Tuesday 20 December 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Yes, indeed, it is the most wonderful time of the year. It seems like a saccharine sweet cliche but I must admit that the mood is generally upbeat at this time (if I choose to forget painful deadlines which call for attention and the details that drive me to a state of anxiety) of the year. This year marks the first time where we have done up our living room with lights and hollies and bells and all that jazz. Well, doing up the Christmas tree was fun this year -- a child-like joy filled us as we were selecting spots for the assortment of knick-knacks. My usual cynical self has somehow turned pleasant and jolly. Perhaps I am growing saner and wiser with the years.

So, how has it been for you this merry season?

Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful season of love, joy and cheer.

Joy and love always

Monday 19 December 2016

The dog with the bell

Today while I was in our car, my thoughts, without any whim or fancy flew to the days I used to know a guy and his dog with the bell. The dog's name was Bobby and it had a bell on its neck. As the dog walked, the bell chimed and it was like a signal - Bobby and X have arrived! Ah! that there was a special connection between the dog's owner and the writer is immaterial here. Aw! Did I just say that! Ah! well, I just did. I would be having dinner, when the rhythmic sound of Bobby's bell would announce their arrival. I would then squirm, try and hurry my dinner, and jump into the road to join the walkers. Our post-dinner rendezvous punctuated by Bobby's bell. Bobby was a smart dog - he knew the places of affection and love and was a silent spectator to the laughs and undercurrents.

He would walk, sometimes run after spotting a nocturnal creature or find his favourite tree and pee. I knew he looked forward to those walks like us. He was the excuse for our walks and we were the reason for his walks - it was a mutual understanding.

I wonder where Bobby is. I suspect he has passed away and would have found many similar companions to walk with while tinkling his wee bell. I also wonder what happened to that bell. Perhaps it was buried with Bobby or it was just discarded now that there is no much use for the same. As for the owner of Bobby, I guess he is out there doing his own thing and probably owning another paw to take care but I guess he won't need the bell because he is now married with children and he does not have the need to alert someone of his presence. Maybe he might be wearing that bell as a talisman or as a signal to alert his family of his arrival from work, gym, church or just the corner shop.

Memories, very funny, aren't they?

Hope you are revelling in the season of fun and joy.

What are your childhood memories of Christmas?


Monday 12 December 2016

The year of deaths and reminders of mortality

Every year is another beautiful opportunity given to us in terms of improving ourselves and actively chasing our desired goals and dreams. But along with that is also the realisation that our life is slowly heading towards death. The feeling is humbling as well as scary for it drives hard the fact that we do not have time at our behest. The passing away of diverse personalities this year has insinuated many thoughts of mortality and life within me. As I hear news of people who names have been part of my growing up years and adult life pushes me to think of my own life and its fragility. The hardest blow was when the news of our honourable Chief Minister, J. Jayalalalitha's passing away flashed across the many internet websites. The knowledge that someone who was a formidable presence, inspite of the autocracy, drove hard the nail of mortality. The feeling, for quite some time, has been in the air, when Cohen, Bowie, Balamurali Krishna and others left this earth. Well, as one grows older than the previous year, thoughts as these prevail like the dark clouds which cast a spell for a while either passing away or bringing rainfall.

Growing older means that loved ones are becoming fragile and losing the former agility and taut. The body also plays truant especially while getting up in the morning or that stubborn fat which refuses to budge from a you-know-where spot. Enough! I am not here to whine or complain about facts that are irrevocable but thoughts as these cannot be dismissed without the thought running its entire course.

I know many whose lives started by mid-50s or early 60s. I love the energy they display. Yesterday, I was at the venue of the Goa River Marathon. My oh my! The energy in that place was all-consuming - people of varied age groups feeling smug after completing the 21 kms. I wonder how it might seem to them while running and after completing the long run. The myriad emotions visible on their face was radiant, to say the least. Perhaps, this is one way to push fears of mortality and delay the same. Perhaps, it is a way of cheating death. Perhaps, it is the knowledge that death might come any way so let us try adventure and push our limits, raising the adrenaline meanwhile. Whatever it was, the vibes of the place was so invigorating that I felt stimulated to run at least 5 kms next year. In fact, running a marathon has always been a wish/dream/desire but then as always, I was pushing the dream behind everything else instead of pushing myself to run. Ah! I should read Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and of course there's is Milind Soman who is successfully pushing away Lord Death from approaching him in any direction!

Let me close with a loved and oft read sonnet by John Donne:

Death, be not proud

Related Poem Content Details

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow 
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. 
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, 
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, 
And soonest our best men with thee do go, 
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery. 
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, 
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, 
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well 
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? 
One short sleep past, we wake eternally 
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. 

Wednesday 7 December 2016


December has always been a lovely month for me. It is an amalgam of many sweet things, like, the chilly evenings and mornings, the Christmasy feel in the air, a sense of new beginnings and many others. The image of December that first comes to my mind is the delicate flower of either white, yellow, purple or pink that blooms during this month. Many women in Tamil Nadu string these flowers to adorn their hair. Once when I happened to look out of window here in Goa, I spotted many white December flowers. For few seconds, I wondered whether I was at home or in Goa. These flowers start blooming by mid-November and are sighted till mid-January, till the winter has packed its bags and left, giving way to spring and pongal.

This December and last has added a new set of memories for me to associate with this month - the floods of 2015 and the deaths of 2016. While the chilly evenings still remain, the thoughts are punctuated by the knowledge that people who were part of our collective memory are no longer alive. It will be quite strange when I go home in Chennai with the knowledge that our Chief Minister is no longer there. Sometimes, when bad news of home is heard when one is miles away from home, I guess the impact is slightly deeper. On hindsight, the emotional outburst at the loss of someone who I was not quite familiar with, seems a bit strange, December will always remind me of 'Amma.'

December also brings many other memories of songs, music and imaginations. But then I blame the nip in the air for those melancholic thoughts. Sometimes melancholy is sweeter than joy; The knowledge that the melancholia was once a lovely page of memory brings sweet joy.


"All in the saddle we spend Christmas Day, / Driving the cattle over snow covered plains. / All of the good gifts given today, / Ours is the sky and the wide open range.…"

Tuesday 18 October 2016

I wish I had known - A tribute to Steveroni (1933-2015)

One reason why I haven't shut my blog is that I have my treasure trove of memories in the posts, comments and pictures. That I have not been frequenting here is another story by itself but today, I wish to record the absence of one such peep whose sad demise was unknown to me until two days ago.

My beloved Steveroni.

From the time, I began blogging, he has been a regular peep who popped lovely, funny, insightful and genuine comments every now and then. We then connected beyond blogs and started communicating through emails and then Facebook. He used to blog in The Fourth Dimension and now and then I visited his blog as well. But those memories belonged to my active years of blogging, which were between 2008 and 2012. The posts were intermittent but we always managed to keep in touch. He last commented on my blog on 07/02/2015. How I wish I had blogged regularly so that I would have somehow known that the silence from Steve meant that he had transitioned.

This irks me about the online world, that some things are never known. Perhaps people might miss the posts and wonder but some would never know. How strange it is to realise that the happy and vibrant Steve would never ever comment on my Facebook posts or my blog posts!

Perusing his Facebook profile and comments, I got to know that Steve has passed on to the other world in September 2015 and a year later, I start wondering and get the news. I also think what I would have done if I had known earlier?

I would've not awaited his comments on my posts on Facebook.
I would've not checked my mailbox for a reply for the mail that I had written to him.
I would've not awaited his posts on my posts.

This is the second peep that I have lost from my blogging circle. And, to think that I have not even met him makes me melancholic. I wonder how many friends are still in the dark about Steve awaiting his comments and words of wisdom.

I will miss you dear Fiddleman - Hope we meet somewhere there. Until then, be well and spread cheer - which you have taught us to do.

An excerpt from one of his mails to me:

Do you know? I had a strong feeling that your life was changing for a month or two. You 'writings' had changed. Finally, that "JOY" you wish us all seemed to have found its place in YOUR soul. You can see I wish you the best--even writing TWO replies. (I always over-do emails and posts--grin!)

Sunday 31 July 2016

The forgotten bucket list

Way back in 2010, having bucket lists and ticking off items from that list was something everyone was doing. I am guessing that people still do it. Many blogs I had then followed had these fascinating lists and also encouraged others to have a list. I did make a list and labelled it "101 Things to Do Before I Die." Those days, I was a passionate being, quite restive and found a thirst for many diverse things/activities for me and my family. Later I even ticked off certain items with a smug feeling. For a long time now, I had forgotten that I had a list like that. Today, while rummaging my Google mail folders, I saw a label titled, "101 . . . " and felt nothing; There was no desire to do those things listed there and what I once saw as fascinating, did not evoke any vigour in me. I think somewhere down the line, I just stopped imagining that I needed the urge to experience certain things.

I would not say that I have lost my zest for life and living but I have let go of that hot pursuit of experience that I needed to possess before I die. Perhaps I have learnt the art of acceptance - the acceptance that if something has to absolutely cross my path, it will! In 2010, I was a different person - scarred by certain life-changing episodes and learning to cope with crises and hence I was desperately looking for a purpose, maybe to keep me distracted and busy and the bucket list seemed a fantastic placebo. But then as I began healing within and life started in full force - I forgot the bucket list.

Getting married, finding a job and engaging with every single day with complete focus and concentration has somehow left me with little time for bucket lists. Today, the list makes me smile and wonder about the diverse things that I wanted to do sooner or later. I still want to do some of those things but I have no urgency - I will do it when I do it but never do it for the sake of doing it or striking an item off my list.

That said and done, I am in admiration of people who draw a list, patiently tick the items off and experience new levels of adrenaline rush. They remind me of me when I was down in the dumps and full of energy for something purposeful and fun.

Sometimes, only sometimes, I wish I could have the same gush of excitement as I had when I was eagerly drawing up a list to tick off. Ah, well . . .

Monday 25 July 2016

Watching Kabali in Goa

I cannot say that I am a fan of the Superstar Rajinikanth but I like to join in the excitement that surrounds him and his films. Having been in Chennai for the better part of my life, a Rajini release did not incite any excitement in me. I did have friends and acquaintances who went insane over tickets and detailed planning on first day, first show matters but I remained aloof from all of them.

Then marriage happened.

Along with marriage, change of location happened.

Then Rajinikanth became one of the synonyms for home and Chennai.

It is always said and largely believed that one starts craving for home in different ways, some of which are quite unusual and one of those was Rajini. Heaping praise for the superstar and getting a high talking about him were aspects of me that baffled me. Very easily, I could turn from a demure teacher to a crazed fan of the Superstar when my students criticised him. I was always a fan of good acting and films that were close to reality. But Rajini was beyond the circumference of my usual like of films. He is a phenomenon worth studying - a vortex that one gets pulled into willingly.

But for the first time catching a Rajini film after two days of its release was something I did not expect that I would end up doing (I guess earning and having one's one own money in addition to living out of Chennai does that!) I JUST WATCHED A RAJINI FILM YESTERDAY!

Watching Kabali was an entirely different experience in Goa. The theatre was housefull (what else!) and almost the entire hall was filled with Tamil speaking people. It was definitely a joy to behold Tamil Nadu in Goa! But alas! my joy was short-lived because many of the Tamils here were only Tamils by birth and not spirit. The children were not as fluent in the language and hardly knew the charisma and wonder of Rajini. They sat there placid and unmoved while I was jumping and hooting in glee. I was quite sad that I was not able to whistle otherwise I would have shrieked with full power. The claps and hooting were only present when Rajini first made an appearance in the film after which the spirit slowly ebbed away. I was quite excited and beside myself and could hardly contain myself whenever the superstar crossed his leg or uttered, "Magizhchi," (translated joy) but everyone around me were unmoved.

For me Rajini is not Rajini but my years of growing up in Chennai, my memories of school, sightings of huge cutouts of superstar when any of his films were released, friends bunking classes to watch first day first show of Rajini's films - In short HOME. Home means many things to me but on this occasion, home was Rajinikanth and Chennai. This explains why I was a bit low when I did not spot any cutouts, life-size posters or any merchandise of the superstar - In Goa and for Goa, Kabali was just another film (from South India). I went to watch the film not because it was a Rajini film (I also watched Mani Rathnam's O Kadhal Kanmani on the second day of its release) but because I wanted to vicariously experience the spirit of my growing up years and memories of distant teenage.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the film - the complete package with popcorn, hooting, clapping, standing up and applauding the man and also shedding copious tears when the superstar misses his wife whom he assumes to be dead.

Thalaivar - magizhchi!

Sunday 12 June 2016

Ruminations before the beginning of a new academic year

My college on a rainy day

My college reopens in three days. It will be my third year in this college and after spending two years with the various departments and people, one feels that one has seen it all. In spite of my two years here, I feel a certain anxiety coupled with anticipation when I look forward to the coming year. I will be teaching the same subjects albeit one and more or less familiar with the students as well. The introduction to new energy levels and slightly different goals and aspirations gives me the feeling that a thousand butterflies are preparing to take flight from the pit of my stomach.

I wonder whether every teacher has this feeling of an anxious anticipation. Perhaps they might or they would have become comfortably numb carrying on their business like a robot which is devoid of any tingly pre-academic year sensation.

The path leading to the main entrance again, on a rainy day

Alongside, I also wonder whether I will be like this after ten years. Will a new academic year make me feel giddy with excitement and anxiety. Will I look forward to the raging adrenalines of young students as they burst forth with tireless hormones and shiny smart phones. Will I be able to cope with the information overload that my students seem to possess, challenging me with news of the latest gadget or the selling price of an IPL team. Will I smirk at them when they say that FC Goa has won over Chennaiyin even without me having watched a single match.

Although I complain to others and the students themselves that the ought to shake off their susegaad attitude, I like their company better than the whiny adults who lose no time in making lives miserable for those around them. Well, this is not a sweeping generalisation and all students/adults do not fit into that description. There is a lot of trust and sense of belonging when I am in the company of students. To cite an example, once a senior member of faculty happened to be a bit rude with me and immediately the students started showing their solidarity by vocally stating their position on the rudeness. Even though that incident warmed my insides, I am careful not to take sides or even show a minute iota of affirming their actions. Well, sometimes I tend to romanticise the student-teacher relationship.

The lovely triangle campus with glistening rain

Now, standing at the threshold of a brand new academic year, I cannot wait to find out what kind of students I will be meeting for each class and how they will respond to my theatrics and eccentricities -- They will either take to it or brush me aside as another old soul who tries to be in line with the young minds of this generation.

Ah, well! I hear the pitter-patter of the raindrops as I write, diverting my attention to the beautiful weather. I shall pause to revel in the rain and leave ruminations of my new academic year to be soaked by the smell of red earth and pouring rain :)

Picture credits: Author's own

Thursday 9 June 2016

A collage of this and that

The past few months just gushed by giving me more than a bowlful of memories. I am afraid that the bowl is slightly overflowing. It happens almost always - there are so many things happening with us or around us that we fail to stand/sit still and savour one moment. But I managed to savour many such moments. It is June and half a year has already whizzed past giving a glimpse of an international conference, some solid academic contacts, a discovery of beautiful places and monsoon in two of the states closest to me - Goa and Kerala (in that order).

Sometimes when beauty happens, there is an urgency to preserve the moment - I somehow want to scribble atleast few lines capturing the moments but I refrain more out of laziness than a stoic vow to etch the moment in the crevices of my mindscape. Alas! How many such moments will I strive to remember. I also realise that I remember only certain happenings; my sister tells me of a time when she was rather pale and sick but me, being me, don't even have an iota of remembrance of that episode. I loathed myself for the loss of that memory. Age is rapidly spreading its tentacles on my once-upon-a-time-sharp-memory. Then I remember that one is only as old as one thinks. Bullshit. One is forced to think of the age only when there are obvious symptoms, such as forgetfulness, in my case.

I guess I should just BE. Thoughts of memories, remembrance, nostalgia and so on and so forth should just happen, not forced out of the person's being. The blog is one such place where I strive to preserve memories but then, did I just say that one should live in the moment and no matter what I do to write what I remember, I am fabricating a story which is romantic and readable. What could be said in a few words, I drag to a post and then gloat over the written crap. Well, I am overfed with so many stories these days that my stories seem jaded to me. Quora, today, jolted me with a line that said that passive entertainment should be cut off from one's life if time and productivity should be improved. I guess that is precisely what I should be doing - limit my online reading of anything and everything ranging from the Stanford rapist to Trump to breast-feeding to yoga poses for a sexy back! I have become a carnivore of the highest order when it came to chewing and swallowing information.

I am tired.

I wish I write more.

I strive.

Thursday 28 April 2016

An ode to Afonso de Albuquerque

Today, I attended a talk on a small but important island in Goa - the Chorao island. There were many interesting points that were made in the talk by Dr. Aaron Lobo but what stands out for me is that the Chorao island is the place where the Alphonso mango originated. Wow! that was something astounding to me because I have visited the island and there is nothing fascinating that strikes the person on a first look at the island. The island grows on you, much like a cultivated taste - the peculiarity of the landscape, the species of fishes, crabs and other animals that are found only in the island and more popularly, some birds which could be sighted. The island is also made famous by the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, well known for its many varieties of mangroves. But if a lay person visits the island without an accompanying expert, then one might even think that the visit is a waste of time.

Well, coming back to the mango - Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portugese general and military expert brought the variety from Portugal and introduced the same in this Konkan region. Despite the fact that de Albuquerque was helping build the Portugese to establish colonies and conquer various territories, one cannot but help wondering if the Portugese had not invaded the Konkan region, we would have been deprived of this delicious and delectable fruit. Thinking of tastes and food, it is quite sinister of these countries to leave their mark, that too, an unforgettable mark in the country. I don't know how many can actually associate the Portugese and the Alphonso mango but I guess that food and the various ingredients were the primary cause that lured the foreigners to Indian shores - the abundance of spices and the range of plants available for consumption made the guests overstay their hospitality and invariably become the land owners and then rulers of the land.

Not only the Alphonso, India owes to the Portugese many such items that have become commonplace in our kitchen -chillies, vinegar, potato, tomato to name a few. How much ever,  we may bemoan the fact that they destroyed the ethos of the land and made slaves of Indians, we can never ever forget their contribution to the Goan and Indian cuisine.

Thus saying, I bow to Afonso de Albuquerque for giving us the Alphonso, which is named after him but not without despising his ambition to conquer the whole world!

Sunday 17 April 2016

New found tastes

Taste and sensations are peculiar attributes that have a mind of its own. Recently, I was introduced to Bimli, a sour tasting fruit and Wiki tells me that the botanical name is Averrhoa bilimbi. Now, I am quite fond of the tangy flavour - tamarind, raw mangoes and the like have always held a special place in my tongue. Bimli is something like that. I realise that there are so many flavours and items that one has not tasted and perhaps will never taste! One of my colleagues had lovingly prepared Bimli pickle and asked us to sample her culinary prowess, and I being the tangy-loving entity lapped up the pickle with a zest that only tangy-lovers could comprehend. I quickly made note of the recipe and tried it at home. It wasn't as good as it had ought to be nevertheless, I could see that I was not as lazy as I had thought I might be.

Bimli happened to me quite late in life. I could not imagine that I had spent so many years without tasting this fruit. I think that sometimes it would have been growing in the vicinity of our house but we had never bothered. My husband knows this fruit well and tells me that every house in Kerala has the Bimli (Pulinchika) tree. I wonder how many such fruits, trees and tastes are unknown to us in spite of sharing living space with us. I wish I could identify these gems and die happily in the knowledge of having partaken of the many wondrous tastes of nature.

On another note, I saw a movie in my phone for the first time - The Bengali Night, a French film, set in Bengal of the 1930s. It was weird to see Hugh Grant so frail and gaunt. The film also led me to one of my favourite authors - Mircea Eliade. The film is an adaptation of his autobiographical novel, Maitreyi. The film took me on a wild journey of the years where love was a simple look, holding of hands and rapturous ecstasy. I had always liked Hugh's accent and this film was from an era where Grant was not yet idolised as he is today (a few years ago, to be precise).

Many first times today and I again realise that every day, we have an opportunity to learn and unlearn.

Well, what have you discovered today, dear reader?

Image 1: Bimli (Wikipedia)
Image 2: Wikipedia

Sunday 14 February 2016

The Last Waltz - A love letter to an imaginary person

Dear Melody (I always associate you with music!):

You might wonder why I haven't used the epithet 'dearest,' but then I wonder whether we ever gave importance to epithets! December and music always reminds me of you and the songs that you crooned over the phone. Well, it is a surprise to me that we haven't ever met but that does not make any difference, right? What we shared was something special - let us not strive to name it otherwise we might end up being slotted in the labels! We chatted, spoke, were angry over unspoken truths, discussed music and life in the wee hours of the night. Time was at our side. Both of us were lonely in our own ways - our loneliness entwined us into a state of feigned togetherness. We knew it right from the beginning but still we carried on reveling in the present and acting that tomorrow will never come. I enjoyed that NOW which is now in a corner of my memory still unlabeled. The Now was all that we had then - How many nows did we forge our togetherness without having met physically. That green light on G-chat against your name would send ripples through my being and you the rascal that you were, knew it perfectly well. I would like to imagine that the same sensation was yours as well when my name was lit by the green dot! I remember the day you called me for the first time - I think it was on my birthday. As the clock chimed 12, the phone chimed in as well. You sang to me - not the corny Happy Birthday song but another song which I don't remember now. I just remember that I was overwhelmed with happiness and joy. I couldn't sleep after that or did I sleep with a smile - I don't remember but I do remember that I was ecstatic. Why after all these years, I choose you to write a letter. Well, the reasons are obvious, it is you that I remember amongst my many loves. Many have caressed me with words and noble thoughts but none have lent music to my being.

I hope you are well and happy (though I would like to imagine that you pine for me in the deepest of your heart without a visible sigh unbeknownst to the world but I also know that it is a figment of my grand imagination).

So darling, save the last dance for me!

This post was written for "Write a love letter campaign by Chennai Bloggers Club'' 

Sunday 7 February 2016

The curiosity that was Perumal Murugan

Ever since news of Tamil author Perumal Murugan flashed the internet, I was curious to read and probe as to what provoked the saffron brigade. I finally ordered my copy of One Part Woman and keeping aside The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, I started yet another journey into a different historical time and space. It was soothingly familiar as I identified largely with the local lingo, peculiarities and cultural nuances found in the book. Needless to say, it was a stark contrast to cold, pale and distant Japan. Inspite of having completed a good number of pages, TWUBC  is still to ''wind my spring" (a phrase from Norwegian Wood).

Murugan's story is that of Pona and Kali, a childless couple who are sexually and emotionally quite compatible with each other. They have a strong desire to have a child and not being able to bear one drives them to intense anguish and pain. The story is set in Tiruchengode and in the pages, mention of various temples, deities and other cultural markers are liberally strewn. I completed reading the book rather quickly and to my amazement, I was quite engrossed in the story that I forgot to notice the red signals that might have provoked the touch-me-nots. I tried recollecting portions from the book that created such a furore that made Perumal Murugan swear never to write again. What a waste of talent! I then furiously started hunting Google pages to read up on the various incidents that coloured Tamil Nadu after the release of this book. I finally found that the touch-me-nots were incensed by one practise that Murugan has mentioned in his book. I quote from the blurb for better clarity -

"their hopes come to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of Ardhanareeswara, the half-female god. Everything hinges on the one night when rules are relaxed and consensual union between any man and woman is sanctioned. This night could end the couple's suffering and humiliation. But it will also put their marriage to the ultimate test."

The touch-me-nots imagined that Murugan had interpreted the practise in a manner that defiled the religious intentions of certain groups. Well, Murugan is not only a writer but also a teacher of Tamil who has done extensive research on the topic before writing the novel but alas! all that did not matter. What mattered was the 'sexual union' which was depicted as part of the ritual. If set in a modern context sans the deities and temples, the practise would resemble an orgy of sorts where coupling with strange people is part of the whole fun or perhaps a disco which is another refined form of an orgy albeit in a slightly different set-up or perhaps swapping partners for benefit. One can actually try placing certain age-old customs and rituals in today's context of course, with a different set-up. Kali and Pona could easily be a couple who are working in a software company and after twelve years of childless marriage decide to experiment in order to bear children. These and few other parallels were colouring my mind as I traversed through the lives of Pona and Kali.  

On another note, I am glad that the book was banned, otherwise people like me, though belong to Tamil Nadu would have never heard or read a gem like Perumal Murugan (the angst of not being able to read in Tamil is another story for another post!). I have missed reading another banned book, The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie who is another writer who courts controversies much like young models and actresses! Maybe I will soon start a club with the abbreviation BBC (Banned Books Club) and when I do, I will sure put up an invitation for you to join.

Have you read any banned book? Do share your experience.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Asian stories and Western sensibilities

The past week saw me ordering Haruki Murakami's two books on an impulse after a passionate conversation with my friend/colleague on how reading time is slowly leaving our systems. I started reading Norwegian Wood first, for no specific whim or reason and thus began my journey into the lives of Watanabe, Naoko, Midori, Reiko and several others. I have read Murakami before and the remembrance of past reading pleasures drew me to his books again. It comes as a surprise to me that somehow I pick up a Murakami in the beginning month of the year. About two years ago, I had read Murakami on a January and also had written a post (Murakami and related thoughts), which surprisingly echoes most of what I have written now albeit in a slightly different manner. Murakami is Asian, Japanese to be specific but that awareness slowly dissipates as I progress with the book. That Murakami is a fan of the pop songs of the 50s, 60s and 70s is quite limpid in his works. In fact, the title Norwegian Wood  is the title of one of the popular Beatles' songs. Now, my senses are quite welcoming of the references to diverse cultures and habits and knowing fully well that a Murakami will lead me to the Japanese way of life, I tend to lose my way somewhere in the pages. Though my imagination is coloured with petite women and men with pale skin colour, somewhere I lose the track and start imagining western people and surroundings. Then, mid-way, I realise that here I am reading a Japanese author and imagining western people. The character Reiko, especially. She plays the guitar and belts out popular numbers, all of which I know quite well, having grown up listening to them. My image of Reiko is that of a blond, fairly well-built with an imposing personality but then reality often intervenes and I try hard to stop this as it seems sacrilegious to do so.

I wonder whether I owe this to the explicit Western sensibilities of Murakami or to my knowledge of the songs which colour the story or my imagination which is used to imagining white skin and blond hair (Read influence of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen and other sundry writers). Whatever the reason, alongside getting entwined in the characters' lives, a parallel track on my imagination was also niggling me.

Well, I have now completed Norwegian Wood and have embarked on the second novel, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle

A quote from the book Norwegian Wood

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Monday 4 January 2016

Hobbling into 2016 (Literally!)

Anything new fascinates me as it gives me another chance to rebuild, a chance to look forward to altering me and a chance for hope to abound and if it's a new year, then the prospects triple. Well, 2016 is here and I am overwhelmed and excited by how I get another opportunity to better myself. And lest I forget, the beginning of this year saw me with a broken big toe nail; ''broken'' would be an under statement because the broken nail led to a state of no nail. Yes, I entered 2016 without a nail on my left big toe. I am unwilling to go through the process of how I ended up without a toe nail as I have been narrating the experience to all and sundry throughout my five-hour of my first working day. Phew! the thought itself tires me immensely.

A colleague upon observing my gait, went into a philo-spasm exclaiming how life slows us down when we are running and that one needs to mind the pace with which one works and so on. She is right, I thought, not about life slowing down and all but about SLOWNESS itself. How often we just rush through everything. Slowing down to observe and be mindful is something I consciously try to do but end up forgetting. I stumbled upon this quote of John Muir which speaks to me about a certain calm,

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.

- John Muir -

This is what we are exactly doing to ourselves - getting tired, nerve-shaken and over-civilized and in the process forgetting to slow down and cherish our surroundings, US! 

Well, the injured big toe is slowly teaching me to see the world in another fashion and thus ushering me into 2016. 

I hope and pray that you have a blessed and mindful 2016.


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