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

Overheard...

... 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."
Smiles.

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 - thesixchix.com - 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 whatnonsanz.blogspot.com. 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.
Alone.
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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What reviews should be all about, IMHO

I visit a lot of book / movie review sites - sometimes intentionally and sometimes not so. In many of these places, I find that often a synopsis disguises itself as the 'review'. Which is not what I wanted to read. Led me to wonder... What is a review? What do people expect when they look for a book/movie review?

My assumption is that a reader who stops at a review has not yet got hold of the book or seen the movie. So naturally the first thing he would want to know is, "Is the book/movie any good - is it worth my money?"

Which is what I look for in reviews, and which is why my reviews are the way they are. I sometimes do not even speak about the theme. My reviews only speak about what I felt about it. What I dis/liked about it. What to look out for in the movie. Probably that is not what others would want...

However, one of my friends who read my review of Slumdog Millionaire, said that it helped her set a base, otherwise she would perhaps have not sat through the movie at all.

Check out my Book Reviews and Movie Reviews here.
Let me know what you expect when you come across a review?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Memories of a Terror Attack

I don't think the Mumbai Terror Attack of Nov 26, 2008, is something that anyone can easily forget - not only Mumbaikars or other Indians, but anyone who has remote connections to India. (Probably the whole world, but I do not know how keenly the World followed the 60-hour drama which claimed a lot of innocent and brave lives.)

Indian Media (with a touch of pride, I suspect) called it India's 9/11 ("Why does the US have all the fun?!") and petnamed it "26/11".

One TV channel carried discussions titled "Enough is Enough", debating on whether Enough is really Enough, or there is more to Enough to attain the Ultimate Enough.

There were candlelit crowds around Martyr's Monuments and War Memorials in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and elsewhere, grieving, burning posters of politicians who did not heed the Intelligence flimsies that had hinted at such an attack.

Heads rolled, Ministers were ousted, Resignations, Finger-pointing, Tough dialogue-deliveries and other melodrama were enacted. Everyone stirred and sat up with an excited pounding of the heart to hope (though History has shown repeatedly that in some cases, hope is a misplaced emotion) that a Change is coming. (The Change that did come, happened to land in the US.)

All that lasted for perhaps a month. Or two. People went back to their lives - except those who lost their dear ones, for whom the life that was ripped apart could never be stitched together again. If we start talking about them - the victims, the martyrs and their families - ten blogs won't be enough.

The Politicians went back to their seats with a sigh of relief: Whew. That was tough, but that is now behind us.

And the lone terrorist who was caught (on camera and) by the NSG? Oh, he is right now enjoying life in some obscure maximum-security prison, stuffing himself with biriyanis and sipping soft drinks, reading books, appearing once in a while to a remote Indian court, weeping and grinning in the public eye, making contradictory statements that the newspapers carry on Page-1, managing to make an absolute mockery of Indian Judicial System, telling himself that "this is the life, back in the village it was Hell", while folks around the world shake their heads in admiration at the justice even a terrorist gets in the Great Nation of India (he even has an Indian advocate to defend him!).

As always, six to eight months after 26/11, there was a dip in everyone's interests because nothing worth a paise was happening, Kasab's court jests retreated to inner pages and smaller columns, and there were other juicy scams, controversies, internal terrorism and gossip to worry about. All of a sudden, very close to the first anniversary, appears Mr.'Head'ley who apparently has a mixed-up Pak-American head on his shoulders, who had been agitating his friends to "retaliate against India" for God-knows-what. So the Press picks it up as well, as a First Anniversary tribute, and runs pages upon pages on him. Will this trail die out the way others did?

A lesson that the media was taught from the 26/11 episode was never to telecast live operations of the kind because the terrorists were getting a live feed of NSG's movements, whereas the NSG did not have any way of knowing their location. But whether the media learnt their lesson remains to be seen.

God save my Nation.

Post Script. One remembers the justice that Saddam Hussein got; and he was not even responsible for 9/11.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My first Newspaper Article!

If someone tells you that social networking sites are a waste of time, refer them to me.

Once upon a time I too thought so, but no longer. They are a waste of time if all you do there is chat. Even then, one would manage to pick up some good news or information or gyan - at least to improve one's GK!

I did a U-turn regarding my take on Social Networking sites a couple of months ago when I started following the 'right' people with the 'right' interests. I was able to participate at the Bangalore Book Festival because of a chance tweet from Pothi.Com that I could easily have missed, but didn't. And now, thanks to Gopinath Mavinkurve whom I met through Blogger/Twitter, I have had my first newspaper article published, in the New Indian Express.

Curiously enough, the article is regarding Twitter!


Click to enlarge

A Great Big Thank You is due to my dear friends Prema and Ninan of Kochi who facilitated this through a friend of theirs.

Click here to read the online version: http://tinyurl.com/y89lwsp
(Again Gopinath Mavinkurve has helped locate this link!!!!!)

Do tell me if you like the article!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thoughts for the Week

I usually post the "Thoughts" on the Weekend, but the last two days I have been suffering from Blogger's Block, so the semi-brilliant ideas refused to flow in. There was no dearth of Tweeting ideas where I have been chatting to glory but that's a different tale. Am back to my abnormal self, so here is the Weekly Dose of Wisdom. 
 

1. The less we depend on someone else, the easier for us to handle their negligence or thoughtlessness.

2. My son lost the little bulging eye of his favourite plastic sticker (free with Sunfeast Pasta Treat) and went around complaining, "I lost an eye!"

3. If you knock at 400 doors, 4 may open. All the 400 doorkeepers will promise that the door will be opened soon, though.

4. My son asks me, What does God do when He is thirsty? Where does He drink water from?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Munnu turns Four!

My little baby turns four today. Amazing - where have the years gone?



Wasn't it yesterday that I was walking around like the proud Mother-to-be, showing off my tummy?
Wasn't it just hours ago that he arrived, three weeks ahead of due date (on his Grandfather's birthday), giving me less than an hour of labour pain, and I was so relieved to see him healthy, that I couldn't stop myself from giving him a hundred kisses?


And then I would speak to him a million sweet nothings that made sense to no one else but him and me?



And then suddenly one morning he started smiling, and another day he turned over on his tummy, sat up, started talking, walking, questioning, and became the amazing explorer he is now!



 
He has learnt to do everything himself - putting on his shirt and pants, buttoning his shirt, taking bath, eating, even helping me make chapathis - he keeps up at it till he masters it, even after I have long given up trying to teach.



 

How little it takes to make him happy - a chocolate, an evening walk, a bed-time story, a favourite program in TV!

 

 
When he learns his numbers, how sweet he sounds when he says "twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten!"



On his fourth birthday, I would wish for him what I pray every day - for a life of keeping himself and others happy, following and attaining his dreams, strength and courage to overcome the inevitable lows of life!

Happy Birthday, dear Munnu!


Previous posts :
Flowers for Mother
Questions
At the Doctor's
More Questions
Concentration
Being With my son
Mastering Language
Daydreaming

Monday, November 16, 2009

Challenges or Signs?

My friend sounded quite unhappy when I spoke to her yesterday. Her worry was her job. She likes the domain of work, but is not happy with the challenges (or lack of it) that she is faced with. I tell her to look for a change. Due to some limitations, she is unable to find another one.
"Take a break," I suggest, "and spend time with your daughter, and probably look for a job later."
She says, "Would it not be a sin to leave the job that God has given me?"
"Maybe God wants you to take a break. Which is why He is making you feel so unhappy. Maybe this is His sign."
She is doubtful. "What if it is the Devil trying to provoke me?"

I am certain of it. The hurdles that Destiny throws at us every now and then are not always challenges that we are expected to cross over. Often, they are warnings from our Guardian Angel, to keep us safe.

Like, someone's lost ticket to the Titanic.
We probably are not expected to move mountains and get ourselves another ticket.

Like, power going down when we are about to hit 'Send' on an already delayed, very important business mail.
When power comes back, we see another mail that came in ten minutes after power went out, which would have made our mail redundant, or worthless, even foolish, had we sent it.

Like, forgetting the key of the house and finding ourselves unable to get in after a tiring day's work.
We spend one or two hours at the neighbour's place where we never had time to visit, and feel refreshed by the time the spouse comes home with the spare key to let us in.

Like, giving in to a screaming child who refuses to go to school all of a sudden.
We find that the school was closed that day and we had not seen the holiday list.

Like, finding yourself unable to handle the pressure of work and home.
Perhaps it is time we looked for a change. In career or life.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Week That Was - The Adventures of a Calendar

Who would have thought that a Calendar, even an exceptional one as Margaret Shulock's, would be part of an adventure? The Adventurous Journey of a Calendar from Friendship, New York, to Bangalore. And the Part-2, the payment process, is yet to begin! Margaret tells me, I am the first person from India to purchase her calendar in the 15 years she has been creating it!






Hey, you folks don't know what you are missing! If you like the above pictures of Margaret's calendar and would like to get one, participate in her Caption contest, and the winner gets to choose between her calendar and her greeting cards. If you wish to purchase, do leave a comment here or at Margaret's blog.

In case you don't know, Margaret Shulock is one of the six very talented women who draw the Six Chix cartoon strips. Which appears only in one Mumbai-based newspaper in India (I forget which! Can anyone enlighten me?)



You can see the cartoon strips from the widget at the Six Chix site (on the right frame).


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Week that Was - Changes up here

So you noticed? I wanted to change the blog template itself, but blogger gave me no good choices. The ones available have had no update to them in more than a year, and I really don't want to change my template to something that another of my friends has.
The change in title was in the pipeline for quite a while, and when it happened, I chose to change the colour rather than select a bad template.
Do you like the new look?


I finally did something that my friend Nikhil had been suggesting all along. I created a Facebook profile. So far I had bravely repelled the pressures from my friends (including him) who tried to tempt me by uploading photos there (the darn site needs a registration before it shows us snaps), who boasted of 500 Facebook friends, and so on.

So what did I find on registering at FaceBook?
A load of old friends who prefer FaceBooking to Emailing, for reasons unknown. (I personally prefer Emails. At least, until now.)
Friends I haven't seen in 10-15 years, and barely recognise.
Friends who are in unbelievable positions in enviable locations around the World.





Having been on Twitter for a while, I took two steps back on encountering FaceBook. Twitter is so very simple, with minimal links and activities. And yet, it took me days to get used to it. In FaceBook, you can Message, Mail, Chat, Wall, Nudge, Poke, Scream, Hit, Kick, ..., besides playing a variety of games (none of which I attempted so far - I am already groggy seeing the million things in my Homepage or whatever it is called). By mistake I forgot to accept a friendship request from someone, and have no clue how to find him again.

Speak of the travails of Networking!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The ArTicKles Collection

I came across Gopinath Mavinkurve quite by accident. I was googling for information on the Bangalore Book Festival-'09, and stumbled on his blog regarding his book. To my pleasant surprise, I found that he too was a self-published author, putting up his books for sale at Pothi.Com, just as I was!

I checked out his book The ArTicKles Collection at the Festival, and was intrigued by the description "ArTicKles, articles and more." I thought, aren't 'ArTicKles' and 'articles' pretty much the same? Besides, he has guaranteed "Humour for everyone." I had to buy it.

The book is a humorous read, there is no doubt about that. The author's light-hearted take on a variety of subjects would make us smile. It was curious to note that many of the articles are in the first person - I am sure he is not as eccentric as he portrays himself to be; I believe he accumulated all the oddnesses of people around him and put them all on his own head, not to offend anyone.There are a few very informative subjects as well, regarding language, many of which were new to me. The Limericks made me ROFL - just as he predicted. I found the English translations of Hindi phrases to be redundant, till I realised that some of his readers may need them.

By the end of the book, I discovered what the difference between 'ArTicKle' and 'article' was!

The ArTicKles Collection is available for purchase at Pothi.com. Click here to check it out. (You can see the first 10 pages preview as well.)
The author has an interesting blog, in fact many of the articles in the book are originally from his blog. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flowers for Mother

My son is a very keen observer. From the time he was very small, he has surprised us with the speed at which he noticed and picked up our habits, our actions, and when he started speaking sentences (and he started quite early),  he began asking the Whys and Wherefores of everything. In fact, so much so that sometimes I have to ask him (rather sternly) to stop the queries for a while, when I speak to someone on the phone.

He is rather addicted to Cartoon channels, a practice we increasingly encouraged (though hesitantly at first) because that was the only way we could get him to sit still for a few minutes.

So it was that one day a few months ago, while he was watching the adventures of Tom & Jerry, (a 100th rerun episode) he came to me and asked, "Does Tom like girl-cats very much?"
I said cautiously, "It appears so." I was rather worried about where the conversation was heading; explaining romance to a three-year-old was not what I was prepared for.
He asked me after a pause, "And do girls like flowers very much?" Tom was apparently handing out flowers to the women in the area.
"Oh, yes," I said, "Girls generally like flowers very much."
He thought about this for a while, and asked no further questions. I was relieved.

A couple of days later, when we went out for a walk, suddenly he ran towards some flowers and plucked one, before I could stop him - it was from someone else' garden. I launched into a lecture of it not being nice to pluck flowers, aren't they more beautiful on the plant? and so on, when he gave it to me and said, "Flowers for you - you are a girl. You like flowers."

I was speechless. From then on, he has made it a habit to give me flowers every time we go out for a walk, and I gently remind him not to pluck from the garden, and only from the bushes on the roadside. I often tell myself I should carry a camera when we go next, to capture this cute picture of him running to me with a tiny flower, but always would remember only later. Once I did, and shot this - he was too quick for my lens and ended up a little off-focus, nevertheless, here it is.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fall

I was somewhere amidst the clouds.
And it felt good.
Suddenly I was let go.
I found myself floating.
The scene below was fascinating,
I could see far and wide.
I did not notice I was descending
Till the Earth had risen to me.
 

Monday, November 9, 2009

India Tweets - Interesting Tweets about India, in 140 words

A few days ago, I was invited to contribute at the blog "India Tweets". Needless to say, I accepted it with delight.

India Tweets is an incredible idea conceived by Vinod Sharma who has brought together a group of bloggers to write Anything India, in 140 words. Even better, he invites readers to contribute! In his own words, "No rules, except 140 words and related to India." If you haven't visited the blog already, do now to read off-beat and varied tweets about India - and all in 140 words!

About the origin of this idea? Vinod says, "The idea for a 140 word came to me from Twitter itself. 140 characters are too few, but in 140 words one can tell a full story."

And just now I noticed that the total number of posts at India Tweets now is 140!

Amazing, eh?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blogging for Beginners

[Seasoned bloggers can either skip this post or provide your thoughts and comments!]


Disclaimer: At the very outset, I am aware that I am not an authority on blogging. Not even close. Some of my friends send me mails with their opinion/thoughts on my blog posts, and when I ask them why they don't post the same as comments (the whole world knows by now that comments make me very happy), their answer is that they "don't write very well," their "language is not good enough" and so on. I don't pretend to understand what they mean, when their mails look quite well-written to me, but... whatever. So this post is meant for those friends of mine, and anyone else who strays into my world, to tell them that if they want to improve their writing, the answer is Blogging.


1. Start a blog. Don't think about what you are going to write and how. Just register. The most popular blog sites these days are blogger.com and wordpress.com. There may be others. Choose one and register.

2. Decide the Blog URL. You are required to give the blog a suitable name (blog URL) when you register. The URL is your handle that remains unchanged through rain or shine, so you can be careful on this one. I believe blogger.com allows changing the URL later, but your readers who have linked to you may find the sudden disappearance of your blog bewildering, so unless you intentionally want to disappear off the face of Cyberworld, keep the URL constant.

3. Identify the Title. The title of the blog, more or less describes the topic you wish to blog about. So this is when you start thinking about the contents. It can be about Cooking, Gardening, Reading and Books, Motherhood, or even without a specific area - like mine. I write about Books, Movies, Places, Motherhood, Experiences from Life, and so on. The title can be edited at any time later, so it is okay to start with one thought and later modify it if required.

4. Public or Private? It is your choice. If you are not confident about your writing and would rather not have people read it till you are ready, make it 'Private'. Or, leave it as 'Public', but don't inform anyone. (FYI, Public Blogs would bring visitors from search engines.) Once you become confident and want people to read, you can change the setting and start broadcasting your blog.

5. Write frequently. Just write what comes to mind. Even if they are only a few halting sentences at first, it is fine. Keep writing. The words and thoughts will start flowing. You will be amazed at the outcome. Before hitting the 'Publish' button, just look back once to see if you are satisfied. There is no hurry; if you aren't satisfied, take some time to edit it. However, don't allow large gaps between your posts. Maximum one week, not more. Otherwise, you will lose enthusiasm, your readers will lose interest, they will forget to come back to check for your updates, and your blog will die a white-dwarf death like many others.

6. Get Motivated to blog. Once you start posting, ideas for new posts will come up at every turn, every day. That itself will give you the motivation to write. Blog while the thought is fresh.

7. Leave the comment option open. It is better to allow anonymous comments, because a majority of visitors don't bother to login to post a comment. You can turn 'comment moderation' option ON, so that every comment goes through your scanner before being published at the site. Again, that is your choice.

8. Leave your trail. If you visit others' blogs and post comments, make sure you mention your blog URL (there is usually a field for website URL; otherwise if you login to post comments, the URL will appear automatically), so that they visit you back.

9. Advertisements. You may be tempted to add Google Ads and the like to the site, to allow the promised dollars to flow into your bank account, but this may be too far-fetched a hope. I may be wrong as I have never added Google Ads to my blog, but some of my friends who have, tell me that making money out of Ads requires a combination of knack and luck and patience. Your choice; though I would suggest not cluttering the blog with advertisements. I have seen blogs that have ads at the top, seeing which I abruptly close the page.

10. Visitor Statistics. Use Google Analytics or such Visitor Statistics Analyzer tools to keep an eye on the visitors. I find it interesting to see where my visitors came from, and what they read, especially when I get hits from Google/Yahoo Search Engines. You can leave links to your blog at Facebook, Twitter and other Networking sites to bring more visitors, if you like.

11. It's your blog, but give credits. No one has the right to tell you what to write in your blog and what not to, or how to - as long as you don't use your blog to insult/offend anyone. You have the freedom to write what you want. However, if you borrow thoughts, ideas or images from any other sites, give due credit, by a mention and/or a link.

12. Read, Read, Read. This should have been item#1 in this list. If you attempt Writing without backing it up with sufficient Reading, it will be like spending cash without having any inflow - you are eventually bound to run out of money. Though in this case, you may not really 'run out' of words, it is always good to keep your vocabulary replenished.


Remember - if you enjoy writing, others will enjoy reading it.

If you think I missed something out, please use the comment option below to bring it to my attention!

Friday, November 6, 2009

BBF-09 and the Stall of @Pothidotcom

( I am back-posting this blog as KSEB(Electricity) and BSNL(Internet) conspired against me last night, and I want this to go with Friday's date, when I actually composed it..)
 
The seventh edition of the Bangalore Book Festival has taken off at the Palace Grounds, Mekhri Circle, today. Even though the fair was opened in the morning, the formal inauguration took place at 5(-ish) in the evening. I have been a regular at the Book Fest the last couple of years, dropping in at least twice during the ten days, and picking up a bunch of books. I did not know that this year, I would drop in there as a nail-biting participant whose books are on sale and who hopes that the visitors grab her books as soon as they set their eyes on it.

I visited the stall of Pothi.com with my son, and also wandered around the other stalls. Being a week day and the first day of the fair, the visitors were minimal, the women at the ticket counter were free enough to give me a big smile and share pleasantries, and I had difficulty in dodging a person at a stall who was after me trying to sell educational stuff for my son - I was perhaps the first visitor with a child. Darn, I had to leave my phone number with her.
But,... Boy! What an awesome collection of books. There were over 320+ stalls, truly it was a Book Feast for the eyes.

Below are some of the snaps of Pothi.com stall and my book smiling from there.


 
From the lens of Pothi.Com

 
Spot my book!

 
Jaya and Abhay at the Pothi.com stall, they are calling my son to pose for the photo with them!
 
 
My Book on display at the desk too.

In case you wish to visit Pothi.Com stall and check out my book, please note the stall number, 288 (closer to the Exit), lest you be overwhelmed by the countless stalls and titles and miss this one out!! 

Thematic Photographic 74 - Red

Posted for Thematic Photographic Challenge at Carmi's blog

My Little Krishna during the Sree Krishna Jayanthi celebrations at our apartment


Munnu fast asleep - Winter of '07

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Of Airlines and Attitudes

This is an old incident, when my son was a year+ old and at his scampering and restless best. He and I were to fly out of Bangalore for the vacation in J- Airways. As expected during holiday season, the crowd in the old airport (HAL) was spilling over to the lounge outside. After our bags were checked in, we had to stand in a queue (for the security check) for an hour - my little restless man and I. After about 45 minutes of it - during which I was repeating umpteen times to him 'not to run away, you will get lost' - a KingFisher Airlines representative came to me and asked which flight I was on. I showed her my ticket. She suggested I ask someone from my Airlines to help me through the security check, since I was with a small child. I looked around, found none of them in the area, and I thanked her, saying that the end was in sight, it's okay.
Curious that my own airline didn't give a damn about me, someone else did, and came to tell me so.

Kingfisher scored a lot of points that day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bangalore Book Festival 2009

The Bangalore Book Festival begins at the Palace Grounds, Bangalore from Nov 6 - 15. And my book will be available from the stall of Pothi.Com !

Stall No. 288
Bangalore Book Festival 2009,
Gayathri Vihar, Palace Grounds

Bangalore.
The entrance to the place is from Chowdiah/Bellary Road side.



Click here to read more about Tales from the Garden City, a collection of short stories based in Bangalore.

Do check out my book if you are visiting the Book Fest, and please spread the word to your book-loving friends.

For those who cannot visit the Bangalore Book Fest, but would like to read my book, this is where you could go:
http://www.dogearsetc.com/cinnamonteal/gallery3.html#9789380151106

Thanks! And do make sure you send me your feedback.
I'd love to hear from you!

Update: The stall address is added, as suggested by Gopinath Mavinkurve. Thanks!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oct 31, 1984

When the news of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination began to spread, the whole country was in turmoil. Nothing of the kind had ever been witnessed before. The reactions of ordinary people to it was unpredictable. A Prime Minister, a lady, one of the most powerful women in India, killed by her own body guards while she was taking a morning walk at her residence? The fury was turned on toward the Sikhs, the Punjabis, across the country because the commandos who opened fire on her were Sikhs. Smt. Indira Gandhi was apparently being targeted for storming the Golden Temple, Amritsar, earlier that year, to curb 'Sikh terrorism' (the action was codenamed Operation BlueStar). The country was in flames.

I was nine years old, and at school when the news broke out. I retain only patches of memory from that day. I believe I understood why school was suddenly closed in the mid-morning, there was a flurry of panicked students and teachers rushing about. No one was advised about how to act in such an emergency. My sister, five years my senior, who was my 'local guardian' at school, was absent from school that day. (She said years later that she was pretending to be sick, but actually wanted to listen to the cricket commentary in All India Radio, and was caught when my Father rushed home to listen to the news!).

Somehow I found my friend Roshan, a year older than I, and we planned to set out for home. Home was a good 7-8 kms away. School buses would not ply that day, there was a curfew on, as people were taking to the streets to express their shock, grief and protest, and damaging everything in their path. We had probably started walking home, too, when we were offered a lift in a car by a girl I think we knew by sight, whose Father had arrived to take her home. They dropped us at the Junction, from where we could walk home. We walked straight to "Vaidyuti Bhavan", the KSEB office, where Roshan's Father worked (we must have discussed this in the car). To this day I do not know why we did not go to my home, where I knew my sister would be. I guess our thought was, it is imperative to inform Roshan's parents that she is safe, and that she will be at our place. We probably intended to meet him, let him know where we were, go home and play for the rest of the day. We reached right in front of KSEB, and didn't know what to do. Neither of us knew how to find her Dad - we did not know where he could be found, in the eight-storey KSEB building. We were debating in front of the office, I imagine I was telling her, "I thought you knew how to find him? What are we to do now?" or something to that effect, when lo and behold! he was right there, walking towards us. Our first question was, how did you know we were here? He said one of his colleagues had noticed us standing in front of the office in school uniform and informed him.

I do not remember the rest. Maybe we all went to my house. Maybe I went home and they went to theirs. What is important is that, 'the rest' is not important. That is why I do not remember it. He had seen us, and we were safe. Nothing else mattered.

Over the years, I have often wondered...
How did Roshan and I find each other in that chaos at school when no one was bothered about anyone else, everyone was trying to somehow reach their own homes?
We could easily have been missed by the girl in the car, and would have had to trudge all those kilometres home. We may even have lost our way. But she saw us, and offered to take us to our street.
After we made the clever decision of going to her Dad's office, and neither of us knew how to locate him, what a coincidence that someone who knew Roshan by sight, saw us both and informed her Dad?

Anything could have happened that day. But nothing did. And yet, everything did - just perfectly.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Blog, Visitors and Comments

When I first registered at blogger.com in 2007, my intention was to post my short stories so that some of my close friends/family can read them. So the blog I used to have at that time was not made 'public', and was seen by about half a dozen people only. Ever since I chose some of the stories from the blog and published a book, it has been suffering from gross neglect, with weeds and creepers crawling all over it.

However!
When I started this blog, I was not sure whether I wanted people to read it. I just wrote to release the clutter in my mind. My sole visitor was my friend anupsar. However, I did make the blog available to the 'public', and kept an eye on the visitor statistics. When the first visitor strayed into my domain, I was overjoyed! From that time, I used to daily check the statistics, and was happy when the count increased daily, slowly, steadily.

Every day I climb more steps. My expectations increase. Now I don't look at the visitor statistics (much). I look at the (number of) comments.
No comments? No visitors.

I like comments. Not the spammy or abusive kind, of course, but the ones that you leave if you like what you read, if you dis/agree with me. And I like lots of them. Comments inspire me to write.

So you are thinking, what if I have nothing to comment on? I have no answer. I visit blogs too, and sometimes find that I have nothing to say - for several reasons. But if you do have something to say here, please do make sure you say it.

For example. I just changed the font of the blog. From Georgia to Arial. You could tell me if you like it. Does it look good? Comments are welcome. As always.

And if you are a newcomer? It is mandatory to leave comments. I have this new monitor thing in my site that knows who/where you are and sue you for not posting a comment. And so on and so forth. (I know, I know. As if you believed it.)

So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In retrospective


We fell silent as we took in the sights on the banks. At some places along the journey the shore was close enough to see the women squatting by the waterside, washing clothes or dishes, looking up disinterestedly at the passing boat. The sun was bearing down upon us, and, sitting in the deck of the boat, we began to feel uncomfortably hot. Some of the women went below to escape the heat. A girl of six or seven years old was fussing with her Mother as she wanted to stay on the deck.

The frustrated Mother turned to her husband. "I can't bear this heat. I am going below. Do look after Annu."


Annu jumped with joy as her wish was granted, and stood at the railings at the back of the boat, watching the shore, her face raised against the wind. Her beautiful pink flowing dress looked quite uncomfortable in the heat to everyone else, but she seemed oblivious of the humid weather squeezing her sweat glands to work overtime. There was a hotel in the middle of the water to which our boat was aiming, which was to provide us a Malayali sadya, after which we would turn back.

The heat was beginning to make me quite sleepy. I yawned wide, stretched and considered going below as the sensible women had done. A quick movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention.

Read More...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Updated thoughts on Twitter

Remember my first take on Twitter? Though much has not changed, I have started getting the swing of the thing. And yes, I have started following others and listening to them. It sure has been beneficial to me. I found a lot of good stuff about writing and other topics of my interest; many, many people share their thoughts and enlightening experiences that I hook myself to the tweets regularly for my "daily dose of wisdom." It's been interesting so far.

As the wise cbjerrisgaard had commented at that time, "Start with a small group of people you find interesting, look at who they follow, use tools like wefollow and twitter search to find the rest. Then - interact. The rest takes care of itself."

I can now understand the obsession one could have for the Tweetland chatter. There are no rules on what you tweet about, or how. Except that each message should stay in 140 characters. You broadcast anything that comes to your fingertips, and if your followers like it, they take it forward through a reply or a Re-tweet (RT). When your message is RT-ed, you will know how far it has travelled, how many people have RT-ed it. You can use Twitter to promote your product, think out loud, catch up with old friends, make new friends, get breaking news, make news, or simply spend time. The fascination that Email once held, later blogs, and then mobile text messages, is now taken over by Twitter.

Sometimes, the number of tweets at my 'Home' still overwhelms me, but if I have the time and patience to leaf through them, I find several good reads and info, enough to keep me engaged for hours on end. For instance, a few days back I read about how independent or self-published authors can put up their books for sale in the Bangalore Book Festival-'09, coming up next month (Nov 6-15, 2009, at the Palace Grounds, B'lore). A couple of months ago, when I sent an Email to the Book Fest official site, I received absolutely no response. I had almost given up on the Book Fest. So this would give me an opportunity to give my book the kind of exposure it needs - thanks to Twitter.
(Also read, Times of India article on the Book Festival.)

I was surprised to find that I do enjoy chatting with absolute strangers from different parts of the world, on topics I like. Once upon a time, the very thought would have totally put me off.

There is no place for Boredom or Idleness in the world now, when there are applications like Twitter to wallow in for hours. There only seems to be Procrastination (at least, in my case). But there are many who Tweet and Work, or Tweet at Work, or Tweet between Work, and for whom Twitter is The much-needed Energiser that drive them up the mountain.

In case you are interested, Follow me on Twitter.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts for the weekend

1. Little children can teach their parents Patience the way no one else can.

2. Life always gives us days in pairs. A bad day for every great one. Or perhaps, a great day for every bad one.

3.
Just because you know cooking, you can't make great dishes. You need to be familiar with the knives, pots and pans as well.

4.
The love of parents for their children is one-way traffic. It never gets reciprocated in the same amount, however one can see it manifest itself when the children have children of their own.

5. You can't please everyone. Just as everyone does not try to please you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wake up, Sid!

This is the movie I went to watch yesterday with my friends, after a long time. I would have enjoyed the evening even if the movie was the floppest of the year. But it wasn't. It is the kind of light-hearted fun movie with no deep, heartbreaking melodramatic scenes (thank God!).

By the way, in case you didn't know, despite what the title suggests, Wake Up, Sid! is a Hindi movie (with a spatter of Hindi dialogues and a lot of "Uh-mazing" and "Are you kidding?" stuff). Sid is Siddharth (my son's name, though I hope my son doesn't turn out to be like the Sid in the movie!) played by Ranbir Kapoor. Konkana Sen Sharma as the "New Girl in the City" is awesome - as always. What an uh-mazing actress. Quite impeccable performances by her and Anupam Kher (as Sid's Dad).

Ranbir Kapoor repeats his very own, stereotyped, spoilt-brat role (quite similar to the one in Bachhna Ae Haseeno), who has some solid sense knocked into his head by the very level-headed and pragmatic lead lady, his love for whom he discovers by the end of the movie. In Bachhna Ae Haseeno, in a taxi climax in Australia, in Wake Up Sid!, in the Monsoons in Mumbai. Ranbir is better off performing comic scenes or behaving like an idiot, and an absolute disaster when trying to be depressed or romantic.

Konkana, as Aisha Bannerjee, who has just got a job as assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of Mumbai Beat (and whose job is to clean the E-i-C's desk 'creatively'), and Sid, who just flunked his graduation exams and thus got kicked out of his home, are thrown together by circumstances. However, (yes! there is always a 'However') it seemed too far-fetched to believe that in two months, Aisha the Aspiring Writer and Sid the Amateur Photographer, get their article and photograph (respectively) published in the subsequent edition of Mumbai Beat. (Believable for the very ambitious and talented Aisha, perhaps, but not for a loser like Sid!) Whereas some of us here creep and crawl and beg and plead and pray to get our books to the bookstores! Oh, well.

My own little Sidharth (who is 'Munnu' to me) had joined us in the first half of the movie before I let him out during the intermission to his waiting Dad, surmised the whole thing in two words at the start of the film, when Sid is seen drawing the Simpsons cartoon character in a paper while pretending to concentrate in his studies: "Cartoon Network."

Update: My friend tells me that my review does not seem complete, as I have not added a recommendation to it. So here is my recommendation. Watch. With your friends. Without trying to dissect every scene. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So what if Someone does not respond to my mails three times? After all, he is not a close friend, member of the family or a relative, and he is not obliged to send me a response.

The first time, when I queried, there was an explanation. It sounded true.
The second time, though it was a personal mail which invited a reply at least in the name of courtesy, I did not query.
The third time, my mail was not addressed to him alone, it was a group mail. But does one not send mails in groups to announce happy news? And how many of the others replied to it?!

So why am I so bothered? Because, when my first opinion of the Person was formed, it was so strongly based on the foundation that he does not ignore anyone, he acknowledges even the most insignificant individual, responds to the slightest single-liner mails, and so on.

When that belief crumbles day by day, it troubles me because something deep inside insists that my First Impression - in which I have always trusted with my eyes shut - seems to have been wrong. Besides, this is one of the very few individuals that I have learnt to respect and admire during my professional career, and so far there has not been one instance that destroyed that image.

Three
times? There certainly is more than meets the eye.

The dreams that we see in the early morning, minutes before our mind snaps awake, leave us with emotions that stay with us for most part of the day. Today morning I dreamt about this person. I do not recall much. I just remember that he was there, and he ignored me.

And that pain stayed for most of the day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Giveaway Winners!

I wanted to post this today morning, but you know how it is. The moment we make a plan, Somebody out there starts the machinery to wreck it all. (Then I make plans and pretend that I don't have any, just to fool that Somebody!)

To Business. Thanks to all those who participated in the Book Giveaway, it was good to read all the serious and light-hearted and thoughtful comments.

I borrow this idea of posting pictures of the draw from Patricia Storms at Book Lust.


1. The names.


2. Shaken and Stirred.


3. Winner #1! Nikki-ann


4. Winner #2! Bob


Check out Nikki-ann's blog for beautiful photographs.
Nikki-ann, I do not have your email ID, so please contact me at j(dot)papaadi(at)gmail(dot)com.

Check out Bob's blog where he writes about life in Dubai and in general.
Bob, please check your Email !

Your copy of Tales from the Garden City will be reaching you soon!


Thanks again for all those who participated, a special thanks to two of you who already had my book, and still posted comments here - I appreciate it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali

The crackers had started one week ago, announcing the arrival of Diwali (Deepavali - the Row of Lights), the Festival of Lights. The three nights of this long weekend, the noise of crackers and squealing children holding patakas would fill the air.

(And of course, lots of waste to clear in the following days, the remnants of the dhamaka!)

Some of the legends of Diwali can be found at this site. Copying a couple of them here (the most popular):

Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.

The Victory of Rama: According to the epic 'Ramayana', it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.



Winter's on its way! For this part of the world, Diwali announces the arrival of Winter. The temperature dips significantly in the days following Diwali. So this long weekend can be used to pull out blankets and sweaters and air them for use.

Diwali goes Global: Saw this news regarding US President Barack Obama celebrating Diwali at the White House.


By the way: The Book Giveaway Contest will close tomorrow, do post your thoughts, I will announce the winner(s) on Monday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

English - From UK to US

Contd from Bangalorisation of English 3.

There was a time when the English in use in India was completely UK-English. I remember spelling "colour", "honour" and "neighbour" in school, without any confusion or fore/after-thought. Then somewhere around 15 years ago, things began to change, when my attention was elsewhere. Then- when I looked again, everywhere there were "color", "honor" and "neighbor", spellings changed, pronunciations changed. No, not everywhere. Newspapers stayed loyal to the older version - they do, to this day. However, hoardings, displays and other miscellaneous territories were taken over by this new(US) version of English.

The problem with smooth transition to the new English was that no one realised that such a transition has happened. People thought they had been spelling words and articulating all wrong, all this time. It is a foreign language, anyway. One never knows.

When I started writing - like, serious writing - I did not pay much attention to "what English" I was using. What English, as in UK English, US English, Canadian, Australian, etc. ('Indian' English being mostly identified by the mixed-up grammar due to direct translation from the Mother-tongue and pronunciations, and rarely by the spellings.) The result was a splash of color, honour, neighbors, recognise, realize and so on. Looking back now, I guess I failed to even notice the red underline that the very helpful MS Word and other word editors provided.

Then one day I decided that I shall be following the Mother of all English, the Queen's English, otherwise known as UK English, from now on. Once this decision was reached, it was essential to know the differences between the most common two versions found in this region - UK and US.

The last three years have been an eye-opener for me in terms of my acquaintance with the language. Once I decided that I will follow UK English (primarily, - for I cannot keep away the expressions that diffuse from different parts of the world, the 'American', 'British' and 'Indian' versions, and I can hardly identify them for where they belong!), it was imperative that I know what the differences between the two were. So, my saviour Google came to my aid. (I list a few of them here, the remaining can be found in the sites I have mentioned below.)

* British English words that end in -re (e.g. centre, fibre, theatre) often end in -er in American English (center, fiber, theater).

* British English words that end in -our (e.g. colour, humour) usually end with -or in American English (color, humor).

* Verbs in British English that can be spelled with either -ize or -ise at the end (e.g. recognize/recognise) are always spelled with -ize in American English.

* Verbs in British English that end in -yse (e.g. analyse) are always spelled -yze in American English (analyze).

* In British spelling, verbs ending in a vowel plus l double the l when adding endings that begin with a vowel (e.g. travel, travelled, traveller). In American English the l is not doubled (travel, traveled, traveler).

* British English words that are spelled with the double vowels ae or oe (e.g. archaeology, manoeuvre) are just spelled with an e in American English (archeology, maneuver).

* Some nouns that end with -ence in British English (e.g. licence, defence) are spelled -ense in American English (license, defense).

* Some nouns that end with -ogue in British English (e.g. dialogue) end with -og in American English (dialog).

The above listed information has been taken from the following sites:
http://www.askoxford.com/betterwriting/us/?view=uk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences
http://www.tysto.com/articles05/q1/20050324uk-us.shtml


I do not know the Canadian or Australian versions of the language, are they similar to US or UK, or much different?
Welcome any thoughts on this!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Well

Bai is running at the speed of light, and working with both hands and legs to send the family to their respective destinations. The pace builds up from half past seven and the fastest sprint occurs from eight to nine in the morning, culminating in each of them rushing out the doorway. Invariably the winner and the first to exit would be the master of the house with his tie half tied, breakfast half way down his throat, and shoe laces dangling. These are assumed to reach their positions by the time he reaches his office. The lady of the house would be shoving food down the throat of her son as he gets late for his school bus and untangling his shoe-laces and combing his hair. He is the second one to exit, as he gets pushed out the door unceremoniously, in the direction of his impatiently honking bus. The Memsahib begins her activities next, with a rush in and out of the bathroom to complete what she calls her shower, another quick entry-exit into the prayer room, dab of makeup along with the breaking of her fast, giving directions to Bai at the same time in a continuous buzz that gets lost here and there. There is nothing new, and Bai does not pay much attention to it.

With the exit of the Memsahib, Bai falls back onto the chair with a sigh of relief.


"Gummoning", says a tiny voice.

Read More...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Week That Was

Disappointment
You tell me if the fault is mine. The other night I decide to order pizza from D-, the Pizza people. I call up and order a couple for our dinner. I have a few coupons from a previous order, but the jargon of discount is beyond me ("Buy one large pizza, garlic breaksticks and a coke and get 20% discount on the next medium pizza, but this discount is not valid on Xyz pizza", and so on to more complicated combinations), so I did not ask the person at the other end about it. (Especially since he efficiently got me to spend a few bucks more than I would have, but that is a story for a different day). After the order is made, I go back through the coupons and I have this feeling that one of the coupons (which said Rs.100/- off) would fit the order I made, but one could never be sure. The delivery man comes along less than half an hour later, and I show him the coupons. He says yes, this one fits this order perfectly well, but you should have spoken about it to the person who took the call - as the payment is already 'made into the system'. I tell him that's fine, you go back with this coupon and inform them that I had this wonderful coupon with me and was unaware of it. He refuses. "You could use it in the next order, Ma'm." I murmur to myself (so that he can hear), "what is the use of coupons, then?"
Talk about "Customer Delight"!


Pleasure
I go out for a walk and unexpectedly meet an ex-colleague. He tells me, "I saw your book, and quickly read the first 2-3 stories. Awesome! It's admirable that you put your effort into getting your book published!"
You can imagine how pleased that made me feel.
(That reminds me - the Book Giveaway contest is still on!)


Bewilderment
When I land at Kochi in the first week of Sep, my mobile handset is switched off (equipment interfering with the navigation signals and so forth). After landing, I switch it on, (beep indicates the arrival of "Airtel welcomes you to Kerala, wish you a pleasant stay") and the clock in the mobile automatically sets to 11:15. I am surprised since the scheduled time of arrival was 11:45, have we landed 30 mins before schedule? Does not seem likely, the flying time from B'lore to Kochi is 40 mins, I don't think we have covered it in 10 mins. So I manually adjust my handset clock to 11:45, against its better judgement. Last week, I land at TVM, I go through the same procedure. Switch off - switch on, and, as Airtel-Kerala welcomes me again, my mobile clock insists that the time is 30 mins behind IST. I force it to IST, and during the while I am in Kerala, it follows the time I insisted on. As a result, my text message recipients claim that my messages arrive with a timestamp of IST+30 minutes. I travel in car and for a couple of minutes, my handset goes out of range and pops back, without my being aware of it. Suddenly, beep-beep. "Airtel welcomes you to Kerala, wish you a pleasant stay" and bingo! Clock goes 30 minutes back. I return to Bangalore, and all is fine. Clock automatically comes back to IST.
Which Timezone (country?) is Kerala (or, Airtel-Kerala) in?


Love
I have this back pain that sometimes troubles me (not too much, but enough to remind me that I have a back). So one day I am bending over some work and when I straighten, my back groans and so do I. My son comes over, kisses me and says, "I have kissed your pain away."
The pain really feels a lot lesser, honest.