Saturday 29 December 2012

29 December . . .

On 29th of December, 2008, I knew the existence of this song from Eagles, the American band who captured many a heart with their number "Hotel California." Today, the title of this song vibrates within me as I prepare myself to welcome another year - Peaceful Easy Feeling indeed!

Hope you like this song.

"Peaceful Easy Feeling"

I like the way your sparkling earrings lay,
Against your skin, it's so brown.
And I wanna sleep with you in the desert tonight
With a billion stars all around.

'Cause I got a peaceful easy feeling,
And I know you won't let me down
'cause I'm already standing on the ground.

And I found out a long time ago
What a woman can do to your soul.
Oh, but she can't take you anyway,
You don't already know how to go.

And I got a peaceful easy feeling,
And I know you won't let me down
'cause I'm already standing on the ground.

I get this feeling I may know you as a lover and a friend.
But this voice keeps whispering in my other ear,
Tells me I may never see you again.

'cause I get a peaceful easy feeling
And I know you won't let me down
'cause I'm already standing...
I'm already standing...
Yes, I'm already standing on the ground
Oh, oh

Lyrics: Internet

Saturday 22 December 2012

The questions that niggled me after 'Life of Pi'

What is wrong with our culture is that it offers us an inaccurate conception of the self. It depicts the personal self as existing in competition with and in opposition to nature. [We fail to realise that] if we destroy our environment, we are destroying what is in fact our larger self. (Freya Matthew)

Watching the film is one thing and dealing with the questions that the film triggers is another. For me, films are another means to reflect and ponder. Well, I know that films for some, are only entertainment but for me even the entertainment paves way for some critical questions.

Even while reading the book, my mind was filled with an avalanche of questions about the role of man in the circle of life. If I take a minute and scan the media that attacks me from all corners, I can see that the human being is stamped everywhere. That the human is only a part of the web of life is nowhere to be seen or felt. The human being is the most important of all the species and it is his/her existence that matters. Well, these questions make the biopic Life of Pi important for me. This struggle between the human and the wild is what makes the narrative interesting. Couple of years ago, I read (I don't remember where exactly) that if the entire human race was taken out of the planet, nothing would alter but if the species of bees no longer existed, then the whole earth would face dire problems. Well, that is the exalted human for you!

I must mention my area of study - Ecocriticism, here. When I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Ecocriticism, I learnt that humans matter but not to the extent that I had imagined. It was but natural for me to imagine that the whole Universe revolved around the human species. I was sadly mistaken. I had never before thought that there would be another perspective - the other angle of seeing the human as just another specie in the food cycle.

It is for this reason that I cannot dismiss animals as species with 'only' five senses. If man/woman has six senses then that sixth sense is being perpetrated in doing the many things that are widely splashed all over the media today. If that is the sixth sense that we proudly proclaim to have been bestowed with, then I will be happy as a specie with that minus one sense.

With that one extra sense, we are creating havoc, glorifying it and unabashedly advertising it. When Pi's father tells Pi that what we see in the animal's eye is but an expression of ourselves, I thought he was quite true and pragmatic. We always like to see our projection of expression in others and other species. I don't negate that animals have their own sense of perception of relationships and all but at the same time I don't think that I can transfer my subjective feelings as the animal's. When Pi was battling Richard Parker in the vast and open ocean, he was exhibiting his true character - the constant struggle between two different species. It serves us fine to see animals in their cages - tame, placid and exotic but out in the wild, the scenario is a different one. It is these revelations that make the book by Martel a readable one for me. In the film, these aspects weren't captured in their entirety. It couldn't have been for these are questions and thoughts that are complex to be filmed and viewed. Perhaps these issues of realising the self were the questions that were also haunting Martel's mind.

When one realises that one is but a part of the entire system of life, one fails to attach the BIG self-importance to one's self. Wait, now don't get me wrong. I am no way talking about the love that one possesses for oneself! Well, this post was always meandering in my head after viewing the film and here I have tried to give the meanderings thoughts a coherent presentation.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this irrespective of whether you have read/watched Life of Pi.

Maybe I will leave you with this post until Christmas, so here's wishing you and yours a wonderful time of giving, sharing and loving.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Friday 21 December 2012

What if the world had ended today

Ever since the month of December had begun, some where or the other I had seen either posts or pictures about the world ending on 21/12/12. Well, writing a post on the D-day seemed exciting for it would give me some fodder to meander my thoughts and reflect on some vital questions about me and my life.

Whenever I see any post about the world ending, I would always stop to ask myself whether I was prepared to leave. I have also thought, 'What if the world was just ending as I was thinking about the world ending?' How would the end be, I wonder. Will the entire world just become ashes or will it be continent by continent. Somehow, I always think that the process of destruction will begin elsewhere but not in India. Like everyone, I imagine that the process can be delayed.

The thought of the world ending is not something new for a person who is born and brought up in a Christian household where Sunday-school becomes mandatory and Sunday-school teachers always harping on the fact that where would you want to go after you died. I was very scared when the teachers broached that topic, which would be invariably always. At the tender age of say, seven or eight, I had assumed that I was a bigger sinner than anyone else and that only hell was my final destination after I die. I would always be negotiating on the possibilities and pray, 'Please don't let me go to hell!'

Hell was nowhere when I started College. I was quite fascinated by the saying which adorns many a faded Tee shirt and quotable quotes for students - "Good girls go to heaven; bad girls go everywhere." I loved travelling and hence with a fierce mind started associating hell with excitement and fun. After all, one thinks that one is footloose and fancy free when in College. Whatever, I didn't want a destination in heaven.

Well, coming back to the world ending today, I would say that I would be glad to leave for I seem content and happy in my present state of mind. There are many things that I would have liked to do but they don't seem very important if the world is to end today.

What are your thoughts on this? I have already got the gut feeling that the world wouldn't end anytime soon but some of my friends ask me to wait till the clock strikes 12 tonight for that is the time the prediction time-frame ends. Why wait when I have better plans. See you on the other side of the date. Until then, be happy and sane.

Image: Internet

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Why I stopped reading Ayn Rand

Some books change your life . . .
On hindsight you discover that the book has changed you for worse. But while reading the book, one doesn't realise that the change has already begun within unbeknown to you.

After lofty recommendations from friends, teachers and local librarian, I set my hands on my first Ayn Rand book - The Fountainhead. Like everyone who raves and rants about the book, I had my share as well. Howard Roark was the epitome of everything ambitious, passionate and superior grit. I was floating in the cloud of pride that unites Ayn Rand readers, more so Howard Roark admirers. Well, I starved for more of Rand's books - I started reading Atlas Shrugged. Same sentiments followed. I was glued and had the potential of becoming a Rand fanatic - her arguments became mine. She possessed my thinking and gradually the 'I' in me became rather pronounced.

I continued reading Rand and slowly I started reading her philosophy of life. Two years passed by. I was haughty. In 2009, I started reading We the Living. As the book progressed, I was getting restive. Selfishness was romanticised and individualism was the only thing that mattered to Rand. Parallely, I also started reading the biography of Ayn Rand. The more pages I completed in We the Living, the more I started becoming disillusioned by the characters' selfish demeanour especially the character of Kira Argounova.

Kira's high form of individualism was appalling. I realise that the self is important but not to the extent of manipulating the lives of others. Tenderness and compassion was something that the characters never showed and if they did display those emotions, it was as a tool to achieve something. I found that sinister and cruel. Perhaps the conditions in my life at that point of time swerved my judgment of Ayn Rand. But that was it. I knew that if I read her further, I would grow to be a cold and heartless woman whose only ambition in life was being superior in reason and self. I stopped reading Rand. And to this day, haven't ventured anywhere near her books.

If Rand read this post, she would have called me a chicken and a pretender but my decision wouldn't have changed.

Now, if you think that this is too much for a book - I would say, 'Don't undermine the power of a book,' for you don't know how it will alter your perceptions and perspectives.

And to all those Ayn Rand lovers and followers, no offense. You are welcome to challenge me in the comments' section. Hope to meet you there.

Have you stopped reading any author simply for the reason that the toxicity was smothering you? I will be glad to hear your stories.

Image 1: Internet

Monday 17 December 2012

What Chennai Means To Me

This post is part of the blog tag titled, The CBC Tablog where CBC stands for Chennai Bloggers Club. About 37 bloggers from Chennai are participating in this blog tag where everyone will write about their favourite city Chennai and what it means to them. So here's my post for the CBC tablog titled, What Chennai Means To Me.

I came to Madras in 1989. I was about 9 years and seven months old. I didn't want to leave the city where my formative years were spent - Bombay. I still vividly remember that I cried and cried and pleaded with my dad that we should not go to Madras or rather we should not leave Bombay.


Madras or Chennai slowly became my home even though I didn't particularly like the place. We both grew with each other. I fell in and out of love many times in this city. Madras gradually grew from a place with only roads to a city of long fly-overs. Many of my firsts are associated with this place which I fondly cherish. I never let any opportunity to compare the city with Bombay, go past me. I always defended Bombay whenever there was a discussion between cities. Inspite of living in Madras/Chennai, I dreamt of Bombay and the life there. I never reconciled that I was a resident of Chennai.


There came a time when I had an opportunity to leave Chennai and shift to another place for work. I was glad to move out of the city. Even then, it didn't matter that my family, friends and other interests were in Chennai. I was happy for two whole years in the other place, coming to Chennai only during vacation breaks. Chennai was still a surrogate city. It was 2006, eighteen years in Chennai but still the city did not fascinate me at all.


Then I got married. I left Chennai, coming only for a few days or so. Now my mother's house was in Chennai. After getting married, you don't say, 'My house is in Chennai' rather it is, 'My mother's house!' Slowly the idea of my mother's house and Chennai became synonymous. Whenever I came to Chennai, it was always early morning when I arrived, I started seeing the city differently. I don't know whether it was the early morning's aura or my nostalgia soaked visits. The coolness of the air when I travelled from Tambaram to my place was magical. I yearned for that magic always. It was bliss. So far, I had always felt restless about home. But whenever I visited Chennai after my departure from there, it seemed that I had come home. This feeling was absent in 2006 when I was working outside Chennai. I started longing for the small pleasures of Chennai like the crowd in T. Nagar, the colour or Express Avenue, the smell of the bazaars, the posters on the walls, the Gemini fly-over and so on. Whenever we went shopping, I looked at the city with an intention of taking in much so that I could preserve for later use when I'm away from it. I started collecting memories of Chennai and pickled old and new memories together with the preservative of smells, sights and sounds.


Today, I am far away from Chennai and family. I realise that I had lost many years by being in a trance about the then Bombay and now Mumbai. The Bombay that I know is but a memory that is very very old and maybe I won't recognise the new Mumbai but Chennai isn't so. I don't know 50% of the places in Chennai but I know what I want to know - my home and places that matter to me.

It's very rare that I get to write about places in back-to-back posts and that too about Chennai of all.

This post will be succeeded by Anne John who blogs at Abstract Admissions, who calls herself an engineer in her past life and is an active member of Women's Web. Visit her blog to know more about her writings and passions.

The Chennai Bloggers Club Blog Tag has come full circle with Bhavana Nissima's post on Chennai today (01 Feb, 2013).

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet
Image 3: Internet

Thursday 6 December 2012

Travelling vs Living

When I say that I live in Goa, everyone gasps and sighs and thinks that it would be absolutely wonderful to live in a place where everyone goes for vacationing. Well, why not? After all the place is beautiful filled with beaches and lovely people. For a long time I had imagined how it would be to live in a place where everyone vacations and now the imagination has become a reality. Wow is the most cliched expression to Goa!

But seeing a place as tourist/traveller is a completely different perspective. A tourist does not stand in long queues, runs about for gas connections and feels that the heat is absolutely draining. Living in a place demands a removal from seeing the same place as a tourist destination. The vegetable markets which sells fresh vegetables are not seen by tourists unlike the one who dwells here. Beaches which are synonymous with Goa are not even seen where I live! But I know that there are beaches somewhere and I will get to see it soon. That promise of being surrounded by sea on all sides makes one feel glorious. But as a dweller, the taxi driver tells you that the sea around Goa makes it a humid place. He will not tell this to tourists. Sometimes I wonder whether the actual place or the imagination of a place makes a person go gaga. I guess it's a bit too early to comment. Every place, no matter a tourist destination or just another places has pluses and minuses which start raising its head slowly but I realise that I asked for it and so I will focus on the best this place has to offer.

I have always had a special relationship with places. I have either loved them or hated them. But as I grow older than what I was yesterday, I realise that perceptions change. One can hate a place and continue living there for certain things just cannot be changed. As time goes, the place and the individual grow together and both are part of one another even without realising the same. We form our own comfort zones - the domestic help, the vegetable seller, the milk-man, the newspaper vendor, the local market, the community around and others. I had a comfort zone in the place where I lived before and I terribly miss my domestic help - she knew my rhythms and I hers. We were just acquainted for about eight months and I had to depart. She called me yesterday and told me that I should be careful in a new place - people are not the same everywhere. She also asked me whether I had found a new help. I miss her.

As I begin my stay here, I am looking for the coordinates that will connect my comfort zones. Until the comfort zones are in place, I will be a restive dweller.

So, dear reader, how does relocation and new places work for you?

Love from Goa :)

Image: Internet

Thursday 29 November 2012

For the big man with a very tender heart

For a very long time, my blogger friend Mahesh Iyer who blogs at Memories has been pestering asking me to do a post on my favourite quotes. Finally I am at it. This post is for him - The big man with a very tender heart. This post is also a thank-you post for the wonderful readers of this blog. I cherish each and every one of you :)

"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson -
“Even boredom should be described with gusto. How many things are happening on a day when nothing happens?” 

- Wislawa Szymborska -
"Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity."

- Henry Van Dyke -
"Behind the facade of image and distraction, each person is an artist in this primal and inescapable sense. Each one of us is doomed and privileged to be an inner artist who carries and shapes a unique world."

- John O' Donohue -

"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Kindness that catches us by surprise brings out the best in our natures."

- Bob Kerrey -
"Try to make at least one person happy every day. If you cannot do a kind deed, speak a kind word. If you cannot speak a kind word, think a kind thought."

- Lawrence G. Lovasik -

"The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives."

- Anthony Robbins -

"Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

- Rainer Maria Rilke -

"Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don't want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone."

- Miller Williams -

"I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap."

- Ani DiFranco -

"When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too."

- Paulo Cohelo -

"Our life is composed greatly from dreams from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together."

- Anais Nin -

"Love leads us into mystery where no one can say what comes next, or how, or why."

- Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg -

"Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work."

- William Arthur Ward -

"The only way love can last a lifetime is if it's unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love."

- Stephen Kendrick -

"To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted."

- George Kneller -

Hope you liked these cherry-picked quotes, of which many have been posted to my Facebook wall. Please feel free to copy the quote that you liked and related to. I would be happy if you could add your own favourite quote in the comments' section. Mahesh, does this make you happy?

Image 1: Internet 
Image 2: Internet  
Image 3: Internet
Image 4: Internet
Image 5: Internet 

Thursday 22 November 2012

It takes thirty plus three and a few months

Some posts don't allow you to rest. They nag, demand attention, try to hijack the stray vacant minutes until you finally allow yourself to write what it dictates to you. The present post is like that.


Mothers are strange creatures. They seem to have super-human abilities, solutions to the mundane worries that threaten to sabotage the peace of the day, quick-fixes to flush out the extra salt from the food and a zillion other practical stuff. Inspite of doing all this, the smile on the face remains and the facial appointment is never ever skipped. Phew! I never realised all this until I got married. Marriage always turns everything upside-down, opined my friends in the days when I wasn't married. And, like every single woman who takes pride in brushing off nuggets of wisdom that comes with experience, I never was quite interested in tales of being married. But I did listen, out of respect and warmth that comes with friendship.

But the tales, which turned out to be hard core facts hit me hard once I got married. And, when I say hard core facts, I don't mean the 'space' problems that every modern couple like to rave about but the teeny weeny things that often go unnoticed but still have the ability to mar the smooth flowing of the day's rhythms. Like many individuals who read theory and start every argument with abundant dosages of feminist philosophies with an extra dash of attitude, I had my share of mother-bashing and other things which I will refrain from sharing. Today, I realised that my mother is quite practical and sensible when it comes to certain things. And, marriage being something that you learn on the job, nothing can prepare you for it except the marriage itself. No matter how much one reads, listens to experiential stories and watches videos by marriage experts, nothing will tell you about the last minute hassles, niggling doubts about the right way to go about something and other stuff.

I realised that no matter what, I can call my mother and she will have something to say that will make me think, "That's it?" Many times, we look for grand ideas and solutions forgetting that sometimes thinking simple does all the tricks. I never imagined that my mother had done so many things - juggling thoughts, schedules, house and work and other small stuff. I also realise that planning though is hyped over and over can never be executed most of times and one needs to have that small doubt that things can go kaput even with detailed planning. You plan the breakfast, lunch and sundry details for the next day and late at night friends drop in. The plan takes a turn but one has to do quick thinking. Sticking to plans then is absolutely absurd. My mother was doing all these things with elan and finesse. Who taught her? Her mother? I don't think so. She was married off very early. She learnt it on the job - by trial and error.

Now, today, after thirty years plus three and a few months, I come to wonder at the life my mother and most of the mothers live and continue living. The sense of balance, taking care of the family and the self, fixing last minute change of plans and accommodating changes in schedules of our mothers is just amazing. I regret those years when I did not get to know her and think along with her. Now when I run my own home and have my own set of burnt toast mornings, I marvel at the wonder of my mom.

This post is for her.

She might not get to know of this post, maybe she will, but this post is from the innermost depths of my married being :)

Wednesday 21 November 2012

I challenge you to get angry in style

Last night I was watching Casino Royale and reminiscing about the old Bond Sean Connery. Casino Royale is the only recent Bond movie I have seen. I haven't seen any of Brosnan's Bond flicks. Well, I am not here to enlighten you about my history of viewing Bond films but rather a completely unrelated subject which ticked me while watching Craig in action in Montenegro.

There is a scene where Bond seems to be losing money in the Casino and gets completely annoyed. He hurriedly goes to the bar and orders a drink. When the bartender asks him, "Shaken or Stirred?" Bond answers something like, "Whatever dammit" in a very angry and roguish tone. The most stylish and suave agent has lost his cool in a very unstylish manner. Well, that is what triggered this post. Can anyone manage to get angry and yet keep his/her style? While courting a prospective partner, one can be very stylish and wax eloquence but while getting angry, the elan is lost and the speech reveals the person. The same mouth that spouts words of love and verse in grace can curse with an equally strong passion.

One can be passionate about wearing make-up and of course can carry it well while eating, sleeping and even making love but when one gets angry, one just cannot take care whether the lipstick is swallowed while spitting out angry words and whether the hair-do is in place while literally boxing down the rival party.

Uncouth words, poisoned glances, banging the doors/utensils can never even be done in style. Come on, James Bond cannot do it, how can others even try doing so. Probably that's why anger is seen as a potent force that can destroy one's interior and exterior health.

Can you ever think of anyone who has gotten angry in style?

Image: Internet

Friday 16 November 2012

Stories on a plate

Meal times are usually conversation times, if one is at home and everyone else is also at home. Slowly the first mouthful is swallowed and the stories begin.

You know what happened yesterday . . .

Ears perk up and the mouthfuls become slow and steady. Sometimes, I find it extremely difficult to concentrate on the food and on the equally delicious talk. I love both to bits. Then to add a flavour from times of yore, my mother adds her bits to the conversation that was started by my sister. She adds colour and antiquity to the interesting string of stories. Me, being the teacher starts a string of related student stories.

The conversation flows.

The food slowly but surely finds its place in our tongues. We savour the flavours of the food and the talk.

The plate goes empty. The stories run.

The juices and the remains of the food are slowly polished off clean. The act of polishing serves a double-fold purpose: It cleans the plate and it prolongs the act of eating.

After the plates, it's the turn of the fingers. In between hearing stories that leave us asking for more, the fingers are licked clean. And I don't know why the remains of the food sticking on the plates and the hands are the tastiest bits. The chatter continues non-stop.

And, in a moment of brief silence, the first person who has had enough tries to get up. NOOOO. PLEEEAAASSSE, we protest. Don't get up to wash your hands. If you wash your hands, the mood and the chain of conversation will break. 

My mother always remarks, "The drier the hands get, the juicier the conversation gets."

The person eventually gets up. Ah, we lose interest. The conversation breaks off. The bits of food on the hands and the plate are viewed with distaste. The magic evaporates. We return to life and that is clearing the dishes away and washing them.

(I guess the same happens even while eating with forks, knives and spoons. But somehow for me, eating with spoons does not create the same magic. I have to use my hands and in the end lick them clean. Wow!)

What happens in your meal times while at home with family?

Image 1: Internet

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Where are the letters I wrote? Where are the letters that were written to me?

In a few weeks' time, I will have a new address. The feeling is mixed. How will my new address sound and will it have a nice ring to it? I hope you get the drift! Sometimes, addresses do have a nice ring, like say, Sugar Land, Texas or Palli Hill, Bandra or say, Poes Garden or even Lake Avenue. I could go on about sweet sounding addresses which sound nice and read nice. But however nice and sweet it may sound, it is sad that some addresses never receive letters promptly. Well, my letters are such and so are the letters written to me by dear friends. I have come to the conclusion that my address does not sound and read well because I have lost precious letters in transit. What happens to the lost letters, anyway?

Who benefits from my lost letters? Where are they? Are they struck in some old and rusty post-office or have they been dumped in some junkyard?

When I was about ten years old, there was a case in the newspaper which reported of a post-woman who bundled up all the letters and sunk them in the common water tank. Ah, what was wrong with her? How can she so mindlessly dump messages of love, success, failure, birth, death, wedding, crush and others into the water tank? When I think of my lost letters, I think of that post-woman. My beautiful purple ink would have been lost in water. Death of letters by water! I shudder to think of my letters meeting such a fate. That's about my letters. What about the letters that were posted to me? I am yet to receive five letters and they were written long ago, sometime in August or September. I took a conscious decision to avoid some friends on Facebook and communicate only through letters. Alas! I broke my self-imposed vow and inquired about the letters. The letters, they say, were posted long ago. Missing in Action/Transit?

Well, is someone savouring my letters? Are they reading it and throwing them away? I am not able to put my finger on any valid reason. Should I blame the inefficient postal system in India? As it is, the news is pretty stale when I receive the letter and yet I relish the joy of the letter but now that small joy has been snatched away from me. Where are the letters I wrote? Where are the letters that were written to me?

I believe that I am one of those rare species from another era who still writes (W.R.I.T.E.S) letters but everything seems against me.

And inspite of all, I am still an optimist one . . . perhaps another rare trait, in these days of pessimism and whining. I wait for my letters. And, please don't write any letters to me until I send you my new address.

Will you write to me and shall I reply.

Image: Internet

Sunday 11 November 2012

When I was trolled! Please excuse me Tolkien!

To be honest, I knew about the existence of the word 'troll' only after reading The Lord of the Rings by     J. R. R. Tolkien. The other times I came across this word was in Facebook where there are humourous pictures from a group/individual called 'Troll.' Well, I was in for a surprise when I received a text message from a dear friend saying that I had been trolled. "What the heck?" was my response as I was only thinking of Tolkien's trolls. I was not some nasty and stupid troll. Chances that I may be one cannot be dismissed but from middle-earth, certainly not! And then I realised that I was not a troll but there was someone who had trolled me. Get the drift?!

Cave Troll 
So what does this word 'Troll' mean? When I googled this word, I was dumb-folded to find that our Wiki has a page devoted to the word! Alas! my limited and ancient vocabulary did not register this word. I read on with interest and discovered many amusing facts about the word which is touted as 'internet lingo.' I have been using the internet for quite some time now but have never read about the 'troll' word. But what the internet does not have is the word, 'trolled' and so I am wondering if I can add to the already existing usage of the word. The Urban Dictionary defines the word thus:

The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue. Trolling doe not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn't count as trolling; it's just flaming, and isn't funny. Spam isn't trolling either; its pisses people off, but it's lame.

But what is interesting to me is whether I could connect the Urban Dictionary's definition of 'troll' to Tolkien's troll. Again referring to Wiki, Tolkien's troll is described thus:

Trolls are large humanoids of great strength and poor intellect.

Well, I definitely do see an obvious connection here ;) I will not go into details as you can gather them for yourselves.

You must be wondering as to what prompted this post. The title says it all, I was trolled and the one who trolled me was not a humanoid but a human who I believe, possesses great strength but poor intellect, in the norm of Tolkien's trolls but not from Middle Earth!

A new word is always useful, isn't it?

Image 1: Tolkien's Cave Troll - Internet
Image 2: Wiki Troll-face - Internet

Thursday 8 November 2012

Some interesting 'phone talk'

For a long time now, I have been steadily observing, rather listening to the words and phrases used by people while referring to missed calls and lost messages. I thought it would be fun to record some of them here and also request you to add to some of these hilarious usage of phrases.

Why didn't you lift the phone? (As if a phone call can be lifted! Hangover of the old telephones which were in use way back when land-line phones were the norm. They are still in use now but in limited households)

How many times I am calling, your phone doesn't pick calls (Has anyone heard of phones having an independent mind)

I saw missed call from you but I didn't call again. Why didn't you call? (Hello, if you see a missed call, you HAVE missed a call and so you have to call back. Duh!)

My tower is cut and I am not able to continue the conversation (Tower is cut?!?!? I think signal or reception is the word to be used)

My tower signal is going (Where is it going?)

Don't walk and talk, the tower will disappear (!!!!)

I am running behind tower to talk clearly (Well, do you have special running shoes?)

Why are you unreachable? Has your tower disappeared? (Missing tower complaint)

After the advent of mobile phones into our daily lives, new vocabulary relating to mobiles have appeared in our daily language. Being a person who is interested in language and its usage, I cannot but help being amused at some of the phrases that are used even by the most educated persons.

You are welcome to add to this list and also comment on them.

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Monday 5 November 2012

Please let that thought linger . . .

While praying, meditating or trying to concentrate, it is essential that the mind should be freed of clutter in the form of stray thoughts. Better said than done! Often while meditating, there is this one thought that I find so very difficult to let go.

When he strummed the guitar and sang that song, my heart leaped and all that I could manage was a smile. I wished that he could go on and on but then he stopped, looked into my eye and asked me to hum along with him which I couldn't do . . .

The thought doesn't stop. I coerce and beg and try all possible techniques, the thought remains so and starts weaving delicious notes that seduces me over and over.

The song was 'Alberta Alberta' by Eric Clapton. He sang and sang on and here I was breathless and dreamy . . .

Ah, I need to focus on my meditation. Another technique is: Let the thought have its way. But then, will the thought ever stop? 

The song has some wonderful lines such as, "Aint had no loving/ Since you've been gone." Well, it was Eric Clapton's voice but your face and your guitar that you purchased with your own money and not your father's.

While praying, the heart and mind are supposed to be in a state of meditating over the words that are heard. I remember a scene from the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where Jim Carrey does not want to erase some of the happier moments he spent with Kate Winslet and wants to preserve at least one memory. He does not want to let go. Similarly, I struggle hard to let go of that one thought in the form of someone's voice or tone and I try to cling on or rather it clings on to me, threatening to sabotage my prayer and meditation. I plead with the thought to release me.

I might have exaggerated a bit but thoughts are like wild horses, which can sometimes be quite hard to tame and if you are someone like me whose memories often surface with just a tune/glance/smell, then it's harder. Inspite of all that, I like praying and meditating. 

Tell me about how thoughts play havoc with you when you try to concentrate.

Image: Internet

Monday 29 October 2012

The sparks between an argument and an ego

This post is dedicated to all the academicians who appear scholarly and wise but let the wisdom fly out of the window (or door) when scholarly arguments arrive.

The past Friday and Saturday saw another successful conference organised by our University. But many a times, it is in these conferences that one can witness the sparks that fly between questions and egos which lead into many years of amusing relationship. So here's the saga of the famous courtship.

The academia has always been viewed as a place of knowledge and wise souls. I don't doubt the existence of knowledge in the academia but I certainly doubt the usage of the accumulated knowledge in the academia.  Shakespeare, in his brilliant plays reveals the many hues and shades of the human temperament in great detail. One might think that teaching Shakespeare will expose one to the follies and foibles of the human temperament and produce individuals who are purged of their petty whims and fancies. Alas! it is not so. There seems to be a strict demarcation between the taught and the lived (the living, in fact) experience.

Raising questions that argue the very nature of the argument is something that I dread. When something is pointed out to a paper-presenter, it is taken as a personal attack. Now, how do I differentiate to them that the criticism is nothing personal but only academic. Well, many have a problem with the word 'criticism' itself.   In spite of everything, I cannot stop asking questions :)

I believed that the church would always be an egalitarian place where fragile egos don't make an appearance but I was proven wrong. Now, even the word criticism is a word that spells potential danger. After getting disillusioned with the people in church, I thought the academia would be a better place than most other institutions. And, I am bitterly disappointed when I see the clamouring for important positions, the inability to handle questions that are directed at papers and the general temperance of threatening glances and words. After all, people are people - academicians or clergy.

So, the courtship between an argument and an ego begins at conferences and goes on until wisdom or time intervenes. Well, the sparks and the meeting can happen anywhere but this particular conference and also the last one I attended in Assam make me think that academia is a fertile place to court many fragile egos.

What do I ask of you, my reader. This time I refrain from prompting a question to direct your thoughts. I leave it to you to comment on any aspect of this post. 

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Love -- The Great Leveller

This post is a sort of reply to the crass comments, pictures and posts that flooded the social networking sites before and after the wedding of the famous Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Well, I don't care much about celebrities marrying or giving birth to children but the various posts, comments and pictures before and after their wedding prompted me to write this post.

For the ones who are in the dark, this is Mr. Khan's second wedding and there is an age-gap of about ten years between the couple. Many enlightened souls post pictures where Kareena is congratulating Saif on his  first wedding and he responding with a "Thank-you Beta" (beta is child in Hindi). This was quite insensitive as  it pokes fun on the wide age gap between the two. I ask, "So what?" When people can accept that Harrison Ford has married someone who is at least twenty-seven years younger than him, it is difficult to accept that Saif has married someone who is just ten years younger than him. Perhaps, Ford being a Western actor escapes the crude comments and remarks unlike Saif and Kareena who dwell on home turf! Well, don't people know that love is completely oblivious of age and other such meaningless things?

I happened to read a post two days ago, which is supposed to be a humourous take on the couple's wedding but to me it came across as very insensitive and unrefined. I am refraining to provide a link to the post as I don't think it's worthwhile to do so. The writer will not mind me providing a link to that post, but I do mind.

I can quote a dozen celebrities who have wide age gaps between them. I also came across comments on Facebook which admonished Saif for leaving his first wife. But what is your problem, I ask? I know that divorce is still a taboo in India but that does not make all divorcees 'bad.' The personal lives of celebrities have become knitted along with the non-celebrities' lives and hence as a community we become the moral police of their lives. Who are we to comment on them? Okay, I agree that gossip is a juicy fruit and not many can avoid it but to the extent of posting distasteful pictures and comments. No.

In fact, Saif has done something what our parents' generation has done -- marrying someone who is much younger. My mom and dad have a thirteen year age gap! I find that strange to think as I wonder how they related to one another. My friend says that her parents have an age gap of fifteen years. They got along well and my friend's father did not call his young wife 'child' or anything like that. If men were much older than the women they married, then it belongs to a custom which is commonplace in India (and also outside India), then why such hue and cry about Saif and Kareena!

All said and done, I wish them all the best with years of joy, togetherness and contentment.

So, do you think that age and love are connected?

Image: Internet

Monday 22 October 2012

When the blog anniversary slipped by . . .

The twelfth of October was my fourth blogoversary but as I was in Assam, it slipped away surreptitiously. I remembered the same but just had to suffice with a smile and a thought from the pages of memory. What if I hadn't written a post marking my milestone? What if I didn't celebrate the lovely passage of years with my fellow blogger friends? What if . . . Well, does anything change if I didn't write a post. No, it doesn't. That I had an anniversary is a fact. Isn't it?

Well, many so called important dates slip by without any big celebration or announcement but the importance associated with those days don't change. Now, what happens if we forget those days? Does anything change? If I miss my sister's anniversary, does anything change. My sister might think that I have forgotten in the humdrum of life but does that change anything for her. Minus the emotional feelings, nothing.

Are remembering dates all that important? A tricky question when it comes to women who like when dates are remembered. Remembering takes effort and that effort is caring, I presume. But inspite of all this, I think that remembering varies from person to person.

Now, you might wonder why is she writing so much about dates and memory when the fact is that she has missed her blogoversary :)

Okay, let me stop about dates and memory.

I must thank all of you for the wonderful journey and the experience you have given me during the years. Let's rise a toast for the fourth year! I would also like to leave the link of a few blogs that I have discovered this past year. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have:

Peter who blogs at Windgrove - Life on the Edge

Bhumika who blogs at Bhumika's Boudoir

Sandhya who blogs at Maradhi Manni

Dawn Sievers who blogs at Healing Morning

Astha who blogs at Butterflies and Hurricanes

Sumana who blogs at This & That

All said and done, I am happy about the progress of this blog and my readers who make me smile with gratitude.

Image 1: Internet
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Thursday 18 October 2012

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale its infinite variety

The title, of course is Shakespeare's but I have appropriated it to pay tribute to the evergreen and never failing to entertain, Tinkle. For those who did not grow up in India, Tinkle is our version of comic series that kept us engaged and amused through our summer holidays and other mundane days as well. And one can never be too old for picking a copy of Tinkle and smiling from ear to ear at the antics of Suppandi, Tantri the Mantri, Kalia the Crow, Kapish the Monkey, Shikari Shambu and reading many other tales, jokes and science facts. When I googled Tinkle, I was surprised and happy to find that they also have a website now. But with Tinkle, it was always the stories and not the author. Only later did I know that Anant Pai was the creative editor behind the book.

What is the USP of Tinkle and how did it manage to stay put inspite of the revolution created by the internet, cable TV and many other media? Well, I guess it's a mixture of simplicity and quick-read that manages to hold the reader's attention. Suppandi is a gullible half-wit who never fails to make one smile and sometimes even laugh. Through the entire span of me being a kid and growing into a woman of 33, Suppandi has never disappointed me. The Suppandi tales are not conceived by 'creative' professionals who sit in air-con rooms but children who send their contribution to the book. Sometimes even the name Suppandi makes me laugh out loud. Such is the charm of Suppandi.

I also immensely enjoy reading the folk-tales which are again sent by children across the country. The stories are delightful and always carry a lesson in the end. Most of them are happily ever after stories but still retain a  rustic charm and simplicity. The characters are quintessentially Indian and consist of Indian sensibilities and customs -- mostly characters from rural India which also include kings, queens, princes and lovely princesses.

Anant Pai (1929-2011), the father of Indian comics who started Tinkle
The witty tales of Birbal and Nasserudin Hodja make you nod in admiration for the proper use of common sense. Their prudence stands directly in contrast with Suppandi's folly and dumb mind. Those days, friends who sometimes did not understand what we conveyed were nick-named Suppandi!

Wisdom, ethics for living and answers about the unknown working of the Universe and its mysteries were the staple diet doled out by Tinkle in every one of its issues. Moreover, our parents never objected us reading the comic book and sometimes they themselves enjoyed reading an issue now and then, when time permitted. Parental guidance and regulations were not needed while one indulged in the stories and articles in Tinkle.

Well, I can go on and on about Tinkle and its charm on me but how did I arrive at this topic. I picked up few copies of the book while on the train from a man who was selling them when the train was slowly trudging through West Bengal. Tinkle has always been my faithful travel companion for a very long time now and my sister and I are aficionados of this wholesome treat. Whether I will outgrow Tinkle is a question I have asked myself many times but every time I postpone the answer, perhaps, knowing the answer only too well.

Have you read Tinkle? Is there something  local like Tinkle that you used to read or even read now?

Image 1: Internet
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Monday 8 October 2012

adding pages to my book of life

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” remarked St. Augustine and  he cannot be truer. On Saturday and Sunday, I had the good fortune of travelling through some places where the river Kaveri flows - the Delta regions. These places are in the news off late and among these disturbances, we travelled to some of these beautiful places where the water runs its course. This post will not not talk about the itinerary of the trip but will rather reflect on what travel actually does to the body and mind. It is common knowledge that going to a new place gives new perspectives and rejenuvates the senses. Is it the new place/people/air and the effect of a non-routine that gives the romance to travelling? The last two days I witnessed water and so much water along with the special flora and fauna that is peculiar to those places. I accompanied a group of students on their study-trip. These were the same students that I had taught last year and whose ways I was practically familiar with. But what happens in a trip is that one spends so much time with the same students in a different environment that they seem to be different individuals with diverse hues of personality shades. I could relate to every one of them in ways I hadn't done so before and there was a reckless spirit of abandon that one could not see in enclosed classroom walls. I wonder how new places bring newer aspects of old things and individuals. 

When we returned from the trip, a former colleague commented, "You are visiting the Delta when there are so many problems. Water is a problem and there is no water. And if there is no water, the Delta regions disappear." His thoughts were genuine but just because there are problems in the region, shouldn't there be a study tour? For this precise reason, I cannot be an activist. I am aware of the problems faced by people but somehow carrying placards and marching the streets is not my metier. 

The visit to the head of the rivers, Vettar and Vennar in Thenperambur was quite an experience. The water regulators were in action and it was just amazing to be there, hear the sound of the force of water, watch the multitude of fishes frolicking in the water and observe the birds esp cormorant, lesser pied kingfisher and heron swooping down to catch the fish. I could watch on forever. The students went mad when they beheld such beauty and were feverishly clicking away hoping to freeze memories which could be relished in the years to come. Normally, I would have detested the sounds of cameras (mobiles/SLRs/digital ones) for I would see them as interfering with my moments of bliss but as years are added to my existence, I realise that gathering memories is as vital as preserving them. These captured memories will later translate into stories and lived experience and no matter what they will remain etched. I also did my share of capturing memories through my modest phone. 

Walking by the Bay of Bengal after visiting Poompuhar and imagining how the river Kaveri would have flowed then and how trade would have flourished along the coastal areas transported me to a place centuries ago. I imagined me then as a resident of Puhar and belonging to the fishing community whose breath was salty and talk fishy (!!!). Some students were in deep contemplation. Perhaps they were also in the city of ancient Puhar bargaining the prices of fish and haranguing about the thrifty buyers!

Gradually, in the course of the journey, I began adding pages to my book of life as I learnt about the flora, fauna, trade, water regulating systems, rituals and other details of the places we visited. The sound of the gushing waters still echo in my ears and have added to my years. It was a lovely weekend, indeed.

While still recovering from the trip of the weekend, we have another trip planned for the next week to the north-eastern India for a conference. I will be away for two weeks, or so. Keep me in your thoughts as I present my paper. I will carry you with me as I sojourn the lovely terrains of the north-east. Be well. Be happy.

What does travel do to your spirits and body? I will be glad to read about your thoughts.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet
Image 3: Internet

Friday 5 October 2012

Are you on Facebook yet?

This morning while reading The Hindu, the headline "Facebook . . . one billion and counting" made me stop reading the paper. Why? I could not help but gush at the impact of Facebook on our lives. Well, for once I am going to ignore the ones who shout, "We are more often online and have forgotten real relationships." Even when I wrote a post on "How personal the virtual can become?" I did not fully wonder at the idea of Facebook. Now, how this sudden change, you might be coerced to wonder. Well, I have ample reasons to be. Read on and nod ;)

One, I spend most of my time on Facebook, interacting with several like-minded individuals who offer support, courage and excellent advice on anything under the sun. There are many groups in which I can discuss any random topic and not be judged. If someone likes it, they will respond otherwise they will just be silent observers. Well, in real life I cannot even think discussing some of the wild topics that I have discussed in these groups. It is just the freedom of speech that these groups provide that enable me to passionately discuss diverse taboo topics.

Second, on a grim day when one is seriously working and opens Facebook for some time, there are the funny messages that colour the home page. These messages instantly bring a smile and sometimes even laughter! I just love that burst of energy during odd times of the day. here I must mention my blogger friend Janaki who posts the most hilarious messages and forces me to break into laughter. On duller days, her inspirational messages have uplifted me up many a time. Tell me where else can one find all these things together in one package. Can a real friend, no matter how close make you laugh/smile/uplift you at the odd hours of your 'under the weather' times? Maybe yes but not always (Please don't think that I am substituting FB for people. It the people in FB who make the journey worthwhile).

A screen shot of Janaki's Facebook humour :)

Three, the amount of knowledge one gains by reading the various quotes, random videos and new items posted on a friend's wall is quite huge. And we can get all this for free even when we don't expect them. A quote about giving, a video about Noam Chomsky, a blog which discusses Fibromyalgia (I didn't even know what it was before this post by Corinne).

Four, my love of cooking is given colour and expertise by the many recipes that are posted by fellow bloggers and friends. Thanks to them, now I never have a grey moment in my kitchen.

Five, old songs are resurrected when I snatch a quick moment. Karen see to it that she picks some good old country music and posts it for us to jive and jazz (in our minds, of course).

I can go on and on about the various brownie points of Facebook and how glad that I am to be a part of it. Of course, there are many privacy issues, time-consuming tales, and other such but today I am happy happy to be part of this network. Ah, I forgot that I have also met wonderful new people through this space. I get the power to know people through their interests and posts and then connect with them (this happens in the old style ofcourse, right?).

Well, so what keeps you going with Facebook inspite of the many issues? Are you on Facebook?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

You might want to check this post by Shilpa Garg for an exactly opposite take on this post.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Sometimes I wish . . .

For the first time, in my four years of blogging, I am participating in a blog event - Blog Tag . . . You're it - a blogging chain event where lovely bloggers from 28 countries around the world are writing on one topic, Sometimes I wish . . .

This post was preceded by Ron Reed, who actually blogs but has titled his blog, IF I HAD A BLOG! He is a very soulful and deep writer who leaves insightful comments whenever he visits your blog. I am glad to be succeeding him in this event.

Sometimes I wish . . .

Having been given to extreme flights of fantasy and day-dreaming, I should mention that I have sometimes wished that I could be given the power of becoming invisible when I choose to be. I could listen in during conversations and hear what moves people, what turns them on, what irritates them and what makes them live the lives they are living.

Being invisible, I would be able to traverse boundaries and mountains without the hassles of visa and money, like Dave so eloquently mentioned in his post. I would sneak into kitchens and discover the secrets behind seductive-looking recipes and steal the cellars for the oldest red wine.

I wouldn't need the trappings of clothes, make-up, bags and shoes to live a life and I would be glad to leave them unattended. 

Being invisible, I can escape without being captured by any camera which I detest and I could enter closed security doors without being detected and change the papers of policy-makers wherever necessary.

I could use the power of being invisible to bring smiles and joy to anyone who is in need of them by giving them surprises when they least expect it.

And, finally, I could sleep perched across a treetop blessed by the touch of dew or in Johnny Depp's home without being traced! What a life that would be! 

This is a wish that has sustained me during many of my vacant hours right from my childhood till date and this wish will always remain a wish. Though the acts that I could have done have changed from time to time, the desire to become invisible has always remained :)

This post will be succeeded by Suzy who blogs at Someday Somewhere. Whenever I land at her place, I start humming the song "Someday . . .," by the cheesy MLTR. Suzy who loves travelling and photographing was born in India and has spent some time in India and during that time fell in love with Bollywood and the many colours of India, some of which are showcased in her blog time to time. Stop by her place for some colour, fun and some interesting stuff from her collection of memories.

Image: Internet 


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