Count­ing My Bless­ings

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

IHAVE AL­WAYS been slightly leery of our In­dian ten­dency to adopt ev­ery fes­ti­val from around the world and make it our own. Grow­ing up, I wasn’t even aware of some­thing called Valen­tine’s Day. But by the time I had at­tained adult­hood, Fe­bru­ary 14 was a full-blown fes­ti­val of love, com­plete with red roses, straw­ber­ries, pink cham­pagne, guff-filled greet­ing cards and the oblig­a­tory, over-priced, ro­man­tic din­ner for two.

More re­cently, I have been ap­palled to see that Hal­loween has be­come A Big Thing in In­dia. Kids of a cer­tain so­cio-eco­nomic class across the coun­try have taken to dress­ing like witches, clowns, su­per­heroes and what-have-you and trawl­ing their up­mar­ket neigh­bour­hoods pan-han­dling for sweets. Quite frankly, I find the whole thing pre­pos­ter­ous in the ex­treme. But, as they don’t say, to each their own ver­sion of cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion.

But last week, while trav­el­ling on the West Coast, I fi­nally found an Amer­i­can fes­ti­val I could get on board with:

It’s only when you be­gin to give thanks do you re­alise how much you have to be thank­ful for

op­po­si­tion from my par­ents, to turn down a job in the civil ser­vices (af­ter clear­ing all the ex­ams and the in­ter­views; and the med­i­cal test) to stay on in the mag­a­zine job I had taken on as a stop-gap. It was a leap of faith but one that has served me well. In­stead of a desk-bound life de­voted to pa­per-push­ing as a bu­reau­crat, I have had some of the most amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences as a jour­nal­ist. Over the years, I have in­ter­viewed Prime Min­is­ters, trav­elled with Pres­i­dents, pro­filed film and sports stars, cov­ered Gen­eral Elec­tions, and vis­ited places that I hadn’t even heard of grow­ing up. And I have jour­nal­ism to thank for all of it.

I am thank­ful for the loy­alty of friends. I haven’t made too many, and sadly I have lost touch with a few with the pas­sage of years. But while I have lost out in quan­tity, I have more than made up in qual­ity. These women (and yes, they are mostly women) whom I am proud to call friends, are al­ways there for me, lis­ten­ing to me vent, hav­ing my back when I need them, chivvy­ing me up when I am low, and cheer­ing me on in all cir­cum­stances. I re­ally don’t know where I would be with­out them.

I am grate­ful for the fact that my ex­tended fam­ily keeps ex­tend­ing in ever-in­creas­ing cir­cles as I grow older. There are the cousins, nieces, neph­ews, aunts and un­cles that I have ac­cu­mu­lated through mar­riage, who have wel­comed me into their lives. And then, there is my own blood fam­ily that is al­ways ex­pand­ing with the in­clu­sion of new mem­bers, with wed­dings and births breath­ing in new life and love into our tight cir­cle.

I give thanks ev­ery day for the fact that both my par­ents passed with­out suf­fer­ing. They died 26 years apart but in eerily iden­ti­cal ways. They got up one morn­ing, had their baths, did their puja, then went and lay down in bed – and never woke up. Both times, the news came as a huge shock. And it took me time to come to terms with the loss. But now, over­laid with my sor­row is the hope that when my time comes, I would be just as for­tu­nate. Now, that would be truly some­thing to be grate­ful for.

But more than any­thing, I am thank­ful for the op­por­tu­nity I have had, for so many years, to speak to all of you, week af­ter week, baring my in­ner-most thoughts and feel­ings. It feels good to share, and it feels even bet­ter when I hear back from you, spark­ing off some of the best con­ver­sa­tions of my life. It is rare priv­i­lege to be able to do so, and I am grate­ful for it ev­ery day.

So now, even if you didn’t cel­e­brate it, I am thank­ful for the chance to wish all of you a happy, al­beit be­lated, Thanks­giv­ing. Stay blessed – and re­mem­ber to take the time to count your bless­ings.

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