Wednesday 18 November 2015

In search of 'What is my passion?'

If you have seen the 2014 film Whiplash, you will understand what true passion is - passion that consumes your time, thoughts and almost everything you live for. I have seen many people having such passion - something that they live for (and sometimes also die for). I hope you have not mistaken passion for romantic passion in this context. I am not even thinking of that, though, I cannot deny that that passion also consumes the individual.

After watching that film, I asked R, ''Do you know what is your passion?'' to which he did not have a logical answer and as I was questioning him, I was also asking myself - ''What IS my passion?" A passion that I could live and die for, a passion that consumes me and a passion that fills my vacant hours. I could not think of anything. I was distressed for after all, everyone has that one passion which keeps them alive and going. I tried to think of many attributes that have defined me through the years but alas! I could not put my finger to the ONE passion and exclaim - I can devote my entire life to this one!

I had imagined that I liked reading and that it was my passion but then reading is a hobby and a life-line, not something which can be defined as passion. Then, I thought travelling and then realised that it was something that I liked intermittently. Teaching? Nah. I like interacting with young and curious minds but passion, no! Writing, perhaps. I dwelt a bit longer on this but could not convince myself to say, ''Yes, writing is my passion.'' But I don't write all that much. I have strong memories of a well-watered and nourished blog but that is a lovely memory now. I used to scribble in my journal - The journal remains albeit with blank pages . . . I could go on and on about my terrible failing when it came to writing but I hold myself and stop.

I am still searching for my passion. Even today morning, I had a conversation with my sister about the passion of doing something consistently and getting a high inspite of doing it every single day. We blamed boredom and laughed away our lack of passion for anything.

I am still not done. I feel like an inadequate work in progress which has some vital piece missing. There are days when the search consumes me and there are other days when I hardly think about any such piece. But here I am, painfully aware of that passion.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Why not Grammar obsessive/fetish instead of Grammar nazi?

The word Nazi in 'Grammar nazi' leaves me a bit disturbed. Whenever I come across that phrase, I stop and completely oblivious of the first part of the phrase, start contemplating the second part. 'Nazi' brings to my mind holocaust, gas chambers and The Boy in Striped Pyjamas. It makes me sad and gloomy. Not always but most of the times. I wonder who coined this phrase! Yes, I can hear you when you think that I am making a mountain out of a mole-hill but aren't words powerful? Don't they have the power to bring memories? Don't they pierce?

Words are powerful and make a deep impact, if you know what I mean. There are many such terms which evoke gory memories and ill-fated times. A word is enough to transport the mind to memories that are tinged with sorrow and hurt. The words, ''rainbow,'' alongside bringing the picture of seven lovely stripes set in a curve also bring pictures of the LGBT community and their struggles. So the rainbow is not a rainbow alone!

Many of us know the oft-quoted saying, ''Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,'' but the pain caused by sticks and stones will pass unlike the hurt caused by words. It sears, lives and throbs within the crevices of the mind.

So, next time you utter something, dear reader, pause. think. utter.

Leaving you with a personal favourite number, Words by Boyzone

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Visions around me

Mandovi serenely flowing

A hoary tree at Campal

A wee sun bird toiling at its nest (Spotted outside my window in my garden)

Three different pictures taken at different places make me come alive with the vision that surrounds and uplifts me. I feel glad to be able to partake in the beauty that without any effort is presented to my sight.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Seasons are slipping by . . .

Seasons are slipping by . . .

I thrive

I love

I complain

I wallow

I wander







I try

I try

I give up

I moan

I sleep

I wish

I sink







I rise

I hope

I dream

I live

I thrive

I love


Seasons are slipping by

Thursday 20 August 2015

When (modern) married women converse

Ah, it's such a relief . . .

We need to do more of these outings . . .

Such a breather . . .

Retail therapy is soulful . . . Indeed!

Hmmm, how nice to sip coffee outside home . . .

We need our space, you know . . .

Sometimes I feel like shooting that man . . .

Yes, I can understand . . .

Am I taking too much time on choosing . . . nay, after all you are spending money . . .

I feel cheated when the lover has turned into a husband . . .


You feel like this too? (Loud chuckle)

Have the read . . .

We should do a movie and lunch one day . . . next month?

I think I love the way my life is now! . . .

I miss those carefree spendthrift days of College . . .

I miss my mom! . . .

How did our parents manage? . . .

That &*$% son-of-a-gun . . .


A lovely evening well-spent!

We need to do more of these outings . . .

Wednesday 8 July 2015

The process of writing never stops . . .

These days I find myself ghost-writing in my thoughts over and over whenever I find something interesting and worth jotting down. There was a time when I had the patience, luxury and adrenaline rush to capture my thoughts in my blog but then, like everything beautiful comes to a momentary halt (with promises of renewal), I sparsely felt the need to post. I discovered that inspite of not giving a form to my thoughts in the form of posts, I mentally write within my mind. Yes, that's why I say that the process of writing never stops. It continues albeit without a palpable medium.

I realised this quite late because I was perpetually in a state of guilt and anger in equal measure when I saw that my blog is lying in a state of neglect almost like the memories of an old lover who remains within but rarely demands any attention. I knew that my blog is there, safe, still read by some (the growing statistics tell me that) and bookmarked by some others to be read in leisure. But the ache of seeing the last entry dated a month ago does not bring any consolation to my otherwise active mind. In the interim, I have been closely observing my mind! Strange as it may sound, I have stumbled upon some interesting thought processes that marginally cut down my guilt quotient. I am always writing posts within my head - not the scribbling in a worn out journal but paragraphs neatly organised with a propah introduction, middle and conclusion, like I always say to my class!

I wonder whether this happens to everyone and if so, how long do these entries stay. For me, they stay a while until the next interesting subject comes along. I am afraid my mind has not served as a container so far, only a medium - that too a virtual one. I wonder if there is a procedure to tap one exact nerve and extricate all the posts and translate them to coherent words that would show up on my blog as posts. If wishes were horses, nay blog posts, I would be one content soul happily basking in the glory of my thoughts which I know would eventually get fed on my blog!

Until the technology makes my wish happen, I will hopefully continue the process of writing, sorry ghost-writing in my mind and maybe sometimes, I would stop by my wee blog and strive to record these precious nuggets of memory.

Dear reader, what have you been doing with your thoughts, if I may probe.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Sights of summer 5: Rain

Oh yes, Rain in summer is something that is good for the mangoes (and also for our sagging-by-the-heat spirits!), they say and in some places these showers are called Mango Showers. They are welcome and not as welcome. We love reasons for some relief from the sweltering heat and hence look forward to these showers while well-meaning people who have been there and know the weather/climate wisely nod saying, These showers will neither cool the temperatures nor bring relief, they will only rise the degree of humidity. Ah, but we never did care for those lines of wisdom and only lived for that moment it rained (we believed in the now, you see!). Well, the showers do not last long but until they poured, we were overjoyed. I always tend to wonder whether the mango trees/flowers benefitted from the showers. They would have, I am sure!

Rain, which is the most unexpected visitor of warm, sweaty and humid days, feeds our thirst for a little degree of change. Perhaps this is the only time, we no not crave for warmth, literally! This rain is like hope which assures us that summer will not last long and soon we will welcome grey skies and potholes filled with water.

Even as I tap the keys of my computer, I hear the pitter-patter of rain. It is but 11: 13 am but it seems as though the dusk is about to envelop. It is wonderful to remain indoors (read home) as it rains outside. Being at home ensures that one can delight in the rain without having to bother about dirty roads, slush and slips. Rain is not rain alone but other added things as well.

Here, I fondly remember a song by Cliff Richard Summer Rain:

. . .Summer rain will come again so the
Harvest is a good one
But if you don't respond to me I am lost
You're the only hope I have to bring
Forth the fruit in season
Now I know I need you to survive
You, you are my dream . . .

Saturday 9 May 2015

Sights of Summer 4: Frangipani/Champa

I cannot decide whether I like the name of this tree or the tree itself! The Frangipani is the common name of Plumeria and the tree is a delight to behold in different seasons of the year. The name evokes sensuousness whenever I pronounce the name - certain words do that, you know. Someone once said that I was a sense-person, referring to my fascination with sounds, touch and smell. Well, I don't know where that person is or what the person is doing but still the words uttered have been etched in my memory (I say a little prayer for you!).

Frangipani is such, it nudges certain settled sediments of memory and stirs the soul and does not hesitate in tagging our fragile senses. The tree is bare during the winter and flowers during the summer months - sometimes there are only flowers in the tree sans leaves and sometimes the entire tree is filled with flowers and leaves. The tree is a treat to my eye sans leaves, flowers as well. The tree emanates a fragrance at night, possibly to attract pollinators (I read this on Wiki).

The tree is a true decorative element wherever it is found (except my wee garden of course, because I just stop with my admiration alone and do not tend to it!) Some objects of beauty are just lovely to behold but not to be taken care of, I reckon and that explains my lackaidaisical attitude in taking care of the Frangipani in my garden.

This is a well loved tree/flower by many artists and beauty-lovers. The flower adorns many a pretty ear in Hawaii or simulators of the Hawaii feel ;) And, it comes in shades of off-white and pink.

It is quite strange that it was once an exotic to India but now it is near-native. Everything thrives in India, you see.

Image: Internet

Monday 30 March 2015

Sights of Summer 3: Copper Pods/vaagai

These trees are a delight to the weary eye of the summer's heat. The golden hues of this tree almost seem like anointing the sight and place with yellow balm that at once makes you forget the harsh summer sun and the icky feeling of the heat. The tree commonly known as ''Copper pod'' (Peltophorum pterocarpum) is a common avenue tree and also a prominent one on College campuses.

A Copper pod in our College campus which often makes me stand still on my tracks

Often while walking across to a class in another block, I stop, admire the beautiful yellow sitting smug on the green and then resume my walk. Students who are forever surprised by my sudden stops, often find it amusing that a tree can make me linger. If I have the time and whim, I force the student to stand along with me and drink in the delights of this tree which is in its complete glory during the summer months. Like the Indian Laburnum, the yellow of this tree almost drowns you in a golden haze but the yellow of this tree and the Laburnum is slightly of a different hue. While the Laburnum is a gentle yellow, the yellow of the Copper pod is dark and harsh but pleasing.

If one decides to lower one's gaze and scan the ground beneath the tree, a yellow carpet covers the place and it is quite hard for me not to yield to the temptation of sitting down in the carpet under the shade of the gigantic Copper pod!

On idle summer days, I have seen many a weary traveller finding comfort under the shade of this tree by the road and many a lovers finding the yellow carpet a welcome spot from prying eyes and strict teachers. Well, I bet, every Copper pod has many stories stored within its huge trunks!

On that note, I hope you enjoyed the yellow stint with the Pod, Copper Pod of India's summer!

Images: Blogger's own

Sunday 29 March 2015

Sights of Summer 2: Indian Laburnum/konrai/kannikona/amaltas/golden shower tree

Our campus is quite a sight in summer with splashes of golden in the form of Indian Laburnum konrai (in Tamil), scientifically known as Cassia fistuala and another tree which I will discuss in my forthcoming posts. For long, I have been thinking of this particular tree as a resident of Kerala since my amma always used to mention that this flower appears during the time of Vishu, the onset of a new year according to the Malayali calendar. I was reintroduced to the tree when I saw a mention of this tree in the Sangam poems. It did not matter much to me then for I did not then know that the tree my mom mentioned and konrai were one and the same. Years later when I married a man from Kerala, he pointed out the flowers to me and mentioned that its name was kannikona. Then rereading the Sangam poems, I realised the konrai and kannikona  were one and the same. The flowers look beautiful and like the raw mangoes, they bring joy to my mind and senses. They hang in bunches and from a distance one, can see splashes of yellow and some green of the leaves. I find it rather difficult to tear off my eyes from the trees while I spot them during our evening walks in the campus. These trees also dot my College campus and whenever I have to go to the canteen, I slow down my steps so that I can take in the beauty of these golden showers. These are the most photographed trees. I have resisted clicking pictures for I might miss the pleasure the moment has to offer. I therefore will post pictures sourced from the internet.

These trees are also found in large numbers in Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala; Wikipedia tells me that this flower is the national flower of Thailand.

The flowers proudly seem to celebrate the colour of summer in their shade and spritely demeanour. They also remind me a lot of the daffodils that can be spotted during summers in England. Yellow is the overlapping factor between the two flowers which are otherwise quite different in terms of the size of the plant and the structure of the flowers.

For your reading pleasure, I share a poem from the Sangam age translated from Tamil by my teacher and mentor Nirmal Selvamony:

Stupid, surely, are those large-stemmed Laburnum trees
that mistook the unseasonal rains
and put out, on their branches, lush, pendulous racemes
even before the monsoon he spoke of
when setting out on stony arid paths.
 (koovattanaar, kuruntokai 66, Sangam ilakkiyam 1: 616)
In the short poem, the girl is getting restless waiting for her lover for he promised her that he will be back by monsoon when the Laburnum (konrai, kannikona) is in bloom. The girl sees the flowers bloom before season and is forlorn and lovesick.

So, here I share another sight of summers in Goa/India.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Friday 27 March 2015

Sights of summer: Raw mango/kairi/mankai/ambuli

Starting today, I plan to embark on a series of posts on the sights of summer, which I hope will revive my writing and blogging. Fingers crossed.

Raw mango is something which is appealing to people across the board and when I spot trees laden with clusters of raw mangoes, I cannot but help lick my tongue with memories of tanginess amalgamated with chilly powder and salt. Yum. ambuli as it's popularly known in Goa is a hot (excuse the pun!) favourite among many. While engaging my students in NSS activity, a group of students suddenly disappear and after a tiresome trial, I spot them throwing stones at the mangoes which call out bewitchingly from the trees situated at a distance from our place of work. That not sufficing, the students take the trouble to go to the canteen and bring small papers which hold a mixture of chilly powder and salt. The thought of it is enough to tantalise my taste buds! Summer time and aiming at raw mangoes hanging on the trees (often unknown people's homes) is almost like a summer stereotype. We have done it, our grandfathers have done it and the children of today do it.

Raw mango has a host of recipes which keep the women and some men busy in this time of the year for soon these raw mangoes will turn into plump yellow things which again are a fantasy for some (not for me, though). And to help the mango flowers to blossom, there are the mango showers or rain in summer which signals the onset of a mixture of memories. And, of course the yummy pickles with a riot of colour, taste and spices - an eternal summertime memory.

During the time, raw mangoes dot the landscape, the summer is not yet in its harsh and cruel state - it is still bearable and in spite of the sweat, the evenings are cool and soothing.

I wonder if you have ever had raw mango slices with chilly powder and salt. Do try and I can guarantee that your taste buds will tingle with delight and shock.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Summer days and pepsicolas

Summer is like the post-coital feeling - not everyone takes to it after the lovely splash of spring and the bygone chilly days. Though the post-coital session evokes warmth and a sense of fulfilment, it cannot compare to coitus itself. Period. The sweat and the addendum to it makes it a tad difficult for me but then there are some bright spots (literally and metaphorically) to summer. The appearance of water/musk melons, pepsi-colas and other summery delights alleviate the problem of post-spring/winter melancholia partially. Summer also signals the end of the semester and examination blues. I thought after becoming a teacher, I would be free from the end-of-term low tide but looks like the end always comes with a sting of boredom, a sense of forlornness and loneliness of having to bid adieu to a set of students with whom the year was spend in wanton abandon, endless gossip, conniving moments and of course some lessons. I will miss them and that feeling makes me a bit morose.

The beach which beckons during warm summer evenings is a welcome relief

The weather is synonymous with my mood and talk. It reflects on my actions and words. Though I try to avoid wearing the weather on me, I seldom succeed. All and sundry realise or eventually come to know of my disdain for summer which is quite conspicuous through my behaviour. I yearn for the sunniness to pass - give way to cool monsoons and sweat-free bodies. And yes, the summer also brings the smell - full throttle! Sweat from the body sans any deo which is feral and raw and often overpowering. I am someone who has heightened olfactory system which oft works against me, conspiring to outdo the summer's already raw nerve.

But summers also bring along the promise of a monsoon which is just two months away and without a summer, there is no relief of the rain. So, I rest my case and await the monsoon eventhough I know that it will be a long wait. Waiting is a way of life in India, you see. I am not complaining.

Image courtesy: Blogger's own picture

Friday 13 February 2015

Searching for home in a post-postmodern world

In today's world, the word 'home' is a charged and loaded one; While some debate the idea of rootedness and one true place, certain others dialogue homelessness as a feature of the postmodern home. These thoughts and more, accosted me while I happened to accidentally stumble upon Lisa Ray's article, where she claims that she is homeless and the reasons she attributes to her state is: ''one house under renovation, and the lease on another starting in mid-March . . .'' I cannot but be amused with her choice of words considering her background and social standing. Perhaps there might be some significance of her celebrating her 'homelessness' but given the social condition of today's world where the problem of refugees and illegal immigration is a cause for concern, Ms. Ray's living out of suitcases, hopping hotels and airport jumping definitely leaves one with a taste of ash in the mouth.

Well, she could be justified with her claims as many in the postmodern world cannot pin down 'one true place' as their home. We have several homes today - the home where we were born, the home where we were raised, the home where we grew up and after our marriage, the home where we live as an independent family which often comprises of the husband, wife and children. I have often been in a dilemma when after marriage, I was repeatedly told by many loving family members that my husband's home is NOW my home. Well, changes do not often happen overnight and the idea of thinking of my husband's parents' home as my home was a bit stifling; Home is often associated with memories and nostalgia (the word nostalgia itself in Greek means, ''homecoming'') and how can one think of a completely different home as one's home. Probably the idea was to getting used to 'owning' responsibility in a different sphere which from the time of marriage becomes the playing ground of action. It takes time, I understand. Home becomes home after many years of living and soaking in the place, people and peculiar culture of that specific home.

Coming back to Lisa Ray's homelessness, I could just manage a raised brow for I could not comprehend her state. Pity, sympathy and anger in equal measure coloured my thoughts. She mentions her father. Does he not have a home? Does his home not welcome the daughter? Perhaps the daughter has outlived her father's home and yearns for her own space and that is preventing her from living a life with a home. Or perhaps she finds a strange comfort in living out of suitcases and hopping flights and calling herself homeless. Is she a refugee running away from familiarity or is she afraid of living in one place for a long time. Sometimes homelessness is a state of mind rather than that of a 'real' place, I come to understand.

Reader, what does home mean to you and what do you think of Lisa Ray's predicament?

Saturday 31 January 2015

The joy of escaping

I have always known that reading is cathartic but only recently woke up to the fact that reading makes me come alive and that it can save me from the drudgery of everyday routine. When I escape to my College Library and pick up some random book and lose myself, I realise that I am happy, safe and sane. Reality as this is sometimes mind-boggling as you never realise how much you need reading and how much the written word penetrates within your being. Losing oneself in words is an escape - an escape into the void of no return. When you then return to reality after that escape, you realise that things are no longer the same. You carry that bit of voyeurism that you chanced upon in that escape and you personalise it - almost like how people monogram their initials on that worthless piece of handkerchief. You know the lust and joys of that place where you escaped to and it is your secret - unless you choose to allow someone to partake of that guilty pleasure. Even then, you retain parts of it to yourself. You want certain bits to your self you see!

I recently read chanced upon a back issue of World Literature Today and relished the piece, Le Suicide Monsieur M. The piece moved me - I discovered the power and magic of the written  printed word. I was charmed. Smitten. Aroused and what not. The entire piece was written in the form of a letter by a city. I assumed all the while that the letter was written by an admirer who had lust confused for love. Well, it could have been written by anyone but this was by Iowa city. Pretty neat for a city!

I wonder if you have tried reading something when you have tons of backlog - It is like forbidden pleasure - you experience longing and guilt (guilt because you should be working on something else and longing for the words which you have been ignoring for long!) Reading is like the surrogate lover who has the power to seduce you anytime and any given day. No fixed bearings and no passage of time can wane the seduction. I succumb and forgo reality. I prostrate myself and forget etiquette or morality. I drink on that word and lose my morale. I am addicted.

Reading makes me sane.

Thursday 8 January 2015

"Alone" Time

Slowly but surely the idea and luxury of ''alone'' time is beginning to dawn on India and many Indians. I think being alone and going further to enjoy time alone is or atleast was something that struck like a sore thumb given the context of India and its fetish for large joint families. Ironically, though the population is steadily rising, families are becoming nuclear and people after having short flings with diverse cultures have slowly started relishing and realising that being alone is not equivalent to being lonely.

But what strikes me is how this ''alone'' is defined and understood. The first meaning that popped out when I googled the keywords definition of alone is:

''having no one else present; on one's own''

As much as I like to think that we are closely attached to people, the thought that being away from people is equally preferred has become our definitions of enjoying ''alone'' time. But don't we have to live in a crowded set-up to realise that we like some time alone for ourselves? This contradicts the life lived by people outside India. For better understanding, let me refer to my American, British and Irish friends who have by and large lived all by themselves - earning, living, loving and doing things independently. But does being independent equivalent to being alone? Not necessarily, I reckon. On many occasions, being independent and being alone and enjoying the space is confused. One can live in a large family yet function independently. Or does alone signify getting away from people, familiar people 'only'? And like everything else being alone can be savoured, I reckon, only when one has enough and more company.

Sometimes, force of habit also becomes something to gloat about for lack of a better reason to justify one's actions.

So, what's your take, dear reader?

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Chennai - A concoction of the traditional and the modern

This post is part of the blog tag titled, The CBC Tablog - 3, where CBC stands for Chennai Bloggers Club, a group where bloggers (young, old, new, jaded, bored) from Chennai gather and discuss everything under the sky including blogging and blogs. About 20 bloggers from Chennai are participating in this blog tag where  we will write about our favourite city Chennai and how it stands as a testament to the blend of the traditional and the modern. So here's my post for the CBC tablog - 3 titled, Chennai - A concoction of the traditional and the modern.'

Writing about a place that nestled me for many years of my life from a distance seems a bit excruciating. A post on the blend of the traditional and modern nonetheless. It seems almost an impossible task for me to gather the different parts  picked from memory and desire and knead them into a post. Well, I do hope that as I chug along, I am able to relive myself in the memories that I nit pick and weave them into a worthy concoction.

First, Chennai - though the name is fairly recent but ancient does not capture the essence of the place that is so dear to me. And like the name Chennai, which is at once ancient and recent, the place also displays similar hues - housing traditional tastes, smells, customs albeit packaged in brightly coloured modern wrappers which shock you at first but later settles in familiar smiles. I think every city undergoes a change, rather it evolves with every passing year - changing governments, citizens from neighbouring states, business houses that set up shop - everything contributes to the process in different degrees.

If French style Bistros, 10 Downing Street, Thai eateries and Tibetan momos do not come as a shock, then it is because the same crowd finds solace in familiar idli-sambar-chutney-podi at Saravana Bhavan or in the comfort of their homes. The easy and effortless slipping of beer to filter coffee to Coke, stands example to the shifts in the mind sets of the people as well as the city which houses these people.

Now this traditional and modern is quite natural in some quarters whereas a bit gaudy and uncomfortable in some but both these quarters seem to contribute the wholeness of Chennai. For me getting used to the vernacular name Chennai rather than the anglicised Madras itself was a psychological effort that needed coercing and acceptance and sitting in Goa, I see the city also in a similar way - A city that is named Chennai but has embraced modernity that is more often synonymous with aspects of the Western world without much ado. Of course, the change has not come overnight and without any bumps - We have had our fair of teething problems but we have learnt to accommodate and assimilate.

I pass the baton to Deepak Raghuraman, a vibrant and enthusiastic blogger who adores his Chennai and supplies readers with a mine of information on Chennai in his blog titled Namma Area. If you require any specific information about the city, then you know where to head to - Namma Area (translated as Our Area). Please do visit his blog and show some love, dear reader.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Revival of newness - Cheers to 2015

2014 was productive and resourceful in more ways than one. It spotlighted my weakness and showed me that however I resist something, I yield at the end. The year also enabled me to discover some new people, places and traits within me. Like the beginning of every new year, I look forward to 2015 with hope, longing and joy. To be alive and kicking is something that is not the stronghold of many. Many people who started 2014, did not see its end and I am grateful for being able to do so. I believe that another year is given to me to continue the purpose of my living.

I wish joy always to you and yours and may this year enable you to evolve as an individual within and outside.

Cheers to new beginnings and strength to not-so-new beginnings.

Happy New Year 2015


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