Category Archives: Life

In the city.

IMG_20170520_162801
Looking into the past through time…

Yesterday, while travelling in the city, I came across a cabbie who’d creatively put his watch on his rear view mirror. No hassle to keep checking the time, right? Well, I see it differently. Maybe it was his way to look back through time. Ain’t it?

The sight set my thoughts rolling. I started thinking of the past year I’d spent in the city I still haven’t been able to call my own. What would I have done differently? One thing for sure. Explore more of the city for what it is, than for what I think it is. I’ve always associated Bangalore with malls, restaurants, pubs and a lack of street lights! Well, I’m not entirely wrong because yes, that’s what you find at every corner, every cross in each damn area! But there’s more.

I saw a different side of the city yesterday. Urban theater –  a terrace of an office building transformed into a place the aesthetics of which exuded a calmness and freedom that transported me into a world far away from reality, in a good way. The trees in the surroundings looked prettier, the skies felt closer, the Sun softer. The walls were painted over, quotes written in the choicest of corners, paintings and crayoned papers hung around. Tango, salsa and yoga class posters were hung around. Yoga mats were piled up in a corner. A month’s schedule written in hand pinned up beside a Harry Potter quiz sample questions. My, my! The sample questions were so difficult, I wondered what the D-day paper would be like!

IMG_20170520_173702
And the stage is set!

We settled in bean bags, on beer crates, in plastic chairs, floor mats, basically whatever you could lay your butts on, while the play went on. An interactive audience, giggled smiles, a spunky 44 year old female volunteer and a charming cast and producer! There was something artistic about the people too – the coloured hair on the women, the long hair on the men, the casual and carefree dripping from the skirted women and kurta-ed men. This felt like an out-of-Bangalore experience.

I’d want more of this. And less of the no electricity, no water, no street lights, malls, restaurants, pubs Bangalore.

6e4c7650d63ca1beff2bab9cff20503b
A personal storytelling session in progress — Picked from Google.

Graciously Yours!

Valparai Tales! Part 2.

Contd from…

As I sweat in the Bangalore heat, while doing absolutely nothing apart from just breathing, which you would all acknowledge is a very crucial, and from what I know the most important factor for our existence, I think back of the vacation I recently took. And promised a second post on.

In my mind, as I say the word, Valparai, I close my eyes to be welcomed to memories of our four wheeler rushing through the short winding roads through hills, while green stems and young branches fell out of line by the side of the road, swaying to greet us. We are rushing past them, honking at each hairpin bend, serpent turns, waking us out of the slumber of hill travel every now and then, fascinated by the depths which greeted us to our right and the heights which beckoned us to our left.

IMG_20170429_133328_AO_HDR
Oh the twists and turns! More than a Jodi Picoult book.

I see a kaleidoscope of butterflies pass us, yellow this one. My reflexes are too slow to brandish the phone camera for a shot of them. I simply close my eyes to capture the moment. Sometimes, I wish I had a pensieve to keep these memories untouched. But in its absence, National Geographic will have to do. The Sun, which at the base of the hills was unforgiving, seemed to be playing hide and seek with us as we travelled upwards closer. The clouds ran helter skelter, giving us a peak a boo of the scorch every now and then. It was almost lunch hour when we reached the outskirts of Valparai and unbelievable as it may sound, or read, there was rain, just like Google weather had predicted! Bless technology and the genius minds that worked behind it.

Valparai is so untouched by commercialization, that it was difficult to find a place to stay. We ended up finding a place that seemed like it had been vacated after its occupants had packed bags and moved to the city for better earnings. They offered us a single room for ten people when actually advertising as a home stay! I wondered how the others would react for I was already prepared for a little adventure. Standing at the crossroads of the little town, I sighed audibly with relief when I looked up at the three storeyed building, catching the occupants of the top floor room, my friends, look out at the tea estates as far as the horizon permit, with enthusiasm and unwavering excitement.

IMG_20170429_173443_HDR
If there was audio, you could have heard us singing too!

The evening that we spent there has to be my most memorable in quite a while. Walking through tea estates, and (this time) long winding roads, with no vehicles to honk at us, no bikes to rush past us, no traffic at all, paradise was not even on my wishlist then. We sang as the sun set, clicked photographs of trees that formed patterns different to each of our eyes, posed by the side of the road wanting  to post pictures online but never doing so, because we knew words would fail to describe the serenity we felt then. And we also didn’t want to lose those minutes buried in the phone. That says a lot about the place, doesn’t it? We saw people though. Some smiled at us knowingly, others gave us a pass, ignoring us as a brief little intrusion in their small town. A shopkeeper asked us our religion, offering a temple, mosque or a church to visit around accordingly. He chatted with us for over five minutes, but did not once try to sell his wares to us. So much for calling it a small town.

IMG_20170429_180108_HDR
Bouquet of flowers, a friend calls it. Anyone knows what these are called?

Graciously Yours!

Nostalgia.

evszefhAs I stood by the the window of the balcony, my nose was pressed to it, my breath frosting the glass around my lips, I saw the winds outside swirling, droplets of water being bullied into submission, lights from the night lamps streaming through the air, making the paths of water borne air above the road, visible.

I yearned to step outside of my house and go play basketball in the rains, with the people below, kids I presumed. Their shrieks of delight floated uptil a dozen or so floors above. Instead I did something better.

I slid open the windows of the balcony, that kept the water borne winds out and was welcomed to winds so cold, no air conditioner could compete, the freshness of ice and spring combined! The hair at the nape of my neck stood in attention, out of excitement.

Back home, whenever it rained, torrentially as it was looking to today, my sister and I would sit at the window sill, legs hanging out into the dark, lightning flashing us time and again, shrieking in delight at every wave of wind that whipped through us.

As the water hit me, wave after wave, I shivered in excitement, and cold, but nonetheless not agreeing to go back inside! After all, the heat of so many days needed more time with the rains to sod off!

Staring up at the skies, blinking at every lightning flash, I felt the water seeping to the roots of my hair, the sides of my neck. I stood with my arms by my side, shaking but not willing to go into the house again. I looked down at my feet after a while. I was soaking wet from the top to bottom! Giggling, rubbing my arms, I slid the balcony windows shut, greeted with warmth in the hall. I’d missed the rains. I missed my sister more now.

Graciously Yours!

Blowing Off The Candle.

Birthdays – most love it, some dread it! Some feel wiser, others feel older. Some ignore it, some party harder than other days. If nothing else, a birthday heralds the announcement of completing yet another year on this wonderful planet! If I was on Mars, I’d currently be just 13! Be a Mercurian and I’d be 156 days old but only 104 years old! Go figure that out! Or you could just ask me in the comments. Plutonians say my first birthday would be in 2240 Earth year. Yeah, yeah I know Pluto isn’t a planet but hello, it still does exist even if as a dwarf planet or whatever it is that scientists want to call it these days, okay?

So coming to the point, I just clocked a good number of years on the Earth and I don’t know if I am wiser or old, or both or none, but I sure did enjoy it! Less than some days but more than most days! It isn’t easy spending your special days away from the family but when you have the loveliest set of people in your life, distances vanish before you even know it! Oh and guess what! I can finally say I celebrated my birthday Harry Potter style! Replete with a wand, broomstick and even the Marauder’s Map. 

Downloads.jpg

Love poured in from all quarters, cents and pences but the most creative is right here! 

img_20170405_131548_hdr.jpg

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Justin Trudeau! And that is obviously not sent by Trudeau, but I wish that’d happen! Instead, a friend came up with this to compensate for my constant ranting about Trudeau! Well, the man deserves love for spreading goodness and hope. Also, Elon Musk. Much respect. 

Oh but it’s not done yet! The week may be coming to an end, but the love hasn’t. Wishes still keep pouring in and sometimes I wish I could just switch off my cell, because saying so many thank you’s can be a pain after a while. But to think of it, when else do we really get time to connect with so many of our family and friends in a day?

They say what goes around, comes around. ❤

Graciously (older and wiser) Yours!

Oh wait. That’s not the end!

P.S. :

Here’s a checklist for your birthday –

  • DO NOT go and surprise your friends the night before your birthday! You don’t want to ruin the surprise they might be planning for you. 
  • DO NOT rush to open the door either! It might be the cake delivery guy!
  • DO keep your power bank handy. Phones don’t get an iota of rest.
  • DO make sure you have your face wash at arm’s distance, lest some one puts cake on your face yet another time.
  • DO NOT keep food items that can be applied on the face lying around. They’re harmful for you.
  • DO NOT wear white to work, unless you can convince your colleagues to keep the cake away. Or unless your colleagues don’t order cakes.
  • DO remember to wish anyone who might share your birth date!
  • DO smile each time someone wishes you! You’re making their day. And mine too. Well, ‘cuz you just followed my checklist, right? 😉

A Smile Here. A Smile There.

3d10efd9d6ff765e9e15d71a7cbeebc5

He looked visibly frustrated. And he had reasons to be so. He’d been on his feet for almost half the day and the ordeal was not over yet. He kept shuffling his feet across the floor, trying to visit each table more than once. He knew his boss was keeping a tab. He had to sell the offer they had just rolled out. He collected the offer pamphlets from the doorman’s podium.

He walked to the nearest table. The occupants were conversing. “It is bad manners to intrude,” his teacher had taught him in school. He didn’t want to intrude but his job demanded otherwise.  He went up to the table, excused himself and started explaining the offer to the customers in the middle of their meal and conversation. Halfway through, they took the pamphlet and resumed their conversation. Not a smile, not an acknowledgement, not even the plain old nod. He called it the ‘wallpaper theory’ – he was like the wallpaper, essential but not cast a look at, never smiled at and walked past. Well, at least they were better than those customers who turned around to shout at him, or be rude, or asked him to go away! Oh yes, there were such too. They’d look up and say, “Could you go away?” If only they knew how to even say please.

Every trip to the bathroom involved washing his face more than peeing. Waiting on tables wasn’t his dream job, this was no one’s dream job but if he wanted to get a monthly cash deposit in his bank, this would have to do. He had to remind himself every couple of hours that this job was more important than rude and impolite customers, than being treated like wallpaper, than having to carry people’s soiled plates, sleeping with a pain in the feet which seemed like it would never go away again, and a bruise to your self respect each damned day. But it would have to do. They say no job is small, yet the way they behave each day belittles him.


I met Bhanu, who works at a fast food outlet here in Bangalore. I don’t know what his story is, why he does what he does, how he motivates himself to wait on tables all day long, how he lets out all the frustration that is more than visible on his face, but I am sorry I couldn’t get a smile on his face! Probably one smile from me wasn’t enough to make up for his tough day!

e3621fb78e8966f24338761b066514eb

Let’s try harder next time and be more polite to the ones who have jobs that could not be further away from the term ‘job satisfaction’. Can we do that?

Graciously Yours!

Unravel the Travel!

As promised (to no one in general), here’s a continued set of anecdotes from my trip to Gujarat!

Let’s begin right from the beginning of the trip, like is the norm unless I choose to write in reverse chronology. That’s a good idea but for another day!

Anyone who’s spent even a day on Bangalore roads would know how terrible a nightmare they can be, especially if you have a flight to catch. So  for my own mental peace and for all practical purposes, I left from home, four hours before my flight was to take off! And lo behold, I reached in just about an hour and a half, much to my annoyance and my cabbie’s surprise at my annoyance. The good people at the flight customer support counter however sent me off on an early flight as reward for my unacceptable promptness.

img_20170123_073314_hdr
That’s a long way to go! At Ahmedabad Airport.
img_20170122_223440_hdr
That’s a lot of lights! And white. At Mumbai Airport.

We came across not one or two but three locations where there were rubber band sellers – and when I say rubber band sellers, they were only selling rubber bands! A handcart full of crimson, kale, azure, gold, grey, fuchsia, violet, saffron, striped, polka dotted rubber bands! Out of curiosity, I asked one of those vendors what the price of the bands were and he said 1 rupee! Yes, you read it right – freaking 100 paise! 1 rupee! My first thought was how are they even surviving! My second thought was to buy a dozen or so of the bands. My third thought was exactly how much is the production cost of these bands if people are managing to sell these at such a nominal price!

img_20170125_163040
You get transported to the era of mutinies and sepoys with your first step in. At Diu Fort.

At one of the beaches, my sister was polite enough to do the human thing of clicking a picture for a couple of guys who requested her to. One of them started making small talk with her asking her if she was a resident of the town, did she know any good places to eat, et al. Having answered in monosyllables, we started walking away when one of them called out to her asking her, “I’m from the States. Would you want a picture with me?” Surprised, she refused. He insisted again asking, “Are you sure you don’t want  a picture with me?” While I was wondering if I could place his face to any of the Indian Americans I’d seen on the USA shows, my sister was muttering, “He’s freaking flirting with a 20 year old! He is almost double my age!”

img_20170125_161509
That’s vandalism, in modern times! At least something is changing with times. At Diu Fort.

We had visited a set of caves, to which there’s dispute about whether it was a geological formation or dug by the Portuguese for formation of the Diu Fort. Either ways, it was a beautiful maze of earth cut out in a variety of eerie and curiously un-human ways. There were stairs ending into nowhere, rocks hanging out precariously, cuts in the ceiling which didn’t seem to explain the purpose or history of its creation! And because it was so huge and devoid of many tourists, there were spaces where you couldn’t see another person as far as your sight and the maze allowed. The silence was harsh enough for you to hear your own breathing and each step you took creaked the twigs and dry grass below. I was thankful to have gone there during the day! In the midst of this little nowhere, was a bunch of DSLR equipped photographers capturing a to-be married couple’s shots. The pictures will turn out to be pretty, I tell you!

img_20170125_152057
Photoshoot, in progress. At Naida Caves.

When I recounted the saga of being stuck on the highway in a three hour traffic jam in the early hours of a new day, I did not mention a first I encountered! I managed to locate and confirm my first constellation sighting in the skies! It was the Big Dipper constellation, as confirmed by the StarTracker app I use, when I was very sure that it was Big Dipper! I wish I could have captured the night sky as pristine as I saw it, but technology has its limits and sometimes, what you see is too beautiful to be captured as is on camera. The camera just cannot do justice.

img_20170123_185510_hdr
Grainy, but memorable. At a resort in Gir.

Graciously Yours!

2016 flew by!

img-20161219-wa0098.jpg
We are pleased to announce that another trip round the Sun is almost complete! Ushering in the new year! Hoping it be it brighter and better for all. Picture courtesy : Gopal Goel. Idea courtesy : Yours truly! 😉

What is time?

The ticking of the seconds hand. Dawn giving way to dusk. Mondays coming back! The turning of the pages on a calendar. The change of calendars itself!

Wikipedia has a more interesting explanation :

Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience.

We are at the edge of changing of calendars now. We throw out all things 2016 and bring in 2017. It’s a chance for people to start afresh, break away from the routine and monotony of dreams being chipped off, make new resolutions again and hoping this would be the year when they get completed!

2016 was a mixed year. Like any other year. And as we have less than 24 hours left to complete another trip around the Sun, I am going to grab this chance to end 2016 on a happy note!

  • Here’s to parents who are supportive, understanding, strict yet loving, caring and worrying, give me so much freedom that I want to go and put my life’s reins in their hands.
  • To the sister who relishes every chance to laugh at me, life would be incomplete without her constant support.
  • The mentor who toes the line of friend, philosopher and guide to the dot! Thank you for reminding me what my dreams are made of.
  • To that friend who stitched my open wounds and has been my pillar of emotional support. I wish people saw you in the light I see you in.
  • To the Sherlock fan who makes it a point to keep a smile on my face, whose care melts a little of the walls I built, each time.
  • To friends with whom I explored places, wandered down new lanes in old cities, sang to tunes, danced till our feet hurt and welcomed sunrises happier and livelier!
  • To the new city, new people I met – some drifted away, others came close – all taught me more about life, myself and that there are so many things to do in life that an existential crisis should start having an existential crisis about its’ own existence!
  • Special mention to the co-workers and seniors who encouraged me to follow my passions, enjoy work, be fearless, learn from mistakes and keep stress at bay.
  • To John Green and Hank Green for reminding me every day to be awesome, to Elon Musk for really being awesome, to Justin Trudeau for giving me hope, to Warsan Shire for making me fall in love with your words, to Praveen Sethia for keeping my laughs alive, to those life stories which fed me with courage, faith, honesty and dreams, and to those innumerable supportive bloggers and friends who make me look forward to writing and keeping the flame of my passion alive!

Here’s to a happier, healthier, crazier and love filled new year for all of you! ❤

Welcome 2017. Be better than 2016.

Graciously Yours!

Pssst : Do you even recall what your 2016 resolutions were? How much of it did you manage to achieve? Let me know! And then I’ll share mine! Till then, I am trying to recall exactly what they were! 😀

The Pixel Way.

Four days ago, I was awkward, silent and judgmentally observant. Four days later, I am lively, chirpy and still observant but not judgmentally! Oh and 104% tired!

What happened in these four days, you ask? PIXELS ~ the photography club at the company I work in. They organised a three day trip to Kodaikanal, Madurai and Rameshwaram and those three days have by far been the best in the last couple of months! Except the family reunion, of course! Jeez Mom, don’t doubt my love for you fellas! 😉

img-20160814-wa0014.jpg
#EarlyRisingPerks! P.C. : Ajit Singh

Waking up to such scenes may be difficult but when you have friends to capture them for you, there’s nothing better! 😉 Kodaikanal at 13 degrees Celsius in the morning is the best way to wake up to! Until you realize that the geyser in the bathrooms doesn’t necessarily spout hot water.

img-20160816-wa0006.jpg
VIBGYOR and beyond! P.C.: Nishant Aggarwal
img-20160816-wa0012.jpg
Clicking the clickers. P.C.: Deepanshu Tiwari.

Sightseeing had never been this interesting! With so many cameras clicking around me, for once I didn’t have to bother about capturing places. I only had to live through moments in the best way possible.

img_20160815_143132_burst10.jpg
Making Memories ~ One Day At A Time!

Sometimes you meet the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places. Period.

img_20160813_102214.jpg
Wanna go for dinner, Darling!
img_20160813_101548.jpg
Note the logo. Says the Professional, captures the Amateur. (Hint – Baskin Robbins!)

The names of the restaurants, schools, colleges we came across were hilarious! Apart from these, a few that stood out were Booty’s. And the *drum roll begins* ‘American University of India’.

img_20160815_105802_hdr.jpg
Yeah, visiting date and time at the temple noted. #VandalismMuch

From temples to beaches, parks to caves, waterfalls to forests – we covered it all. And the one most obvious thing which I couldn’t manage to squeeze in? Shopping! Such a relief, I tell you 😉

img-20160816-wa0002.jpg
The Flowing Light. P.C. : Janakiraman G.

And that right there is how each of these talented photographers’ create magic! The Pamban bridge connecting Rameshwaram island to the Indian mainland is one of those marvelous pieces of architecture that we’re forgetting about.

img-20160816-wa0004.jpg
Nothing tires us ever. Except office!

Three days of fun has never been called long and short in the same sentence! Until now. To each of those who came together for this trip ~ thank you for making the heat, the hunger, the pain, the sleeplessness and the wait at the temples all bearable! 😉

Graciously Yours!

 

To Be Or Not To Be Human.

william-shakespeare-framed-quote-552

I have fallen into the habit of keeping a Google News tab open on my laptop every day, choosing to read the daily news update as I get to the mails for the day. This morning, however, turned out to be quite depressing!

The top news trending on Google News was about the death of a HUMAN who was left on the roads to bleed to death after being hit by another HUMAN. If that wasn’t enough, a rotten, stinking, lousy mushed tomato of a man actually stole the victim’s phone and made off.

Accident Victim Bleeds To Death On Road In Delhi, Gets His Phone Stolen But No Help

If that wasn’t enough, video grabs showed that the hit-and-run driver did stop his vehicle and alight from it; but only to check the stupid, God-damned vehicle which is totally valueless in comparison to a human life.

And that is not how you want to start your day.

But how I end it is still my choice (well, almost, always. Unless you have some other blighted idiot choosing to trend on the world news). So I choose #Mission500K.

ThinkQuisitive  has collaborated with the Robin Hood Army this Independence Day to feed over 5 million people from India and Pakistan (In your face you country-splitters)!  They require your time and also your money (Let’s be practical, they will require contributions).

For a country hitting global news for leaving men to die alone on the roads, let’s get out on to the roads to feed people living there. And though #RHAKolkata does it every day, for one day let’s be a part of their team and make a difference to our own lives.

I will leave you to choose if you want to end your day better than I started mine. #TQThoughts coming up :

Event Page https://www.facebook.com/events/1257273490950810/

Music Video Link : https://www.facebook.com/robinhoodarmy/videos/1812778005621205

Newspaper article : http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/vishal-dadlani-farhan-akhtar-uday-benegal-robin-hood-army-india-pakistan/1/735843.html

Graciously Yours!

 

The Past Week.

ov7921-i

Considering I am writing this post half-asleep, ignore any errors that creep through, deliberately or not.

And now the question is why am I half-asleep halfway through the day?

Because I have traveled over 1500 kilometers over the past week.

Because I’ve put band aids on hurt toes to continue walking in damned new heels!

Because I have packed, repacked, unpacked at least four times in the last seven days!

Because I have slept in five different beds in those number of days.

Because I spent more awake hours in Bangalore traffic day before than  I slept in the night.

Because my kitchen is packed in boxes and my combs stashed with shoes, clothes buried under toiletries and phone charger all but lost.

Because I was searching for an apartment to sleep in at 2 AM, blankets in hand, friend by side, giggles the only sound and the winds our long time companion!

Because my leg is cramping, hands typing and mind fogging!

Hope to have weirded you out by now,

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Please don’t ask ‘how are you’!