another year of my life! I hope and pray I have him with me for many many more years to come, spoiling my (future) kids and sharing them his struggle stories when they reach their difficult teenage years!!

3. No hospitals throughout the year! :D I visited the Campus Health Center plenty and yes! I did fracture my ribs on 'the great fall' but I wasn't admitted in any hospital! Gone are my years in Shillong when I'd be admitted in a hospital every year! I was admitted thrice in a hospital during my final year of college! And though I've been to a lot of hospitals this year, thankfully, I was never the patient. To think that I'm hospital free for a year while I live in a polluted and unhealthy city! Ah! That's something to be thankful for.

4. Sunday School. When The Delhi Mizo Christian Fellowship branched out to three services in May, my heart sank for Sunday School. I was apprehensive about the number of children who would come to class and where we would meet. For more than six months, we have been meeting in the Chief Minister's Committee Room in Mizoram House, Vasant Vihar. Although a bit small, we can somehow manage by taking some of the classes in the corridors. I am particularly thankful for my class of teenagers who have made the best number of students in their Department during my five years teaching Sunday School. I know I'd sound tacky but this year, I've realized all over again that I've given my heart to Sunday School ever since I've started teaching in it since my college days.

South Delhi Mizo Inkhawm Naupang Sunday School: Group picture just after our 'interesting' Nativity Skit!

5. Choir. I'm thankful to be a part of the Delhi Mizo Choir. Being a part of the Choir has taken me to places I'd never have the chance to go had I not been a part of it. Plus I've met some of my closest and most loved friends in the choir. I know I don't have a powerful pair of lungs but I'm happy to be there for song practices and singing my heart out in the choir! I didn't think of the choir this way untill that day in November when I lost my voice to laryngitis for four very deafeningly silent days!

The Last DMI Combined Choir before branching out. (2011)

DMI Choir in 1983. I wasn't born yet when this picture was taken but we have one member who's present in both the pictures. To that person .... SALUTE!!

6. The Roommate: Sharing a very small living space with someone makes you realize the value of a good roommate. I'm extremely thankful for my present one and it's not just because of her love for karaoke! :D

Ah! The list is even more generic than I thought it would be!! But then, when it comes down to list out the things you're grateful for, I realize it's always back to the basics!

2011, You've been a good year!!

Dec 24, 2011

A Christmas Post.

Recently, a friend of mine who moved to Australia a few years ago wrote to me and told me that she still can't get used to Christmas in Australia because it's falls in peak summer over there. I read her mail while bundled up in an electric blanket while an old wool cap itched my forehead but I couldn't help but being thankful for the cold Delhi evening because the dipping temperature makes it even more festive for me. Unlike my friend, I have never spent a warm Christmas in my life yet despite all my cold Christmases, I've never spend a snowy Christmas either.   

It will be my fifth Christmas away from home and my third consecutive Christmas here in Delhi. Until a few days back, I didn't long for home. But since last night, I have been very very homesick. Though I didn't want to admit it, there's a tiny voice in the back of my head screaming at me, telling me that I should have fought to be back home this time around.

What is it with Christmas that always makes you long for the things you don't have??

When I was six, my uncle passed away in an accident. My mom and my uncle were the closest among their siblings and it was my mom who supported my uncle through engineering college. My uncle's demise left my mother so shattered that she couldn't even sit for her Master's finals. I learnt, years later, that was something she wished she could have braved through. The last thing my mother told me before she passed away was not to let grieve get the best of me. The Christmas after my uncle passed away was the saddest Christmas for my family especially for my mom. I remembered hearing her cry on Christmas morning and I remembered us visiting my uncle's grave soon after Christmas service got over.

The most painful Christmas I've ever spent was the first Christmas without Ma. Since my mom and I were the only two females in the family, all the festive decorations and the cooking usually fell into our hands. That Christmas, I remembered decorating our tree, hanging the silver bells that my mom and I picked carefully from the stores just a year ago. If anything was difficult that Christmas, it was hanging a silver bell without bursting into tears. Even a single red ribbon held too much memory. I remembered sitting by her grave that Christmas Eve, wondering if she'll like the flowers I brought for her. I remembered asking silently 'I didn't let grieve get the best of me, Did I, Nu?' while I helped with the Christmas Church Feast that year.

That was 8 years ago, but even tonight, here I am in the wee hours of the morning, punching this line with a lump in my throat because I long for the mother I no longer have. Why is it that this pain always gets magnified when Christmas draws near?  I wonder if it is the same for anyone else!

I've told myself many Christmases ago, that I should be thankful for the things I have and cherish the memories of the loved ones no longer with me. I tell myself that, every single Christmas for the past 7 years. I'll tell myself that very same thing tonight too!


This Christmas, take time to cherish the memories, take time to remember them, relive the moments in your head. Take time to remember her face, her smile, her voice, her laughter. Take time to remember how she called your name or how her hands felt on your hair. It's OK to shed tears and laugh through the funny memories in your head. But, take time to thank God for those memories. Take time to be thankful for having the experience of receiving a mother's love for 18 years of your life. 

Take time to be thankful for what you have. Take time to thank God for your family. Take time to thank God for taking you this far. Take time to thank God for the things you usually take for granted.

But most importantly, take time to look inside to see what Christmas is all about. 

Take time to remember that Christmas is not all about you, your pain and your loneliness. Christmas is, but, about the Gift of Life that has been given to you. Take time to be thankful for and rejoice in the Ultimate Gift!

For if you spend Christmas without the Ultimate Gift, Christmas would just be another cold and lonely day in December.


Merry Christmas one and all!! May you spend Christmas with the Ultimate Gift!

Dec 14, 2011

Of Parikrama, the 'high-note Toes' and being a choir member

It all started last Thursday afternoon. I had a late lunch at the Library canteen and walked around the campus, stretching my legs and killing time before my five o'clock English classes when a friend called me out of the blue. He wanted to know if I'm free for the evening for a song practice for background vocals for Parikrama. I paused. Parikrama??? "Yeah. The rockband." he replied.

A few hours later, four of us, Apuii, Moses, RC and I (one for each part) were whisked away in Sonam's car to a bungalow somewhere in Sainik farms. We came to learn that members of the band had a project for a movie soundtrack and they wanted a choir singing and humming in the background of the song. So after Sonam (Need I say he's the band's guitarist and married to a Mizo?) gave us the lines, we sat together preparing and harmonizing the notes. I must confess, we didn't do anything mighty for it was all of three lines and a bridge.

The recording, it turns out, was for a presentation. So until it got approved by the director of the movie, it's not the 'real' thing yet! But that didn't stop us from going into recording the next day. We spent a good couple of hours in the studio and wrapped it up as the band has a show the same evening and we had a funeral to attend. It was only for a few hours but were we proud to back up even just a demo recording for the band!! 

What surprised me was how pleasant the guys were during the practice and the recording. They talked a lot, laughed and joked with us and were so pleasant to work with. During the practice, either one of the three guys present there would pop in every ten minutes asking if we need anything. And during the recording, if there's one thing which amused everyone, it's my multicolored skull socks. And I thought I was so rocker-chic sporting them!! And before I could get over the amusement, Sonam would point at my toes yet again and laugh!!

When the recording started, My-oh-my, was I nervous!! Apuii was the first one to record her part and she didn't have any problem with it. But when it comes to me, my first take was all pitchy and flat! And I realized I  was shaking when I couldn't hold a note for a mere three seconds. But a few more takes, a lot of deep breaths and bouncing around the room helped me gain back my confidence until I came to a particularly high note. Then the choir girl in me broke loose. I tiptoed while working to hit the high note, silently wishing I had my high heels on!

Well, for people who didn't get the tiptoe, my way of hitting a high note is by transforming myself into a string puppet - neck stretched, shoulders pushed back and low and working every muscle in my legs down to the toes. I didn't even realized I was doing the string puppet posture when the room bursted out laughing. Moses and Apuii were quick to point to my toes while Nitin confessed that even though he was staring straight ahead, he couldn't help but notice my colorful pointy toes. Then he quickly added that his way of hitting a high note is by tilting his head with a slight neck twist. Ah! I should remember to look out for that  move when I go back and stalk him! Hee Hee!

This experience will go down in my CV for a lifetime. And whenever I come across another Parikrama fan, I'd tell them of the experience. But then again, coming back to the main motive for this post, I'd never have this experience had I not been an active member of the Delhi Mizo Choir.

I was 16 when I left home for my studies, and hardly active in my own church and choir. Even though I was a member of the church worship team during college, I didn't get the chance to be a part of any choir until I came to Delhi where I decided that I would not waste my time by NOT being a choir member. Of course, being a choir member here in Delhi takes a lot of your time, your money and energy. You have to pay for your own travel expenses to and fro practice, sacrifice your leisure time and most of the practice evenings, you miss dinner hour in campus. But then again, we all have to make sacrifices for the things we love doing and I LOVE singing in the choir. But it doesn't take long to realize that those little sacrifices pay off. My closest friends are people I met in the choir. They are people I rely on and people who pull me back on track when I needed it. My five years with the Delhi Mizo Choir has seen me, of all the people, singing for the President of India, the Prime Minister of India and countless other religious dignitaries. And now, a contrast, a Rockband.

I know for a fact that most parents back home, send their children out with the line " i zirna zu ngai pawimawh ber la, kohhran leh khawtlangah zuk inhmang tam suh ang che ". Even my family is not free of such parents. My uncles, still have a problem with me being an active member of the choir and a sunday school teacher. But then I thank God for a father who told me 10 years ago " Theihtawpin i zirlai i zir anga, mahse kohhran leh khawtlang hmantlakloh lehkhathiam nih hlau hle ang che". If I'm bragging, then please let me brag, because 10 years later, I'm just beginning to realize what a sound advice that was.

But then coming back to Parikrama, I decided that night that I'm way too old to be a screaming fan girl. But I now regret. I should've taken a picture with Nitin Malik. Apuii and I developed a huge 'old maid' crush on Parikrama's frontman but we decided to stay classy and composed!! Who were we kiddin'?? The composed girl wasn't so composed when she spotted the Les Paul Slash Signature that she stole a moment during a tea break for a picture ! Ah! How well do I know myself ?! I guess I was a bigger fan of the guitar than the vocalist! Sorry, Nitin, we still love your no-hair! :)

The Les Paul Slash Signature and the 'amusing' skull socks! :D

Dec 5, 2011

Of 'imperfect' families and 'fitting right in'!

At first, I thought it would be a quiet dinner for two friends who hardly have the time to catch up. Since there's no song practice after church, we had an impromptu plan where we'd catch up over a plate of crispy dry chilly lamb. The evening turned out to be more than we expected.

My friend, a very responsible daughter, soon started outing tearful tales of her family problems - problems, I know, bad enough to be shared with someone who's not family. While I listened to her, wishing there's something I could do, I also somehow admired her for having the strength to share problems so intimate and personal yet I felt so inadequate to be the one hearing all of the problems. We went for a short walk after dinner and she took an auto home. 

On my way back, as I closely hugged my jacket against the dipping temperature, it got me thinking about the complexities of life and family and about my own in particular. I don't have the perfect family. And I will lament on the incompleteness of my family for a lifetime. After all, losing a mother can never be fair to any human. There will be certain personal clashes in the family. After all, despite the fact that we share bloodlines, we are all born with different personalities. But at the end of the day, as dysfunctional as we are, we are still family. And in times of need, we will somehow turn to each other and stick by each other.

My mother was my role model. Right from the way she was active in church to the way she used to dress only in neutral colors. Till today, I look at situations and problems and try to envision my mother handling those and I try to do the same. She was my superwoman  who could defeat everything that could even slightly harm her family. My father is my hero. When I was a child, he was the man who could do no wrong and the invincible man. But it took me 18 years to realize that my parents were also human beings. My mother was but a woman who loves her family fiercely but who also, in the end, succumbed to cancer. My dad, somehow, was also just a man who was lost without the love of his life, his wife and the mother of his four children; a man who somehow struggled to stitch his life back together after burying his own heart. 

It turns out, my mother was no superwoman and my dad is nowhere near the invincible man I envisioned him to be. They turned out to be just human beings after all, prone to mistakes, problems and who could also be haunted by the bad decisions they made years ago. And my brothers... ah! my brothers! I could write books and books about their irresponsible behavior and how frustratingly human they can get.

The funniest thing about life and family, I feel, is that in life we don't get to choose our roots yet we get to be a part of them for the rest of our lives. And as dysfunctional or imperfect that our families are, we get to be a part of that imperfection for our lifetime. I've heard of people who've turned their backs on their families and choose to face the world alone. Definitely not me! I'm such a loser when it comes to facing the world alone. I don't want to face the world alone, I don't want to face problems solo. At the same time, I don't want to celebrate success alone and I don't want to go through milestones in life without someone to share it with. I need my family behind me, to celebrate with me and be proud of me when I succeed and to fall back on in times of loss.

I know I don't have the perfect family. But I have a family who stands by each other, a family who loves and respects me. My brothers and I don't always get along but we all want the best for each other. I have a Dad who loves and  values me in a way no man ever will. I had a mother for 18 years of my life and aunts who worry over me, sometimes too overwhelmingly. 'Overwhelming' meaning setting a meet-up between you and some 'eligible bachelor'.

I have nephews and nieces who all fight for a sleepover since I am the cool A Ni who lives in Delhi and comes home once a year. I never slept in a bed during my summer in Aizawl, my bed or even my dad's giant bed was too small for 3 sometimes 4 little bodies who'd suddenly take up four times the space of their body size when they fall asleep. So we always end up sleeping all over the floor!! I have a niece who's the spitting image of me and who even sounds like me, and another who shares my name (at least half of it).

I know I'm so much less than the perfect daughter. Despite all my goodwill and my 'genuine' love, I know I'm the daughter who stays a thousand miles away, the daughter who's hardly home for Christmas and the daughter who's hardly there for my dad even when he gets sick. I am but the aunt who disciplines the nieces too much that sometimes their mother refuses to speak to me; the sister who's everything but docile; the cook who's always close to burning water in the kitchen; the tigress who's ready to bite if anyone leaves a footprint on my freshly waxed floor and the sister who gives a long lecture while doing laundry for the brothers she hardly takes care of!

So somehow, I fit right in with my imperfect family. And I know that if I conquered the world or even landed at the bottom of it, my family are the people who'd be there with me. So what if we have problems we sometimes  find it difficult to weather? We're in this for life! And while so, we'll learn to live with and for each other!

So here's to my dysfunctional family. I'm proud and thankful to be a part of the imperfection!