Tag Archives: ramblings

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!
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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!

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!

Dog weds Goat.

(Not fake news!)

I am angry. Seething with anger, if I may so until I go on to the next news piece which arouses the same emotion in me. This probably has something to do with the click bait theories and algorithms being run by all social media outlets and even news agencies these days – all that they wish to do is get a response from us, mostly in the form of outrage, or surprise, or any sort of reaction. So here goes mine.

I understand not celebrating Valentine’s Day. A lot of people consider it a commercial gimmick, which it is, and they do not want to succumb to it. There are others who call out a day of love as unnecessarily famed, because they treat all days with love. Then there will be people who think a Western concept has no place to hold in a country like India, a concoction of cultures in itself. What I don’t understand is marrying a dog to a goat as a mark of protest against V-day?! What on Earth were you thinking? And this was not a thought which crossed across only one person’s mind. There were several others who agreed with the perpetrator of the idea and that led to a group protest, a mass protest more like.

What’s more – the media reported it, social media sites lapped it up and then like every action has an equal and opposite reaction, there came a protest group protesting against these protesters and filed a divorce petition for the marriage of A DOG AND A GOAT!!!

I am not even making this up. I don’t think I am this creative! I am just stating the facts as reported in the news.

My questions, the ones just off the mind would be – was the marriage even registered in the first place? And who really married them? And as per Hindu rituals, Islam or Christianity? And who’s going to be hearing the petition and awarding a divorce?

Also, did anyone care to ask the Dog and Goat if they want a divorce, because we in India sure as hell don’t ask if they wanted to get married!

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Graciously Yours!

 

A Blocked 2018. (As Yet)

It happened! It was inevitable. Some day or the other I was bound to be in its clutches. Now I know when my friend says she’s zoned out or that she can’t put pen to paper.

I have the the writer’s block! I can’t seem to get to writing. But I wanted to take a break from taking a break at the blog now! So here I am blabbering about a blocked me. At least, you’d know I am still alive and well, which I am.

Anyone knows how to get rid of the writer’s block?

All help is appreciated!

Graciously Yours!

A rant on pockets.

Fundamental question coming up!

Be pre-warned that this has nothing to do with feminism or being a snob.

How many of you men have been shopping with women – your friends, sister, girlfriend, mother or to purchase gifts for your friend’s female friends? Whether you have or haven’t, not many of you must have noticed the stark contrast between the number of pockets a woman’s attire lacks versus the deluge of pockets in a man’s attire.

While shopping, we women have a lot of options to choose from. Let’s say I want to buy a pair of bottoms. My options begin from jeans, jeggings, shorts, trousers, capris, plazzos, harem pants, jogger pants, mini skirts, midis, maxis and these are just the western wear section, without going to the different fit styles available.

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But most of the time the options haven’t really met my expectations in terms of one simple thing – pockets.

Why don’t my clothes have pockets?!

I have had to purchase trousers without pockets because apart from that one lacunae they fit really well. I have erroneously purchased plazzos which only had a pocket seam but no actual pocket! My jeans are such snug fits but with pockets large enough to only accommodate half the size of an average 5 inch screen smartphone.

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Our kurtas don’t have pockets, neither do the dresses we wear. Skirts are out of the question when it comes to pockets and even the wallets we have are crammed with things because who’s heard of compartments? It is so inconvenient to be carrying your cash, cards, phone and other essentials in a separate pouch, when men can simply fill it all in their pockets and roam handsfree. On one hand, we women have so many options but barely practical while men seem to be comfortably carrying on with tradition. The most common men’s wallet designs have barely evolved since the 1950’s, it seems.

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I don’t say all brands are an issue. But most brands are!

It’s peculiar. Men’s fashion lacks creativity. Women’s lack comfort.

Graciously Yours!

From home to away.

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A week off from work means going home and then away from home again. Home always is special but the day, when thanks to tech advancement, you are in both cities on the same day, when you leave home in the morning and are away by evening in another city, is the day the stark contrast between both hits you hard.

Back at home, I stayed 100 metres away from the kitchen and Mother was more than happy to feed me! Our domestic help whipped up my favourites, bringing food to the table for me every couple of hours. Her sole motto was to not let me feel even the slightest pang of hunger. Even on insistence to cook, Mother refused to let me enter the kitchen. Away though was a different scene altogether! Within two hours of stepping into our rented flat, I was cleaning the refrigerator with soap water and then stocking freshly bought vegetables in them. Our cook wasn’t turning up for the night and my flatmate, S and I were too tired to bother about even cooking Maggi!

Back home, well fed and humidity affected, we were ready to sleep by 9:30 PM itself, though I never did, because when else do you get to have late night chats snuggled beside the younger sister? On two occasions though, she’d slept off while I was recounting my stories! Wake up time was 7 AM, thanks to the Sun, Father, and my favourite radio jockey, RJ Praveen’s morning show. Away though, by 9:30 PM, dinner isn’t even ready, let alone thinking of sleep! Oh, but wake up time still is at 7 AM because someone’s gotta let the cook into the house.

Back at home, Dad knows I love fruits. So fruits are myriad and spread across the table to be eaten at different times of the day – sometimes even freshly cut. Fruits, here, however mean apples and bananas, which are few and far between, that too if we buy them on a one-off day. Oh and avocado on some days!

And considering I went home for Diwali, the spring cleaning time for the whole of India, there was a lot of cleaning, fixing and repairing to do, obviously! My mother made me a handyman, or a handywoman to be politically correct, where I sandpapered, primered and painted to complete pending repair on walls. Whereas here, even dusting once in a fortnight seems so tedious that we learn to live with the dust!

Back home, there’s family and friends too. Here, away from home, there’re friends who became family. Home or away – there’s none which is better or worse.

Graciously Yours!

Idea Courtesy : Ishita.

Calcutta Feels.

I was brought up in Calcutta. I lived for more than two decades in that city and I came to love it for its views, its vices, its pace, its charm, its tea stalls and the addas, its humidity and its rabindra sangeet. There were days I couldn’t stand the lethargy in the air. Then there were days I would choose that as the city I wanted to spend my life in forever.

But life happened and I moved to Bangalore. I still don’t belong to Bangalore though. Over time, I probably stopped thinking about belonging somewhere. It was just the work, the book, the blog, the friends, the outings. But what about the feeling that a city is yours, that you can see it even with your eyes closed, hear it even when you’re miles away from it? Well, I felt that again, after long!

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Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the city of joy calls for Calcuttans, Bengalis and non Bengalis to come together in all parts of the world. After office, we travelled across almost half the city to one of the famous puja pandals set up here. Bangalore traffic is omnipresent and it is always a sore sight. But traffic around the pandal was different. It was made up of people decked in glittering jewellery and shiny garb set aside specially for the Puja is Calcutta feels! The red big bindis come out of the vanity boxes, the backless cholis are back, the umbrellas open up even when it is just barely drizzling, the starched kurtas see the night after long and the Jadavpur University jholas which can carry anything from bananas, water bottles, wallets and even a pair of spare shoes, maybe! I was staring at a mini Calcutta in Bangalore. My Calcutta.

Calcutta has makeshift pandals which boast of our creativity, culture, imagination and these days the latest social causes and trends. This one was none of that, with the idol being placed inside the permanent structure of a convention centre and the grounds turned into an exhibition venue with stalls of books, food and clothes lined up. I even caught a stall of German schools you can send your kids to. So Bangalore-ish!

But this was also all of that. The grounds were filled with advertisement banners – Calcutta brands like our beloved Presidency University, P.C. Chandra Jewelers, Aaj Kal and none other than Sourav Ganguly staring out of the posters at you, wishing you a happy Puja! The Daadus were carrying their grandchildren in their arms, showing them the fanfare of the Durga, the siblings twinning, the mothers dressed as festively as their daughters, live band performances to Kishore Da tunes and the Durga herself.

In that moment when I laid my eyes on the idol of the Durga, I could not ask for anything more. My heart was so full of love and happiness, it rushed out rolling down as tears from my eyes. I guess that’s what they call the power of the Divine. It brings out what you didn’t know you had in you, the best of you, the real you.

I am happy here but I also miss my city. And I know I still belong there. No matter where I live, even if I start loving another city, I will always belong to Calcutta. Calcutta feels abound!

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Thank you A. For dragging me along. You saw in me what I couldn’t.

Surviving the horrors!

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Coming up is a survival guide if you are being forced to sit through a horror film on the 70 mm film on cinema screens. For those of you bold and brave people out there who stepped into the halls knowing your dreams might not be as pleasant in the nights to come, I have put together a list of life hacks to, well, make life simpler. Isn’t that what life hacks do? Also, I have specifically picked up cinema halls because at home, you have a way out that is not 100 metres away shining in bright red reading ‘EXIT’, devilishly grinning at you while you sit crouched in fear as people scream and shout for their lives on the screen. Not that I was sitting crouched in fear. Anyway, let’s get to the point.

And the point is, or the points are:

  • Help comes from above:

Have you ever noted what the ceiling of a cinema hall looks like? When we go to museums, temples, mosques, churches, palaces or even when in the open, we look ceiling-wards or skyward to opine about the place. But why not a movie theatre? Well, for starters, obviously because you don’t go to admire the interiors of the theatre but the quality of their audio and visual. I get it. But you should try looking up too, you know? I did and I ended up counting 13 rows and 24 columns of tiles. At least. While the film was playing. It was difficult counting with the play of light on the ceiling. So rest assured, I spent a good amount of time not looking at the screen, while Annabelle Creations was being played.

  • Friend in need:

Always, and I am telling you this very seriously, always go with someone who’s worse than you at watching horror films, who screams at the drop of a hat or well, knife here, who jumps at every turn the protagonist takes, who bites their nails or digs them into the neighbour’s arm! That way the limelight is on them and their rather audible gasps and you leave unscathed from being the butt of jokes in your friend circle!

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  • Know-it-alls aren’t shy:

Keep your eyes closed if you want, but your ears open. There will always be one of those know-it-alls in the audience who will try to predict out loud what happens next and sometimes they’re correct too, being experts having watched way too many horror films over the years. That way you’re prepared for what all might happen next and your heart doesn’t jump into your throat at times odd and even.

  • Scope how you cope:

What’s your coping mechanism when fear settles in? Fight or flight? Well, reality check. Here, both won’t work. You can neither fight or flight. So what could work? Laughter! I picked up random scenes and separated them from the context – voila, the comments were such that my friend was in splits while the rest of the hall was intensely silent. One such chain of thought : Talking to myself, Tune out the audio, girl. That is what is scaring you. Tune out… Tune out… Auto tune… Shirley Sethia. And friend is in spilts. Google ‘auto tune and Shirley Sethia’. You’ll know what I mean.

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  • Phone a friend:

And if nothing else works, then whip out your phone, dim screen brightness, make sure it is on silent and start browsing through the multiple apps which have reduced our attention span, narrowed our world view while expanding our reach worldwide, update your interests on FaceBook, add a few snapchats in the dark, use some Instagram filters. Or like me, SMS (yes, it still exists) another friend sitting three seats away who was complaining about the film being boring! Boring would be the last thing I would call the film. I wonder what he’s made of.

These are my life hacks. What are yours?

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Want more life hacks? Tell me the topic in your mind and I’ll work on it for you. 😉

Why ‘Outspoken’?

The word that is doing the rounds in most of my social media accounts and now here too – ‘Outspoken’! The name of our team’s in-house public speaking forum at work.

Three weeks of effort, bonding with friends over brain wrecking sessions, hours of script editing, listening to audio recordings of speech practices at the oddest hours, reaching work early, leaving for home late – it became a habit.

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Oh shoot. Why did we begin this? Breathe, breathe.

The fright of the stage, fear of performing sub par, worrying about being a nerve wreck – not for myself, but for others. All of it so that the other people I know also feel the rush of confidence on the stage I’d once felt.

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Who’s backing out now? Will anyone even come?

Last week, I wrote about the event (a meeting for an audience of more than 80 people – we wanted bigger, better, grander) coming up. This week we are done with it. Not only did we manage to create joyous ripples of success but even five days after the event, mention of it creeps up in conversations.

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We didn’t know either we’d be so good, but thanks!

I’ve been thinking for a while now about why the event mattered so much to me. It took a lot of space on my already full plate. My manuscript editing got hampered, my work hours stretched into my sleep hours, I forgot to eat on time, I was hardly being able to compartmentalize and prioritize and these are all things that really matter to me! Then why? I thought about it – a lot. I tried explaining myself to people in a lot of fancy ways. But it is time to come clean. I have always been afraid of public speaking. I still am. I still fear I will fall short of content, or blabber too much, mostly about Elon Musk, or if I will have cold hands. Thankfully, shaking knees got chucked out of the window over the months. So yes, this is me. But I took my chances. I got pushed by a couple of people, they know well who they are, and I realized I could be less nervous and more confident. It dawned on me that with time, I could be the one addressing an audience. And I wanted the others to see, know, feel and acknowledge exactly what they and I had been missing out on for most part of our lives – the chance to let go of the fear.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the lives of people around me. This lets me make a difference in mine through theirs. With you, I too get better. With you, I laugh. With you, I cry. With you, I walk the talk.

And that is exactly why I did it.

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Can’t stop dancing the happy dance!

Graciously Yours!