Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year End... Recall. Or not?

A year ago, at the dawn of 2009, most of the bloggers I was following had put up a retrospective on the impressions left on their lives by the year that was passing by. At the time, this humble blog was just born from the ashes of a less publicised earlier one that had carried my short stories for a handful of people to read. I did not think it made any sense to post a retrospective, at the time.

Now, though, I have quite a number of tales to tell, apart from those I have been narrating from time to time. 2009, though it has been kind for the most part, had a variety of dishes to offer. Quite contrary to the previous years, I have been shaken to the foundations in many facets of my life. Though I survived intact, for better or worse, the terrain it took me through, being unnaturally rough, caught me quite by surprise. Where I was and where I am now are Poles apart, and whence I am headed appears a Lifetime away!

Unfortunately, a listing down of the milestones in my journey would not only be an absolute waste of a blog, apart from being a dry read, it would also take me once more through chapters on which I would like to close the doors forever. And yet, I know they would still remain with me like marks left on the wall by paintings long removed. I believe that's how it should be.

To be fair to Destiny, at every juncture that I found myself in, totally lost in the mist, there has always been someone, or something, ahead, holding doors open for me. There was not even one instance when I found myself alone and helpless. Almost. All I had to do was look around.

A few years ago, if you called me a pessimist, I would have resisted like a wild cat. Today, I do not mind admitting that I do have a streak of pessimism in me - quite a big, thick, red streak. The pessimistic side claims that the year was bad and tries to project the lows, whilst the feeble optimist in me still maintains that the year could have been worse and that it had always offered me sugar with the salt.

Today, at the dusk of an eventful and challenging year, I find my heart sputtering like a motorcycle about to run cross-country, ready for challenges, impatient to tackle the dusty roads before me; without any clue as to which one to choose, yet eager to plunge into the unknown.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

An addiction called Twitter

You know you are twitter-savvy if you...

1. Think of posting to twitter whenever something interesting happens around you...
2. Try to compact wise thoughts and jokes into 140 chars...
3. Are elated, if someone RTs your tweet...
4. Experience heart failure, if it goes for a second RT
5. Always need the twitter application handy...
6. Are afraid to delete mails from your sent folder lest they be deleted from the recipient's inbox too - like DMs
7. Add hash tags in your SMS, chats, or mails (thought courtesy @rkartha)
8. Worry about how many interesting conversations you missed when you stay away from Twitter for a few hours...
9. Experience withdrawal symptoms at the very thought of a week's disconnect from Twitter...
10. Hook yourself to Twitter for Breaking News!

Any more? Please contribute your thoughts... :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Phases from Life

In the creative writing workshop I attended last weekend, there was an exercise, to write about a wild dream or fantasy or a happiest moment, or just something out of the ordinary - in our instructor Atmapreeta's words, 'go a little overboard'.
Having just ten minutes to think and write, I was unable to come up with the happiest day-dream or fantasy, or even the best moment of my life. Another exercise just prior to it had reminded me of a feeling of absolute ecstasy, the very thought of which had made the hair on my neck stand, and I thought I would try to pen that feeling. Not the best piece, and lacking perfection, but for whatever it is worth, I share it here, complete and unedited. 

The 2-wheeler sputters to life. I'm in an open field, the wind against my face. I ride around the ground. The grass blows in the breeze. Is it the bike riding me, or am I riding the bike?
I almost lose my balance and put my foot down. This is the second day of Learning. I begin again. This time I complete three rounds before I put my feet down on terra firma. I am getting there!
On the third attempt, I have reached the heights of exhilaration. Then, I lose my balance. I am travelling at 60kmph, and tip over. I skid at the same pace. The wall at the far end looms large and hurtles closer to me. I close my eyes and wait for the impact. It never comes. Dread in my heart, I open my eyes and see that a large bird with colourful wings and a beautiful crown has swooped down, snatched me away and was now carrying me to Paradise.

When I finished reading this out, someone said, "I think you really wanted to ride a bike!"
I said to him, "I did ride, and I did fall, but the bird never appeared."

What I wanted to add, but didn't (probably I realised it only later) was that... the whole thing was a metaphor. It was not just about a bike and a fall and a bird. It was about Life itself - or phases from it. The Ecstasy, the Agony, the Fear, the Rescue.
I hope you can relate to it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We've been good, but we can't last....

Christmas Christmas time is here
Time for toys and time for cheer
We've been good, but we can't last
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast...

Want a plane that loops the loop
Me, I want a hula-hoop
We can hardly stand the wait,
Please, Christmas, don't be late!

- From Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Movie

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


... at a meeting:

"Can I have your card, please?"
"Sorry, I do not carry one. I am making my life simpler. Managing cards is tough."
"But you're making our lives difficult by trying to make yours easy! Do one thing, don't accept cards from others, but keep yours always handy so that you can give others."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

As it breaks...

The water flowed through the straight, open duct. It has been, for years.
And for years it would go on before it reached its Destiny.
It never knew a world existed outside. It knew the wind, the light, the sky, the duct and itself.
It moved with the breeze, generated ripples.
It spoke to the leaves that sometimes fell on it.
It sighed in the darkness to the glowing moon that glided past every night.
It sang lullabies and rocked itself to sleep.
And called this, its Life.
And it was Happy.

One day an opening appeared on the side of the duct.
"A crack!" said the water. Its perfect world was broken. And yet it stared with wide eyes, fearless and amazed, thirsting for adventure.
The duct said, "Look away! This is evil. It will heal itself soon. Go on your way."

But the water, like a child, wanted to explore.

It squeezed itself out of the hole. The world ahead was Wild. Green. Huge. Unruly. Awesome. Unprotected.

How simple and uneventful its life had been. Now, right before its eyes were exciting tangles, hurdles, dangers, challenges, romance.
Greeting it with open arms.

The water would never return to the duct again.
If it ever does, its Life would not be the same.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts for the Weekend

1. Every challenge is a hurdle on one side and a stepping stone on the other.

2. Every obsession has an end. The only difference is in how long each lasts. The moment one admits to having an obsession, it begins its decline.

3. Some relationships are like quicksand. They may even look beautiful from the outside, they make you want to jump just right into it. You do not realise till you are truly sucked in, that it requires effort and will to escape.

4. All feelings are mutual. Except when one person does not know of the existence of the other.

5. A good writer knows he is good. A bad one believes he is.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pazhassi Raja

Pazhassi Raja, the Movie, spanning 3 hours 15 minutes, is essentially a war movie, based on one of the first struggles of Indian Independence. Being based on history, it leaves very little or no scope for melodrama. And yet, or maybe hence, the sequence of events with amazing visual and audio effects make it a treat to watch.

Spoiler Alert: You probably would not want to read the following if you haven't watched the movie yet, though I am not giving away too much.

Some breathtaking scenes from Pazhassi Raja:

* The Introduction of Sharat Kumar (Edasseri Kunkan)

* The hanging of Thalackal Chanthu - Manoj K Jayan's moment of glory

* Neeli and her band of women fighters cheering Pazhassi Raja

* The last breath of Kaitheri Ambu (Suresh Krishna)

* The evacuation from the forest before the British soldiers arrive to capture Pazhassi Raja

* The last moments of Edasseri Kunkan - seeing the redcoats reflected in the water, and after

* The attack on the fort by Pazhassi's army

* The last shots on Pazhassi Raja

* The rare, yet present, subtle Mammootty moments

* Sharat Kumar

Other thoughts...

* Despite it being a patriotic movie, there was no surge of patriotism on watching it.

* Hollow-sounding words by the British Officer when Pazhassi lies dead.

* The Matrix-style flying sequences in combat could have been avoided.

* The exit of the British lady on seeing the gruesome hangings seemed a bit overdone.

Like it or not, it is a movie you would not want to miss.

Click here to read more thoughts on the movie shared by @arunthomaskb.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Little Things That Matter

I had once shared a post on how small gestures make one's day... a smile, a word, a thought, that can make or break our world.

Here are some scenes(the good ones) from my week.


Early morning.
I opened the door to take the day's newspaper. My neighbour - nay, my friend - was standing at the far end, waiting for her transport to her work place. Her face was long, drawn and tired. Sleep-deprived nights, early mornings and long week were writ on it.
She did not see me.
'Pssst,' I said.
She turned, and smiled. I was still wearing the remnants of my sleep.
"Oh, I shouldn't have called you from behind!" said I, with the pretence of an apology.
"It's alright," she replied. "Strictly my back wasn't turned to you... there was a few degrees' difference."
We both laughed at what we would have later referred to as a Poor Joke.
As she boarded her bus, I saw that the smile was still playing on her lips.
As I went in with the newspaper, I was smiling too.


I was at the clothes-line, hanging out Munnu's clothes to dry. From there I could see the apartment entrance gate.
A Skoda drove in. I knew the car, it belonged to a family two floors above ours. I was just looking away thinking it is the husband whom I barely knew, when I realised that behind the wheel was the wife, with whom I have often spent hours talking Momma-talk about our children. I turned to look again.
As the car glided down the ramp, I saw that she was waiting for me to look the second time, and when I did, she waved. Her two-year-old was with her, his big, black eyes smiling up at me.
I smiled and waved back too.


I said to my friend, "I feel bad that I am not spending time with my son on a holiday, as I am busy the whole day in the kitchen."
He replied, "Be happy that you are cooking for him. Many Mothers can't."


For those who remember the Lonely Child, I saw him again today. He was coming out of the school gates as I went in, clutching something to his chest. It must have been a paper or a book, perhaps a gift from his favourite teacher. He was looking quite happy. He crossed the road, went straight in up the stairs. I did not realise that I had stopped on my tracks, a bounce in my heart, watching him go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kreative Blogger

When we do something for ourselves, it matters not what others think. Nonetheless, when someone appreciates us, it feels great!

Fellow blogger and Twitter-buddy Brittany Landgrebe has honoured me with the Kreativ Blogger award... Thanks, Brittany!

Now, these are the rules for this award...

1. Copy and paste the picture above, onto your own blog.
2. Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog.
3. Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.
4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award.
5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6. Notify your 7 bloggers.

So far so good. Steps #1 and #2 are done.

Step #3 is the toughest. 7 things about myself that others do not know? Why is it that a list of my most negative traits come to mind first? No, no, it will certainly not do :)

Okay, after much thought and strikes-through, here are some.

1. I love old Hindi songs. Some of them reduce me to tears even today.

2. I try to be honest. But when faced between honesty and kindness, I have often chosen the latter.

3. I miss my parents. I wish I could spend more time with them than I now do.

4. I have let go of my pride and gone back to make peace with 2-3 friends with whom I had broken off on differences of opinion. I'm glad I did.

5. I am very lazy. My ideal day would be spent idling in bed with a collection of interesting books around me & soft music in the room. Unfortunately, daily life does not allow one such luxuries!

6. If there is anything that can pull me up from bed, it is Twitter. Twitter allures me in ways I never imagined possible.

7. I am a Leo. Unfortunately I have almost all bad qualities attributed to Leos, though I try to pretend otherwise. I try to make up for it by letting my brain rule over my heart (whenever possible!).

There! The next step seemed quite easy, except that there are so many bloggers I would like to award - and it was tough to select only 7.

1. Sheila at Sting In The Tail is an Australian writer, blogger and my Twitter buddy. I just love the way she writes - both serious and funny stuff. Often she strikes a chord that is so in parallel with many of my own thoughts.

2. Six Chix - - The blog of six extremely talented cartoonists, who create the Six Chix cartoon strips, is one of my daily stops for cartoons, cartooning news, contests, beautiful photographs and so on. Go there to meet Margaret Shulock, Anne Gibbons, Isabella Bannerman, Stephanie Piro, Benita Epstein and Rina Piccolo.

3. Mike Peterson - His three blogs Nellie Blogs, The Weekly Story Book and Two Years Before the Mast are absolutely wonderful places to visit. He is a writer, a journalist and a huge comics fan (he introduced a lot of new comics to me!) - and I enjoy reading his experiences at Nellie Blogs.

4. Peg Cherre - Weaving a Gem of a Life - Peg writes mostly about weaving, healing gemstones and jewelry, but she also records interesting incidents from her life and surroundings that makes her blog a regular visit for me.

5. Ma Ananda Atmapreeta - Mountain - I began following her blog to know mostly about the Creative Writing Workshops she often conducts. However, I liked the way she wrote on a variety of topics and became a regular. She is the author of the book, A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage.

6. Gopinath Mavinkurve - Gopinath's ArTicKles - If you look at the URL to this blog closely, you would smile. He calls it The smile would stay and sometimes break into a grin or laughter if you listen to all that he says. He is the author of the book, The ArTicKles Collection.

7. Sandra Bell-Lundy's blog at Between Friends is a favourite halt for many of my friends and me who have all been fans of Susan, Kim and Maeve for long. Go to her site to read about her cartoons (also visit the cartoon widget for the daily cartoons)!

Whew. That took more time than I imagined!

Now for step#6. I am off to inform each of the above bloggers - meanwhile you enjoy reading the blogs I listed above!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The toughness of surrender

A scene in a film I watched recently reminded me of a discussion that I had with a friend long ago in college. The dialog in the movie was one we have heard since time immemorial - "It is cowardly to attempt suicide." My friend had argued at that time, that whatever be the reasons behind a person deciding to take the ultimate step, it requires a lot of courage - one cannot take one's life easily. I said No. Try taking your life when you have not the slightest speck of despair, when you are brimming with happiness. That, would require courage. Not when you are depressed beyond reason, and all emotions including courage are numbed by the power of distress.

It is not just about giving up. It is also about Why and How. And When.
Unless there are no visible reasons to keep on trying, Giving up is not easy. Contrary to what people may say, admitting defeat while on a trail, however convincing the reasons for giving up, takes a good amount of courage. Stepping back when we are hot on a quest, and dropping everything including the principles we believe in, because of other priorities, other people, other events, can be quite unnerving.

At the end of a long trudge along a dark and non-existent path, when we find ourselves alone and weary with our target nowhere in sight, the original vision we were chasing that motivated us to get started on this journey appearing vague and blurry, it would seem that Giving Up is easier than the struggle forward. It would be, if the Original Urge was not strong enough, or one did not believe in it.

The attraction of one's quest is difficult to ignore, impossible to snap. Convincing oneself that it is time to let go could be heart-breaking. Very often, days after we have made the decision, we wake up in the morning, ready to continue what we were seeking, forgetting for an instant that we had decided not to go any further - that we had surrendered.

Imagine, one sunny morning you measure your life's efforts and tell yourself, That's it! I am drawing a line here. If my painstaking investments yield results, then probably I deserved them. If not, I never did. I am not going to exert myself any further. Instead, I will wait for glory to come to me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A sight that troubles me no end

I saw the child again today.
He was swinging to and fro on the gate of his apartment.
In his school uniform, with his school bag on his back.
I looked up, and there was no face observing him from the first floor either.

Every afternoon, I go to pick my son from school. I see a lot of children leaving school in their bus or with their parents, screaming 'Bye' to each other. It is a sight I love to see. One day I reached there early and had to wait till Munnu came out. This child (he cannot be more than 4 years old) came out of his class and left the school unaccompanied. I was surprised, thought the Security Guard did not see him go alone, and pointed out to him.
The Security shrugged, and said, "He stays in the first floor of the apartment right opposite the school."
I thought it is okay in that case, though I did not see anyone watching out for him. The road in front of the school isn't crowded, it is a by-lane, and only an occasional bike or car would come.
As I waited for Munnu to come from his class, this little boy stood outside the apartment for about 15 minutes, playing, walking here and there, idling, but no one from his house came outside to see why the boy hasn't returned from school yet.

I felt troubled, in fact quite unhappy, to see the lonely child, and I again asked the Security about it. He said, This is the daily story. Every morning the child comes to school alone. Some afternoons after school, seeing the child sitting outside, the Security would see him up the stairs, after a while the child would come down again. This goes on till sometimes the Security gets mad at him - because if something happens to the child, he will be blamed. It was as if the boy did not want to go to his home at all. And all the while, there would be no one looking out from the balcony for him. In the words of the Security Guard, "Koi nahin dekhta, Madam."

I wonder what the little one thinks. He may not even be able to put words to his feelings yet. But does he know or feel unwanted?

There might be nothing to it. Maybe it is just that his parents want him to be independent. Or that they are confident he will be safe. Or maybe, my Motherly heart is construing unnecessary melodrama where none exists. But it gives me (and others) the impression that they don't care enough. My son wants to do things independently too. He wants to go out and play alone, he says he will go to school alone, but I just don't let him. Even if he goes out to play with his friends, I would be around, watching. May be in another year or so, I will let him, but for now....

...I think 4 years is too young to be outside alone.