November 16, 2015

Look, who's almost six?

This blog started off to serve (also) as a journal to chronicle my son's growing up years; to jot down my parenting moments. Sadly, over time, I let many moments slip by; by not immortalising those on paper. However, without lamenting more about the water that has flowed under the bridge, I'm going to condense in here all that I can gather and remember from the past many months.

R is growing up real fast. He'll turn 6 in about 10 days time. I can see a lot of changes, yet some things have remained the same. For instance, his obsession with the whales and dinosaurs continue and his passion for cars has moved up notches on the status quotient. Where at one point even the humble autos and buses or even for that matter the Marutis and Hyundais excited him, it's now all about Lamborghinis, Ferrari World and the likes! Added to the mad mix is the new found fascination for superheroes, transformers and sci-fi movies.

There was a time when he could not differentiate between primary colours and he'd line up all the crayons and pretend that it was a train. And, now, he believes he's no less than Picasso and almost effortlessly churns out pencil sketches and coloured drawings on the go. He fuels his own creativity and imagination by looking at picture books and images from Google. Yes, don't ask!

R has become a phone thief and I've to constantly remind myself keep it away from him lest it disappears with him when I'm not looking. The only solace is that it is not some mindless video game that lures him, rather it is the queen of information, Google (what else) that keeps him occupied and enthralled. His search criteria include, among other things, "how to make origami spider" or "how to make airplanes that fly." I always knew I'm raising a nerdy fella but if ever I had a doubt, it has all been quelled.

Displaying some of his artwork:

General art: of course, it had to have whales and dolphins in it!


Night it seems! ;-)

 A card he made for Teacher's Day:



Artwork using stencils:







I was going through the previous milestone posts and I found one at four years where I had expressed my concern over his lack of interest and dull comprehending skills with topics that revolved around mythology or the general interhuman relationships. As an update, the graph didn't show much improvement until very recently. There has been quite a bit of turnaround, as though a light bulb got swtiched on. He's suddenly watching a lot of DVDs on Krishna and Hanuman. And then, recently, I caught him thus:




On that note, I'm glad to see the progress he has made with all the letter-blending and phonics he's learning at school. He can now read fluently, although he's more occupied with getting the words right and not assimilating the information that is being read. But, I understand that will come with time. Having said that, his general reading habit or pattern has, in general, waned. More than a diminishing of interest, I'd put it down to the rushed schedule of school and after-school activity he follows. Honestly, I need to take equal blame as I'm not investing as much time reading out to him as I earlier used to.

Speaking of after-school activities, I'm one of those parents who does not believe in keeping the child occupied with creative/non-creative/life saving/ non-life saving activities after school. Yet, to my own surprise, I've R enrolled in three activity classes spanning the entire week. He learns the keyboard and attends an art-and-craft class during the week, and learns skating over the weekend. In my defense I've to add that all of these have been at the insistence of R himself. I almost refused to send him to the art-and-craft one but he wouldn't hear of it. However, it's great to see him enjoy and thrive in all of these activities.

The lad has become more vocal about his opinions, and I must say, his opinions have become more pronounced. I can no longer hoodwink him into 'forgetting' incidents or distract him enough to obey me. He has also certainly learned the art of manipulation and melodrama. His responses elicit a range of emotions in me, from sheer exasperation, to some that tickle the funny bone, and to some more that have me wonder if it's a 6 year-old or a 60 year-old that's talking.

Scene 1: I'm trying to get him do something but he has other ideas. I sometimes marvel at how the teacher at the school get 25 such kids obey when I suffer at the hands of one kid.

Me: Please do it this way. Even I know certain things.
R: (looking surprised) Really? You also went to school?
Me: Yes, I went to school and more than that!!!
R: Umm..ok..but do you also remember everything?

Guess he caught me there ;-)

Scene 2: Referring to a picture of Devi and Lord Krishna in which the Goddess has an upturned right palm in a manner of showering her blessings whereas the Lord is not shown thus.

R: Why does Krishna not have special powers?
Me: Umm, not sure what you mean. Can you explain?
R: See, Devi is transferring her special powers to us with her hand, but Krishna is not. So, it means he does not have any powers. Why so?

Scene 3:

When the power goes off and the generator takes over, there’s a short lag before the appliances come alive. It was one such time while we were watching T.V.  Usually, the TV resumes at a default channel rather than the one at which the viewer was. However, in this instance, there was no lag and the TV resumed at the channel where we were at.

I showed surprise at this and said as much to R.

R remarked rather nonchalantly that since this time there was no lag, the TV remembered our channel, else it forgets and goes to the default channel!

Scene 4:

Out of the blue:

R: When I become a father how old will you be?
Me: (Cheekily) That depends on when you become a father.
The joke was lost on the innocent lad so I said simply,” maybe 60”
R: (in a rather mortified tone) 60? You cannot be 60!
Me: Why not?
R: That’s a big number. Your hair will be all white and you’ll almost die!

Hmm, the casual reference to my death has remained unchanged from here. :-)

And, a recent one:

In the wake of the Tsunami and flood alert in Chennai, I was generally expressing my concern over the state of affairs.

R: (excitedly) When will Tsunami come?
Me: Don't be so excited, R. Pray that it doesn't come.
R: Oh, but why?
Me: Because, it'll cause a lot of destruction and we don't want that, right?
R: (thinking) hmm, yes, Ok, I'll pray to God that it doesn't come, but if God is very angry and it does come, then I'll pray to God to give me more strength and power than the Tsunami itself. Then we need not worry about it, right?
Me: (thoroughly stumped. Yes, right! The golden rule is to surrender and ask for strength when things don't go our way. We adults have so much trouble understanding and following this rule and this child puts it so simply!)

Quite a longish post, this has been. Thank you, if you've been reading :-)

November 4, 2015

Trying to re-boot

This space is becoming a forgotten place. Like an old garden that is dying for want of a gardener and happy people loitering around. Every now and then I try to revive what was once my favourite hobby. Either, I'm running out of sufficient water to keep the space from drying or I've lost the interest. Both seem like a probable reason to me.

Today, after a long time, I opened my blogger dashboard; found some familiar blogs with fresh posts; ran down the nostalgic lane when one person's post for the day would provide fodder for someone else's post and we would happily greet one another, hopping in and out of each other's spaces.

Somewhere, I strayed away to explore newer zones and found myself misplaced amongst a crowd that is far more energetic and brimming with ideas.

I preferred the lazy times where a lot more personal snippets (giving a glimpse of each other's lives and personalities) were shared at a leisurely pace and we got ample time to socialize within the community. I'm not saying such an environment is no longer available. Just that I got suddenly surrounded by an urgent need to live up to a certain image/brand/whatever-you-call-it, either self-created or accidentally designed. I tried to keep pace, but soon lost steam and got left behind.

I'm trying to find my original pace and groove while keeping my eyes open to spotting familiar faces who might also remember me and want to give me company again.

Hoping to revive this space once again and this time for a longer run.

July 27, 2015

The ugly truth behind my beautiful home

My recent post on FaceBook where I shared the news of my living room being featured in an article written by my interior designer had friends and relatives congratulating me and sharing my happiness. Of course, I was on top of the moon. However, I could not push away a sense of despair, a twinge of sadness, and a feeling of unrest that has clung to me ever since we moved into this house, our first home.

We all dream of owning tastefully done up, beautiful homes. We strive and work hard towards buying that house we believe will be our cozy haven where we can retreat after a long day's hard work, to sink comfortably into our mattresses, cushioning ourselves from all worldly worries.

However, what if this very dream turns into the bane of your existence?

I'm sure you are now perplexed, aghast even to see how ungrateful I sound.

Let me explain. I love my home, but, this is only a part of the entire truth. And, here, I speak for hundreds of other families who deal with this ugly truth each day. A good locality is as important as a good home, don't you think? And, a good locality necessarily translates to having a proper, clean access road that is wide enough to accommodate vehicles and pedestrians, is well-lit during the night, a functioning drainage system and clean piped water. Even as I type this out it seems unbelievable that these primary demands are still applicable. Isn't it a pity that even after so many years of independence and democratic rule, such basic needs are not met? Yet, we from Thubarahalli locality, stand deprived of all of this, and thus, feel cheated; forced to come to terms with our crushed dreams.




This our "access road" that spells death-trap when it rains, as you can see: a muddy path that resembles the surface of the moon with crater-sized potholes. This has been its state for over several years now. The last couple of years has been most crucial because of the mushrooming of several high-rise apartments on either side. This patch spells doom in all ways for the residents that include several little children and the elderly. The dust storm raised during dry seasons, thanks to the vehicular traffic, has most us wheezing and coughing for the majority of the year. And, do I even need to chalk out the dangers we land ourselves in when it rains?

This is sadly the truth in many pockets of the so-called Silicon City or Garden City that Bangalore is popularly known as. Hapless customers are trapped in multiple layers and levels of bureaucracy. Corrupt, disinterested officials work in tandem with the dishonest real-estate builders who choose to build apartments over pieces of land embroiled in several ownership litigations, leaving end-customers to deal with such aftermath. (If have worse luck, you also end up (like me) reaping the fruits of choosing a wrong builder who decides to also screw up your remaining sanity.)

How is this mess first created? 

Most real-estate projects here are built on private lands with internal agreements between the landowner and the builder to surrender a portion for an access road. How legal or reliable these agreements are, is anybody's guess. The responsible BBMP approves real-estate projects without any due diligence. The builders in turn, armed with "government/sanction approvals" and "clear title papers", lure gullible customers with their glib marketing speech. (In our case, we were time and again assured of how the "road" is just a few months away and will indeed be ready even before their projects get over). Much like the jokes on HR management, in the real-estate sector too, the customer is treated with kid gloves only until the sale agreement is signed. And, in today's times of extra-inflated real-estate prices, once a flat is purchased, there is no looking back for an average buyer.

Caught in the myth of the golden deer, buyers end up running from pillar to post rousing sleeping officials, imploring them to take cognizant of their plight. To show that they are genuinely interested in the welfare of the citizens, the local corporators and MLAs diligently turn up at strategic points in their political career (read election time or when firefighting situations like a mob protest) and make feeble attempts to set right things. A few days of energetic activity around the area and your hopes are raised. Finally, deliverance, you think. The energy, but, fizzles out even before you say cheers and it's back to square one.

And, mind you, this is "supposedly" an upcoming locality with close proximity to good schools, offices, and swanky malls. In fact, there is a very popular school, running their business (education has also become a business, these days, no?) for the past eight years, at the end of this very sham of a road. There are talks of an upcoming Metro and an underpass to ease traffic in the adjacent corridor. You might think that's good news. After all they are signs of development, right? Hell no, I only shudder at the prospect because this would mean more chaos for we all know our government only likes to introduce new projects with complete disregard for their organized implementation.

So, while we live in plush interiors, our surrounding is no better than that of slum dwellers. Such an irony! We diligently pay taxes, squirrel away our savings, live on a shoe-string budget to fulfil our dreams, but end up being mere puppets in a play of power orchestrated by corrupt officials and dishonest builders. Can you imagine my heartburn now as we risk our lives and vehicles, trudging, plowing on this patch several times a day? Even shopping for essentials needed to be a planned affair, because, of course, we need to keep our nightmares to the minimum. 

It's not that we have chosen to suffer in silence. Our voices are just not being heard or perhaps ignored. We have an official FaceBook group that has active members carrying out dialogues with the local corporators, carried out peaceful protests, staged satyagrahas, signed online petitions, alerted the media and even tried to level out the patch ourselves. 

Residents from adjoining apartments joining hands to make the road motorable.

Isn't it time the "responsible" officials do their duty? Is it really out of their capacity to bulldoze these errant landowners to surrender part of the land that is supposed to be a legal road? And, if this is, indeed, illegally seized by the real-estate builders as claimed by the landowners, how did the government sanction the projects in the first place? We need answers and soon!

Come August 1st, 2015, we have planned another peaceful protest. Will we ever see the light, err road?




June 23, 2015

The Magician's Trick

Magic;

Flames of orange

Burst beyond azure awning

Diffusing white fumes

Engulfed the muse in a swift embrace

A cacophony of sounds

Set the ambience; rousing

I looked on exhilarated

As the act played out

The muse metamorphosed

From night to day


June 17, 2015

Swimming lessons

“Not deep enough to drown” Bob, the pool instructor, had assured me.

Yet, my cries for help were drowned out by stronger arms as Bob possessed me under the pretext of keeping me afloat.

Battered, I vowed to swim against the tide.

Image credit: Pixaby.com

June 5, 2015

Talespin

PHOTO PROMPT – © C. Hase
“See these huge chains? They are used to fish out the sunken ships from seas,” fibbed my nerdy elder one earnestly to the dreamy younger who listened with rapt attention, taking in all that her brother said with complete acceptance.

“Wow, but, who put the ships under the sea, Anna*?”

"The monsters, silly! Didn't you know?"

Overhearing their conversation from the next room, I chuckled at the cute mix of innocence and vivid imagination.

The innocence, I knew, would leave them. But, I prayed that the ability to spin tales from random muses stayed. A writer’s wish, indeed!


* Elder brother in Tamil

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 Linking up the 100-word fiction to the Friday Fictioneers, June 5th.

June 3, 2015

The painting

I’m held captive by the sight
As the canvas slowly unfurls
Warm ochre clouds hug and unite
Blushing crimson, they kiss goodnight

Streaks of cooled rays, but, slip quietly
to kiss goodbye to the sleeping grass
Chirps and twitters lower their pitch
Singing lullabies, oh, so sweetly!

Leaves on tall trees gently dance
To the lilting breeze that dusk beckons
I thank the stars that gather at once
Smiling at the moon in cool radiance

I soak in their graceful beauty
Glittering in dark ambience
I’m grateful to be able to witness
Nature’s bounty, a gift from heavens 

Image credit: Pixaby.com

May 29, 2015

The Contest

They lined up looking their best; all polished and groomed, appearing for yet another gruelling round in the beauty pageant.  They all looked cut from the same cloth, similar in size, stature, colour and attire making the contest equally poised and difficult to judge.

Their similarities did not end with the external get-up. And, if only the inner thoughts were put to a test, the charade of the contest would’ve come to the fore. Each of the six finalists nursed a desire to crush the other and emerge victorious, believing that the end would somehow justify the means. Interestingly, these sinister thoughts were kept tightly wrapped with a superficial display of courteous and polite demeanour glittering under flashy lights.

Suddenly, there was a hush. A different kind of tension filled the air. Out of nowhere, two tiny-tots emerged to unite with their lost mother. There were some rushed talks between the judges and the lady, one of the finalists. The others gleamed with wicked relief. How dare a married woman that too one with kids look fitter and younger enough to participate in contests putting to shame the rest of the so-called youth! Now that she was put in her place, they had one less dream to squash into pulp.

Picture credit: Aparna George, who blogs here.


  Linking this to the Wordy Wednesday Prompts at the B-A-R 

May 25, 2015

Tame the wild

“They need to be tamed,” remarked the husband exasperatedly as I struggled yet again to rein in my wayward creative juices.

Epiphany struck even as I heard him cry triumphantly,

"There! Found you!"

Followed by chastened meows from under a thick blanket.

Image credit: pixaby.com

Word count: 42
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Written for 


May 23, 2015

An Omen

The night was cool and damp. She walked on easily, as though her feet never touched the ground. Her eyes were on the road ahead, but she was not sure where she was heading. A growing, gnawing sense of restlessness was enveloping around her, engulfing her in their grey fumes. And, then, she saw someone ahead. She wanted to call out, but her mouth seemed to be filled with cotton balls. Her voice seemed to have deserted her. She struggled to hasten her pace, but the sudden wind seemed to push her behind. The apparition ahead stopped suddenly and turned to face her. The sight both overwhelmed and startled her.

A loud, echoing sound boomed, shaking the ground on which she stood. The next moment, she found herself on the bed, drenched in her sweat. The alarm beside her flashed mercilessly, reminding her of reality. It was all a dream. Only, it seemed very real. The emotions she had felt seemed raw and fresh. What did it all mean? Where was she going? Who was that person? Did he mean harm or was he a spiritual guru?

To an outsider, she led an enviable life: a beautiful home, well-cared for children, a successful husband, exotic holidays and the likes. She seemed happy, but then, was she indeed? Of late, she was consumed by deeper thoughts. Questions about her true calling and meaning to life itself manifested themselves in various forms. But, there was nothing about her demeanour that revealed what she felt from within. She carried out her tasks as usual, smiling at all, cracking jokes, even. Only she could sense the silence, the vacuum within her heart that spoke when the world outside fell silent.

But, now, this dream was like a wake-up call. Was it an omen?

Image credit: Pixaby.com

May 14, 2015

Serendipity

The fierce rain lashed against the glass pane, leaving back angry drops to slide slowly away into nothingness. The gusty wind threatened to break down the frames that ensconced the glass leaving it vulnerable.

The outside temperament matched her internal turmoil. She was incarcerated by her own thoughts that pinned her to a single place, mentally. Life was opening up to her in a way she had never imagined. But, the past clung to her; rather she had clasped her fingers tightly over a handful of painful memories that were slipping through the gaps, staining her present.

She was afraid; of not being worthy of what life was offering her; of exposing her vulnerable side to the universe. What if she failed? What if she couldn’t meet the expectations that some people had of her; or her own expectations?

Even as she battled with her thoughts, the rains magically stopped. The sun peaked ever so slightly from behind the dark clouds and a magnificent rainbow emerged. Though not an unusual sight where she lived, this took her breath twice over since a faint second one appeared over the stronger one almost as a reassuring sign of good times ahead.
 _____________

"Fear is False Experiences Appearing Real." ~ Unknown 


https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/
 Word count: 200
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 200 word fiction written for the photo prompt at the Sunday Photo Fictioneers

May 6, 2015

Hope never sets

The day held on to the sun
wishing for light to dwell a bit longer
The dull crimson, but, pulled away,
to a hue of blue; much deeper

A shadow of despair looked within
to bury its weariness; the heart felt empty
The day bid a tearful goodbye,
asking for grace from the Almighty

Elsewhere, a sunflower, mellow
perked up bright at the sun's warm kiss
It was her turn to finally glow;
A happy adieu to darkness

Life's wheel of light and dark
spins at its pace, but, with a purpose
Your time shall come,
Pray, keep alive the dying spark!






April 23, 2015

Ghar ke side-effects



Statutory warning: The title and the following post can remind you of the plots of many Bollywood movies, but I can assure you that it is purely non-fictional and un-inspired from reel life.

It's been a long four years of having the most coveted milestone of "owning a house" under our belts. Now, if you belong to the salaried class who is constantly trying to climb up the slippery wall of affluence, only to see the wall dismally getting higher and more slippery and your legs and hands weary of climbing, not because you cannot but because you're worn down with the weight of EMIs, loans and soaring expenses, you'll understand what a big deal this is. If you do not belong to this category, I suggest you move on because what's coming next might make you laugh or cry, depending upon how you view this class:-p

The first year of the arduous house hunt involved turning down projects because they were either so ridiculously priced that you wanted to laugh hysterically at the marketing sales guy who sold a mere 1000 sqft flat for "just" 1 crore (not all inclusive), or they were located in the farthest most crevices of the city and just the mere thought of crawling out of the hole and getting to the nearest school, mall or office in the (in)famous Bangalore traffic could make you tired and hungry! So, when at the end of it, when we found a property that didn't burn down our pockets and was relatively in a good location, we carried smug looks around and pitied people who missed the (our) bus.

The second year flew by fast and we didn't realize until much later that our beloved little home hadn't really metamorphosed into that beautiful haven we had been promised over pre-launch talks and welcome drinks. It was just struggling to gain some shape after the cocoon of fraudulent marketing broke. Now, of course, I can choose to think of it as a blessing in disguise because in the process of extracting work from the workers who had brick walls in place of brains, I soon learned the ropes of plumbing, masonry and other sundry construction work. Anybody looking to build their house can please contact me.

Finally, we decided, like many of our neighbours, that we move lock, stock and barrel to our abode which was, albeit a little under-finished, quite literally an effort of our sweat and blood. We began to settle in as a community bonding over the common misery of being cheated. Oh, the human mind! There's so much solace in knowing that you are not the only fool and you have company in suffering.

We prided us on our multi-tasking skills by getting on with our normal life ( as normal as life could get with leaking pipes, broken tiles and ignorant handymen) and taking the builder to task to finish the pending work using the Chanakya neeti of saam daam danda bhed. If only, Chanakya would've been alive today, he could've seen how even his neeti proved ineffective on unscrupulous goons of today who made the Aam junta get entangled in the maze of timelines. Many a times, I did feel like rolling my eyes and bellowing at the goons like our Sunny paji, "how dare you keep giving us tareekh pe tareekh?!" But, I refrained because, sadly, I lacked a dhai kilo ka haath.

Even this was becoming a new normal way of living and it seemed even adventurous to many. I swear none of us said, "yeh dil maange more" but the universe misheard us and gave us more strife. This time with additional villains in the guise of neighbouring landowners. They seem to be influenced by our country's notorious neighbour and claimed a share in our property. We might soon take training in guerrilla warfare. Life is certainly happening here and as things stand we might soon go down in the annals of history for fighting at our LOC a la mini India-Pak border war.

"Har Ghar kuch kehta hai" goes the Asian Paints Ad. In this case, I'd like to add "har ghar khareedne wala bahut kuch kehta hai". If any of you is planning on taking a movie but is at a loss for ideas, please feel free to get "inspired". You could even feature hapless residents like us during the credit rolls singing, "oh paape, ghar khareedke pachtaya." 

April 1, 2015

A for Anonymously Yours #AtoZChallenge #guestpost

Come April, many bloggers worldwide participate in the AtoZChallenge. (click on the link to know more about it). Given my sporadic bursts of writing energy and motivation, I thought it prudent to give such challenges a miss. However, Blog-A-Rhythm, a blogging community started by a blogger friend and of which I'm a member, was participating in this challenge as a group which meant that we could participate in this challenge as guest bloggers choosing to write on just one or a couple of letters in the Alphabet. This was like having the cake and eating it too. So, I grabbed the a letter for myself too. Turned out that it was the first letter of the Alphabet, which meant I was to debut as the first blogger for B-A-R. Not bad, I'd say for someone who hasn't been writing very regularly, ain't it so? The bonus was that I already had a topic in mind.

So, now, without further ado, I present you my first post for the #AtoZChallenge at B-A-R (short for Blog-A-Rhythm:-)):

https://blogarhythmblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/atozchallenge-anonymously-yours-by-itsumac/

Also, very kicked about the lovely responses I got. Thanks a lot, readers, for making my debut special :-) Who knows, if I remain motivated, I might do a full-fledged challenge next year ;-)


February 25, 2015

Bite sized philosophy!

Ketaki looked down at the dress chosen for the show. It looked elegant and new except for the slight yellowish stain at a corner. She pursed her lips at the thought of not having a new dress. It was always the hand-me-downs from her much older sister, Revathi. 

Revathi was the cynosure of all eyes. She was also dominating and confident unlike her- a puny and shy girl, thought Ketaki bitterly. Fighting all odds, perhaps, came to Ketaki naturally. Born prematurely at 7 months, the doctors had given Ketaki only 3 months to survive.

But she survived beyond that. She survived her birth, the frequent and unfair comparison with her sister and the skewed affection from people. She was not just a survivor but a brave fighter too. She’d show them all someday. For now, she would nibble at what was being offered to her. Life was tough at the circus.

Picture prompt for BAR

Word Count: 151

Linking the post to the Wordy Wednesday at the B-A-R.

To read more about the prompt and link up your posts, click here 


February 20, 2015

Being sensitive towards others #1000speak

Social media can be a sticky ground when voicing opinions. Chances of getting bullied and judged by unknown people are tremendous. Harmless comments can get blown out of proportion too. People with or without any agenda target others. Likewise, messages not meant to target anyone are also bashed as being offensive. People love hopping into bandwagons on social media to feel accepted and be a part of the crowd. 

We are all sensitive people, but only when it comes to our feelings. We do not think twice before judging another and saying a nasty word, even to someone who could be a total stranger. Why is it difficult to restrain our thoughts and views? Must we always voice our views, that too in a harsh manner? 

In all the drama that we create daily, either online or offline, we seem to lose focus on the one thing that is very vital to a happy existence: Live and let live. Compassion comes naturally to a human being. You may or may not choose to respond to the call of compassion, but you cannot deny the feeling. Why is it then we become judgmental and put a person down? If you don't have a kind word, choose to remain silent rather than speaking a harsh word.

I'm not saying the entire world is bad. We have innumerable acts of compassion all around us, but these get drowned in the negativity that somehow gets an unfair spotlight. We still have one neighbour who'll babysit our toddler while we attend to a family exigency, we still have one friend who'll hear you out patiently while you rattle out your fears for the umpteenth time, we still come across honest auto drivers (yes, they exist!), we still hear how about a lost wallet was returned to the owner through incredible ways over the internet. So, then, shouldn't we be propagating more kindness and compassion rather than fanning anger, hatred and misery?  

I've, in fact, come across some lovely bunch of people, online and offline, who lend a ready shoulder to lean on, a willing ear to listen and support without being judgmental. Sharing your innermost fears and insecurities becomes so much easier when you know that you won't be judged for how you think and behave. It doesn't cost a thing to nod your head and smile empathically at the one who's brave enough to bare her soul to you. Is it too difficult to say, "I understand. All will be ok"? 

Can we be more compassionate towards fellow beings? You might not know, but perhaps the other person's life could even depend on how you respond. 


This post is written as a part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, where bloggers all over the world are talking about spreading compassion, love and kindness.
If you have a story to share, do link up at – IndiaAmericanMom

February 18, 2015

I'm the rock

The waves reach a crescendo
the water tickles my feet
spent...

I want to jump high
the weight pulls me down
Sigh!

My friends are seasons
we laugh, we play
then they've to go
leaving me
Alone...

I want to see the world
the sea and the sky
are not enough
I feel
tied down

I then see the sand
hugging me
I feel warm

A weary traveller
rests his head
over me
I feel calm

I sense a purpose
in giving
of being an anchor

I know now
why I'm a constant
why I'm the rock!

Shutterstock.com

February 15, 2015

Get married again!

Among all my posts, the most viewed and read would be the one on Band Baaja Bride, a reality show on NDTV Goodtimes. The show gives to-be-wed-couples a chance to have a dream wedding: right from getting personal care to having a designer bridal jewelry and attire. The show has completed five seasons since then and has improvised quite a bit with their format whilst keeping the original theme constant.

I've moved away from the idiot box for a long time now, thereby do not patronize any particular show but the shows on Goodtimes still compel me for a brief stopover on the rare occasion when I take a trip with the TV remote. This afternoon was one such time when I watched this show as they aired their closing episode of season 5. What was unique about the episode was that the couple to wed on screen were already married for a decade and wanted to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary by renewing their vows, in their own words, to recreate the magic that seemed to have gone missing in the humdrum of routine life.

The idea in itself is not new as per Hindu tradition. There is a ceremony, called Shashtiabdapoorti, wherein a married couple renews their wedding vows as the husband turns sixty years of age. However, the point is, why wait until the man turns sixty? And, let's not get into the battle of 'why not when the wife turns sixty'? The crux is to take the essence of bringing back the spark in the couple's relationship.

Life is getting busier, faster, more stressful and the odds of the couple drifting apart much before that is a scary reality. Think about it, once the wedding euphoria slides off, the couple is faced with the daily pressure of balancing work and life like the hands on the clock; they meet very briefly during the every-day marathon. A few years into the marriage,  kids and a couple of EMIs thrown in, all the intimacy, romance and togetherness goes flying out of the window.

Isn't it then a great idea to review and take stock of the relationship every now and then? It doesn't have to be as dramatic as to appear on a tele-show or even anything grand. Simply, take a vacation to a place you've never been before. Do something you've never done together before, like say, scuba-diving or even a salsa class. Challenge your limits and break open that shell all over again. Re-discover that magic. And, it isn't a bad idea to get married all over again to mark a special anniversary.

Seriously, very few couples have their  actual wedding completely under their control and live up to it every moment. You can seize the opportunity to re-chart your wedding day that way you had imagined, buy new jewelry and clothes, look relaxed, have the natural glow on your face without the first-time anxiousness and revel in the comfort factor shared with the spouse in the true sense.

So, are you game to renew your vows?

http://bit.ly/1AqTeIE

February 1, 2015

A letter to all the to-be-brides

To all the to-be-brides,

Marriage is considered as one of the biggest milestones in a person's life in our country, especially in the life of a woman. The idea of having a fairy-tale wedding at a dream venue, with the most flattering jewelry and gorgeous finery has been exploited to death by most film and Ad-makers, not to mention the subtle and not-so subtle diet of a beautiful princess marrying the handsome prince most of us are fed upon since childhood.

All this naturally puts in a certain amount of expectation-depending on our personality-we have from our wedding day. We certainly want to look and feel our best and cannot imagine a bad hair day or bad-skin day. That would be nothing less than a catastrophe. I thought so too. But, let me share with you my story.

I had about 6 months of time between my engagement and wedding and, but of course, I started on a disciplined regime of looking after my skin. Well-meaning advice and tips began to pour in and I carefully sifted through it all and followed a routine that seemed right. I never had a great skin so to speak. I had suffered and recovered from acne bouts, pigmentation and skin allergies a couple of years ago and hence was all the more determined to keep all of this at bay. Yet, despite my best intentions, much to my horror, I had the worst kind of acne break-out just a month before my wedding.

I rushed to my dermatologist even as I knew that any kind of medication (internal or external) will take at least 3-6 months to show any visible effect. I was aghast and heart-broken, to the extent that I had an episode of black-out due to sheer exhaustion and stress! I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I'd pour my heart out to my then fiance (we stayed in different cities) and fearfully prepared him for the 'disaster' he was about to meet on our wedding day. He never understood the fuss and kept assuring and re-assuring me that he won't be disappointed or shocked to see me, and how I looked on our wedding day really did not matter to him. Of course, I couldn't be convinced and assumed that he was saying these things only to mollify me.

I prayed for miracles and applied all sorts of application that promised an acne-free skin within a week and such-like. Of course, no miracles happened. The medication I was on worked slowly and it didn't really make much of a difference outwardly. I put up with all the stares and sympathetic questions and advises from people around. But, my family and the one person who was to matter to me the most in my next phase of life, stood rock solid behind me. I'll never forget one thing that my sister told me, "Wedding is just a day's affair. Marriage and it's dynamics begin only after that. Do not stress so much on that one day that you miss the fragrance of the days that are to follow."

I guess the look says it all!
Indeed, I found a great friend in my husband who supported and loved me unconditionally ( and continues to do so) from day one, pimples and all. I learned that it did not matter how you meet your spouse, how you get married, how you looked on your wedding day, how many compliments you got, or how happy the guests were. The real test is how both the spouses handle their share of joys and sorrows, how they approach their differences and how much of inner cleansing they undertake to make their bonding free from ugly marks of distrust and misunderstandings.

So, my dear brides-to-be, take care of your looks but do not become obsessed with polishing the outer self so much that you fail to prepare your mind and soul for an enriching journey.

Take care, because you are worth it!

This post is a part of #GarnierPureActive activity at Indiblogger. 

and because this post also defines a woman for who she is from within and not on the basis of how she looks, I also link it to the #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus.

January 29, 2015

Being online yet not out of line

It's a long accepted fact that most of our communication today happens over Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and the likes. The difference between a reply and a response is becoming blurry. Emoticons have replaced lengthy explanations; not to mention made it easier to convey a confused look or ecstasy over something. Whether you're feeling blue or euphoric, whether you want to cringe or ROFL at something, just click the right icon and you are sorted.

http://bit.ly/1Bz9kgz

But, not all is hunky-dory with the instant messaging world. If we aren't careful, we could fall prey to quick-sand of narcissism and impatience that throngs this world.

Haven't we all experienced the restlessness after we post something on whatsapp or FB? We wait with bated breath for that first 'like' or 'comment'. Much like the girl in this Tata Docomo Ad. The messenger Aps have made it worse by adding features that lets the person posting or sending the message know whether the message has been read by the intended person! So, depending upon which side of the message you are, you are either catching your breath waiting for that someone to respond or fuming that despite the double ticks in blue or 'Seen by', the person has the audacity to not reply!

The itch to respond immediately is quite real too. Over-analyzing thoughts crowd our head and we worry that we'd appear rude if we do not hit the 'like' button or comment on a fellow-comrade's post despite leaving our footprints of online presence elsewhere at that hour!

And, then there are the perils of over-communication (if there is something like that) and misunderstandings. A simple comment is torn to shreds by trying to understand the emotions and intentions behind it. Punctuation, pauses, smileys all play a crucial role here. A colon instead of a semi-colon can cause two friends to war. Could a one-liner reply to a lengthy discussion mean that the other person took offence? Is then an apology due? Oh, the confusions!

Fragile relationships do not stand a chance since you are always comparing how friend A reads and 'likes' every post by acquaintance B but ignores you (her bestie?!). Isn't it better to pick that phone and call the person to have a heart-to-heart chat instead of agonizing and staring silly at your computer screen?!

The truth is there is life beyond Facebook and Whatsapp and not everyone thinks about you all day like you do. They have themselves to think about, right? So, lets move on and not base our judgement about people in our lives upon how they behave in social media. Remember, there's always a side that is never revealed out there.

January 12, 2015

R-tistic expressions

R is creative in many ways. He can spend hours doodling, drawing cars, whales, planets and rockets and colouring them. The figures may not exactly resemble what he says they represent yet the detailing is unmistakable and also laudable for his age. When he was around 3-4 years of age, he hardly exhibited any interest in drawing or colouring. In fact he began to recognize solid colours only by 3 years of age by which time I started to have serious doubts of whether he was colour blind! Then and now; what a change of nature! He loves to colour now and if I were not exasperated to find tiny bits of crayons tucked into cushion crevices, strewn bits of paper cut into various shapes and duly painted and streaks of various hues on my bedspread, I'd have my camera perpetually hung around my neck to capture the creations!

The guy is also not a stickler for conventions. A whale is anything but blue in his book. No creation ever is painted in one single hue. And, that makes it quite attractive. At least to the parents' eyes :-)

Speaking of conventions, it amuses me to observe how freely he works and thinks. I guess most kids are before they get leashed into the set conventions and moulds. Sigh! But, I digress. My mother gifted him a Casio this time that also came with a very cute microphone. I caught R one day, singing (rather screaming some notes) into the microphone and playing random notes simultaneously, a la professional composer on stage. Not sure if he was emulating something he saw on the TV because he is hardly exposed to such stuff on the television.

R loves to make up his own stories and rhymes that are set to tune to the standard ones. It may seem completely nonsensical if you choose to search for logic but it is definitely inspiring to note how he puts together the day's happenings or something he fancies as lyrics into the meter and make it seem like a rhyme or for that matter a story. It's too early to say if there's a hidden talent in there but I am chuffed with the fact that he's inclined towards creating something of his own. I hope I, as a parent, am able to fan this creative streak or at the least don't do anything stupid to thwart it.

Finally, this happened yesterday and I was touched and proud at the same time. R was running low-grade fever over the weekend and he was worried that he'd miss school today as there was a class photo scheduled. I told him that if he remained fever-free for the night, I'd send him to school. His face fell and cried out, "but I don't want fever!". My heart melted, "Of course, even I don't want you to get fever but we can't help certain things although we can hope and pray" said I. After a while, as I went about my work I found him with a small paper filled with stars drawn by him and he placed it reverentially at the feet of my Pooja Ghar, joined his hands and prayed that God keep the fever away so that he could go to school. It was such a sweet moment that I hugged him tight and sent a silent prayer to the Almighty myself.

Well, he still wasn't fit to resume school today and was heartbroken to realize that he would indeed miss the class photograph session. So, I asked for a special permission and took him just for the photo-shoot. He was so happy. Small things bring much joy.

January 5, 2015

Beginning on a high

Ringing in the new year the way I do for the past four or five years holds a special place in my heart. I've had my share of the routine New Year bashes with close friends and/or in the company of some hundred strangers, shaking to silly music played out by a screaming DJ, and the works. Nothing against this, but like they say once you taste nectar, sugar loses its sweetness appeal. So it has been with me. If you'd have noticed, I take a vacation to my parents' during Christmas every year. It's not just a vacation but an opportunity that I design myself each year to spend the New Year’s Eve and ring in the first day of the New Year with some divinity for company.

While I'm not a ritualistic/religious person in the true sense, I do believe in the power of a force above us that guides us when we choose to seek its light and grace. I also shy away from discussing my relationship with the supreme or God, as we may choose to address, either on my blog or with a group, not because I'm ashamed or unsure but because it's a personal experience and I do not wish to lay it under the scrutiny of others. Yet, today, I'm here to share my experiences with a certain manifestation of the divine. I call it divine because there is no other word that seems to define it completely.

To begin with, I'm not much of a temple-goer. In fact the presence of humongous crowds at certain temples, the business-like attitude of the so-called priests and the over-all commercial modus-operandi puts me off since the essence of experiencing the positive vibrations that should reverberate in a temple is lost totally and I end up feeling relieved rather than re-energized after such visits. Yet, when I'm at my parents', I end up visiting this particular temple almost every day, that too voluntarily. This shrine of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Narayan somehow beckons me, and like me many others, to them. The peace and positive energy that I feel in their presence cannot be explained in words.

New Year’s Eve and the first day of every year are celebrated as the Kalyana Utsavam of the Lord and the Goddess. The utsava moortis are posed as the bride and groom and a real wedding is performed by devotees who play the roles of the Lord and the Goddess's parents, aunts and uncles. Two years back, the husband and I had been blessed to play the roles of athai and athimber to Lord Narayanar. It is a treat to the eyes and ears, to soak in the beautiful decoration and hear the divine music. I love being a part of the celebrations as I also get to sing songs in praise of the Lord. When I see so many devotees working selflessly to make this event happen and help the many social causes through the fund collection, it gives me great satisfaction to be even just a small part of it. When you experience such a spiritual high at the beginning of every year, what’s the need for other intoxication to feel good?


There's a special person here, lovingly addressed as Amma by all, because of whom the temple came into being. Blessed with the Devi's grace, she dresses up the Lord and Goddess in their rich finery and does the floral decorations at the temple. The beauty of it all is to behold. Many of us are skeptics, rational thinking people, and want to do nothing with anybody who says that he or she is closely associated with God. Naturally so, because we have blind rituals being followed, and numerous, wide-spread instances of Godmen duping people of their faith and wealth. However, I say from personal experience that Amma's spiritual and divine aura that comes from her pure devotion to the presiding deities, also manifested in her melodious compositions or bhajans, have the musical and spiritual power to transport any skeptic to experience divine bliss. These bhajans have been hitherto sung at devotees' houses and during auspicious occasions by Amma herself. It was perhaps the Devi's supreme will that these be known to the world when the auditions for Bhajan Samraat season 3 by Sri Sankara TV began in July 2014.

A team of six privileged singers and students of guru Amma under the name of Om Amma Bhajan Mandali, led by my own sister Chitra Krishnan, took part in the auditions and further rounds and emerged as the winners of the title. It was not easy 6 month journey at all, going through 13 rigorous and complex rounds in the preliminary, quarter and semi-final rounds. Yet I'm sure the experience is one that would be cherished by the entire team for years to come. I had been regularly posting the Youtube links of the team's performance on my FB page. If you wish to hear them, you can find them all under a single roof here

The competition was predominantly a sampradaya one wherein the participants were required to sing only the traditional or sampradaya bhajans. Though an entirely new domain for Amma and the team, Amma with her sincerity, talent dedication and devotion trained the team and they emerged successfully at every stage. Their final performance was especially lauded by the judges and the viewers alike for the melody, devotion and divinity that dripped from each note sung. I consider myself privileged to having witnessed the event live at the CODISSIA trade fair auditiorium, Coimbatore on 21st Dec 2014. This date would be etched in our memories for more reasons than one. It's not every day that you get to see your loved one holding the winner's trophy at the National level. Does it require a special mention here to say what a proud sister I'm? :-) I wish the team more and more success.