Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015

This has been a remarkable year with so many awesome things. Thank you for everything. I'm happy with the decisions I took and with the changes and challenges I faced. Thank you 2015- you showered me with a multitude of blessings.

Personally it has been a landmark year for the blog with me writing 289 posts, the highest since I started this blog. I'm happy and at peace. Happy new year everyone. May you be enthralled with life and with all the ups and downs that are an essential part of it.

Healthy living

How is it going to be possible with options like this right next to the billing counter? We picked up a few bottles for our party and a kid who came already finished one by himself. Sigh. I'm complicit.

God in small things

We stayed for a night in Bellary hoping to cover the fort there. We were all so tired from the trip that we woke up pretty late and it was too sunny hence we decided to visit the place and not attempt the climb.

The fort is built on a monolith and looks solid. What I will always remember about this fort is this group of kids using a water bottle as a sled and sliding down the slopes. The joy in their face reminded me that there's God to be found in the smallest of things.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Anjanadri hills

In hampi, we took a boat from near the Vitala temple to Anegodi. There were bikes being moved along with humans. The ride itself was an experience.

Anegodi was so fertile. No wonder kingdoms battled with the Vijayanagara dynasty. We trekked up the Anjanadri hills. It was 580 steps one way. There were quite a few people attempting the climb in the hot sun.

One man walked up to me and my sister and asked us what we do for a living. We said software, as explaining our finer occupation gets very taxing and we leave that conversation for people we'll keep running into. I continued to climb up as based on my previous long climbs, I know that stopping makes me want to rest longer. A few minutes later, I hear the man telling his wife, "See software people are climbing and you, the person who works on the soil is unable to." :)

We reached the peak in about 30 mins and spent a long time looking around. This place to me, exuded an aura of challenge. The wind blew from all directions and there were lot of smaller places to climb to.

The climb down was much faster. In life as well, it's harder to climb up, but far easier to fall down from any pedestal.

Into the middle of nowhere

In Badami, there's Agastya lake near the caves. We decided to walk around the lake the other day. Soon after we started our exploration, we took a path through the village as parts of the pathway were covered with water and we were nowhere near flexible as the village women.

As we wandered through the village, we found a road behind the archeological museum and took it in the blazing sun. We had a few goats for company, but otherwise, there were no tourists around. It was a beautiful route and we invented a lot of stories about the place as we walked around.

We reached the summit after a long walk and the view was amazing.

In most places, I feel there's a spirit that's waiting to be discovered. Where tourists frequent, their curiosity and interest changes the spirit but in those untouched areas, the aura is there, waiting to be experienced.

Badami's aura was one of serenity. The city saw Vaatapi, it saw the Chalukyas, the pallavas and even the British. It knows that the powerful die, that worshippers change and that things admired disappear. Nothing will remain forever except perhaps art.

The lost city

This was our second visit to Hampi. But this time, we took a guide in the royal enclosure which was basically where the king lived. He walked us through the different places and even showed us an underground chamber. His passion for the lost kingdom was contagious. I loved the story that there was a pipe line bringing water to the area so the royals could play holi..

In one of the walls there were engravings of camels. Also in the main platform, we saw smaller carvings of women going out for a hunt. The guide looked at us and said that equality was there from those days.

The plates of the soldiers were huge and my favorite was the stepped well discovered in the 80s.

I have a strong feeling that there's a path between the underground chamber and the lotus mahal. Perhaps, in an alternate universe, I'm the archaeologist who made the discovery.

Undiscovered gems

This vacation, another couple had the exact itinerary as ours. Only difference, they were staying longer in hampi. The guy told us about a group of temples in lakkundi. We googled the place and decided to visit it. We spent three hours there and felt it was insufficient.

The level of detail on the sculptures was just mind blowing. The temples were symmetrical and peaceful. After a very dirty Aihole and a crowded Badami, this place was a breath of fresh air. We walked around the empty village and befriended a few local kids who were following us.

We were treated like royalty. A couple of temples were opened for us.

What's interesting here is that the temples weren't destroyed by the invading mughals, but the Jain temple was constantly desecrated by the Hindus and the Hindu ones by the Cholas.

Since the place was untouched by tourists, it had a rustic charm to it. We ate food in a small eatery and it was easily the best food we'd eaten during the trip.

The sad state of a few historic monuments was a constant in the trip. Maybe because this place is unknown and the locals are so proud of their history, it is cleaner and in a much better condition than the well known ones.

A must visit for those that are traveling to see the world and not for the world to see them.

The voices of the dead

I was in Gol Gumbaz last week. The structure has a central chamber built to echo sound. I felt like the dead were trying to talk to me. I wrote this in my phone that day. Perhaps I'll make this into a short story.. I'm still contemplating.

The dead talk to me.. Every single day. Almost all the time. The first time I heard them, their voices surrounded me. I drowned in it and completely lost myself and my identity. I woke up to a deathly silence. They usually leave me alone - if I'm overwhelmed. They don't want me to become insane. They will lose all lines of communication with the living if it happens.

Forbidden island

Today thanks to two persistent friends of Laika, we got around to playing this game.
It is a cooperative game. The players work together to defeat the board. A lost city has four treasures which have been hidden to prevent people from stealing them. Every move within the board takes you closer to causing a flood which can remove parts of the island and even submerge you. If one player sinks the game is over. All is not lost for you have treasure cards handy. You can use them to pick up the lost treasures and also use the special cards to save yourself or your team. Everyone gets a special power. The pilot can fly anywhere, the engineer can mend multiple parts in one go and the diver can just swim away when things go wrong. Together you save the treasures and fly out. Very beautiful concept that's been executed well.
It was a very interesting 30 mins. A game I'd love to play often.

A thing of beauty

I came across this beautiful temple near the lake in Badami. A very beautiful dog was the lone occupant.
A few centuries ago, someone built this temple with a lot of thought. The sculptures, the shape of the building, the location.. Everything must have been thought through.

Maybe, it was built to rival something that has disappeared right now. Well never know. But what we can know is that, no matter how many years pass, and how much intentions and governments change, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. How many enjoy it, that depends on how many can open their eyes, how many are in the right state of mind. :)

Chitradurga fort - day one

I've been wanting to visit this fort for a long time. Every trip we take in this route, we plan to stop here. Unfortunately it never happened. This time around we managed to make time for it and man.. It was mind blowing.
The whole fort is shaped like a snake so the enemy cannot enter easily. There are seven gates- each more ornate than the previous. This place also gave wings to my imagination as I saw the whole war happening.. What with secret doors, underground chambers, prehistoric engravings, heavy duty artillery and a very interesting story about a woman who killed 80 men using a ulakkai by the time her husband finished lunch.. Our guide was very dedicated and his stories were so lively.
I'll write a longer piece about it sometime later as I want to relive the experience. For now, I want to just tell the world to watch out for such small gems of Indian history which are located in nondescript towns in the middle of nowhere.

Back to pavilion

We returned yesterday after an epic road trip. When you're on the road, everything seems different and routine is so far away. Unfortunately, if I keep moving, it will become a routine by itself.. So perhaps that's why vacations have to end. To remind you they're special and to make you watch things and relax.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Vacation Time

From when I can remember, December has been vacation time. Except for December 2010 when I was in the notice period in my first job, every December, I have had time off from school or college of work and for 6 of the last 7 years, visited some place of interest. I wanted to relive a few of those vacations and hence I am reminiscing or rather showing off here...

2008, we visited my aunt in Nasik. It was my first vacation with just my mother. It was great fun and we travelled from Bangalore and back by train. I shopped, ate, overate and went all around Nasik and the nearby areas.

2009, we went to Coorg and Chikmagalur. The trip was unforgettable as both families thought something had happened to us as the phones were out of reach. They tried contacting our friends, each other and finally heaved a sigh of relief when we reached solid ground.

2011, we went to Hampi and Pondicherry. Hampi was my first trip with my mom in law and till date I think it played an important role in her understanding me. :)

2012, we went to Srilanka - a land i want to revist for more reasons than one. It was our first vacation abroad as a couple.

2013 - it was Ajantha and Ellora - my mom, sis and mom-in-law joined us and they got to know each other well

2014 - was the year of a legendary road trip - first parts of Tamil nadu and then Mangalore, Udupi and Sringeri with a friend. We aren't in touch any more, but my last few memories of time spent with him are really pleasant.

In a few days, (I am paranoid about some thief reading my travel plan and breaking into my house) I will post about our vacation this year and also thank all gods I know for the life that I am lucky to lead.

Generation gap

There is this song I was raving about earlier this year - "Wear Sunscreen."

In that I remember a line to the likes of, each generation thinks that their leaders were better, their childhood nicer etc. etc. I know I can look it up and put in the exact line, but I think you guys get the drift - how every one is convinced that their life was simpler than that of the next generation.

Earlier, seeing a kid with a funky phone was to me an example of a generation gap. Now, I see the necessity in a few cases, especially when a few naughty kids pretend to not know when they should be home. Using a phone as a reminder to call them seems logical. Not all get funky phones, but then, it really shouldn't matter as what one parent can and will afford is different from another.

Recently, I was speaking with a boy in my team. He was very young but looked much older, largely due to his lifestyle. I am not being judgmental here - I actually like the boy.

He was telling me that he couldn't afford to repair his watch and hence had let it be. I was suggesting a few shops where he could get it repaired and then he shows me the watch online - its a tissot. I am not familiar with brands, but I have to be living under a rock to not have heard of Tissot. The price just shocked me. It was close to 20k. He is not much younger than me, but the fact remains that it seems to be a normal expense for him. He also is the proud owner of an iphone.

Till date, I think a lot before buying anything expensive. We do spend a lot, a lot more than what we imagined ourselves spending even 5 years ago. If i ran into my older self through some time travel portal, i will hear a earful about my lifestyle.

But then lot becomes a relative term.

We went to this swanky restaurant Saturday night. It was not a place we would usually frequent as it is more a pub than a restaurant and since none of us drink, we go to places where the food is the key. The place was 4 floors and each floor was packed. There were so many people, barely out of college, drinking, smoking and having fun. Then, there were a few more very obviously out of place, but just gawking at the pretty girls and trying to look cool.

We loved the food there and hogged to our hearts content, but a small part of me wondered why I never consciously seek out places like this and why I never tried to hang out with a crowd to chill like this.

I have never actively sought out company to chill while drinking as I've been blessed with company that can chill even while setting up golu padi or while cooking together or foraging for fruits (of all things) together or traveling. We are all just different people. But I get bugged to no end when I am just branded as boring because I don't indulge in alcohol. Can some of them socialize without drinking? That calls for a different post altogether.

The population that looks for such different modes to chill, to spend and to indulge is just 4-5 years younger than me. Our lifestyles, our choices, they couldn't be any different. Still. we are similar in that the IT industry has moulded our life.

This generation gap is not of decades - it is hardly of a few years. How much are things changing? I have no clue and I can only watch.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Pedestrian Headache

We carpool to work. I have not driven to office even once( in the new job). Since my husbands office is a little away from mine, he drops me and then I cross the road to get to mine.

It is a headache to say the least. There is a signal meant for pedestrians like me to cross over. Unfortunately, nobody ever follows it. The cars' speed seems to increase whenever there is a red. The poor pedestrians are left bullying our way across the road. We wait patiently till there are around 20-30 of us and then we walk across the road. I am sure that the ones on either corner are having a mini-heart attack when they are crossing the road. I was in the corner only once and my heart rate accelerated so much. If I ever take to a life of crime, I know how I will feel before a heist.

There is this movie in which the heroine is trying to flick a valuable painting. She trains a lot, goes through this room full of lasers by twisting and turning. I am sure,she will identify with me. And perhaps, she might get hit as these cars don't have any pattern and are the bosses of the road.

As a driver myself, I always stop for pedestrians and get honked every single time by the vehicles behind me - even, (and this is the funny part) if the signal is a bright red.

Why are we so irritating? Does it stem from a place of superiority as we can afford swanky cars? Or does it stem from a lack of sensitivity? I don't know. I just know that I am going to continue to walk and hopefully survive.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A story of two rides

Yesterday, I was traveling for work. We had a really nice cab driver, who spoke to me in Tamil, to a colleague in Malayalam and to another in Hindi. I was really impressed with his linguistic ability and when he was taking me back to the airport, I asked him how he knew so many languages.

He started telling me his life story. He had migrated from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu to Mumbai 30 years ago in the hope that his uncle would help him find a job as a technician. His uncle was not very supportive and he joined a factory. Unfortunately, they shut down and he had to find another job. A malayali boss took pity on him and hired him as a driver. He worked with them for 15 years and also got married in that time. He had three kids and his in-laws hit a jackpot with some business venture paying off. His wife wanted him to ask her father for money and he refused. He takes money from money lenders at huge interest rates to educate his children.

I was reading an article about people joining Uber as drivers as it is very lucrative. This poor driver, doing a minimum wage job he hates, living a life that he feels is not worth the effort - tells me that he drove for 48 hours straight with Uber and still hasnt made much. What do I believe?

Today, I had to go for a conference and I took an auto. The driver asked me if I was Tamil as I was supposedly very polite when I addressed him and told him where I wanted to go. (That is a theory I have to test, but I think it was a lucky guess). He was happy that I could speak fluent Kannada and give directions to him in the same.

He was remarking about how much Bangalore has changed ever since he started driving an auto in 82. Apparently, he once sped away from Madiwala as the area was too deserted and he was scared someone might hurt him at 12 in the afternoon!

He had saved very diligently and invested money in a chit fund for his sister's wedding. One fine day in 2000, the chit fund disappeared with all his investments. Till date, he is paying back the loans and has decided to not have kids.

He said that I was the first customer in a long time to watch the traffic and not look at the phone. He asked me, "What do people do all the time with the phone?"

After I got down from the auto, I received an email from an investment firm asking if i wanted to invest in mutual funds and gain high rewards. I know it is unfair to compare the fraudulent chit fund with a mutual fund, but my mind made the connect. For those from the lower strata of the society, it is so difficult to make money and so many things we take for granted, they cannot comprehend let alone embrace..

The whisper of stars

I was reading this book yesterday and today. It has a really scary concept.

The resources in the world have run out and all that is left is governed by the UN. People living within the UN boundary are able to have access to resources and the rest, do not. They live outside the safe zones. The ones within the safe zone are asked to hibernate - spend every alternate year in a deep sleep and come back to lead their lives after that. When they are sleeping, they are hypnotized, but have no idea what is actually happening.

Jen, a straightforward police officer, accidentally stumbles into a plot she is an intrinsic part of and tries to save her world.  Nathans life changes after his wife Kat, an investigative reporter was killed when she was following up a lead on Jen's dad Jacob. Jacob had hidden an artifact in front of Jen and the artifact possesses enough power to build and to destroy. How Nathan and Jen try to figure out the conspiracy forms the rest of a powerful story.

I was able to relate to the story as I find information availability is biased much more than we want to believe. Now, in a way, I feel people in the world are hypnotized by social media. They see what they want to, spread it, believe in it and are more than happy to sleep all through their lives and forget some sad realities..
This book reminded me that some science fiction is actually closer to reality than any one of us would want to believe. I hope that I am truly awake to my realities at least and that if it comes to it, I am able to make the right choice.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Attachment for Detachment

There was a time in my career, when nothing mattered more than my job. It would be an understatement to say that I was obsessed with my work. I couldn't think of anything else to do. Even reading and travelling took a back seat. I researched, thought, strategized about what to do, how to do, how my life will change if i do A first instead of B and so on.

I wasn't an MBA and that led to a lot of introspection, especially when relatively sane friends went insane with MBA preparations. There were just so many aspects to life that made it very complicated and I was lost. Even moving into a brand new house did nothing much to reduce my stress.

One fine day, two years ago, we thought about getting a dog. Through a strange twist of fate, we found one in 15 days. Life changed for the better after that as I had the best teacher living with me. 

A dog taught me to take life one day at a time.

A dog taught me to love unconditionally and to always be happy

A dog reminded me that beauty can be found in the smaller things in life.

A dog accepted me for who I was, however I was.

A dog made me to finally just let things be.

I still love my job and I love to work, but I am learning the art of distinguishing work and life and trying to do justice to both. It is a very long road and I still become obsessive and upset, but I know that I am on the right path. I know that my path is going to be carved by me and me alone and that no matter what happens, I will have a couple of companions walking right next to me.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Surprises

Last week, in my eating spree, I went and had an icecream in Swensens. A brief history of my relationship with Swensens - there was a point in time, I might have become their brand ambassador. I have lost count of the number of people who've been introduced to the place by me. We did pretty well - Swensens and I.

This whole year, I was nowhere near an outlet. Finally giving into temptation, when we walked into one, I ordered one of their relatively smaller sundaes (The menu hasnt changed at all! I have had every single item many times over)

50% into it, I couldnt have another bite. It was overwhelming. I surprised and shocked myself. While I spent a lot of time last week cribbing about over eating, this reminded me how less I was eating compared to how much I used to eat!

For a few minutes, I was truly happy and of course later upset thinking of the unfinished ice cream and wondering what indulgence I need to find now. One piece of chocolate seems to be the right thing..

This piece is not intended to make fun of anyone who loves ice creams. This is just my personal story of how much my life has changed over time and how moderation is not necessarily a bad thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A challenge

I was on a very strict diet. Note the use of the word was. Lately, I'm so tempted by food. I've had 3 meals out in two days. It's just unbelievable and sad.

Sad because I'm getting my dry skin back.. Slowly but. That's a consolation. I'm challenging myself today to go one week without eating out. No snack except a fruit bowl. How much will I be able to control? God only knows.

If I'm traveling and there's no other go, I'll try to eat healthy. Please give me the strength to get through this..

Friday, December 11, 2015

Falling ill

After quite sometime, I am ill again. I dont know the trigger. Perhaps my 15 mins of yoga was saving me all these days while disaster was lurking in the corner. Now that I am not doing my suryanamaskara, the vultures decided to swoop in. Perhaps it is the weather - Bangalore is in a crazy place right now. Perhaps the commute, perhaps the pollution... there are way too many causes.

I dont like this state too much, so I am going to restart my suryanamaskara with a vengeance and hopefully recover soon and not fall sick again. :(

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Privilege

I have posted about being constantly harassed to have kids.

Anything which talks about the taboo topic of the effects of pregnancy on a career without bringing in how beautiful motherhood is, catches my attention.
I am not sure how many have watched this ad of myntra.

It is a new age ad. I really do appreciate it. There are women out there who are making decisions without treating pregnancy as a handicap and who actually are ready to confront  their bosses. They want to manage their career and their children as both are equally important to them. Some are successful in growing professionally and personally. The majority, well, they are quietly swallowing it all up and moving ahead.

This ad did strike a chord with me as I have seen people being discriminated against (never directly, we are all too decent right?) because they choose to have children. One manager was telling this friend of mine who was trying to learn something new at work, "Why are you bothering about it, you will get an average rating, nobody wants to put down a mother. All the extra hours will not help you get a very high rating. Go focus on your child." It was his luck that my claws stayed in that day.

Coming back to the ad - it is beautifully shot. It is a dream. But there is the issue - it is just a dream. It is way too ideal.

When you are pregnant, especially, when you are perhaps a few weeks away from delivering, your mind would be on figuring out how to handle all the changes in your life. There are going to be way too many for a normal person. Identifying what to do after a 3 month maternity leave and how to manage the kid, is probably right in the top of the list of questions.

How the hell are you able to make such a big financial decision as the lady in the ad does? How deep must your pockets be, to be able to actually go ahead and rent and build such a big office? Given the real estate rates, renting or buying is just way too expensive. Who are you really? You are not the norm for a new age woman. You are an exception. The new age woman is still working on her identity. She has perhaps managed to plan her pregnancy, plan her life to a large extent, but she might not be in a position to actually start off on her own. I would love nothing more than for this to be a reality.

Even for someone as privileged as me, it is a big distant dream. Perhaps possible after a lot of sweat and tears, because I have a very supportive family and I will have someone to take care of the kid and someone to actually feed me and help me retain my lifestyle with all the expenses a kid would bring in.  But for someone not so lucky? It is not going to happen. Perhaps someday, our banks would be ready to give such loans out, our society would be able to see beyond the size of a stomach. Until then, I will just be happy watching these ads.

Temptation

So that's what I finally gave into and had a bite of today..
I love chocolates and I've not eaten any (much is closer to the truth) in a long time. I love Godiva and getting it as a gift from the US was awesome. It stayed in the fridge for almost a month untouched. Harini from last year would have gobbled it up in a week. Harini now just took a bite and let it be. A huge difference..

Thank you God.. For the temptation and the joy of giving in.

Ill-informed

One of my childhood memories is of my grandfather sitting in front of the TV and watching the Tamil news. I used to throw a tantrum when some program of mine got interrupted. Still, he persisted in watching it( he seldom did things I didn't like). Even when he was sick, he got a cable connection for the black and white TV in his room. My father, watches debates in television and is quite up to date.

As for meMe- I hate watching news in the television. I don't want to know all that's wrong with the world. Looking at a news reporter tell what's happening around the world puts me ill at ease. Always the one to believe that like history, news is also written by the victors I stayed away. I read the economic times, but that's about it.

Facebook started showing me things that were trending. This, I soon realized was even worse than television news. The mob likes to talk about negatives much more than anything that's positive. Marissa Meyers severance package is more sensational than the army men risking their lives and saving people. In fact, garbage in Chennai is shown, but nobody talks about the people giving away their salaries and the minimum they have to start afloat. Even dog groups have longer discussions on abused and abandoned dogs than of happy dogs and owners.

Have we as a society become negative? Or is it just that those that are positive are out making a difference instead of talking about it? I want to believe it's the latter. If it is the former, there isn't much hope left. I'd rather be ill informed than informed of only the ills. Hope is the best thing ever.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The "silver" affair

There was a point in time (my amazing college years) when I loved watching movies. I took a course called "Critical Appreciation of Literature and Cinema" ( I am a mechanical engineer, but was lucky to study in probably the best college in the world where they encouraged you to experiment with your electives). Weekends and even week days were spent watching movies of different languages.

Then, when I started working, watching a movie in a theater or in my newly acquired laptop was a weekly affair. 3-4 movies in a week was normal. I had my mornings free and the 100rs ticket in forum was a heaven send. That failing, there also were my crazy friends who had hard disks full of movies from all over the world and my brand new laptop - Life was one long movie then.

Over the course of years, I have actually lost touch with my habit of watching movies. I started watching quite a lot of English tv series. Star World(even the Premier one), Comedy Central and recently Colors Infinity have gotten me off my movie high.

Maybe my attention span has come down. Perhaps, I dont have so much time in one go. Or maybe, I am back to reading books with a vengeance. I cant pinpoint the exact reason. However, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I need to make time - to watch at least one movie a week. Something good and worth the time and effort and review it.

Self Sufficiency?

It does come at a price. I have been maid-less for sometime now and it has been a truly eye opening experience. (10 days since I officially fired her, but more than a month since she has stopped working)

I know where everything is in my house now. I realise that 80% of the things that were supposedly washed and stacked in a rack havent been used in ages. I spend 60 mins to 90 mins everyday cooking, cleaning and in general getting to know my house and my habits better.

I am not sure how much longer we will continue with this, but we have learnt a few important lessons:

1.We have to not accumulate so much. We need to be less materialistic. A lot of things we got are hardly being used!!
2. We have to reduce some existing clutter (we have already thrown away a lot of vessels. Clothing is going to go next)
3. Cleaning the house is like working out. You just cannot sit and do anything. For people stuck in desk jobs, this is essential
4. It is not that difficult.
5. Time management - If you are a successful professional, you will actually find this experience similar to managing any project you might have. A lot gets done when you actually plan it.

Now, I am not a very gourmet cook. I make simple things. Also, I have a job with flexible hours, so we are out of the house by 730 and back by 6. This gives us quite sometime at home. Would all this change if my responsibilities evolve or if we get to have longer hours? Only time will tell. But in just 10 days, I have become far more efficient in a lot of things. Maybe, just maybe, this is here to stay.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Peace

Just look at her sleep.. Her friend is sitting right next to her and trying to wake her up.

A new experience

Yesterday, we volunteered at the Bangalore lit fest in the book store by atta galatta. (We got new t shirts!!) It was a very different experience.

Collecting feedback from everyone, arranging books, directing people around, looking at authors - it was fun!! The whole day was nice and calm. We loved the experience.

Doing things for the fun of it, has fallen off my agenda. Making money has become my primary concern. Once in a while, doing things like this, gives me great peace of mind.

Friday, December 04, 2015

A remote observer

Social media has become a very powerful tool over the last few years. It is such an intricate part of our lives, that a lot of us have forgotten how things were before the advent of this medium. While it is a curse in a lot of instances, seeing how social media is helping folks connect to each other, find lost people, organize relief efforts and saves lives in Chennai last week, I am forced to change my opinion.

I am but a remote observer with family in Chennai who are all thankfully safe (Divine intervention I am sure) . Facebook opened my eyes to the state of people I know all over the city. A friend has asked me to help coordinate efforts all over the city while sitting in Bangalore and that has got me interested and excited. Whether it is going to be of a huge help to people or not, the effort will give me some peace of mind.

Disasters can strike anyone, anywhere and when it does, it doesnt matter how rich you are, or how big your house is, or how many cars you have. Everything just floats away.

High Flyer

I traveled for work to Mumbai day before. It was a day trip(second time I did that!!!). I dont want to talk about work in my personal blog, but I definitely want to talk about the experience.

Up till 4 years ago, the only time I had gone on a flight was when I left my home to go join college. In my first job, there was never a necessity and exploring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by road was all that my traveling included.

When we got married, we flew to Sikkim (Bagdogra to be exact and it is not in Sikkim) for our honey moon and after that, all my flights were international. This year however, has been primarily domestic. I have to admit that I love it.

Starting with Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa, Mumbai - we covered 4 different states through flight (5 if i include the return to bangalore). The cheap air fare made it possible. We even left our car at the air port as that made more financial sense than going by cab. It was very smooth.

This time around, I was lucky enough to get a priority pass ( i am not revealing how) and I walked into a lounge by myself and sat down drinking a bottle of water and sipping some watermelon juice. I felt on top of the world. Like, I had somehow arrived. It might not sound logical to most, but that experience was very refreshing. Maybe it is materialistic - this joy of mine..Yet, I really dont care. I am delighted with life and everything about it right now and flying without wings. (literally)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Faith of the Nine

This review will definitely be biased as I know the author personally (it is my husband) and have read everything he dishes out.

The plot follows three characters - Fateh - a soldier, Ishan - a precocious kid and Abhaya - a monk of a secret order as they make their way around a world that is perhaps on the verge of an apocalypse. The older gods have forsaken Janani and a powerful god, Pruksa is protecting the masses. All is not well and though a few can sense it, not everyone is ready to speak out. Each of the characters see their life changing and are forced to come to terms with it and take a few decisions that set the stage really well for the second book.

Faith of the Nine is perhaps the only epic fantasy I have finished without complaining. There is so much of nail biting suspense, action and magic. Janani is a world that has been built with a lot of thought and you cannot help but get transported to that world that is so similar yet so different from yours.

Each character (major or minor) is well crafted. Of the three main ones, I cannot pick one as a favorite and I would love to get to know them even better.

At its heart, Faith of the Nine is a story of rediscovery. The three main characters, who are each very different from each other, embark on a journey to know the world around them and come to terms with it. Whether they manage to change it or not is the question the author leaves us to grapple with.

My only complaint - the book needs stronger women. Bhaya and Ruksar are interesting, but we definitely need a few more.

The book can be purchased here

Monday, November 30, 2015

Maid mania

I've had the same maid for almost three years. We had a functional relationship and over a period of time, her responsibilities increased. She helped tend the garden, bathe the dogs, cook and so on. However, she had been acting really weird over the last two months.
Perhaps, my not being around when she worked irked her, or maybe she was over worked as she had signed up for a lot more houses. Not wanting to let her go, I reduced her responsibilities and tried to be understanding.
Unfortunately, she misused the trust and came only ten days last month. Her behavior opened my eyes as I was able to manage the house really well despite working full time. So I finally fired her yesterday. It's going to be tough with a lot of hiccups, but I think we'll manage. Here's to another month of self sufficiency.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

An experiment

We were gifted with a fish tank for our wedding. We had cichlids for a couple of years. We shifted to our new house and one fish survived and ruled the tank for a very long time. He died in early 2014 and after a lot of thought we picked gold fish. Again, just one survived. When it passed away, we weren't sure about keeping new fishes again.

Then, my friend, who's really passionate about aquariums, agreed to help me. He's set up a tank without the fishes but with a lot of plants, so the environment is set for the fishes whenever we get them. I'm hoping the experiment is a success. I'm still astounded by the amount of work he put in to setting up the tank and very impressed with his dedication.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A dedication

Last week has been one of revelations for me. Facebook has this widget which shows you how things were on a particular day in the previous years. It tells me that those that I had fun with change each year. (Except for family though. They can't get rid of me that easy!)

Some, it was gradual.. Inevitable. A couple, just sudden and sad. With all the changes in life, I've never had time to actually stop and remember all that was. Today, I took a few minutes to be thankful for all those that shaped me and stayed with me when times were tough. Even if  they're nowhere in the picture now, I can't discount their importance in my life. Rather of their role in helping me with a few choices, even if it was not deliberate. I'd like to dedicate this post to those that were.. Thank you and good luck.

Dreams

It's just weird as to how our dreams change so much over years. Sometimes what we wish and hope for, looses its charm. A few other times, fear stops us from truly following what we want to do. At others, it's laziness. Whatever it is, maybe you're lucky to get something else that keeps you driven, or you just waste away and survive.
I think of all those that don't mean anything to me and of those that make me sigh with a deep regret. How will everything change in the future, I can only wonder.. I'll try to be less scared of life and everything else.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dimpu

Today, we started a little late for work due to multiple reasons. As we were getting out of the community, a neighbor called up and told us that he'd located an abandoned Labrador. 
It was on our way to work we went to check on the dog. It was an awesome looking chocolate Labrador.
While we were debating what to do, a local told us that the dog belonged to someone across the road. We helped the dog cross. I bent and showed him how to come.
Dimpu- was reunited with his family. We're late for work, but happy with life in general.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A first

I think I have mentioned enough times that I live in/near a village. Going home from anywhere without a car has been unimaginable - till today. We are 100% reliant on cars - ours or a neighbors or a cab.

Today, we (my better half and I) were stuck as our usual ride got delayed due to some crazy last minute stuff. Outer ring road was jampacked and cabs were a distant dream. Most of our neighbors were already near home and we couldnt hitch a ride. As we stood wondering, we spotted a bus that went half the distance we had to go and got in.

This was one of the fancy buses with AC and full of IT folks looking at gadgets/sleeping. It was nice to watch the rain from the comfort of the bus. Our stop came and the drizzle stopped temporarily. While we were wondering who to call for help, another bus came and based on my newly learnt Kannada, we understood that it went pretty near our place. The bus was full of people very unlike us, headed home no doubt after a very tiring day. It was quiet and such a contrast to the other bus as nobody was on the phone - everyone was trying to sleep or just relax. Someone even fought with the conductor for charging 2Rs extra!

In all the drama, we missed our stop as we could not recognize the landmarks from inside the bus. But, we got down a little before the next stop and walked home in the rain. We actually enjoyed the experience. I dont know if I would love it so much if I had to do it everyday.. Still, it was a good start and I am happy. Life is beautiful and there are so many new experiences just waiting for me.

Self Sufficiency

I am a typical Bangalorean. I have household help - for cleaning, sometimes cooking, ironing, washing the car etc.

Recently, I have had few really bad experiences with my maid (letting Zoya out, not cleaning vessels and bunking on days I had guests etc.), so have been evaluating living without one. Anybody I told this thought to, immediately suggested new maids. Nobody was ready to believe that I might be able to survive without one. I am experimenting from today and I really hope that one way or the other, I can finally become self sufficient.

Another help who let me down was the iron-wala. He happily burnt my brand new pant and forgot to inform me. I was wearing it when my sister spotted a hole in a very strategic location before I left home. Thank god for small mercies. So, I started ironing my clothes yesterday. It took me 25 mins to get 3 pieces of clothing ironed, largely because I have never done it before. We are going to get an ironing table today as well.

Let me see how this experiment with self sufficiency works out for me.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The best gift

Today I woke up feeling really tired and hating the weather. I wanted to spend the whole day at home. But I had some interesting stuff to finish at work, so got ready and stepped out.

We were stuck in a bad jam at a place we never get stuck in and were badly delayed.

After we got out of the jam, I saw bright sky - like the day was only going to get better. I was very happy. Despite being late, a few painful hurdles were overcome with the help of a friend.

Then, I get the best gift - a day off. I have an unexpected holiday tomorrow for a company celebration and I am so happy!! Life is awesome. (I am going to wash clothes in that time, but still, it is something to do)

Puppy tales

So the pup I was writing about a couple of days back (rescued by a family on Monday night) ran away on Tuesday. Let us call this family number 1. They were hunting all over the place and finally found him in another house. That is family number 2.
Both Family number 1 and family number 2 have kids that want the pup. But mother is family number 2 is ok for her children's sake. The lady in family number 1 was more than happy to let the pup be in its new home much to the disappointment of her kids.

Let us see how this plays out. I really want that pup to be in a good place and I am still wondering where his siblings are.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Prayer

So after her adventures (first her obsessive fear of crackers and second her frolicking in the rain), Zoya has lost weight and is not eating too well. I had to take her to the hospital and they have run a series of tests and identified her liver tests are not normal.

We are waiting for a few more test results and I am praying to all Gods I know that she recovers soon and goes back to being my round ball and not this skeleton she has become. Stress can supposedly trigger a lot of things. :(

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Acceptance

Why are we OK accepting illness of the body without batting an eyelid ( unless it's a woman's issue) but it takes us ages to accept the possibility of a mental illness, let alone react to it?

We're all usually self centered and don't look beyond ourselves for anything in life. Sometimes we miss the obvious signs in those around us as we can't even begin to comprehend what it is, let alone what to do about it.

Something shocking woke me up last week and I'm yet to wrap my head around it. I can't discuss it in a public space, but suffice to say, it's made me question a few fundamental assumptions about life, happiness and relationships.

I took a resolution to educate myself about mental illnesses better and to try to not mock at people and judge their choices. Everyone is trying their best to lead their lives and survive.

Where are the dogs?

Chennai has become a floating city and as I see the innumerable pictures doing their rounds, I wonder, what happened to the four legged animals that usually haunt the streets? How are they finding food? How are they surviving in this weather? What about the dogs that just gave birth? What has happened to the pups? Have I changed so much that my thought goes to the dogs first and not the people? I dont want to answer that question. Perhaps, seeing all the articles around relief activity for human beings has reassured me.

Bangalore is also seeing its fair share of the rain. I haven't been able to wash clothes or take these jokers for a walk. I saw a new mother dog walking inside yesterday and she ran away before i could locate her litter.

A family in my community found a puppy shivering in the rain. Though they don't have pets right now and the mother was scared of pets, she requested her husband to get the pup home. We helped them to put it in a warm place. He climbed into  my lap and fell asleep. Just a little warmth in the cold and he was in puppy heaven. I am not sure if they will keep the pup, but for yesterday, that act probably saved his life. Taking it one day at a time to prevent myself from getting too upset about life.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Community

Today, was a very scary day. I was looking forward to a pretty interesting work week and headed to office as usual. At 1030, I receive a call from my maid that the dogs have run away.

She tried to find them, but couldnt, so she was going to continue working in other houses. I really lost it - scenes of Laika fighting with dogs and tearing the pants of watchmen she doesnt like flashed through my head.

I posted in our "Pet Owners" whatsapp group about the incident and told them that we would be coming home. A friend there told us that it wouldnt make a difference as there was a real big jam outside my office and it would take me a minimum of 2 hours to get out of office. I called my dear maid again and found out it was just Zoya who was out. I had to verify with color as she calls both dogs "Laika".

I called up a friend to check if he saw Zoya near his house and was very surprised to find out that he was actually out in the rain looking for her. A couple of others joined as well. They took biscuits for her and tried to entice madam but she didn't fall for it and somehow disappeared right in front of their eyes. I was super tensed and we took a cab home, skipping lunch.

When we came home, she was safe inside. I dont know how that happened, but today was one of those days that re-affirmed my belief in friends and community. Some people are truly amazing and some bonds are pretty strong when they are formed because of something/someone we love.

The trouble maker is sleeping and shivering in her sleep now.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A quiet Diwali

This year, there has been a shift in how people are celebrating the festival of lights. Madurai, where I am from has a very lively Diwali usually. People bursting crackers nonstop and lot of laborers/workers asking the slightly better of families for money to get crackers. Perhaps it is the proximity to Sivakasi or perhaps it is the Madurai style of celebrating everything king size, but Diwali is pretty noisy there.

This year, it was relatively quiet. I was very surprised. It was not raining. We had to go to check on something and we left on Tuesday afternoon in an auto as driving a car through the cracker filled roads could cause issues. Funnily, nobody was seen and the usual "whose house has more paper from bursting crackers" game was not happening.

We reached Bangalore on Wednesday night, the day folks were celebrating Diwali here and it was quieter. Good thing for Zoya who was sick with worry, but seriously, what is happening to noisy Diwalis? Are people actually becoming more conscious of the environment? Or have crackers become expensive? ( I have never had to buy - dad buys always! It is our tradition)

I had my fill of sweets and some very interesting visitors, so I am not complaining. (I burst crackers in Madurai and Laika watched me throughout. :D)

Roadtrip

I am back home after driving for close to 980km - by myself. I marvel at where I have come from where I was. (I have been singing my praises to anyone who will listen).

My need to keep challenging myself and pushing boundaries every time is helping in my evolution. Mom and I had a really great time together spending time with each other and handling a few issues as a team (more on that later).

Accomplishments - however minor are what keep me going and I intend to let it remain that way. :)

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Rules that evolve

Some say that rules are  meant to be broken and that times change significantly. When I got Laika, she slept outside in our car porch. Zoya wailed her heart out and found herself inside the house at night.

I refused to leave them inside unsupervised. Then a few children let other dogs out and they started staying inside all day..

Recently, it's been so cold that I've broken the no dogs on furniture rule and allow them to sit next to me when it's very cold. I still can't share my bed with them, but a bean bag right next to the bed seems like a good compromise now.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Grounding

You come back home after a great day at work. You have had an amazing ego boost and to sweeten the deal, some money that you were supposed to get, finally comes. You are flying without wings, eating unhealthy food in an attempt to celebrate.

You are out for a walking, enjoying life and appreciating all that is right with the world and your two companions walk in awe of you. Until, one decides to poop - right in the middle of the damn road. You get down from your horse, bite the humble pie, borrow paper from a neighbor, kneel in the middle of the road and clean it up.

If that cannot ground you, nothing else will.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Driving in the rain

Usually, we are exhausted by the time we come back home from office. We walk them dogs and then just sleep or work. Today, for a change, we decided to head out for a weekday dinner though it was poring.

The restaurant was almost empty and we had really yummy food in Mr.Idly (more about the place later). I was reversing the car when I remembered my reluctance to move the car let alone park it by myself. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.

I enjoyed the drive back in the rain. When I dont have to drive and I do it because I want to, the experience is actually quite enjoyable and peaceful.

Identity

What do you do when what you perceive as your identity is threatened? You either morph to reinvent yourself according to the threat, or you hold on to your identity and fight tooth and nail for it or you just become faceless.

I feel a lot of conflict, regional and religious stems from a few factions trying to take advantage of perceived threats to identity. At the end of the day, all of us have evolved so much over decades and centuries that a lot of the identities are irrelevant. But because we have never thought of ourselves beyond the identity, we try very hard to stick to it and react violently to anyone that tries to question it.

What can change this situation and to a certain extent quell the unrest is if people are integrated into a society they feel they belong to and have an identity beyond region or religion or caste and in some cases even gender.

It is easy for me to be an arm chair philosopher and speak as though I really am experiencing a crisis, but I really dont know how to go ahead and change the world as I see it.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hope

A couple of years ago, I used to keep telling my friend that I was going to get a dog that would bite people I don't like. We had no plans of getting a pet then..

Through a series of fortunate accidents I got a gunda and then another partner in crime for her. These incidents remind me that everything happens for a reason. Every time I wonder why things are going awry, I will remember this and be happy..

Practice

Maybe it's the navrathri spirit, or all the music I've been listening to, but I'm practicing singing often nowadays. Really not sure if it's going to continue, but for now, it sure is liberating to sing out loud... :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Forgiveness

Forgiveness was never my strong suite. I'm known for being angry and just shutting a few people out for months or even years. But recently I've accepted that anger doesn't really help with anything. It just puts you in an endless loop that doesn't let you progress and inevitably leaves a very bad taste behind.

That acceptance had opened my eyes and my mind. I've undertaken a journey whose destination I know not. Let me see how it goes..

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Smell the roses

Something which greeted me a few days ago and I was so delighted then. A reminder for me to stop and smell the roses once in a while.

Art for Arts sake

A philosophical series of questions, not exactly looking for an answer here.

Should art be for arts sake? Not for some other higher purpose? Is the purpose of the art that it inspires you to look beyond?

Lets say somebody is dependent on you for a living. can you then continue with creating art for art's sake without caring about your family?

Or let us say you are hired for a design firm where your seniors preferences are very different from yours. What do you do then?

Where does the line between integrity and income come in? What is wrong with doing things just to make something out of them? Is it such a bad thing at the end of the day? Why do we make villains out of those that focus on commerce?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dreams that come true

Today, I was woken out of a deep sleep by a very strange dream. I dreamt that I was running behind someone trying to make friends with a huge black hairy dog. It was a very big dog and I wanted to know what it was and whether it was friendly. I started cycling furiously towards the dog and then I see two other dogs I have never seen anywhere near where I live walking down the road.
I don't catch up with them and I woke up disappointed.
This morning when I was walking these two,I ran into a new dog and made friends with her. She was a gorgeous over active daschund and I was so happy that the dream had such a great real ending.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The full golu

On the day I remove my golu, a snapshot of the same. It has been a wonderful ten days and we've had so many visitors. I realized I have a social side and that I love interacting with a few people. I'm seriously considering a career path of a katha lady. Now I'm being called story aunty by a few kids. Interesting..

Nameless faces

I was watching the crowd milling in a mall today. Everyone with their dreams, hopes and interests.. Everyone hoping to find a piece of joy by spending something and interacting with one card or c the other. Each so different and all just the same.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The third step

My third step in the golu has the ten avatars of Vishnu. These avatars are supposed to follow the order of evolution. Matsya, the fish, kurma - the tortoise, Varaha- the boar,  Narasimha-half man half lion, Vamana- the dwarf, Parasurama-the angry man, Rama- the ideal man, Balarama- the strong man, Krishna-the man suited for the current world and kalki-the man on the horse.

Behind the avatars is the Vishwaroopam of the vamana avatar. I love the face of this idol.
I have ranganatha sleeping on adisesha and the famous scene from ramayana where hanuman sits at a height higher than ravana. I love the whole aura of the scene.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Highlights and footnotes

I got my relieving letter from my previous organization today and when I saw it in my inbox, I felt the last few ties being severed. It was a mixed feeling. Relief as I can submit the document here and a slight sorrow that a relationship which dictated a big part of my life could be summarized in a single page.

Perhaps life is all about making the big things of a point in time a footnote and looking for new things to define who you are at all stages. School was a big deal for me. I do have a lot of pleasant memories but it is not something that takes a center stage now. Getting into my college was a dream that came true, again an almost foot note now. The list can go on.

I loved what I did and while a piece of me still holds on to the memories, the ties have been severed now and I am floating around in the ocean of life, looking for something else to moor to.

My life is a boat in an ocean that can weather storms, change the facade, watch the fun, participate in changes around. It will be affected by it all, but the course can never be predicted, for there are too many factors playing a role.

Bad attitude

I have been raving about the changes in my life. I can safely say, I am almost used to my new routine and in fact, enjoying some aspects of it.

There is one thing that takes time getting used to, and that is bad attitude. Due to a few unavoidable reasons, I seem to have gotten off on a wrong footing/ created a wrong impression with a few folks and the attitude just maddens me to say the least.

Take the case of this driver we had last month. He came late one day and rather than blast him like my sister did, I took him with me to office though I did not need a driver. We gave him a few days off as we wanted him to enjoy the long weekend and drove ourselves around. The monday after the long weekend, he did not show up. Someone else picked up his phone and spoke nonsense.
No call, no message, nothing for three days. We had to follow up with him constantly and finally he said that he cannot come and gave no reason. We knew he had no other income, but he was still cheeky.

Last week, he was grinning at me when we were walking the dogs in the evening. He had been employed to drive a tempo by someone. Laika growled at him and I was delighted with her.

Then, there was this person who was working on the grill for our house. He finished 90% of the job and then left it incomplete and disappeared. Funny thing about him, he did not collect the money that was due to him. :) He finally came a month later, finished everything and collected money. He was too over worked to complete his commitments, so he was just unprofessional, not an ass.

Even a few non blue collar folks I know seem to have a pathetic attitude towards work and are very unprofessional, but for fear that they might some day read this blog, I dont want to talk about them.

I have accepted that my tolerance for bull shit is low and that I still need to be polite as sometimes speaking your mind doesnt get the job done and my focus is just that - get things done. Perhaps some day I will become more self sufficient. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The second step

This is my second step. I wanted the eight lakshmis on the first step, but I didn't have enough space.

Legend says there are eight Lakshmis. One for each kind of wealth. They are:
1. Adi Lakshmi for beginnings
2. Dhana Lakshmi for money
3. Dhanya Lakshmi for food
4. Gaja Lakshmi for animals
5. Santana Lakshmi for children
6. Vijaya Lakshmi for victory
7. Vidhya Lakshmi for education
8. Veera Lakshmi for bravery

I love it that women represent these kinds of wealth and the faces of the dolls are so beautiful.

The other set is that of Lakshmi Hayagriva, one of the lesser known avatars of Vishnu. He is known for providing knowledge. This is one of my oldest sets and I love sharing the story with everyone who isn't familiar with it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The first step

This is the first step of my golu. It's a predominantly woman power theme. Right in the center is mahishasuramardini flanked on both sides by Lakshmi and Saraswati. Next to them in Andal, the only female alwar( vaishnavite saint poet. There are 9 in total). In the corner is Krishna with a parrot. My sources tell me that he teaches the parrot to say 'de ra' which becomes Radhe when repeated and she rushes to meet him.

The marapachi dolls representing Krishnadevaraya and his wife are in their rightful place at the very first step. It was during the reign of this king that the tradition of arranging dolls began. I love these two dolls I have as they look very royal.

I'm the other corner is an image of Vishnu in paarkadal. I'm still researching suka maharishi(the man with the parrot face)

I feel so happy during navrathri as I learn a lot of mythological stories that I share with people who come home. It's such a wonderful occasion to socialize as well.

Light-er

I am one of those exceptions who gained weight eating mess food in college. I gained 6kg in the first semester, which I never lost. I added on to the bulk over a period of time and soon, I got so used to my weight that I forgot how I used to be.

After being careful about food for the last 10 months (of course I am indulging once in a while, but  not like how I used to be), I am now in my pre-college weight range. I am not sick or looking weird because all of this is due to healthy eating and light exercise.

I am so delighted to be lighter and I hope my resolve to put my health at the forefront continues to be as strong as it is right now.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Garuda sevai

This is one c of my favorite sets from navrathri golu. The garuda sevai of lord balaji from tirupati. Watch the faces of the dolls, then the various characters that have been made. Nobody seems to be forgotten. I picked it up in Madurai. Beautiful right?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Global village

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to travel to Mumbai for work. It was one of my first visits to an Indian customer and I was a little apprehensive. It was a one day trip and I understood different aspects of my personality I did not know about earlier. That is another story I dont want to write about in my blog.

But what I want to talk about is how business travelers are becoming an increasing segment in India. There are folks who fly in to a city in the morning and fly out by noon. While coming back, I was sitting next to a guy, who goes to Mumbai for work but actually lives in Bangalore. I was stunned to hear that to say the least.

Then I got to know about this couple who alternatively live in the US and India. They spend 2 weeks in the US and 2 in India! Some things which are beyond my comprehension came up and I wondered if the world is but a tiny village. Technology has enabled us to function from any where in the world. The idea that being tied to one place is not essential has gotten me thinking about what else could be possible. I got to know of a family whose kids study in the US and one of the parents stay there with them alternatively while the other globe trots.

The funny part was, after the initial surprise, I could actually imagine myself leading such a life. Now I am including a helipad in my farm house plan. I can fly in and out of anywhere. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My favorite time of the year

Navrathri is here and I am oh so happy with life. My golu is up, my immediate neighbors have been invited, return gifts are in place and life is awesome again.

I am going to be putting up quite a few posts on my blog about my golu, so the world can see what I am upto.

I am looking forward to a few evenings of coffee and chats. I hope it goes as well as I want it to..

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Safety

A recent incident has made me wonder how safe we actually are. It takes just a matter of seconds for things to change from bad to worse. Your life can change thanks to the split of the minute decisions of someone else and not just you. Your family, your friends, all of them can be impacted. You can't even guess the outcome and are helpless and lost in such situations.
On a positive note, it takes just the same time for things to become better and like in our case, the sun can come out from behind the clouds in minutes and drive all the darkness away!!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

My slice of heaven

I didn't have to try too hard to find it. It was right in front of me.

Temptation

When I started with my famous naturopathy diet, I was working from home. Also, when I maintained it, I was. Avoiding temptation was as simple as not buying snacks and eating something homemade whenever i was hungry.

Now that I have started a new job, things are not so easy. The fact that I get free food in office and coupons for things which arent free makes it even more difficult. My current temptation is a small cup of sugarless horlicks. I used to drink quite a lot of milk in March/April. I wanted to be healthy.

Only in June did I learn that milk can aggravate a skin condition I have and I completely stopped it. Now after 4 months of avoiding dairy products, I want to drink this tiny glass of milk. I have had it three days in a row now. :(

This is just the starting point as I feel the temptation to munch on all the stuff that is not at all good for me. Long term or short term. I get compliments about how I look now and how much weight I have lost. I keep replaying that in my head and try to avoid the food. Dont think that I am starving myself. This is far from it. This is about avoiding junk, which has become mainstream food now in this time and place.

They say that the first step to overcoming any addiction is acceptance. Right now, I am accepting that I have a problem and sooner than later if i continue like this, I am going to be back to shaking my head and watching snowflakes fall all around me from my head.

God, please give me the strength to get over this. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

What made my day

So, outer ring road was awesome today. It took 30 mins to cross 2km. Somehow I was not complaining as usual as I saw a sight that made my day.
There was a car in front of us, with 5 people and a dog. The doggy was sleeping in the dash. I couldn't take a picture, but it was too cute to forget. I love this life.

Blog Silence

I have been deathly silent in the blog for some time now. There have been a lot of changes in my life and I am still getting used to it. Change is good and getting out of my comfort zone has worked for me. I have to bake writing back into my routine, but that should happen sooner than later.

I am excited about the possibilities that life has to offer and surprised to see how much I have evolved. I am happy to wake up and be ready by 730. That is something I am still getting my head around. I am glad for the time I get to walk my doggies and spend with my family. Life is beautiful again. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What I want changed in television

This is a tiny list. Just a few items written down while I am giving this issue a serious thought

1. Ads. I don't want them. Or I want more interesting ones.
2. Nice local programs. I won't mind watching something funny in tamil. Something without children acting like adults
3. More HD channels. I love the clarity in them. Would love to have a few more. Thankfully almost all english entertainment channels I watch have a HD version now.
4. A doggy channel. It would be interesting to see what my dogs actually like to watch.

New beginnings

I feel light. I see opportunities at every turn. There is so much potential and so many possibilities. Perhaps a change of scene brings out such emotions in me. Something big is gonna happen. I can feel it and more than anything, I am ready to face it. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Finding Paradise

I feel, Paradise is not a where, it is a when which can be found anywhere. I was watching a few scenes from this movie Inside Out. There is a very insightful scene in the beginning where you get to see the point of view of both Happiness and Sorrow to very similar things. That got me thinking - Paradise, even if it is a where, could be Hell for those that cannot see it that way. But even Hell can be Paradise for those that want it to be.

I wonder what would comprise Paradise for me. A place where I can read. watch some interesting television series, maybe write and spend time with those that matter to me. That is all I can concoct now.. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I find it very often, I just dont treasure it enough.

I am sitting in my own piece of Paradise now. Something tailor made for me and that is better than anything else.

The giver quatret - Lois Lowry

I like books which talk about how the world can change from what it is to something else completely. Not the gory post apocalyptic ones, but the ones where you can see what people can do to each other without any real physical violence. Those are scarier and more real.

The Giver quartet, by Lois Lowry is one such series. I read the first book way back in July and was a little too affected to want to read the rest of the series. Somehow, I got myself to borrow them on kindle unlimited and finally completed them.

There are four books in the series - The Giver, Gathering Blue , Messenger and Son.

The books are set in a world after something bad happened to the world as we know it. People live in communities, separated from each other and often unaware of the existence of the other. The first two books are set in communities very different from each other. While the community in the Giver is pretty scientifically advanced and treats people as commodities, the one in Gathering blue is not as advanced and relies on the land for all their needs.

Both communities are unrelated and separated by a forest which plays a very important role in the third book. Jonas, from the first book belongs to a community where everyone is assigned a role in their twelfth year. He is assigned the role of a Receiver. Someone who will get to store all the knowledge about the world and use it to guide the community in times of need. The knowledge involves awareness about colors, emotions and life in general because in an attempt to reduce pain and increase productivity, all forms of creativity have been removed from his community. There is only uniformity, even in color so nobody gets treated differently.

The Giver and the Receiver were the only two people who are aware of things others dont even know exist.

You watch and fall in love with the boy who learns about a strange world and comes to terms with it and makes a very brave decision.

Kira, in Gathering blue, is a handicapped girl, who is allowed to live only because of her mother's persistence. All damaged children are killed as soon as they are born otherwise. After her mother's death, rather than be destroyed, she is given a position of power - to mend the singer's robe and to record the story of the community for posterity.

She is especially skilled with thread and needle and she starts weaving a new story for the village she is a part of. She slowly comes to terms with her powers and understands the reality of the situation they are in and rather than try to run away from it, attempts to change it.

Kira and Jonas meet in the third book and Gabe, a kid in the first book plays a very important part in the fourth.

While the first two books were really well written and interesting, I lost interest from the third book on. The fourth was definitely the worst, as I was really let down by the ending. I wish it had not been that way. I would still recommend reading the series as the writing is lyrical and the characters are so beautifully crafted.

The ceaseless patter

It was a very hot afternoon today. So hot that I gave the two jokers a bath with my husband and their new friend. (More about them in another post)

They dried in a matter of minutes and so did all the clothes that I had put out to dry. We had an awesome lunch and a peaceful sleep in the afternoon. After our walk, we saw some clouds and before we knew it, it was drizzling.

As suddenly as it started, the drizzle stopped and we went about doing our usual evening stuff.

When I was writing my farewell post, it started pouring like crazy. The drama artist in me wanted to think its a sign, with nature matching my mood. It is raining, rather pouring now and as i watch the ceaseless patter, I think of how the rain means different things to different people. Or different things to the same person.

I love watching the rain. Absolutely love the sounds of rain on the roof too. Today, it feels like a cleansing to me. Something to symbolize the fact that things can change easily and the rain will wash all the dust away and create something new.

The rain will give my garden some hope and all those tiny plants will bloom, sprout and just make the world a better place to live in.

The rain will forgive all that was, all that could have been and just let all that is be.

The rain will pave way for the new me and for new life in general to emerge.

The rain will just create and move on, becoming one with the earth to come back when needed.

The ceaseless patter continues to comfort and inspire me. I love it and wish that it would stay somewhere in my mind all through.

Farewell, my love

So, This is a farewell post. To the place that I fell in love with and spent almost 5 years in. Tomorrow is my last day in my most favorite company in the world. Why I am leaving calls for a different post, but suffice to say, it has got more to do with getting out of my comfort zone than anything else.

It has been a few weeks of mixed emotions ever since I took the decision. I still have to come to terms with the fact that I wont be seeing a few of my friends at work everyday or that some of the others are no longer just an email away. I will miss my mentors who were always willing to listen and gave me words of advice on how to handle work or life. They were so amazing! I will miss my team..

Not to mention the work that I was so familiar with and loved. I am one of those people who has always loved their work. I will miss some of the regular things I did.

More than anything else, I will miss the organization. It was one of the best places to work and it made me who I am thanks to the open and honest culture. I am proud and happy to have been a part of it and now I hope that I can live up to the expectations I have for myself.

I still remember how I was when I joined. I knew very less and I was not as confident as I am now. I learnt so much, I have evolved so much as a person and become someone the earlier me would have respected and looked up to.

Thank you for everything. I hope I am able to make you proud someday. :)

Farewell, my love. We had a great run together. It is time for me to bid adieu.

Until we meet again...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Another cog in the wheel

Imagine a beautifully crafted head. Proportionate, Essential, Exquisite.

Then another, and another, yet another. All of them different, all of them with a sense of self importance that is inflated to say the least. What they refuse to accept is that, each is like the other, as essential as it is unnecessary.

What happens when the acceptance seeks in? Will there be a certain dullness? Will there be a slow down? Or will it just not matter in the long run? I wonder.

Being just another cog in the wheel is fun and it is taxing. What do I give more importance to?

Picking the pieces

The actions we take often have consequences we expect the least. Today, I was faced with one such consequence. An event I thought might not even make a dent in someone's plans was much bigger than I ever thought it would be. One of the reasons I was giving up on it was I felt it was not significant enough to the people involved. The conversation I had today, made me feel that it was anything but.

If my priorities had not changed over the last few weeks, I would have never seen this action coming and now I have to live with the consequences. How do I pick those pieces which have the least consequences? How do I move on without breaking any promises that were far more serious than a simple handshake? I really dont know. I just have to wonder and ponder. :)

Uncharted territory

Yesterday evening, I was navigating the roads in Bangalore. My usual reaction a year ago was to fret and frown when I had to drive on my own. But now, I am zipping through the roads like a pro. :) I got out of my comfort zone and became a brand new driver. Similarly, I am going to do something new, take on a new role and see how things go.

I have always been in an amazing comfort zone, watching the world go by.. But like I have been ranting recently, I needed a change as I was becoming just another cog going with the flow (bad mix of metaphors :) )

After a lot of thinking, I am going to do something I never thought I would do. All fears and apprehensions aside, I think I am ready.

I need to accept that I am young and I have my whole life ahead. Taking my first risk (which most people wouldnt call one) and hoping that somewhere in the future, there will be a lot of smiles over my fears. :)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monkey Menace

Yet another rambling post from me about the monkey menace here. A few incidents that happened over the last 3 weeks in our community has made me wonder whether to laugh or to cry.

1. The alcoholic: My friend has a bar in the terrace. He collects fine wine and whiskey, and has parties in his terrace. A group of monkeys rummaged his cupboards, drank the alcohol and broke the bottles before leaving. He is now figuring out how to repair his terrace
2. The savory lover: We had gone to a nursery to pick up plants for the backyard. When we were out, two monkeys opened the loosely bolted kitchen window and entered the house to make away with a pack of murukku!!!  Zelda caught them just in time before they could take a packet of cheedai.
3. The sweet tooth : My neighbor has a sweet tooth. So do the monkeys who visit her house. Day before, they made off with burfi on her table. Yesterday, it was half a kg gur. Both days, they ran away taking the packet. But today, they  helped themselves to a packet of ladoo, sat on the table while the lady hosed them, finished the whole box and then left.
4. The garbage police: We have a garbage collection schedule and some monkeys are in on it. They arrive a few minutes before the garbage collector comes, rummage through the dustbins, eat what they want and watch while he takes the rest away
5. The thirsty one: Another group of monkeys open waterbottles, taps and even tanks to quench their thirst.

As funny as it is, it is also a menace and I sometimes wonder when the conflict will come to a head. A shopkeeper lost 4kg of banana to an attack and is pretty upset about the incident.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Perhaps..

It's one thing to yearn for something.. But quite another thing to find the strength to achieve it.

I heard this quote in one of the many TV series I watched today.

When I think of what I yearn for and what I have to do to achieve it, I sometimes drop things due to the effort involved. A few other times, it doesn't seem so difficult and the end is worth the means, the tears and the pain.

Perhaps everything in life comes with a filter criteria. A filter that removes every thing unnecessary without much ado. We just fail to see it that way as we're caught up in our version of reality.

Maybe it all happens according to the most logical plan. One we cannot see as it's just too big for us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Roots

When I first thought of owning a house, the idea was exciting and scary. The magnitude of money involved was a deterrent, as imagining such a huge loan to my name after having a debt free existence, was scary to say the least.

Somehow, we managed to get the approvals and buy a house. The day we registered it was special and we moved in and just did a basic set up. Never one for interior decoration, we put together things that were mostly practical and avoided wasting money on anything unnecessary. Over time, we got our own cozy corners and favorite spots. Our routines revolved around different places in the house.

The house became a home and now, I can't imagine life elsewhere. We often flirt with the idea of leaving the suburbs and living in the city and I almost moved away from the country. The home had its way and I'm sitting here writing.

It is very quiet here and we are far away from all possible action. It's a drive to reach any restaurant or book shop. We don't meet friends on weekdays as they live too far and the traffic is a pain. We are OK driving long or hiring a driver...

But we really can't get ourselves to move out. Is this place holding me back from truly spreading my wings? Or is it giving me something to come back to, no matter how far I go? I tend to lean towards the second option as I feel that ones roots have to be strong and deep if they have to grow. Mine are here now. Deeper everyday.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A world apart

Today, I was driving near the K R Puram bridge. Traffic was bumper to bumper and as usual, there was no staying or moving. I was stuck in an especially painful place between two buses intent on coming to my path and racing each other. I gave up and just stopped the car and let them continue their race without me.

Right about then, a really old man in a cycle comes to cross the road. For a few seconds, I actually pause to watch him forgetting that my legs should be battling with clutches and brakes. He is struggling a lot to maneuver around the traffic. He is already tired and I see beads of sweat poring down his face while I sit in an AC car. His legs are pushing the pedals hard and for a second I thought he was going to lose his balance and fall down. I feel very sorry for him.

Unfortunately, the honks behind me bring me back to reality and I get to start moving, but only after I let him go ahead. It was the least I could do.

I am a world apart from that old man. Not just in age, but also in terms of our finances. Should I be thankful for my blessings or upset because there are so many like him out there in the world?

Waking up

For years, my day began at 2 in the afternoon. Today, is one of those days where more than 3/4th of my work day is over at 2 in the afternoon. I have yet to decide which one I favor. Having the morning all to myself or the evening all to myself. But what I have really woken up to is the fact that I need time to myself every day. Whether it is to walk the dogs or water the plants or to read or to just not do anything, my time to myself is non negotiable.

I think I have finally woken up to understand the real priorities in life. Aint that a good thing? :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My adventurous evening

Most people who know me are aware of my dislike for driving. However, recently, I have been forced to drive alone as there isn't any other option and my hatred for driving is much lesser than my love for the world.

I did get used to it and today, i had a very adventurous evening.

First, I drove to an area I had never been to. Second, i parked in a road and adjusted the angle etc. etc. only to find out it is a no parking zone where the board has been removed but from where vehicles are still towed. Third, I found another spot and parked with the help of a guy walking his German Shepherd. Finally, I drove back all alone a little later than usual. I am happy with life. ;)

It was awesome getting help from the man with the gorgeous German Shepherd. Life figures a way of giving me solutions when I really need them. What do you say?