Book Review: Burma to Japan with Azad Hind – A War Memoir (1941-1945) by Air Commodore Ramesh S. Benegal, MVC, AVSM

Most of the books we read on World War 2 are from the Western perspective, usually British, American, or Australian. I’ve always been fascinated by this dark period in human history. I haven’t read many books (fiction or memoir) from the Indian perspective, what it was like to fight in this foreign war. Of course, it is a well-documented fact that Indian forces helped liberate Italy from Nazi control and that countless Indian troops fought with great courage in this war.

Before I go any further, here’s a small history lesson for those of you who are not conversant with India’s part in the war. 

For a start, India was dragged into this ‘European’ war as it was then part of the British Raj. Despite the ongoing freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi called upon Indians to support Britain in their war effort. But another national leader, Subhash Chandra Bose, or Netaji as he is more popularly known, decided that a quicker way to get freedom from the British was to join the Axis powers. So charismatic was he that many of the Indians living in South-East Asia, as well as some captured Indian POWs, decided to join the Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army (INA) and joined hands with the Japanese to fight the British. 

Enough of the history lesson. ‘From Burma to Japan: with Azad Hind– A War Memoir (1941-1945)’ by Air Commodore Ramesh S. Benegal—gives a fascinating account of what it was like being a part of the Imperial Japanese Air Force as a trainee pilot from the Indian perspective. 

Ramesh Benegal was just a 16-year-old boy living in Burma when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. His memoir details all the events, from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor until their Emperor signed the Treaty of Surrender. Written in an engaging and conversational style, he begins with this dramatic event:

It all started on 7 December 1941, when Japan unleashed its surprise attack on a place called Pearl Harbor. It was a lovely name, but I’d not heard it before.

The memoir goes on to detail the many (mis)adventures of Ramesh and his brothers and their uncle (their mother, fortunately, caught the last flight home) in their doomed attempt to reach India. The Japanese very quickly overtook Burma.  There are harrowing descriptions of the devastated towns and villages where not a soul was seen. 

However, Benegal goes on to say that the Japanese were not ill-disposed to Indians, but only to the British and other westerners. The boys (and men) hid in an abandoned house, but realized the Imperial Japanese army had overtaken the village. Cdre Benegal’s first description of a Japanese soldier is memorable:

A khaki coat, khaki trousers with legs bound in puttees, black rubber shoes with an odd toe-split, a jockey cap with a star sewn in front, rifle held at the ready. Short and stocky, Mongolian [Sic] features with narrow-set eyes. I did not know at that time that in the next four years, I would not only meet thousands of Japanese soldiers like these, but actually live with them, dress like them, and be trained by them!

Well, this is what happens in the remarkable life he describes. He, along with some other Indian boys, (by special permission of Netaji) was sent for training to a Japanese military school, and then they had a choice: either join the Imperial Japanese Army Academy or the Imperial Japanese Air Force Officers Academy. Benegal voted for the latter, as his heart was set on becoming a pilot. After passing a rigorous test, of the 22 cadets, only ten were selected, the author being one of them.

Now, most of the WW2 books I’ve read or the movies I’ve seen have presented the Japanese as being cruel and barbaric, but Benegal says they were ( with some exceptions) refined, cultured, and gentle. Of course, the disciplining method was different – if a junior ‘forgot’ to salute a senior, the punishment was immediate, usually hard slaps across the face! 

The memoir goes on to describe the defeat of Japan by the better-armed Americans, and what happened to this group of Indian airmen who suddenly found themselves on the wrong side. But by the end of the war, although the British branded them as ‘traitors’, they received a hero’s welcome back home and were called freedom fighters. India was still under the British when Benegal and his friends reached home, but they could not be touched as the current of public opinion favored them.  The author (who was barely 20) and his friends were put into solitary confinement but were fortunately let out by an understanding police commander.

Here are some of the interesting bits that I picked up from the book:

  1. The Kempai Tai – the Japanese secret police-cum-intelligence organization – put a stop to all the looting in the towns and villages they captured. The author has only good things to say about them, as they not only kept the law and order in the occupied territories but also discipline in their own army.
  2. There is a funny incident of two Japanese soldiers who entered an Udipi (South Indian vegetarian) restaurant and began feasting on the idli-dosa-sambhar. The proprietor spoke about them in Tamil in derogatary terms, and to his surprise, the officer got up and castigated him in fluent Tamil! 
  3. The Japanese food they ate – especially the ‘stinky’ radish pickles – they ultimately grew to love. 
  4. Most exciting (for the reader and the author) were the visits of Subhash Chandra Bose, who he met personally on more than one occasion. The charisma of this leader was astonishing. Here’s a description in the author’s words:

He carried himself with head held high and reflecting a glowing intensity, and the one – possibly the only –goal in life, freedom for India from alien rule. When he spoke, we could not help but listen to him attentively and each sentence that he spoke was forceful, and one instinctively knew that it came from the heart.

  • There is a touching description of the British soldiers working on the ‘Death Railway’ when Benegal and the cadets were on their way to Japan (by rail). ‘During this time, we saw the plight of the British POWS. I could not recognize them as Englishmen. Their bodies and faces were dark tan. They were stripped to the waist, wore torn and dirty khaki shorts, and a few of them were merely skin and bone….When the train halted,a few of them would come up to us and begged for food. We had nothing to give them…Once, one of them asked for a cigarette…Anyone who managed to grab a packet of cigarettes was like a child getting a valuable present from Santa Claus…
  • The author describes how he and his friends captured a pig but had no idea how to slaughter it. They finally handed it over to the Japanese. The Japanese officer slaughtered it with a samurai sword. For some time, they feasted on roast pork and wild rice. (OK, this is not for the squeamish, but heck, this is war, and these guys were starving. BTW, the author until the age of 16 had grown up vegetarian, but the war taught him to eat what he was given or what was available).
  • Cdre Benegal describes in detail the landing of the Americans after Japan signed the treaty of surrender. They expected the Japanese public to take revenge on them (for the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) but instead, they ‘could not believe that the polite, disciplined and friendly people were the same stock as the brutal, hard-fighting frontline soldiers…’
  • After the Americans landed, a representative from Benegal’s side met the American authorities, who did not know what to do with them. It seems one of the American officers joked that they had nothing against them and they too had fought the British for their independence. They supplied the author and his friends with rations.
  • After four years of deprivation and starvation, Benegal describes the abundance of food they received from the Americans. The packs they received ‘were a regular Christmas hamper as far as we were concerned. It contained cocoa, tea, coffee, biscuits, cakes, meat-loaves, corned beef, soup, chocolates and many other things.‘ 
  • Of course, all this came to a stop when a British officer took charge and termed them traitors. The group politely but firmly told the officer that they were not traitors and never owed allegiance to the British, and were very proud to have served in the INA. This infuriated him, and then began their nightmare journey back home in conditions that were subhuman even for animals. 
  • This was the first time that Ramesh Benegal had actually set foot in India, having grown up in Burma. In 1950, he joined the Indian Air Force and had a distinguished career, receiving the highest gallantry awards from the Indian government. 

Well, this is admittedly a bit of a long review of a truly memorable book. I’m not sure why it has not received more publicity. I recommend this book very highly to all those interested in a new perspective on the Second World War. It is immensely readable. 

Be careful of the company you keep during COVID times

This article appeared in Gulf News on 18/7/2020)

The ‘friend’ rang me up for a chit-chat. We used to meet socially, and although she was not among my closest pals, she was part of the group of who I was a member, and we’d meet occasionally.

Like others living in Dubai, I too have a ‘social milieu’, a group of friends who I hang out with and meet for coffee or for dinner once in a way. Good company, but, barring a few, not people to whom you could open your heart.

Usually, this friend and I exchanged forwarded jokes on WhatsApp, and ‘liked’ each other’s’ pictures and messages on FB. It was rare that we actually talked to each other on the phone, but given the exceptional times we’re living in, and the extra hours we all tend to have, it seemed natural for her to call.

After the usual pleasantries, she started off: of how terrible things were in the world, of how the vaccine would take a couple of years to find, of how we can’t go out, can’t travel, etc, etc.

When I gently reminded her that things were not so bad, and 80 per cent of the people who caught the virus showed mild symptoms, and only 5 per cent developed death-threatening ones, she somehow convinced me that I was among that 5 per cent.

After a harrowing half-hour, I put the phone down, much worse for the call, a jiggling jelly of fear and negativity.

Have such a friend? I’m sure you do. These are the prophets of doom and gloom, the ones who can never see the positive in any situation. They are ubiquitous, such people.

They may be among your friends, they may be in your WhatsApp groups, or they may even be a close relative! Woe betide the individual with a spouse who’s the harbinger of bad tidings, and who seems to relish giving bad news. There’s no way to avoid such a person too, living under the same roof.The best you can do is to inject some positivity into their doomsday prophecies, or else, just turn a deaf ear.

The question is, why do people do this? I think the answer lies in wanting to project. In psychological terms, “projection refers to unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else.” (Karen R. Koenig)

Projecting your fears and insecurities on another individual seems to lighten your burden. But hey, buddy, spare me! Find someone else to vent all your fears and frustration.

In contrast, there are some friends who make you happy and cheerful. They are not blasé about the seriousness of the present situation, nor do they underplay it. But they don’t keep harping on the number of dead, the high rate of infection, and the state of the world’s plummeting economy. Keep such friends close.

They talk about other things too, of books they’ve read and music they listen to, even some juicy gossip to brighten your day. Conversation is light and fresh, not deep and heavy.

A friend of mine on Twitter, who is an excellent photographer, always puts up pictures of the sun rising over an urban landscape, or flowers in bloom, or birds flitting around, usually with a happy caption. Such photos lift the heart and spirit. Needless to say, talking to her is also a pleasant interlude in an otherwise dull day.

These are, indeed, stressful times, but, as the old saying goes, ‘what can’t be cured must be endured.’ But at least learn to choose your friends wisely, the chirpy, happy ones, and keep the doomsayers and naysayers at bay.

Soon, this will all be over and we’ll look back on these times as either a blip or a learning curve in our lives. Keep smiling!

— Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer and author of the forthcoming book, “The Mother of all Parties”. Twitter: @paddersatdubai

Is the big fat wedding a thing of the past?

Are we obsessed with the big fat wedding?Image Credit: Getty Images

This is an article of mine that was recently published in Gulf News. Hope you enjoy it. Let me know your thoughts.

Were you planning to get married this year? Or have you paid up for your son or daughter’s big fat destination wedding with all the bells and whistles?

Chances are that the wedding has either been cancelled, rescheduled or downsized, with something big planned for ‘when this is all over.’

All around the world, we hear the same story, of wedding vows postponed or extravagant weddings downsized. Simplicity is now the name of the game.Instead of an exuberant wedding, many cut to the chase and have a virtual wedding, with guests attending from round the world to shower their love and blessings, all on the small screen.

Along with the couple, so many others have been hit by this tidal wave, the entire flotsam and jetsam — wedding planners and providers, the dressmakers and caterers and florists and what-have-you.Even the band and trumpet players, beauticians and henna-painters. Suddenly, an entire industry has been disbanded overnight.

Perhaps, along with all the other long-lasting changes that this virus brings in its wake is the big fat wedding itself. There are weddings, and there are weddings.

Simplicity is the name of the game

The simple act of two people exchanging vows and promising to spend their lives together for better or for worse, has in recent years been transformed into a mass entertainment with all stops pulled out.That applies to both the well-heeled and the hoi polloi. Very rarely do you hear of a couple having a simple, quiet marriage with just family and close friends in attendance.

What naysayers had always warned about, to tone down the extravagance, has now been achieved almost overnight by a tiny, microscopic virus. Around the world, guest numbers have been drastically reduced.

Just as people are finally getting used to WFH, so too they’ll have a rethink about who to invite for their big day. The virus has made weddings a numbers game — limiting the number of guests.

Among all the jokes on corona going the rounds, the latest one is a video where some radio jockeys make a prank call pretending to be wedding event managers. It goes something like this:

‘Am I speaking to X?”

“Yes, I am X.”

‘We’re the event managers for your friend, Y’s wedding. We just want to inform you that your RAC is 55.1 per cent, and your wife’s 56.2 per cent.”

X is rightly confused, and asks what all this means. The prankster goes on to explain that RAC stands for Reservation Against Cancellation, and cheekily informs: ‘Now, if anyone cancels, your number will go up, and you may be one of the lucky 50 who can attend the wedding.’

X is naturally furious, and claims a friendship that goes back over two decades. The prankster goes on to say that if he pays a thousand rupees per family member, he’ll move his name up.

Heated words

Some heated words are spoken, where the guest states he won’t be attending the wedding and will save money on the gift, and is about to cut the line when the RJ reveals his identity and says it is just a prank.

Well, as the saying goes, there’s a grain of truth in every joke. The takeaway from all this is, try to maintain good relations with your friends and relatives or else you may not make it into the wedding list!

But is that big fat wedding, with all its razzle and dazzle, a thing of the past? Will we be telling future generations of those weddings of the glorious past, with thousands in attendance, the heaps of food, the entertainment, and the number of diamonds and emeralds sown on to the bride’s dress?

I sincerely hope not. I’m waiting to attend the next flashy wedding (if I’m lucky enough to be invited) or at least read about one in the papers. Long live glitzy weddings!

— Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer. Twitter: @paddersatdubai

Humour is the name of the game


Yes, these are indeed hard times. No matter what we say, how we pretend that everything is OK, it just isn’t. We’re lucky, we console ourselves. We have food on the table, an air-conditioned home to keep away the summer heat, Netflix to watch, Zoom and GoogleMeet to chat with our family and friends…But hey, it’s just not the same!

When will we get back our beautiful, familiar world? When can we meet our friends without fear? When can we go to a barber shop or a beauty salon without covering ourselves like someone from outer space? When? When? When?

It is during these trying times that our books give us extra solace. Lockdown and WFH gives us time aplenty to read. Depending on our mood or our tastes, we may pick up light books with just a flimsy story-plot, or dark and serious books that make us think. 

But I need a bit of both — something light, but which also yields nuggets of wisdom. Not too light, but nothing that drags me down too. And most importantly, a book with a positive message, a cheesecake of a book. For this, Rachel Joyce is my go-to author.


                                                            Rachel Joyce

So far, I’ve read three of her books: the iconic The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, followed by The Music Shop and then Perfect. I love her quirky characters, I love the Englishness of her books, and, most important, I love the positive vibes at the end of the tale.

I think reading humour helps in these depressive times. I honestly can’t think of anyone funnier than PG Wodehouse. He’s old-fashioned, yes, even archaic. I’m not sure if younger readers have even heard of him. But can you name any present-day writer who writes pure comedy like he does? Of course, there are plenty of brilliant authors who write comedy, but their comedy is also interlaced with darker elements; it may be a sci-fi with comic elements (like David Wong’s This Book is Full of Spiders),or even crime with humour, like the Baby Ganesh Agency books by Vaseem Khan. Or of course, Alexander McCall Smith.


                                                        The inimitable PG Wodehouse

I love Amor Towles for his wry humor. (A Gentleman in Moscow is excruciatingly funny in places, but framed within a rather dark period in history). But I can’t think of anyone with the laugh-out-loud kind of humour of PG Wodehouse. If you can, do tell me, and I’ll make it a point to read him or her.

Well, on this note, I am signing off. And, although I am not putting myself on the same pedestal as these famous writers, can I give you a gentle reminder that my book, The Mother of all Parties, is also a comic romp through the incredible lives of Dubai’s nouveau riche. It’s available on all the Amazon platforms from July 10th,  (and as a hard copy too on and I’d be honoured if you read it.

Until then, take time to laugh…


The mother of all parties by [Padmini Sankar]

The mother of all parties Kindle Edition



Language: English  

Keeping sane in these mad times

The Big C. undefined

Know what I’m talking about? Of course you do. It’s the Coronavirus, or, to use its shorter and sharper name, COVID-19. (Actually, the magnified image of it looks quite pretty, but it’s the deadliest thing going.)

Don’t ask me why it’s number 19. I’m sick and tired of all the scientific and non-scientific jargon, the half-assed cures suggested to keep the virus at bay ( chew four or fourteen cloves of garlic, take this or that homeopathic medicine, boil pomegranate skin in two glasses of water and drink the extract…). No one seems to be talking about anything else, and I’m sure you too are SICK AND TIRED of the whole darned thing!

No, this is not to trivialise the virus (better to err on the side of caution, better to be panicky and well-prepared, as this runt is little-known and mighty dangerous). But no one seems to be talking about anything else. Programs and shows have been cancelled. We’re even afraid of going to any large gatherings, and (bless me!), even spending time in a mall! Isn’t mall-crawling the last resort of the completely and utterly bored of the human species?

After being locked in for almost a week, I’d had enough! I told the better half that I’d go crazy if I didn’t see Sheikh Zayed road, didn’t whizz down it, didn’t have a bite of something that isn’t home-cooked. (You see how good I’ve been).

So that’s just what we did- virus be damned – zipped down SZR, and picked up a thaali at my favorite hole-in-the-corner restaurant.

There’s only so much you can do, so much you can restrain from, before you go mad.

What did you do, and how is Mr Vicious Virus treating you? Let me know….

Join me for dinner, Vikram Seth?

Remember that quiz, usually featured in popular magazines – who would you like to take out for dinner? There’s usually a set of four options, and the one you choose shows something of your personality.

Well, this is no quiz. There are, of course, many writers I’d like to take out for dinner – and many I wouldn’t too. No, not William Shakespeare. His puns and double entendres would perhaps be beyond me. So too Arundhati Roy, possibly because I think, despite being a brilliant writer, she’s so depressing.

No, the writer I’d like to take out should be fun, have a sense of humour, and also be famous. An added bonus would be if he understood my culture, and was from the subcontinent. And Vikram Seth fits the bill.

The Inimitable Vikram Seth

Come to think of it, why are all the famous Indian writers of international repute so darned serious and gloomy? Think of Arundhati Roy, Rohinton Mistry, Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie… they’re all soooo serious (although Rushdie can be very funny too). But that’s just what I love about Vikram Seth- he’s both serious and funny, and this was borne out in his well-attended talk at the Sharjah Book festival a month or two ago.

Vikram would be my perfect choice as a dinner partner. First, he speaks a beautiful public-school English (he was educated at the Doon school) and is of my generation – perhaps a few years older, but still, someone who I can relate to. He gave many wonderful tips on writing a novel. The best one was, in his own words: “You have to be very very very very lazy to write a novel.” This perhaps contradicts received wisdom, but he goes on to explain that there’s a lot of thinking involved during the writing, and for hours and hours, maybe days together, he’d be lying around staring into space and just thinking.

Then there is the point of research – painstaking research. Vikram goes to the nitty-gritty, and no matter what kind of character he’s writing about, whether they are eighty-year-old grandmoms or teen girls, he does his research. And the best part of this is that, it never appears as stuffy ‘research’ in his books, but blends in with the story, setting, and theme.

So Vikram Seth, if you’re reading this, next time you’re around here in this part of the world, (i.e. Dubai), let me know…

And yes, I’m still waiting for A Suitable Girl.

All lives matter

Hello! Have any of you rescued an animal in distress? Well, just a few days ago, I was instrumental in rescuing a bird (I think a stork). This is a feel-good story, which I thought I’d share with you for the festive season. Read on…

The stork in happier days wading in the lake

It was not a pretty bird. Big, grey, with dull yellow eyes and a log, sharp beak, it lay by the side of the lake, evidently in pain, unable to move.

Someone walking by saw it, and gestured to the house-help in the garden nearby to do something about it. The house-help, a young woman in her mid-twenties, immediately came and carried the bird into the garden. This was a supremely brave thing to do, as the bird tried to viciously peck her with its beak. She threw a cloth over it and carried it gently and put it down on the lawn.

Her employers were away, so she quickly whatsapped her madam and asked what she should do.

This is where new-age technology came in. The lady (my neighbour) sent out an SOS on our Whatsapp group, asking someone to see the bird, and also see what they could do. And this is where I entered the picture.

The bird had a broken leg, and was lying on its side, its eyes closed. When I touched it, it opened one yellow eye and fluttered its wings. It may have been in great pain.The house-help brought some water for the bird, but its beak was clamped shut. It refused to drink.

In the meantime, the Whatsapp messages were piling up, about what to do and how to save the bird. Ants had begun crawling over the poor creature as it lay helplessly on its side, and we pushed them away with a piece of rag, all the while taking care not to get a vicious peck. Things were looking desperate. I called up a few vets, but they all said that they only treated cats and dogs. One of the vets helpfully suggested the Dubai Municipality number as the place to go.

The Dubai Municipality was my last resort. I called up, and a helpful voice put me on to the veterinary section. Through them, I was connected to the doctor who dealt with wild fowl. “Is this a wild bird? he asked me “We only deal with wild birds, and not the normal birds you see flying around.”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “OK, send me a picture, on Whatsapp.” I sent him a picture as asked, and yes, indeed it was a wild bird indigenous to this region – and therefore something that should be saved.

I heard the golden words, “I’m on my way.”

Those of us who don’t believe in authorities, who think that bureaucracies are just bumbling bastions of red tape (I admit I was one of them) will be pleasantly surprised at the speed at which Dubai Municipality acted. The van came after an hour or so (dreadful traffic jams at this time) and the assistant gently lifted the bird. It was so weak by this time that it did not have the strength to peck, .

Assistant gently lifting the bird

‘Do you have a carton?” he asked. We hastily pulled out a carton, but it was too small for such a large bird. It finally was put at the back of the van, and was on its way!

Bird being placed in carton

Well, what are the lessons learnt? First, don’t ever despair, but keep trying. Second, don’t think authorities are your enemies or just a pack of corrupt bureaucracy – they do come to the rescue. And third and most important, all lives matter, including this creature’s who is so important for the ecosystem.

Well, this is a feel-good story, and the real hero (or heroine) is the house-help who so bravely lifted the bird and had the presence of mind to call her owner. Have you had a similar experience in rescuing an animal in distress? I’d love to hear from you if you have. Also, if there is an ornithologist reading this, please tell me if this bird is indeed a stork.

Have a great festive season!

Do judge a book by its cover

When was the last time you bought something that didnt look nice? Let’s say, a perfume or a box of chocolates that wasn’t packaged attractively? Unless it was heavily discounted, you probably wouldn’t have even looked at it.

Pouf- you’re a new woman/man

The fact remains that we DO judge by outward appearances. The packaging is important. And this is especially important in the world of books.

Unless we’ve heard of a great book, or unless it’s a well-known author, how you choose a book not only depends on the blurb, but also to a certain extent, the picture on the front cover.

Sometimes, of course, book covers are misleading. This is especially true of literary fiction written by women which have “tarted up” covers just so that people would buy them. This is doing a great disservice to women writers.

For the most part, though, the average reader often buys a book based on that front cover. It has to not only have something to do with the book, but also be eye-catching. Take for instance Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series. Each of the book covers has a fashionably dressed woman and funky colours, just to show it’s a fun read.

Well, all those proverbs you learnt in school, about not judging a book by its cover and so on, applied to that earlier age when book covers had not become a selling point. Book cover designers are in high demand, and if they make a name for themselves, can demand thousands of $$$! And rightly so, as the right cover can often make or break a book, even in this age of the kindle.

What are some of the iconic book covers you remember? Is it Jaws by Peter Benchley, with the sinister shark at the bottom? Or the stark simplicity of the cover of To Kill a Mockingbird? The Harry Potter series have undergone many cover changes over the years, but the fantastical elements remain.

So the next time you buy or borrow a book, have a good, hard look at the cover. There is so much hard work and so much imagination that goes into that front cover. Chances are, you may pick it up based just on this one aspect!

How much is too much?

Hello friends,

As parents, partners, friends, lovers, employers or employees, we all sometimes don’t realize how much is too much. It’s a very fine line, and it depends on the person and the situation. And you know you’ve crossed it when you begin feeling cross with yourself, or feel that you’re taken for granted, not appreciated, or just plain pi**ed without really knowing the reason why.

Perhaps it’s easiest for parents to know when they’ve done too much. At one extreme, the result is a spoilt and pampered kid, but on a lesser note it is just a child who creates tantrums when they don’t get their way.

Between friends, the friendship won’t last long if one is taken for granted. Haven’t you had a so-called friend who you always have to call? It is you who always makes a program to meet up, you who does the listening all the time. Said friend does not budge or make any move, does not bother to ask you about your day, is so busy that he or she can’t even return your phone-calls. Sounds familiar? We’ve all gone through this, thinking someone’s our friend when they are the least interested in us. Remember friendship is a two-way street. When you realize you’ve done too much, it’s time to call it quits.

Perhaps the hardest is when you’ve done too much for a partner. How did you let this happen? We all know marriage is about give and take, but when one gives too much, after some time there’s a “give.” When the giver tries to equalize the balance, there is very often resistance from the taker. Who do you blame? You can’t really blame the giver. It’s sometimes the situation that makes one give more and the other take more. And I am no relationship counsellor to say what to do or what not to do. But sometimes a good fight (without fisticuffs) where both sides let off steam helps to clear the air. So do whatever it takes to restore the equilibrium.

Well, on this note, I’ll end with these words: You should get as much as you give. And it is only you who can decide how much is too much.

Adios until next time…

Not DIET and EXERCISE again!

There seem to be two perennial topics in every newspaper and magazine the world over. Diet and exercise.

Yes, yes, I know, these twin topics ARE important, and we all need to know what is the next unpronounceable super food that is essential for our survival. My vocabulary – and my BLD (an acronym for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, but also perhaps, ironically, a short form for BLOOD)- now encompasses foods my parents have never even heard of, least of all downed. Besides, the prohibitive costs would have made their practical minds think twice before spending precious paisa on these goods. Quinoa, chia seeds, kale, keto diet, clean eating, veganism … and the list goes on.

Exercise – how, what, when – is also another favorite staple. Is it best to exercise AM or PM? What kind of exercise is good for you? How long should you exercise? Is walking the best exercise? Does weight training keep your weight down? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

GIMME A BREAK! I want to be myself- extra rolls of flesh, downing forbidden foods, keeping late hours, exercising when I feel like it, pretending a stroll with the dog is enough for the day and I’ve done my thirty minutes of brisk walking…

Every time I read another article on what kind of food I should be eating or how much I should be exercising, I reach for a bag of chips and plonk myself down on my comfy sofa, article in hand, smiling villainously to myself and saying to the article- “So there! Preach away for all I care!”

Is this constant bombardment of good health articles a nefarious agenda to give all of us folks who just want to live our life the way we want to some kind of mental health problem? Nowadays, we have so many such issues like anorexia and bulimia and body shaming and so on.

Remember, the latest catchword is DIVERSITY. And yes, round is a shape, and potato chips is a food. So just let me be.