Saturday, 28 September 2013

City love

When you're happening to travel alone in an auto . . . oops, metered Chennai auto from Egmore to home, which is quite a distance of 16kms, your auto meanders through many flyovers and you get to see a wonderful city bathed in the lights of the numerous street lights that illuminate the roads. It was about 9. 45 pm and with no one to converse, brushed by the gentle breeze of the night, I fell in love with Chennai all over again. I craned my eyes to see beneath the flyovers if the auto was driving above a road and tried to look above and side ways if the auto travelled beneath a flyover. Cities look beautiful at night, especially Chennai with wide roads and multiple lights of different hues - I could soak in those sights like a love-lorn lover or a love-sick poet. The heat and dry humid wind of the day time does not evoke such love unless one is so stricken by the city that even the heat is exalted. I think I like to be a realist here. The gliding Government buses, bikes with couples, cars with hurrying families or singletons blasting radios while casting a stray lingering look at the passing by woman/man sitting in the pillion or auto-rickshaws getting back home after a tiring day -- everything presents a lovely sight. Parallel to these sights, I also imagine the Chennai when I was a regular on those roads, mindless of the heat and sweat and always walking purposefully and never once glanced a loving glance at the city.

This gush of love first began showing its streaks when I started reading the post, "Those girls on Mount Road" by Snigdha Manickavel which was shared recently on Facebook by Jothi Vel Moorthy. I could relate with that writer's perspective on Chennai and tender feelings of joy started taking wings within me and I wanted to reach out to all the places in Chennai that I have known and loved - The place where I went to school lazily walking about on the roads and sharing love notes and class gossips; the bus-stop where I drank Panneer soda; British Council of the early 2000s; WCC and MCC . . . There are many such places.

While reading Manickavel's post, I also remembered another article that I read a day ago in The Economic Times where a certain French writer, Bennet Voyles in his article, "Paris is not Paree anymore; outshined by London, New York" laments that Paris has lost all the seemingly French traits and that London is more French than Paris! He lists many points that were quintessentially French but now is no longer seen in Paris. Can a city every lose the traits that made it, I wondered. Can Chennai ever lose its peculiar traits. It might, otherwise there wouldn't be so many complaining that Chennai is not the same Madras anymore. Will a day come when the spirit of Chennai will be seen only in blog posts and Madras Muthiah's articles, I wonder. But what is this spirit of Chennai that so defines this city -- Is it the healthy idli-dosa-sambar-chutney or the magic tunes of December Festival or the safety factor that makes women fearless on the roads even at 11 pm or 12 pm or the balance between tradition and modernity or the connectivity of the city or just the feel of being in a relatively calm and secure place. I cannot put my finger on any one point.

Well, I just hope Chennai doesn't lose its peculiar Chennai flavour like Paris! Inspite of everything, every time I return to Chennai, I see so many additions to this place and those additions please and irritate me as and how my mood commands but last night while travelling home in that auto, every single sight was being taken in by me as aspects of that city which I have grown to love gradually and all those sights spelt - 'This is home!'

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Some ingenious ways to practice mindful eating

You have seen it splashed all over Facebook, Twitter and many interactive social media sites - That one has to be aware and practice mindfulness. Let's first dissect mindful eating in a few easy steps. I can completely relate with you when you have the urgent impulse to check your Facebook status or that beep in your mobile phone when you are enjoying rather involuntarily eating a meal. You can enjoy only when you are aware! So, here are some ways you can be conscious of what you're eating and savour every morsel of what goes inside.

1. Seek assistance from your sibling/child/ spouse or parent to box you on either your left or right cheek so that it is painful for you to eat fast.

2. If you're upto it, you can slap yourself hard in such a manner that you cannot open your mouth to the fullest possible thereby taking smaller shares of food and chewing them consciously such that you don't pain the jaw further.

3. If by any chance, you got a toothache and you are unable to multitask for the fear of upsetting your sore tooth, there are chances that you will learn the fine art of savouring each morsel that goes inside.

Jokes apart, I am a conscious practitioner of mindful eating since meal-times are a lovely fellowship time with family and also a fine way of nourishing the body and mind. But even without any urgent impulses like checking mobiles and Facebook, I tend to eat fast and thus finish my meal rather quickly. For the past two days, I'm having a severe toothache which has given me no choice but to eat very slowly and take in smaller shares of food. I find this exercise very useful and inspite of the pain, I'm learning some vital lessons in mindful slow eating and enjoying every single mouthful.

Do you eat mindfully?  Do you need any assistance with the hammer and boxing your cheek, you can count on me!

For a meaningful post on mindful eating, see Corinne's post titled, The 7 Practices of Mindful Eating or else you can choose to hammer your cheek!

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Call me by my name!

After a little while, say when you're 30 plus or so, you don't often get called by your name. The result is that you hear your name very less often than before. Your husband, mom and sister have their own favourite names to call you which does not remotely bear semblance to your given name! Today I was ecstatic when I went to the dentist's. I spelled my name for the receptionist and lingered on when I pronounced Deborah . . . I like the ring of De . . . bo . . . rah! It so happens that no one uses my second half name quite often except few, namely Aswathi Jerome, who uses the same to address me in chats and text messages. She also loves the name, as much as I do and more than once, she has reminded me that I have a lovely second half of my name!

More than the name, I like the wee history behind the real Deborah. She was a prophetess and a singer and led Israel to victory. She also happens to be the only female judge mentioned in the Bible. Now, isn't that wonderful. And being a judge, she would have been represented with the balancing scales which is incidentally the symbol of Libra, my sun-sign. I am acutely aware of different connections and somehow try to relate the same to me and my life. Well, let me get back to calling me by my name!

The calling of one's name brings many additional aspects to it - The sound: Not many can get the name right and the way it's pronounced. When someone calls the name in a lovely manner, I feel like asking them to call me once more. The sad part is that the name is not an Indian one but has been indianised by many and I cannot blame them. Names are great conversation starters and I just need an inkling to set me going on and on about my name. Sometimes I try to recreate Deborah of the Old Testament and imagine how she would have tackled the various challenges of her times. The name Deborah in Hebrew means a bee and my first name Susan, means a Lillie flower. I don't know whether my parents intentionally united the flower and the bee but still it works out well in unison.

So much so for my name. Will you call me Deborah? Do you like your name and do people call you by your name?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Of witches, japnis, power and chakras

They say, 'Don't judge a book by its cover' and yours truly has vehemently given her piece of mind to many who were guilty of the same but alas! yours truly was also guilty of committing that heinous crime.

Looking at the cover page of Chakra: Chronicles of the Witch Way, I had naively assumed that this would be another story of mysterious grey eyes and a lovesick man who is haunted by the grey eyes until he finds them, beds them and then finally marries them (here, "them" refers to the grey eyes which is synonymous with the woman who possesses them). And boy, was I pleasantly surprised when I started reading the book and was quite glad that I did  not go by the first impression of the cover page. Now, after having completed reading the book by Ritu Lalit, I can admire the cover page. Mind you, I just looked at the eyes while gazing at the cover page - the other details like the writing on the page was completely out of my vision range. Talk of selective vision!

Another reason I ordered the book is because it is authored by a sharp-witted, wickedly humourous and lovely Facebook friend, Ritu Lalit. I have known her for over a year now and hence was curious to read something written by her. And Chakra happens to be her third book. I can now proudly say that she has not disappointed me. If one has been familiar with the Indian writing trend that has been doled out in recent times, except for some, the majority of writers dish out tales that are often rehashes of the same old sappy romances, rebounds, divorces, coming-of-age and so on. In recent times, except for the Shiva trilogy, one cannot even remember any book that made it to the so called 'Best-seller lists.' And the Shiva trilogy is inspired from the stories of Shiva albeit in a different packaging that appeals to the lay man. No new idea there. In the backdrop of this scenario, Chakra comes across as a refreshing and captivating read. Ritu's writing style which is racy and awesome makes the chronicle compelling and gripping.

Ritu, though digs into the ancient concepts of chakras and kundalinis, packages the entire plot in a modern setting that can be connected to the present scenario. She weaves a tale of witches who live in the normal modern setup and seldom use their powers unless forced to. So the witches here don't fly on broomsticks and have hideous noses as popular tales represent them but are sleek, foul-mouthed, caring, cook and clean and also eke out a living for themselves. In all ways the witches lead perfectly normal lives but within them rest enormous powers - physical as well as mental and so in a heightened state they can mind-read, levitate, move objects, work up a storm and do many other supernatural things. And along with the witches, the story also has men (read wizards but Ritu refrains from calling them so and refers to them as japas) who equal the power of the witches and are jean-sporting, long-haired hunks who possess brawn and brain in ample amounts.

The story revolves around powerful clans who are named after the elements and possess powers according to their elements. What is alluring about the book is that it the chronicles of the Witch way - powerful women who are capable of astounding feats. Most of the children in India grow up listening to stories of magic, gurus, gods, devis and many other supernatural powers. But most of these stories are every male-centric and the role of the woman, though commendable is not often the main focus. Ritu's saga though resembles the stories of yore has powerful women in the central roles and the action revolves around their lives and adventures. Inspite of being crazy and powerful witches, the women characters try to shrewdly defend against attacks from male chauvinistic barbs and acts. It is these points which delight the discerning reader. If the characters weren't witches or japas, they would be people like you and me living their ordinary lives with the burden of everyday routine.

The word 'witch' always has a very negative colouring, as perceived by many. Paulo Coelho's The Witch of Portobello is a book whose theme revolves around the return to goddess religion and energies. Ritu's book also falls along similar lines where the age is of powerful women - The witches. Though the story flows seamlessly, there seems to be many questions at the end of the narrative but thankfully Ritu assures her readers that the book is a trilogy and I let out a sigh of relief as I await the sequel which I hope will answer the questions left unanswered.

Ritu Lalit

Post Script: And one question that was and is still niggling my mind is: How does one become a Witch?

So do you enjoy stories of witches, wizards and magic realism? Who are your favourite authors and can you recommend any specific works?

Images sourced from Facebook.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Seven: Day 7 - 7 Offerings of Gratitude to Write Tribe

I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where nearly 82 bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day! Today is Day 7 and the last day.  

 Since today is the finale of the Festival of Words, I thought I will offer my gratitude to everyone who made this festival a beautiful one to cherish and treasure. So, here goes my Seven offerings of Gratitude.

1. To Write Tribe for organising this lovely festival which enabled me to dust the cobwebs of my blog and mind and charge ahead with the Sevens.

2. To my dear blogger buddy Corinne on whose wall I first saw the announcement for this Festival. I know that she and Write Tribe are synonymous but WT is a community and Corinne is an individual who also happens to be a good friend.

3. For all the kind souls who took time out from their routine to stop by my blog and jot down a few words on all the Seven days.

4. I came across some lovely blogs in this Festival and I'm glad to have stumbled across them in the Blogosphere.

5. To everyone who put together this Festival and slaved their grey cells to come up with ideas, suggestions and prepared the general guidelines of the Festival.

6. To my blogger pals who were not part of this Festival but showered their appreciation and encouragement on me.

7. And the cherry on the cake goes to my mind which did not play tantrums and decide to withdraw from the seven-day challenge. 

And so thus ends the swan song of Seven! Big hugs and lots of love to all of you who stopped by and dropped a line or two. I shall meet you by and by in the Blogland . . . until then, adieu and wellness.

Image: Internet

Friday, 6 September 2013

Seven: Day 6 - Seven dreams for India that I would like to see fulfilled in my life-time

Like any thinking citizen, there are some dreams that I have for India and I keep my fingers crossed hoping that the dreams will see fruition in my life-time. Hopefully. But then, it's a tall order. So here are seven, comprising of the base and sublime. 

1. A day when a woman can walk without fear in any part of the country and in any time of the day/night.

2. Cleanliness being followed by every single individual.

3. People who don't jump queues as if it was their birth-right.

4. The word 'corruption' to be completely wiped out of the dictionary of Government officials.

5. There should no discrimination based on caste, colour, creed or conditioning.

6. The local should get precedence over the global (read Mac, Starbucks, Cola, burger, clothes' brands and so on).

7. Academic selection should be based on merit and merit alone.

I bet you have many such dreams for your country. Do your dreams match with mine or do you have some more vital ones that can be added to the list?

I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where nearly 82 bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day! Today is Day 6.

PostScript: I am already beginning to miss the interaction by way of Write Tribe because today is the sixth day and tomorrow the lovely festival ends :(

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Seven: Day 5 - Seven smells that transport me to another time and day

Smells are an important aspect of memory and without smells there would be no memories opine scientists and boy, they cannot be more correct. How much often I try to avoid sentimentalising my past, some smells never let me rest -- they coerce me into mentally shifting into another time and day when a particular smell happened.

1. Smell of moth balls are not quite to my liking but a whiff of them sends me into the trunks and cupboards of houses we lived in and clothes we transferred from cupboards to suitcases. Moth balls are emissaries of nostalgia!

2. The fragrance of jasmine flowers always remind me of a time when I fought for flowers on my aunt's head. They also remind of markets where there were many shops lined which sold strands of jasmine flowers.

3. Freshly painted walls force me into a mental journey of places that were part of my memory - school buildings, shops, houses and public libraries.

4. Smell of newspapers transport me but I still can't pinpoint any special place. It just transports me!

5. The smell while passing by a bakery - The assortment of diverse pastries and savouries combine to send out a wonderful smell that immediately reminds me of school get-togethers in small bakeries and shops.

6. While sauteing onions, there is a lovely smell that wafts through the kitchen and immediately the mind conjures images of lovely food and always food leads one to vibrant and beautiful and not-so-beautiful memories.

7. Nail polish smell brings to mind the memory of other similar smells like that of petrol, fresh paint alongside incidents which formed an integral part of our lives some time ago!

I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where nearly 82 bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day! Today is Day 5.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Seven: Day 4 - Seven glowing stories that Blogging has given me

Every journey has a story or maybe sometimes stories and blogging is no different. The journey began in 2008 and since then there have been many wonderful stories that have made my blogging journey a treasure to cherish. I'm sure that all of you fellow bloggers also would have similar stories to share. Here are my favourite Seven.

1. Two bloggers who reached out from the virtual into the personal realm and have shared my agonies and accolades. I am yet to meet them but I already feel that I have known them forever. Aswathi and Corinne, thanks for being there.

2. They could have just gone without meeting me but they made it a point to call me and arrange a meeting even if it was for a brief time. I was happy to see the faces behind the names, comments and words. Janaki, Rachna and Sameera - words cannot express how wonderful it was meeting you for the first time. Talking of meeting bloggers, I was following the blog of a blogger based in Belfast and I did meet him when we went to Belfast, N. Ireland and before I left, he presented two beautiful books to me out of which one is about Seamus Heaney, the poet who recently passed on.

3. Some comment just to show that they were there in the blog, some comments say a hello but some are succinct and a blog post by themselves. Steveroni, Zuzana, Nevine and Dawn Sievers - how fortunate I am to read your words in my blog. Maybe you aren't as regular as you used to be but I fondly cherish those beautiful comments.

4. You followed my posts, fell in love with them and simultaneously fell in love with me as well. I cannot mention your name here but I did value your comments and ideas.

5. We started with blogs and carried on with hand-written letters. I treasure your words on the blog as well as on the lovely letters. Karishma, Aswathi, Brian, Prashanth, Sowmya, Aarti, Gitanjali, Bragadeesh, Sruti -- what beautiful stories you have sent me to be preserved. Thanks.

6. Once I was working on an academic paper, this was in 2009 when I was few months into blogging. I was working on some translated poems and the translation was done by a poet named Nirupama Dutt. Shortly after, I see a comment on my blog, from none other than Nirupama Dutt. After that comment, we corresponded through emails. Since it was my early days in the blog world, this incident excited me.

7. Once someone from a distant land wrote to me about the uncanny similarities between that individual's life and my posts. That note sent shivers through my spine because I couldn't imagine someone's life bearing similarities to my posts. That person wrote to me on the first day of the brand new year of 2013. Stories such as this one warm me but at the same time amuse and surprise me.

What are some of your blogging stories. Care to share?

I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where nearly 82 bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day! Today is Day 4.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Seven: Day 3 - Seven Blogs that I like to Visit


I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where nearly 82 bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day! Today is Day 3.

There are some blogs which resonate with us but either those bloggers write rarely or we seldom find time to visit their space and relish the posts. So, here are seven such blogs that I recommend.

1. Nevine Sultan - Dreams, Deliriums, and other Mind Talk
Nevine is a deep and soulful writer (I say writer because she is one!) who probes the inner crevices of the mindscape and brings out the visceral feelings beautifully. A wordsmith who strings beautiful words effortlessly and seamlessly is currently pursuing her Ph. D. in Psychology, a subject that befits her personality and writings.

2. Sylvian Patrick - Sylvianism
A marketing professional, Sylvian is passionate about films, social affairs and any controversial topic. Though he writes rarely, his posts have a fiery quality that leaves one thinking on various levels.

3. Karishma Kulkarni - Why is Everything Four
Karishma is a doctor-to be and she writes posts which are inquiring, fresh and so very tender. Through her posts, basic emotions are shared with syrupy nostalgia, tangerine memories and beautiful lines. I could stay on her blog forever!

4. Karen Xavier-Fernandez - Contemplations and Ruminations
Karen is a blogger like me. Her blog is a show-case of almost everything albeit with an intimate coating. A fan of country music and cooking, most of her posts discuss her current favourite artists and recipes that engage her.

5. Bhumika Anand - Boumika's Boudoir
Bhumika is a sensual, passionate and vibrant writer. Her posts border around love, lust, memories and unbridled passion in either succinct prose or neat verse. She empties her heart and soul in her posts. After reading her posts, I'm almost always overcome with strong emotion - happiness, sadness or both.

6. Ravi Kunjwal - Yet Another Horizon
A young research student, Ravi infuses his quest for life through questions, nostalgia and songs. I especially like his nostalgia posts - they leave me with a smile and mellow thoughts.

7. Ashwathy Nair - Dreaming in Metaphors
Ash is a keen photographer who exhibits her pictures with apt quotes. I started following her blog because she had a lovely name for her blog, "Dreaming in Metaphors." I wish I stopped by her blog regularly so that I could read fantastic quotes accompanied by equally wonderful pictures.

So these are seven out of the many fabulous blogs that I follow and try to be regular. There are more but I will save them for another post. Hope you get time to look up these blogs and savour their content.

What are some of your favourite blogs? 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Seven: Day 2 - Seven memories with my father

I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where nearly 82 bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day! Today is Day 2.

It's quite rare that I mention my dad leave alone writing about him. I think this is the first time I've come close to writing something about him. He passed on when I was thirteen and since then it has been a long while. I have outgrown the memories that we shared but there are some that remain evergreen and those are the ones I am sharing today. Here you go:

1. I remember sitting with him on Saturday afternoons, sipping hot mutton soup made by my amma and listening to Biblical stories. He was the one who started me on with those interesting stories which held me in rapt attention.

2. Going hungry on a certain Sunday afternoon because I was yet to memorise Psalm 23. Eventually I did memorise that passage and till date I remember what I had learnt that day.

3. Going with him to his office and while returning we stood outside a house because we heard one of our favourite songs, 'Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder' playing in a record inside the house. We stood there till the song got over and then resumed our return journey.

4. Close to his office was a water body which had reeds growing around then borders of the water. Sometimes he brought some of those reeds neatly cut to our home. I would put them into a bottle of water. Those reeds with their deep maroon colour would look beautiful.

5. Being slapped hard when I interrupted him while he was conversing with a neighbour. The reason: We were in the middle of an interesting story-telling session when the neighbour came home. I was quite impatient to listen to the rest of the story and barged during the conversation. The response was a sharp slap. I had learnt what I had to that day!

6. Once when I got very low marks in my Geography exam, my father refused to sign the Report-card. Later he did sign it but left a note along with it with his name signed on that note. It read: "If your marks are like this, I will not sign your Report-card. All the best."

7. I never saw my father enter the kitchen but on those rare occasions when my amma went to visit her parents in Trichy, my dad would prepare delicious food. I still remember the taste of some items that he judiciously attempted to cook.

I must admit that his memories don't come without coercing but the above seven do come effortlessly. Those days were different. It has been 21 years since the day he left us. Life goes on.

It's strange how minds come up with similar topics. Here's Karan who writes at Scribble who has also written a post for his father for the Write Tribe's Festival of Words. Read here.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Seven Posts in Seven Days: Day 1

I am participating in Write Tribe's Festival of Words from 1st to 7th September where nearly 82 bloggers are writing on the theme of Seven for Seven days - a post a day!

In the forthcoming seven days, I will be writing on the Sevens that make my life and meanderings.

The word Seven has been a fixation in my life as it was the number that was most favoured by my Sunday school teachers and the pastors whose sermons I have grown up listening to. As much as the number Seven is favoured, 6 is dreaded as the number of the Anti-christ. No numerology and all that mumbo-jumbo but Seven always got a special nod and glow. And strangely, I have gotten used to the number Seven and almost always end up favouring the number, of course not out of the fetish for numerology and all that mumbo-jumbo but because it’s a comfort zone for me and may I add, many Christians who have gone to Sunday school and heard diligent sermons also give special preference to this number. So, I must admit that I was excited a wee bit when the Write Tribe had chosen Seven to be the key word for its Writing Festival! Well, here goes my first post of the inaugural day of the festival.

I thought that my first Seven would be the Seven characteristics that are an integral part of me but I choose to conveniently forget or perhaps pretend that I don’t have them. 

~ A bad procrastinator

~ Not valuing time

~ Wills to change some existing patterns but never does as a comfort zone has been formed

~ Swears quite a lot while having internal conversations which is quite alarming

~ Takes for granted that I am the best, which is a delusional thought

~ An extrovert who likes being alone but never portrays that 

~ An individual whose inner thoughts and outward actions don’t often match

The above Seven traits are something that need to be broken from my personality and this first post will strive as a remainder towards that goal. 

Hope to share more of my Sevens in the days to come. So, what are the Seven traits in you that you wish to change?


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