Day 84 100words100days: explain yourself to your parents (fiction/non-fiction)

Dear Mum and Dad,

When I was younger, you didn’t want me to care so much about those outside the privileged inner circle. Now I’m older, and you wish I cared more.

The thing is, I’m not going to be able to do things at the pace you did them. I might never do the things you did. I might do many things you didn’t.

I might spend my whole life “finding” myself. I might never truly know what I want. Or want what I know. Or I might want the things and people and experiences you don’t approve of or don’t fathom. Or, at some undefined point, I might want exactly the kind of life you want for me.

I need support from you. I am still an idealist, hiding under covers of cynicism, waiting to throw them off and dance in the rain while the sun promises a rainbow at an opportune moment. But my idealism is fragile. I don’t need you to be the voice of my worst fears- I have inhabitants in my mind who prepare me for the worst foreseeable outcomes always. I need you to tell me that in some places the sun does always shine, and the conditions are just right. I’m nearly at the start of my fourth decade, but I still need you to tell me things can be okay, that the world can be a wonderful place. I want to believe that it can be, and if you say so, I know I will.

I’m finally coming to terms with things I can’t change- my height, for instance. The fact that I allowed other people’s ideas of what women can and cannot do to define some of my major life choices. I know I can’t hold you responsible for issues like these- and I’m working on that. In my own way. In my own time.

Much love,

FED

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Day 85: Why MOOC’s do (or don’t) work

Day 81 100words100days: Life as a native (child of the soil)

I can point out to you the places where the houses my ancestors lived in once stood. I can show you land that once belonged to them, that has been lost for better or worse.

I know the names of my grandparents’ grandparents and the villages they came from.

I can list the countries they travelled to, the places they worked in, far away from their homes, sometimes eking out a living, sometimes doing fairly well.

I might not speak the “native” language very well, but I bleed rust-red and salty, like the mud that supports fruit-bearing trees around my home, trees planted by people whose names have been lost, but whose auras still linger.

I do not currently live there, but what happens to my quasi-village still affects me.

I dream of home, and a better world, and me in it.

Day 82: Write a story for a younger cousin (0-10)

Day 78 100words 100 days: Write a pitch for a word you think should be included in the dictionary

If there is just one word that can be added to every single dictionary in every language in the world during my lifetime, let it be a neutral personal pronoun, preferably one that isn’t awkward to use.

I think humanity has reached the point at which it should neither be forced to use the patriarchal, all-encompassing he nor should it feel compelled to ‘advance’ to the apologetic-like behaviour of using she everywhere to compensate for the millennia of suppression and oppression of the feminine voice.

Neither gender owns the narrative. They both form it and shape it and guide it and grow it.

This is where Hindi has one up on English- the word वह can be he or she or even it.

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Day 79: write a story for a younger cousin, in the age group of 11-15 years

Day 77 100words100days: Pick a garment and elaborate the care instructions in verse

Ah, retail.

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I have this mustard t-shirt in a size 22

I know it’s big for me, but I like the way it looks.

It’s made of cott’n and polyester and it is far from new

Though I’ve looked after it so well, you can’t tell if that’s the truth.

I never bleach it or dry clean it, cos that’s against the rules

And if and when I iron, the heat’s a dot away from cool.

When it is time to wash it, the water’s 40 degrees max

With the tee inside out to protect the design printed in black.

If my drying option’s the machine, it must be normal and low heat,

Or I dry it in the shade to save electricity.

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Day 78: Write a pitch for a word you think should be included in the dictionary

Day 76 100words100days Write the story of your grandparents (fiction/non-fiction)

Written especially for my little cousin Josiah, who turns 16 today. He didn’t get much time with my maternal grandfolks, aka Mummy and Papa, because they passed away when he was quite small. Here’s a small snippet of who they were, Jos. Happy birthday!

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Mummy was fifteen years younger than Papa. He was the younger son and second youngest child of a big family- big both in terms of the number of family members, and status in his village. She was the youngest daughter and antepenultimate child of an equally large and well-known family from a village farther north.

She said she wasn’t sure about marrying a man so much older than herself, but since their families had known one another for a long time, and were neighbours in Bombay, she decided to go ahead and accept his proposal of marriage.

I’m glad she did.

They were wed in a Bombay that had recently lost the sparkle of being a jewel in the crown of the British Empire. Their wedding pictures – those that I’ve seen- are black and white, with a wonderful clarity that I sometimes have trouble achieving with my smart phone. Mummy has a slightly peaked headdress, and a veil that fans out just a little behind her. Papa looks dashing in his tails and top hat.

Together they had four children- two boys and two girls, of whom my mum is the second child-, lived in three countries- India, Pakistan, and Kenya-, were expats and then foreign-returns, Portuguese and then Indian, spoke several languages including English, Konkani, Swahili, and what my grandmother referred to as Hindustani, had many trades, held and loved eight grandchildren (the ninth came after Mummy passed away), and built a home that welcomed family and friends from all parts of the world.

Mummy passed away about fifteen years ago. A year before that, she and Papa celebrated 50 years of being married. Papa stuck around for a few more years, and was four years short of becoming a centenarian when he passed away.

They were awesome. They made us feel loved. They fed us. They told us stories. They looked after my sister, me, and all our little cousins whenever it was necessary. I know they were fallible human beings, but they did their best to make up for it.

P.S. Mummy- I know you preferred Grandma as your honorific, but some habits die hard even 15 years later.

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Day 77: Pick a garment and elaborate the care instructions in verse

Day 74: A series of limericks about 1st world problems

I don’t know how it came to be:

There’s a leaf out of place on this tree.

It seems rather savage

To not shape all foliage.

Have you not heard of topiary?

—–

There once was some food on a plate.

It was not at all well-arranged.

The presentation was hardly

Instagram-worthy.

It might as well have been torched by a flame.

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I don’t know how I’ll get through today:

I don’t have FB or BBM or email.

My Whatsapp’s not workin,

My LinkedIn is shirkin-

How will I ignore those I hate?

—-

I know this sounds mean but it’s true-

Some countries just don’t know what to do

When their citizens are unhappy-

They should discuss what is crappy.

Now agree or I might shoot you.

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Yes, I know the last one is a wee bit stereotypical.

It also occurs to me that all the First-World problems I’ve come up with are rather superficial. Surely those who think they are more advanced have some profound thoughts as well?

Sincerely,

A citizen of the “developing” world

Day 75: Live long and prosper- a blessing or a curse?

Day 69 100words100days Having an eco-friendly wedding in India

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So you’ve decided to get married.

How lovely. Congratulations to both of you and your family.

How many people are on your guest list? 300? This is not Sparta, my dear. This is a wedding. You need to invite at least 500 of your closest family and friends to make it a proper occasion.

But you also need to preserve the Earth for the babies that will inevitably come into being following your grand union celebration.

A few simple things you can do:

1. Don’t use thermocol-anythings. That means no confetti. No centrepiece. No non-biodegradable decoration. (Try something repurposed, like a cardboard form, perhaps?)

2. Reusable cutlery and crockery is best. If you can’t find a caterer who has the required numbers of hard stuff, use leaf plates. Banana or pressed leaves? That’s up to you.

3. Can your guests use public transport to travel to and from the venue (of the religious ceremony and or the partay)? Can you organise a bus or bullock cart to ferry them around?

4. Firecrackers are pretty and help draw attention to the goings-on, but they also cause air pollution and noise pollution. Say no to gonnalls

5. E-vites are not tacky, no matter what some old-fashioned folk think. A facebook invite is fine if it isn’t a tres formal do. Even if it is- it’s your wedding, do what you want!

6. Let people know what you want, or re-gift items that you aren’t interested in. Make sure you send out thank you emails before the re-gifting.

7. Enjoy local in-season cuisine at your bachelorette or sangeet or (insert pre-wedding ritual). It’ll taste better.

8. For heavens’ sake, don’t do takeaways. They don’t serve an earthly purpose except, perhaps, the collection and generation of dust.

9. Choose an appropriate time of the day and year to get married. If you hate the heat, the summer months are out of the question. If you can’t bear the cold, don’t go to the north of the country, or the Ghats (and other hill ranges) during winter.

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Day 70: Write a mystery in which the words ‘silver’, ‘pen’ and ‘green’ all play a prominent role

Day 67 100words100days Guidelines to run a successful training programme

Hello learning and development, my omnipresent colleague. We are face to face again.

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The best advice for a person seeking to run a successful training programme would have to be: be prepared.

Training might be purely theoretical, or a simulation of a real-world experience, or a softer real-world experience, but it is still something that will throw curve balls at you when you least expect them.

Make sure you test everything that you can, several times if possible, and have contingency plans for your contingency plans.

And when these fail, as even the best laid plans are wont to do, here’s the next best piece of advice: be confident.

If you have done everything you can to know your subject backwards and forwards, and you have reviewed your plans till the cows came home and jumped over the moon, and every piece of material is alphabetised and color-coded, allow yourself the luxury of a little faith in yourself in case things don’t turn out quite as you envisioned them.

Your self-confidence will save your trainees from getting flustered.

And the last bit of advice, which is surely not the least: be a big-picture person.

You need to know how your cog fits into the machine, lest you feel inessential. Purpose will help you plan better, and prop your morale up on days when it needs a crutch.

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Day 68: Favourite character from children’s literature- Charlie Bucket: his life after Wonka

Day 66 100words100days Write an educational piece for a tween/teenager

193 words that no teen/tween is going to take seriously, even though the advice is sound.

Remember how when people older than you said you should enjoy being a kid and you scoffed? And how now you sometimes wish you could be a kid again? Advice that you spurned = lesson you learned, eh?

I took educational to mean “intended or serving to educate or enlighten.”

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Don’t let your light be dimmed by someone else’s clouds.

No, seriously.

You don’t need to make yourself feel small so that others may feel big, or even adequate.

That’s not to say that you should try to make others feel small. Find the balance between valuing yourself and valuing others.

Why do you need to do this? Isn’t modesty a good policy?, you ask. Yes, it is. So is self-confidence.

Remember that what you tell yourself often enough eventually becomes true. Saying you aren’t smart enough to ace a test, or athletic enough to play on a team, or passionate enough to be a vehicle for change – saying these things too often will make them true. Maybe not today or this year, but in the future – perhaps a decade from now – you will find that you created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

No matter how hard it is, believe in yourself. Take other people’s comments and criticisms under advisement, because there might be some grains of truth you can work on in what they have to say.

Just- don’t let them rain on your parade. And make sure you don’t rain on it either.

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Day 67: Guidelines to run a successful training programme

Day 59 100words100days a DIY project I would love to try

140 words

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I would like to build a house.

I know that I already have one- or, to be more precise, my parents do, and it stands on ancestral land, which means I have at least a share of it.

The house I would like to build would not be quite like the one that my parents have built, or like the room my grandparents extended. It would be more like the one that my great-grandfolks lived in- thick walls made of mud and jaggery (I think), coconut beams and rafters covered with earthen tiles. And a beaten mud floor.

It wouldn’t be very large, of course. Just big enough for a few people. One window, and one door, of whatever hardy wood I can scavenge.

Electricity courtesy a solar-powered generator.

The Goan Tiny House.

Yes, I would like that very much.

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Day 60: Put together a list-article