Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 1 - A letter to my best friend (30 Day Letter Challenge)

To my best friend,

I am sorry that friendship doesn't make sense between us, anymore. I am sorry that our promise of staying best friends until we turn wrinkly didn't turn out to be true.

The concept of "Best Friends" has been a myth to me and will always be. It's not my friends or you, it's me. However when I hear the words "best friend", I couldn't think of anyone else, but you. We've known each other for around 20 years! Writing to you today brings back all those memories.

I still remember the time I met you. I was moved to a different school in the middle of the year when I was in second grade. The place, the surrounding and the people were all foreign to me. Among all those unfamiliarity, I crossed my paths with you. You were the cutest thing. Two high braids with ribbons on the top, very unusual compared to all the girls who tied the compulsory ribbons at the ends of their braids, heavy fringes on the forehead, taller than the other girls, voice like that of a squirrel and a personality so charming, everyone would want to be around you. I still don't get how you accepted this quiet and boring person as your friend.
Before we knew, we became inseparable. We even started going to the same tuition class. We wouldn't let anyone else join us. My most favorable memory of us was of our playtime. I remember there was a building being constructed in front of your apartment (which ended up to be my Business Maths tuition class ten years later). We use to play Zee Horror Show. One of us would hide in the dug up hole and scare the other by showing just the hand. Creepy, weren't we?! Karishma Kapoor and Govinda were your favorite actors and that made me laugh uncontrollably. It still does.

One fine day when I went to our tuition, the teacher whispered something in my mother's ears. I asked about your absence and they told me you were sick. For a week, I didn't see you. The suspicion and sadness bothered me immensely. Finally, I forced my mother to tell the truth and she told me you moved to a different city, leaving me and my world completely deprived of you. I felt like the most important thing of my life was snatched away from me. I started staying aloof and sad. I got sick. I didn't talk to anyone. To help us, our parents figured out a way and they promised us they would post the letters that we can write to each other. And that was the beginning of something even more beautiful. Being an introvert, it was the best way to express my feelings.
We started writing to each other non-stop. Letters, greeting cards, quizzes (remember, we asked each other questions like who is the maker of Tom & Jerry or who was the author of a particular book and gave prizes to each other for correct answers?), gifts, posters, our photographs, crafts, drawings, postcards with pictures of actors on Diwali and what not! Even though I was successful in making few friends, I was always excited about coming home from meeting them and writing you the important things of my life. We were growing. Our feelings in the letters turned from pencil to ink-pen to ball-point pens, with less spelling and grammatical errors. I still remember on your one birthday, I made a HUGE poster from chart paper with photographs, poems, stories and drawings on it. It was grand.

This was a birthday gift (a folder with poems, letters and friendship band) you made out of gift wrapping paper. Your handwriting were the finest.

After writing letters for more than eight years, we met! We had a ball. We drove in rain, ate junk food, went to the beach and talked our heart out. I stayed at your place and we chatted all night. It was my favorite day with you.
A couple of years later, I received a letter from you telling me you were getting married. Even though I was happy, I felt hard to accept it. I didn't want to share you. I knew your marriage meant less to no communication between yes. Your priorities will be replaced. My college exams disabled me to attend your wedding, which added fuel to the fire. But boy, was I wrong! We still wrote the same way. We met more frequently. You became the mature, responsible women who guided and advised the careless, tomboy in me. You never ignored me. I moved away from India, which made you VERY sad, but nothing changed. My life moved on, I met my love too, you met him, you liked him and it was all perfect.

Then came the worst part. I forced you to get on Facebook. You got on it and EVERYTHING changed. I realized we had nothing in common. We were completely different personalities. Being an uncommunicative person, who suck at small talks, it was hard for me to find things to talk about. We grew up together, but we grew up differently. Those monthly letters were more expressive and talkative than the constant updates we saw of each other. We lost the chemistry. We lost the bond. We hardly talked.

I take it all on me. I am sorry. I am sorry for my habit of pushing things under carpet. I am sorry I neglected the very first bond I was able to make. I am sorry I forgot my first affectionate relationship. I hope this letter brings back all those memories, I hope it conveys that I still love you and you are and will always be my "Best Friend".

They say that if you are friends for eight years, you are friends forever. For me, I was born in this friendship. I lived this friendship. I even died in this friendship. There is nothing more that is needed to validate the 'forever'.

I love you,


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Donate your hair

Charity is never meant to be announced, but charity, like a lot of other important issues needs awareness. A part of this donation process was to spread awareness and encourage others to donate, specially if one has access to a huge number of crowd, which I do. Therefore, instead of cherishing this noble feeling all by my myself, I thought of sharing it.

About a week ago I chopped off 14 inches of my hair to donate to a non-profit organization called Children With Hair Loss. When I read about hair donations on a website, I knew the very second I wanted to do it. After doing a bit of research, I found CWHL. Adults can deal with  understand physical changes like losing hair, but children can't. They go through a lot of mental crises. They lose their confidence and self-esteem. They are often bullied which pushes them more on the dark side. Organization like CWHL accepts hair along with monetary donations. The donated hair is used to make wigs which is then given to children with hair loss, for FREE! (the cost of which could go up to $2000/above 1 lac rupees).

Why donate hair?
Human hair is precious even though it is available in plenty. Almost all of the human hair is supplied to the beauty industry, where they are made in to wigs, which are then sold for unbelievable profits. Tons of hair shaved in India for religious purposes is also supplied to Europe (check the documentary here) where they are sold for profits. This buying and selling of hair business leaves only artificial hair available at cheap prices.
Children and adults suffering from serious diseases like cancer, go through hair loss because of chemotherapy and other hormonal changes. Buying a real hair wig is almost impossible for a normal person with all the heavy medical bills they are already paying. Organization like these, with the help of our donated hair, help these patients gain physical normality and self-confidence in the form of hair wigs. Hair is just a superficial part of our body, but it does bring a lot of changes to our appearance, which is again a superficial trait, but it means a lot to a person who has already lost a lot of their body to evil diseases.

Why I donated?
I am not going to lie. I had second thoughts. I always loved long hair. The last hair cut I had was around 2 years ago. I never had short hair for almost all my life. Even though I knew I wanted to do it from the very moment I read about it, I always kept wondering if I'll be okay to accept this huge change. Then I saw these pictures on CWHL's Facebook page.

And I thought, to hell with my hair. I would give everything that I can to bring that kind of smile to a suffering child. I didn't have to think anymore. I went to the salon next day, got as much hair as I can in a ponytail, chopped according to their guidance, filled their form, put my hair in a ziploc bag and mailed them.

Why CWHL? 
I chose CWHL because,
1. It was for children.
2. It is not just for children who lose their hair because of cancer, but also for children suffering from Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other disorders that causes hair loss.
3. It is old and trustworthy. No scandals or cheating.

Celebrities donating to CWHL

 4. Unlike other organizations, they accept colored, chemically treated or gray hair. (mine was ombre colored). Other organization also demands for minimum of 10 to 12 inches. CHWL is okay with a minimum of 8 inches.

How to donate hair in India?
I researched about hair donation in India and found these two organizations. I do not speak for them or guarantee their integrity. If anyone in India is interested in donating their hair, they can do a little more research and go for it. Please let me know if you are aware of other such organizations in India.

Hair For Hope - India (an international organization)

Cutting your hair is painless unlike donating your blood or an organ, and it grows back. So what is there to lose? Go for it! You can make someone's day life by doing something as simple as this. For us, it's just an accessory, for someone it's something to look forward to on a crappy day.

If you are running a hair salon or a beauty parlor, you can initiate and help this cause by encouraging your customers to donate hair or sending the chopped hair to non-profit organizations like these.
If any of the readers donate their hair, do share your pictures or stories with me on my Facebook page and I will be more than happy to share them. It is the action of one that encourages the action of second. Together we can make a difference and bring positive changes to unfortunate lives.

Lastly, I want to dedicate this donation to one of the most important person of my life, Nidhee. 
This is for you my love.
I miss you SO MUCH. I am sure this will make your day, wherever you are. I know you are smiling right now. :)