Happiness is… an Updated Happy List!

As the year approaches its end, I look back like I often do at the way I had planned life, and at the way life planned its own course, ignoring me in an impudent show of might. As always, I end up with a list that I update each year. It helps me understand myself and those around me. It also helps me understand how I have changed in the course of the year, and how some things still remain universal to the core of who I am, year after year. So, here’s a simplified version of things that made it to my ‘happy’ list. Oh, what a year of learning it has been!

‘The updated list of Happy’

Happiness is…

  • Spending time with your nieces and nephews.
  • Being able to stand next to your mom on your dad’s death anniversary (at the temple your dad preferred to go to).
  • Going to your alma mater and telling seventeen year olds what you wish someone had told you at seventeen.
  • Being able to hop on to a flight because your grandmother misses you.
  • Allowing your little sister to guide you after spending years guiding her (and secretly feeling pleased to see her grown up and reversing the role).
  • Your daughters’ small, big and major achievements.
  • Mint tea on a lazy afternoon.
  • Conversations where you are not judged.
  • Talking about your book, the characters you created, and your observations on society and its bias… for the first time ever.
  • Meeting people who inspire you and energise you.
  • Knowing that even if some people leave your side, there will always be a few who will stand by you when the going gets tough.
  • Validation (fair and just).
  • Unconditional support.
  • Increased steps on fitbit and a decreased number on the weighing scale.
  • A remembered song from your childhood.
  • Standing up for others when no one else would, and standing up for yourself, however hard, and yes even publicly if need be.
  • Finding your mojo.
  • Being your family’s emotional and moral support.
  • Being there for people who pretend to be strong and independent.
  • Standing in front of a crowd, microphone in hand, knowing that people are listening to you intently.
  • Working for yourself.
  • Gathering wayward thoughts, fractured relationships, abstract ideas, and messy stalks of flowers, and turning them in to beautiful arrangements.
  • Food that is served with love.
  • Airports, travel, new places, new ideas, new perspectives and new understandings.
  • Laughing at the silliest of things.
  • A prayer sent your way.
  • Coming home.




The Dancing Lights of the Dark Nights

This post is dedicated to the warriors who shine their brightest when the night is at its darkest.

It is somewhat myopic and perhaps, superficial to think of lights, colours and music in terms of happy spaces, effervescent emotions, and expressions of many beautiful intangibles. Because by relating happy to beauty, we leave out the beauty of the spaces that are vacuous, the music of the silence, and the emotions that are dark, and yet beautiful. It is impossible to ignore darkness in a world that stays dark half the time. So, today I applaud the, ‘not so bright and happy.’ After all, shiny is a facade, happy is momentary and success is fleeting.

Beauty this week has presented itself in the darkest of places. I have witnessed souls that shine in the dark, music that’s made out of nothing, and brilliance that emerges from melancholy.

The first set of warriors came on a cadence of music that was built on the world of silence. At the MSF Volunteer Awards night, the group, Redeafination enthralled the audience. The deaf dancers danced, and oh so gracefully to the music they couldn’t hear! Or maybe, to the music they heard in their hearts. And thus, the music of the silence became the happiest dance that I had seen in a very long time. Here’s Singapore’s Deaf Dance Crew, Redeafination

Next came the play that explored death, and dealt with loss through metaphors, symbols and a performance, so raw and powerful, that it left the audience sobbing. Yes, me included. With an uncomfortable name like Poop, I had expected humour or worse, an attempt at humour, but what I encountered was an exploration of darkness, both on the stage and also in the crevices of human minds and hearts. The most melancholic and heart wrenching subject of death and loss became the most sublime form of artistic expression. Though the topic was devoid of colours, the storytelling, the acting, and the stage direction of Poop by The Finger Players was anything but colourless.

Poop. Source: The Finger Players

Poop. Source: The Finger Players








Another form of beauty presented itself  through the dark narration of pain, longing and yearning in Rupi Kaur’s poetry. The poems are too raw in places, too uneven to be conventionally pretty, and yet its honest exploration of the secrets of human yearnings took my breath away. It’s candid and how!


Thus, in the acknowledgment of failures, and blemishes in our lives, the beauty lives on and the warriors of the night, stay relentless in their efforts to turn their darkness in to beautiful light. They turn failures of life in to successes of a different kind. And I am fortunate to have witnessed the darknesses turn in to dancing lights!

Teach Kids about Empathy

Empathy. I can’t stress on it enough, and I can’t stop talking about it. Thanks to TheAsian Parents Magazine for publishing my article. Read my original article here.


(Text: Prionka Ray. Source: TheAsianParents)

(Text: Prionka Ray. Source: TheAsianParents)



They should come with a manual.

We should be warned before they begin.

And told exactly 

When they will end.


They shouldn’t catch us off guard like this.

They shouldn’t leave us floundering,


Hanging by the threads.

Knowing not whether they unravel

Or whether they keep weaving new strands.


We make them, 

We break them,

We flow in them,

We float.

And sometimes we soak in them

All the weariness of this world

The tiredness of the souls

And the lethargy of many half-dreamt dreams.


They fascinate us,

They terrify us.


They lure us,

They seduce us,

They gnaw at us.

Stories, stories, stories! 

Take away the stories!!!!


No! No! Don’t listen to me!

Give them back!



Give me those bitter-sweet stories

Let me live in them

Let me get lost in them


By Prionka Ray ©


Children’s Safety and the Swimming Pool

It’s impossible to be around kids and not to worry about their safety. As a parent, educator, or even as a policy maker, the safety of the children remains a top priority.  Here’s my write-up on the policy response to unsafe home pools. The article appears in Telegraph, Harvard University. Read the full article here.

Text by Prionka Ray (Source: Telegraph, Harvard University)

Text by Prionka Ray (Source: Telegraph, Harvard University)

Text by Prionka Ray (Source: Telegraph, Harvard University)