Mugger.

He heaved deep breaths, silently. The room was lit up and the windows closed. How do I know this, he thought. He re-traced the conclusions his brain had arrived at. He couldn’t turn around but the steel mug placed in front of him reflected a light source, looked like a bulb. If he tilted his head slightly, he could see the outline of a bulb, yes. And the closed windows? The air was still and stale. He could feel the dampness of stale breath in the stillness of the room. Even his closed eyes could figure it out. His mouth was dry and his hands numb. As he sat with his head hung, fatigue trudged upon him. A door creaked open in the distance, heavy footsteps lining the carpeted floor, now an empty commercial space. He could see the reflection of a man in the mug in front of him. And that was the last thing he saw before a bag was pulled over his face.

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Graciously Yours!

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Launching LOI!

Letters of India

A few weeks ago, I discussed with some of you here on the blog that you’d still love to write letters and be pen pals. So here we are in the guise of LETTERS OF INDIA.

Currently, it is being spearheaded by three crazy and opinionated women:

Uno. A Chartered Accountant who’d rather write over crunching numbers and can’t get awed enough of quantum physics;
Dos. An English honours graduate who’s handling social media accounts, deliveries and a husband with a twin; and
Tres. A would-be lawyer who does, well, would-be lawyerish things – bickering, doodling, procrastinating and sometimes studying.

We want to be pen pals with you! And we hope you do too.

And we’re finally launching it! Please fill out the form and sign up. We hope to write to you soon. 🙂

Graciously Yours!

 

Plunged into darkness.

Sudipto was driving home late one night – later than usual, at least. The clock was ticking closer to welcoming the new day. The roads, broad and empty of the never-ending stream of cars, lit with street lamps on both sides, white and blue fairy lights trailing the silver poles. There were no buildings, no civilisation laying home along this road – only roads, statues and a wide, green patch in the middle of the city, fondly called the city’s lungs. He pushed the clutch and rammed the car into the fourth gear as he approached Red Road. Parts of his twelve-year-old ambassador creaked at the engine speed falling a decade or so short of a ton. He could never drive at such speeds with a passenger at the back – they called it rash driving – but this was when he enjoyed his bread earning life choice. It was always the bus and taxi drivers who drove rashly, never the rule admonishing pedestrian or the swerving bikers and honking and overtaking private cars.

He took the circuitous path home through Red Road, choosing to enjoy the wind rather than hurrying to park the taxi in the garage. The window on his side was already open, so he leaned to the left to roll down the passenger window too. The wind rushed into the car from both sides, driving out the smells of the day – the food, the sweat, the leather. He threw open a few more buttons of his front open shirt, unzipping his pants. The sudden touch of air on his sweat-caked skin made him shiver, a rarity in the humid city.

The next right would take him towards home. As he approached the turn, he still honked on the deserted road out of practised caution. The next moment he got distracted by someone waving out from the extreme left side of the road – he saw it out of the corner of his eye. He had slowed down for the turn but his head was now craned towards the left to see if he could help the person. He saw glimpses of white and then nothing more. Just like that, there was no one there anymore. He blinked his eyes rapidly, not sure if he was hallucinating before or now. His hands turning the wheel right and legs controlling the speed, he’d made the turn and sharply looked right to check again towards where he’d seen the hapless soul but nothing anymore. He’d heard stories of hauntings before but had never believed in them. He wasn’t afraid. He dismissed the incident and looked ahead to find the lane plunged in darkness. As if on cue with his sight on the road, the car’s headlights flickered off and the engine sputtered to a stop. Now he was afraid.

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Graciously Yours!

Let’s Post!

The only times I stepped into Post Offices was to buy postcards and stamps for keepsakes – be it the dusty but spacious one in Port Blair where on the wall was put up the expected days to deliver posts all across the mainland of India or the small house up a steep flight of wooden stairs in Landour, marked as a Post Office where a family of three resided and all things post office were neatly stuffed in a bag. But I have not been to a Post Office to post a letter in more than two decades of my existence in India. And how many of my generation have really? In all likelihood, the only letters we’ve written were in school as part of the curriculum or to relationship managers in banks and cover letters as part of our search for jobs.

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I want to frequent my trips to the Post Office because I am craving to write letters and find myself some penpals! I’m sending an open invitation to everyone reading this – come let’s write letters to each other. I’d love to know how you spend your day, what you read, what holds your interest, what irks you, how cold is the ice in your country, what your culture finds appropriate. I’m looking for inspiration, more than glad to provide motivation and excited to ignite my creative spirits! Also, use my wrist a little more to write – the handwriting to going to dogs! So are you ready to write a few letters? Because I surely am!

For international contributors, I understand if you’d rather send emails, taking into account the cost impact – but you have to, you just have to, attach a handwritten note or a sketch or doodle as part of the email.

Reshare post! And leave a comment if you’re interested. ❤

Much love,

Graciously Yours!

Of trails and travails.

Every once in a while, the city closes in upon you and you choose to run after the sereneness of the outskirts, the hill stations, the backwaters, the mountains, don’t you? I almost managed to do the same. I say managed because we had failed to acknowledge how many more would also be looking for sereneness there! I visited Dehradun and Mussoorie recently, and if you think this post is about how pretty the landscape is and quiet the hills are, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Ruskin Bond’s books were my mates while growing up and the writer is famed for basing his stories around these few towns in Uttarakhand. I was obviously excited about the trip on that account too – to find myself facing those shops, houses, to walk in the trails of woods and the warmth of the people he’s written about. But I’d forgotten about the two big words – commercialisation and globalisation. With the ease of access to the towns, better roads and influx of tourists, Dehradun no longer is the regular hill station – there’s nothing hilly about it, all flat land and roads marked by McDonald’s and Bengali sweet shops, malls and Park Avenue stores. We picked up drinks from a Tibetan township thinking it’s a concoction they’d brewed at their place only to find it spread all across shops later on. So much for trying to experience something local. Well, at least, I sort of learnt to use chopsticks from one of the diner owners in the Tibetan township. Sort of.

Mussoorie has a dual face though! It’s got the ups and downs of a hill station, the roads which allow vehicles but has no space to fit two of them side by side, a mall road – typical of hill stations, which seemed commercially successful and now stretches for almost 3 km with people flocking it all times, even as late as 10:30 pm at night. The mall road boasts of eateries, brands, shops selling insignia for surrounding hill stations to be carried back as mementos of the visit and countless shops selling the same clothes! But if you take a diversion from the mall road, you’ll find the cobbled roads intact, men and women silently going about their lives, no tourists in sight and the clamour of the mall road light years away! The peace, though short-lived, I was hoping for. I also found the quaint coffee shops that take you back 50 years ago at Landour, where Bond is supposed to reside currently. On further observation, I realise the town was being redecorated to capture the old world charm by Dharma Productions for a film. Well, at least this commercialisation is pleasant to the eye!

Oh and don’t even get me started on the waterfalls! They’re no longer natural. They’ve been cemented and structured to flow the way man wants them to, with water rides, fun activities, shops, tea stalls, changing rooms set close to the rock bed of the fall. Ain’t saying it’s bad, au contraire, it’s brilliant for the people who live there. It’s just not what Ruskin Bond had written about. And no longer the spot for a getaway for me.

I came away from the hills renewed, of course, but disappointed with what we had done to places remote and almost preserved naturally till a few years ago. The human touch, we should call it.

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While trekking in Mussoorie – away from Mall Road. The irony is that the trail led us to shops at the top of the trail.
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Dharma Productions crew at work.
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Yes, that’s a waterfall. It ain’t a swimming pool.
Graciously Yours!

Forever?

I’d lie if I said you had me at hello, but once you had my attention, dear fellow, there was no looking back. I waited for you all day long and it was only by the night that you came – in my dreams. I stuttered when I spoke to you, flushed when I spoke of you. I’d be surprised if you even gave any second thoughts to my presence while you were the only presence that persisted in mine. Soon, you walked away out of my life, I flailed at your memories to keep you on my mind until someone else had me at hello. I say love. Others, infatuation.

I ask – is love only meant to be forever?

Graciously Yours!

Over to AI.

It’s been a rigorous few weeks at work, interspersed with a short vacation and a family get together, but rigorous, nevertheless. In fact, if you’ve ever paid attention, working right after a vacation seems harder than it really is. And as it happens to me, under pressure is when my mind tries to break away into the boundaries beyond to provide spurts of relief in the form of humour or deep thinking.

The thoughts tinkered this time were of this sort :

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So what if AI really took over? Experts in the field of guesstimating our future in terms of this fast-changing internet landscape say almost 50% jobs will be rendered futile and obsolete in another 7 years. So what do we do when AI takes over our jobs? There’ll be no 9 hour day jobs, no night shifts, no overtime, so much time to kill while we’re not killing for money.

A friend and I came up with a model where all you have to do is keep yourselves healthy and fit, eating and working out your way through life, getting paid by bots for doing a workout well and of course, being tracked by bots wherever you go, whatever you do, whenever it suits them, which is also what we’re already moving towards with the incessant app permissions we’re doling out. That’ll also mean we get to give time to our passions, enjoy our hobbies, in the current times labelled a luxury! Utopian plan, of course, but a girl can always hope. Heck, according to him, we’ll even have bots running hospitals for themselves! Grasping that will, however, take me a bit of time.

While you wrap your head around the plan we came up with, the video link I am sharing with you here will help broaden your mind and prepare you for a HUGE disruption in life as we know it :

How we’ll earn money in a future without jobs?

Oh and another interesting fact – I didn’t look up this video link. It was in my YouTube suggestions ‘coincidentally’ on the same day when I discussed AI takeovers and posted about them online. I see what the bots are doing but I am still a step ahead of you, you bots. Because I think. And you’re still learning to. So long!

Graciously Yours!

Writing.

You’d think the words come easy – that to write was second nature. You set deadlines, timelines, daily word challenges, look up picture prompts only to make sure the words keep flowing. You’re afraid that if you stop writing, you won’t be able to start again. You’re also afraid that if you keep at it, soon your life, your thoughts, your fears, your dreams will all be on paper to read. Nothing will remain sacred, nothing will remain your own. The tension remains – to do or not to do. It’s an addiction you want to lose to. You look into the eyes of the people who read your words and you see them contemplating how much of what you’ve written is fiction. You are afraid they’ll see you for what you really are. And on other days they take you to be what you’re not.

You’re only the medium for the ink to make sense on the paper. What do you do?

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Graciously Yours!

Antsy about ants!

A few weeks ago, I noticed it for the first time. Cleaning up after seemed the most natural thing to do. But then it happened again. And again. And again. Now I’ve lost count. And stopped cleaning up. Someone else does it, I am sure. I am talking about black ants in our refrigerator! A thin trail of black, next to the door, not near any item of food, barely visible until you crouch down to retrieve an item. Sounds gross, right? I was more intrigued. I wondered where they were coming from and where they were going to! Think I’ve found an explanation? No, not yet. Think I’ve tried researching it? Of course.

Ants are cold blooded – which means they cannot alter or adjust their body’s temperature as per the chill on the outside. They’d rather go sunning outside to warm themselves up than enter a refrigerator. And Bangalore has been cold for a while now. Not snowy cold, but I think a blanket would be cozy, cold.

So we’re dealing with three questions here :

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  1. Why were the ants attracted to the refrigerator?
  2. How did the ants enter the refrigerator?
  3. Why did other ants follow?

Here comes my dissection! Feel free to tell me where I am wrong.

  1. Why were the ants attracted to the refrigerator?

This one’s simple! Food. It’s always about a hungry stomach making you do irrational stuff – well that and greed, jealousy, fear and passion too. But let’s stick to a hungry stomach right now. The refrigerator didn’t contain anything sweet. Well, at least not sugar containing sweets. I don’t suppose natural sugar in raw fruits count, do they? Maybe they do.

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2. How did the ants enter the refrigerator?

Mother says there could be a crack in the stand. Internet says the seal could be broken. Maybe this also explains why the refrigerator has not been working well – it doesn’t seem to be containing the chill inside or sometimes becomes too chilled. I should probably tell the repair guy the next time he’s around – that it’s not a complicated random machine name issue, but a sealant issue.

3. Why did other ants follow?

The ants obviously did not survive the chill because they’re not warm blooded. Well I am assuming because I didn’t check their pulse before cleaning them away! But it doesn’t add up somewhere. Maybe some survived.

I’ll explain why I think some survived the refrigerator and went back home, with food. Ants don’t communicate with words, nor do they have milestones or directions for home laid out on Google Maps. So how do they not get lost? Ants secrete pheromones into the air, which are like hormones but just outside the body and affects others who recognize it. So ants leave a trail of home-finding pheromone when they go out looking for food, which is their Google map when they have to return home. Just involves a lot of sniffing, I guess. Now if theirs is a triumphant return home, they leave a food trail pheromone, which other ants at home can now follow to get to the source of food. So there had to be cases of survival which would lead the other ants to the refrigerator, albeit a source of food, laced with cold and a hint of death. So much for me storing my food there!

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And that’s my fun fact of the day! A long one, indeed.

Signing off,

Graciously Yours!

TedX Adventures!

I was probably in school when I first heard of Ted talks from a relative. I didn’t pay much attention, after all you only retain about 20% of what you hear. (Research says so, not me. I’d peg it down to even much lower, considering how my requests at a certain workplace almost always fall on deaf ears.) I heard of a Ted talk next when I had to deal with understanding how a brain stroke had affected my father. After that, it felt like I was possessed. A window into a new realm had opened up for me. I could hear people talk about their experiences, learning, conventional thoughts, unconventional theories, the changes they’d made around them, the changes they’d undergone in themselves.

Two years ago, I attended my first TedX conference and it left me inspired for a couple of months, itching to do something different with my life. After that I started writing regularly, trying to be better at the one thing I enjoyed doing most – writing! Today, I am working on the last edits of my novel and look at the timing! Tomorrow I am attending my second TedX conference. The venue is the same, the organisers same but everything else’s changed. I am so much closer to realising my dream, my book might see the light of the day in just a few more weeks, or maybe months! Who knows? But I know it’ll happen. It has to.

Last week, A and I attended the TedX adventures lined up pre-event. A workshop on RJing and another on acting. Such eye-openers they were. Or if I were to be honest, they simply confirmed my suspicions! I’ve always loved the radio. It has been a constant for the past years in my life, through new stations, new RJs, even new cities. I have always admired the quips my favorite RJ comes up with but in the workshop I understood the creativity and work that goes on behind it, exciting to say the least! He needs to be making a point each time he’s on air and that is a tough ask. Considering how well, he does it, leaves me all the more impressed.

Oh and the acting workshop! Oh my! A has always been interested in movies and acting so it was meant to be the one for him. But me? Oh I can do the amateur dramatics required for April Fools and emotional blackmails but emoting on cue? I suck at it! There was a point when the mentor was pushing me to be angry and I tried so hard that I ended up laughing. A was standing across the hall from me and he later told me my face was blank at that instant, in place of anger. But people who’ve seen me angry know that it shows on my face. Just not on cue. After my two seconds of embarrassment, even the mentor realized he’d better spend time working on others. And I will only say this once, but maybe I should stop calling out which of the Bollywood stars can act and can’t. They sure do a better job than I would have.

I guess I could always write the scripts for the actors. Someone needs to do that too, eh!

More updates on TedX adventures coming soon!

Graciously Yours!

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Raw emotions. Inked.

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