My Week at Hedgebrook . . .

We began calling what we do at Hedgebrook—the practice of nurturing and nourishing women writers in residence—’radical hospitality’ about ten years ago because we needed a way to describe why we do what we do. To help others understand that taking care of a woman writer so she can focus on her work is still, even now, a revolutionary, radical act. As is giving her time to focus on her writing instead of taking care of others.” -Hedgebrook flyer

As a wife, a mother, a daughter to an aging parent, a daughter-in-law to another aging parent, and an active volunteer in the larger Indian community, the demands on my time are endless. I relish my role in my busy bustling life but my writing— a passion I discovered late in life—often falls by the wayside.

Mummy, Tell Me One More Story . . .

The greatest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude - Thornton Wilder *

Long before I became a storyteller, my mom used to tell us stories. Stories of a mighty king, and a sweet-faced queen who fell in love, who had a beautiful bonny girl, whose kingdom was invaded by marauding armies, by aliens, by vampires . . . stories that had me at age five, jumping up and down on the couch and asking with bated breath, “And, then what happened?” My mom gave me the gift of stories, and I honor her memory by writing them. (Read my latest published story here: http://moonmagazine.org/anoop-judge-fury-2019-05-04/ )

My mom was always stylish, elegant in the saris she wrapped around her lissome figure, and the tasteful jewelry that adorned her neck and ears—a string of pearls, tiny diamond studs, thin gold bangles on each of her wrists. Thumbing through old albums after she passed away, I come across a black-and-white picture of my mom and dad when they lived in Scotland for the first five years after their marriage. In it, my mom wears a cape with large, round buttons over a sari. Her hair is pulled back at the nape of her slender neck, her hands folded one over the other in her lap, while her eyes smile at the world in wonder.

I wasn't ready to let you go . . .

Two days before my mother passed, the temperature in Delhi— my hometown—was 104 degrees. Not a leaf stirred and the aerial roots of banyan trees in our backyard hung down limply, and languidly, immobile. The day my mother passed it was raining. A welcome healing rain that cooled the scorching, heat-baked earth. I saw poor children dancing in the street in joy, their upturned faces creased in smiles as their tongues mopped greedily at the raindrops. It was as if the heavens had opened their arms to welcome my mom into its embrace.

For ten days, my mom struggled for her life in the ICU—a sterile room with white walls, beeping machines, and a smell of Dettol antiseptic hanging in the air like the thick smog that blankets the congested streets of New Delhi in the wintertime.

Visiting Costa Rica : Top 10 Reasons, Why?

Let us step on a hanging bridge for a moment,

as the filtered rays of the sun break through low hanging clouds,

and shine on new green vegetation,

and breathe the new damp air.

Cloudforests:

You’ve heard of rainforests. But have you heard of cloud forests? The Costa Rican cloud forest is a special kind of tropical forest that grows at high altitudes. Costa Rica is the wettest place on earth and as a result, everything is SO GREEN! There are 3700 variety of trees in Costa Rica. In the rest of the world, there are only 375 varieties. If you want to see unique plantlife or actually immerse your body in the cloudforest canopy when zip lining, Costa Rica is the place to visit.

Even this late it happens . . .

The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one's soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive—you are leaking.

- Charles Lamb

At the beginning of the year, I renewed my subscription to People magazine, to InStyle, and to Glamour magazines. I’d let it lapse last year, choosing instead, a high-brow selection of literary magazines—Poets&Writers magazine, The Malahat Review and the New York Times journal. All of twelve months I dutifully perused through the black and white pages of The Malahat Review. I learned of phrases like ‘miscegenation’ and ‘epistolary’ —hitherto never heard or read before. I drank copious cups of coffee to aid my reading of prose that was serious, ponderous and supposedly thought-provoking.

Late last year, I eschewed my cerebral efforts and realized I missed the glossy pages full of well-dressed celebrities—beautiful people, with flawless skin and perfect hour-glass figures parading their style and fashion at red carpet events and splashy parties. It may be superficial, it may be facile—indeed, some may call it low-class. It may garner a shudder of distaste from my friends who work in IT and high-tech, who meet the likes of Gloria Steinem and Elon Musk at conferences geared towards shaping the New World Order.

4 Powerful Global Trends shaping the New World Order

Last month, while on the Linkedin news feed, I noticed a post by my neighbor, Suneet Dua (chief network officer at PWC) regarding a visit to their offices by Fareed Zakaria, renowned journalist and political scientist. I immediately asked Suneet to write a guest blog post for me on the discussions he had with Mr. Zakaria regarding the key drivers shaping the New World Order. Reprinted here, is the link to the full post:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/want-get-digital-transformation-right-first-understand-suneet-dua-1c/

Falling in . . . love with San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel De Allende is a small dusty hillside town in the middle of Mexico—a town without an airport or a casino—a town that has no beaches or blue waters, and yet it was voted the best city in the world according to Travel + Leisure’s World Best Awards for 2017. The awards are based on a survey that includes responses from thousands of experienced travelers, and San Miguel beat out major travel destinations like Florence and Cape Town. What is the appeal of this small town? I spent a week in San Miguel and came up with 10 reasons why travelers ranked the city so high.

Calling All Star-Crossed Lovers; A Valentine's Day Story. . .

“Think of yourself as a tree,” her therapist says, “a tall, sturdy oak with its roots deep in the soil.” This is the visual she is supposed to imagine anytime she feels stressed by how her eighteen-year-old daughter treats her.

“Oh, for crap’s sake, Guinevere,” she complains, her lips pursuing. “Sorry, pardon, my French, “ she mumbles, when she sees Guinevere cringe at her choice of colorful words.

Guinevere is probably sixty years old, a throwback to some bygone age in how she has decorated her home-office tucked away on the corner of Tiptoe Lane in downtown Pleasanton. Shiny new linoleum graces the kitchen floor and dainty white doilies adorn the arms and backs of the mohair green sofa and matching chair in the living room where Jaya is seated. Jaya runs her hands over the white-fringed, chenille spread covering the sofa where the outline of a large yellow and pink flower flows from the center giving the room a focal point.

Guinevere doesn’t have to deal with the hell-child who’s too much like her father, only meaner.

The Real Truth About Aging . . .

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.” -Groucho Marx

The real truth about aging is wrinkles on the forehead where once the terrain was smooth; unsightly age spots on a hitherto unblemished complexion; a spidery web of veins on formerly flawless skin.

The real truth about aging is that if one is so inclined, it is important, nay, mandatory, to have your dermatologist on speed dial.  Next to the handy dandy number that indicates your plastic surgeon's twenty-four-hour phone line.

The real truth about aging is the self-knowledge that you can get married; get divorced; have kids; survive their terrible two's and their terrible teens; watch a parent die, and still find yourself perched on the edge of a whole new and different adventure.

The real truth about aging is the confidence that no matter what curve ball life throws you, you can smash it out of the park.  Because you've looked death in the face; you've teetered on the brink and, yet you've lived to tell the story.  And nothing but the whole story.