About Gratitude

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None of us is unfamiliar with Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret”. Even those who deride the so-called ‘self help books’ or treatises on positive thinking ( I’m one of those myself), have heard about it. And it’s not as if this was the first time that the largely thankless human race was reminded to be grateful. We all have been reminded so many times to be grateful that it’s nothing but sheer perversity of will that we refuse to be so.

Ever since I can recall, being reminded of my blessings was an inalienable part of the day, most such reminders sadly being ineffectual. All seemingly moralistic tales about children who had nothing or very little (“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet “ kind of stories and others in similar vein ) just elicited a “Here we go again” roll of the eyes. As I grew up, some of this “gratitude” stuff made sense, mostly it didn’t. Not that I was callous about other’s misfortune or towards the evils that plague the world but when it came to myself, what I always saw was what I didn’t have rather than what I did. What I did have, I assumed everyone did. Be grateful that I could get out of bed and walk around? Or that I had all the amenities modern world could imagine? That I had loving family and friends? Or that I had no major health or in fact life concerns? Nah…Everyone had these. Or so I thought. What formed the bane of my existence were things like the flawless complexion of the girl next to me in college; hourglass figure like the one next to her; an endless shopping or travelling budget. Yeah these are the kind of things that led to endless whining and complaining. My friends and family often pointed out that I was making it a habit to be ever complaining, ever unhappy….something like a perversity of Shelley’s famous narcissism- “I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!” Only that there were no thorns, or only thorns that I chose to see as such.

Today, married with a 8-year-old son and a few brushes with “real” life later am I any wiser? Only if I choose to be. Yes, there are still plenty of things that could be better, plenty where life could seem fairer, more settled, more in control. And I do grumble about it, about the hand that life has dealt me though, from an objective outsider’s perspective, there is nothing wrong with it. Moreover what I’ve realised is that life as we know it, is by its very definition fluid. For if it became rigid, controlled, one may not be able to tell the difference between the dead and the alive. So while I grumble about “things not working out” or “things being so much in flux” or a “lack of stability”, I remind myself to accept all this as it is and with gratitude.

What has brought on this treatise on gratitude one may ask? My 8-year-old son’s best friend in school was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I hardly know this child or the parents but my heart goes out to this child for in him I see my own child. This is a friend for whom my son specially carried the brownies that I baked for he loved them so. Now both my son and I consciously decided not to pack any sweets in my son’s school lunch. And I realised that I just took for granted that my family is and will be healthy and happy; that we all say byes in the morning and meet in the evening; that my life in all its unstable, fluid avatar was indeed a blessing I never really thanked Him for.

Yes, life is not fair. A lot could be better, but a lot could be worse too, the latter being a possibility we hardly ever consider. Tragedies, bad luck is something that happens to others you see. Aren’t we lucky that we can still think this way for it implies that tragedy and misfortune have left us unscathed?

Can we, just for a day, put aside our all our whining and complaining and be truly and sincerely grateful for the life that we have? Yes, none of us will have a perfect life; many of us have been through tragedies and hardships that one rather forget. Despite all this, let us be grateful, not as a means to an end, end being our “ideal” life but as an end in itself. For life, flawed though it is, is still worth being grateful for.

 

 

 

 

 

Bath & Body Works Signature Collection-Black Amethyst

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I was gifted this lovely body lotion, Black Amethyst from the Bath and Body Works’ Signature Collection by a ‘phoren’ returned friend. Sadly, I believe Bath and Body Works is available only online in India on some sites like flipkart and nykaa. If there are any retail outlets, I’m unaware of those.

The first thing that hit me about this body lotion was its gorgeous packaging. Actually, it came as a set of two, one for men and the other for women, neatly gift wrapped with a bow on the top. But the bottle itself is pretty enough- slight curve in the middle and a nice, sturdy silver cap – one of those caps that you press down on from one side and it opens ((What are they called?) – A welcome departure from lousy Vaseline body lotion caps, that for some reason, never seem to last.

Enough about the exterior- the product itself is divine smelling…very feminine, very floral. It’s moisturising enough, without being greasy. How it fares next month when the weather gets very cold and dry, I can’t say. In the current weather scenario, it’s just right. The fragrance lingers on for a while but not too strongly. Not much of the product is needed so the bottle should last long

What Bath and Body works says about it –

Our hydrating, yet non-greasy, lotion leaves skin incredibly soft, smooth and nourished after just one use! Fortified with powerful ingredients like super conditioning Shea Butter, fast absorbing Jojoba Oil, and protective Vitamin E, our top rated formula is the ultimate total body moisturizer!

Our exclusive Black Amethyst Fragrance is a hypnotic scent inspired by chic, sensual and confident women

Key fragrance notes: Italian Bergamot, Rare Camellias, Exotic Sandalwood, Vetiver

Key Fragrance Notes:

Black Amethyst is a hypnotic blend of Italian Bergamot, Rare Camellias, Exotic Sandalwood, & Vetiver

Top Notes: Bergamot Italian Oprur, Juicy Mandarin, Sparkling Tangerine, Zesty Orange, Waterfruits, Crisp Melon

Mid Notes: Lily of the Valley, Magnolia Blossom, Sheer Gardenia, Tuberose, Freesia, Peony Petals, Camellia

Dry Notes: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Vanilla, Musk

Usage:

Smooth over body to moisturize and lightly fragrance skin

PROS-

  1. Great fragrance.
  2. Very hydrating, is absorbed quickly.
  3. Non greasy.
  4. Petty packaging- bottle and cap both. Easy to carry while travelling. The transparent bottle will give an accurate idea of how much lotion is left unlike the opaque Vaseline body lotion bottles.
  5. Cruelty free- always a pro in my list. I hate the thought of some animal subjected to experimentation so that I can feed my vanity. The list of ingredients has a host of chemicals in it though.

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CONS-

  1. Only available on line in India…at least as far as I know.
  2. Expensive. Nykaa.com and flipkart show a price range of Rs 800 upwards for a 236 ml bottle, though not this particular fragrance. Obviously there is no comparison with locally available drugstore brands like Vaseline etc But then products such as this are indulgences and can’t be compared with drugstore varieties. And a little does go a long way.
  3. Not a natural product- ingredient list has lot of chemicals. At this price I’d prefer to pick up something natural.

Gori Tere Agenda Mein

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Ever since I heard the title of the movie, I instinctively kept humming “Goi tera gaon bada pyara/ main tou gaya mara/ Aa ke yahan re…”, an evergreen from the movie “Chitchor”. Not that I was remotely expecting anything like “Chitchor’s” melody here but imagine my horror when I saw the infamous “Tooh” on TV instead…what a bathetic plunge indeed! For one thing, it seemed to me the kind of song that one would expect to find Rakhi Sawant gyrating to instead of Begum Kareena. On top of that, what is it with the current sensibilities that are churning out movies like “Besharam” (reviewed here) and songs like “Tooh”? I never thought of myself as being a prude or narrow-minded but judging by these standards, maybe I am. While I loved J Lo’s booty shaking act (Remeber the video of “Let’s get loud”?), this song’s graphic description of “tooh” left me speechless. Thankfully, however, this is a one stray incident rather than the predominant tone of the movie and that is a relief.

The movie starts out as a rom-com but ends up as a cross between a candyfloss romance and a social reform agenda a la “Swades”. Kareena as Dia, the social activist who will protest against everything and anything, is as much a real character as a caricature of the Page 3 social activists that plague our country. Be it a jibe on Anna’s anti corruption movement or all those who sit in air conditioned environments of Italian restaurants and do weekend charity for the country’s welfare, the director doesn’t miss a chance to poke fun at all of them and many Bollywood blockbusters as well. As Imran Khan, in his role of the south Indian Sriram points out to Dia, she is as much of hypocrite as he is, only in a different self-effacing garb of a social worker. She takes his comment to heart, becomes a true activist and takes off to some obscure village in Gujarat. Sriram plays nonchalant for a while, realises his folly and follows her. Rest, as they say, is history.

The movie starts as a breezy romance with a song, “Dhat Tere Ki”, reminiscent of the title track of “I Hate Love Stories”. Sriram ( Imran) is Bollywood’s quintessential selfish, irresponsible hero ( think “Lakshya”, “Wake up Sid”, “Yeh Jawani hai Deewani” to name a few) who is as selfish in love as out of it. Why we are seeing a plethora of such characters nowadays I wonder. Are there really so many such irresponsible young adults out there or is our whole idea of “responsible” changing to verge on ‘cloying curbing all individuality’ ( Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani being a case point) is something we need to think about.

The story per se is nothing to write home about, so to speak, but Kareena and Imraan manage to give it life. Only that the social agenda of the film weighs just too heavily on it in the second half and proves to be its undoing. The first half goes through like a breeze. I, for one, have never seen a South Indian wedding the way it is picturised here and totally enjoyed it specially the scene of “Kashi yatra” as the groom takes off in front of the entire wedding party to the tune of a Punjabi dhol in a South Indian wedding. Another highlight of the movie for me was the scene where Sriram tries to win over Dia’s father- hilarious!

As I said before, the movie would have fared reasonably well had not the “Swades” meets Munna Bhai agenda taken over in the 2nd half and that too with a vengeance. The same point would have probably been conveyed as well with a light, breezy tone in keeping with the overall mood and tone. Dia need not have become “Mother India” and Sriram could have ‘grown up’ without going all Gandhian.

Is it worth watching? It isn’t too good but not too bad either. Take your call depending on what else you have waiting for you on the weekend.